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December 26, 2011
Wounded Marine inspires AP photographer's search
by AP photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Inside the medevac helicopter in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Cpl. Burness Britt bleeds profusely from his neck. He and two other Marines have just been hit by shrapnel, with Britt's injuries the most serious. The medevac crew chief clutches one of Britt's blood-covered hands as he is given oxygen. I take hold of the other.
With my free hand, I lift my camera and take some pictures. I squeeze Britt's hand and he returns the gesture, gripping my palm tighter and tighter until he slips into unconsciousness. His shirt is ripped, but I notice a piece of wheat stuck to it. I pluck it off and tuck it away in the pocket of my body armor.
In my 20 years as a photographer, covering conflicts from Bosnia to Gaza to Iraq to Afghanistan, injured civilians and soldiers have passed through my life many times. None has left a greater impression on me than Britt.
I knew him only for a few minutes in that helicopter, but I believed we would meet again one day, and I hoped to give him that small, special piece of wheat.
Read the rest of the story here.
(14 images)



In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt reacts after seeing pictures of his evacuation laid out on his bed in the Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va. Britt is facing a long road to recovery after a huge piece of shrapnel from an IED in Afghanistan cut a major artery on his neck in June. During his first operation in Afghanistan he suffered a stroke and partially paralyzed. AP / Anja Niedringhaus


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In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt points to the scar on his head in his room in the Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt tries to lift a ball with his right hand during a therapy session at the Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt walks on the grounds of the Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va. wearing a helmet protecting his head after part of his skull had been removed. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt, right, shows pictures of his rescue to Marine Staff Sgt. Walker at the Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt shows his tattoos during a therapy session at the Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt is hugged by his wife Jessica Flegel Britt at the Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Saturday, June 4, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt is carried out of a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment as they arrive at a first aid medical tent at camp 'Edi" in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Saturday, June 4, 2011 photo, United States Marine Cpl. Joshua Barron reacts onboard a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment, as he is being airlifted together with injured Marine Cpl. Burness Britt after both where wounded in an IED strike near Sangin, in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Saturday, June 4, 2011 photo, U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Jose Rivera, left, attends to injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt after he was lifted onto a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Saturday, June 4, 2011 photo, United States Marine Cpl. Joshua Barron, right, reacts onboard a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment, after he was wounded with Cpl. Burness Britt, center, in an IED strike near Sangin, in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Saturday, June 4, 2011 photo, U.S. Army chief Spc. Jenny Martinez holds the hand of injured U.S. Marine Cpl. Burness Britt onboard a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment after he was wounded in an IED strike near Sangin, in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Saturday, June 4, 2011 photo, injured United States Marine Cpl. Burness Britt reacts after being lifted onto a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment. Britt was wounded in an IED strike near Sangin, in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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In this Saturday, June 4, 2011 photo, United States Marines evacuate their wounded comrade Cpl. Burness Britt onto a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment, after he was wounded in an IED strike near Sangin, in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan. AP / Anja Niedringhaus



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