The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 25

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Closeup of a hooded US Marine holding a can of food during his outfit’s grim retreat from the Chosin Reservoir after being cut off by the Red Chinese in Dec. 1950. (Original caption in Life Magazine)

This photograph by acclaimed Life Magazine photographer David Douglas Duncan, is perhaps the most iconic photo of the entire Korean War. In this one picture, Duncan captured the vulnerability and despair of this cold and hungry young Marine along with his grim determination to stay the course in the epic withdrawal of the First Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir.

Duncan himself served as an officer in the US Marine Corps during World War Two and invented the profession of combat photographer. Duncan was in so many battles, intent on taking photographs right on the firing line, it is amazing he survived. “Every Marine a rifleman,” applies even to combat photographers and there were several occasions in the Pacific when Duncan dropped his camera and picked up his M-1 to help stop a Japanese banzai charge. He is alive and well at age 94.

[Source: Time Magazine. Image courtesy of Time Magazine.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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