"Picture of the War" taken during the same scenario where Matthew D Wehausen lost an eye: One highly emotional picture that did get through military censors was taken by Detroit Free Press photographe ... show more
"Picture of the War" taken during the same scenario where Matthew D Wehausen lost an eye: One highly emotional picture that did get through military censors was taken by Detroit Free Press photographer David Turnley. Turnley was riding with the 5th MASH medical unit inside Iraq. A fierce firefight had recently erupted between Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard and the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division.
Turnley's helicopter filled with medical personnel and equipment touched down about 100 yards from a frantic scene. An American military vehicle had just taken a direct hit. Soldiers on the ground were upset as they said it had mistakenly been struck by a U.S. tank.
In the photo, Kozakiewicz sobs as he stares out the window of a medical evacuation helicopter. His left arm is in a sling. Next to him, in the middle of the frame, Tsangarakis lifts the bottom edge of his head bandages to peek at the bloody body bag that has been loaded at his feet. They have just learned that Alaniz is inside.
The wounded were quickly retrieved from the vehicle and carried to the helicopter. Sgt. Ken Kozakiewicz, suffering from a fractured hand, slumped into the helicopter. The body of the driver of Kozakiewicz's vehicle was placed on the floor of the helicopter inside a zippered bag. A medical staff member, perhaps thoughtlessly, handed the dead driver's identification card to Kozakiewicz. Turnley, sitting across from the injured soldier, recorded the emotional moment with his camera when Kozakiewicz realized that his friend was killed by the blast.
Later at the hospital, Turnley asked the soldiers their names. He also asked if they would mind if the pictures were published. They all told him to get the images published.
The rules of combat enforced by the military required that Turnley give his film to military officials for approval for publication. A day after the incident, Turnley learned that his editors had not yet received his negatives from the Defense Department officials. Military officials insisted that they were holding on to the film because the images were of a sensitive nature. They also said that they were concerned about whether the dead soldier's family had been informed of his death. Because of Turnley's argument that the family must have been informed by then, the officials released his film.
His photographs were eventually published in Detroit and throughout the world. The picture of Kozakiewicz crying over the loss of his friend was called the "Picture of the War" on the cover of Parade magazine. Several months after the war, Turnley spoke to Kozakiewicz's father, who had been in one of the first American military units in Vietnam. Reacting to the censorship of images by military officials, David Kozakiewicz explained that the military was "trying to make us think this is antiseptic. But this is war. Where is the blood and the reality of what is happening over there? Finally we have a picture of what really happens in war." For David Kozakiewicz, showing his son grieving over the death of a fellow fighter gave added meaning to the soldier's death.