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Luis Sinco was a photographer for the Los Angeles Times. James Blake Miller was a Marine who had grown up in Pikeville, Kentucky. Sinco took Miller’s picture — a tired soldier with a cig hanging on his lip — and the two were joined.
The picture became one of the iconic images of the war, but that didn’t do Miller much good when he moved back to Eastern Kentucky, and tried to rebuild a life amid bad memories and nightmares of combat.
Sinco tells a great story about rural Kentucky, the war, and a kid who now has disability checks coming once a month. “Sometimes you just have to look at the culture of small-town eastern Kentucky,” said Miller’s psychologist. “Blake graduated from high school and had no future. So he joined the Marines, and now he’s home and has a steady income. Things are good. But sometimes that’s more of a negative than a positive. Look, every time you go out to that mailbox and get your disability check, it tells you you’re sick.”