The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 30

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An upset young Marine is comforted after the jeep he was driving hit a landmine around the Naktong River in August 1950.

I ran this photograph in a previous post about the extraordinary war photography of David Douglas Duncan. The other day, while reading more about him, I came across this gut-wrenching story later told by the photographer in a long interview in Life Magazine.

Finally, there’s one brief story Duncan tells about these pictures — or rather, about one particular picture — that illustrates the bleak wastefulness of combat more perfectly than countless volumes about warfare ever have, or ever will. Weeks after taking his now-famous picture (the fifth image in this gallery) [the one above] of a weeping Corp. Leonard Hayworth, Duncan handed Hayworth a copy of the September 18, 1950, issue of Life magazine. There, taking up almost all of page 41, was that very photograph of Hayworth himself, crying.

“Hayworth looked at that huge picture of himself, in the biggest photo magazine in the world,” Duncan says. “He didn’t say anything. He just smiled. He looked like Errol Flynn, about six-foot-three, a tall, handsome Marine. And no one’s saying anything, none of his buddies are saying a word, looking at this picture of him with tears running down his cheeks, and after a while an old sergeant behind him says, ‘We all cry sometimes.’”

The next day, on September 25th — the three-month anniversary of the start of the Korean War — a North Korean sniper shot Corporal Leonard Hayworth dead.

[Source: Life 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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