Joseph Patrick Dwyer, Iraq War Hero, 31

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Jul 4, 2008, 7:20:08 PM7/4/08
The Associated Press
A former Army medic made famous by a photograph that showed him
carrying an injured Iraqi boy during the first week of the war has
died of an apparent overdose, police said.

Joseph Patrick Dwyer died last week at a hospital in Pinehurst,
according to the Boles Funeral Home. He was 31.

The photograph, taken in March 2003, showed Dwyer running to a
makeshift military hospital while cradling the boy. The photo appeared
in newspapers, magazines and television broadcasts worldwide, making
Dwyer became a symbol of heroism.

Dwyer laughed when a reporter told him of the photo and its widespread
circulation, and he tried to deflect focus to his entire unit. His
mother, Maureen, said then that the photo embarrassed her son because
it singled him out while other soldiers were doing the same thing.

Last week, Dwyer called a local taxi service to take him to the
hospital after an apparent overdose, Capt. Floyd Thomas of the
Pinehurst Police Department told the Fayetteville Observer. When the
driver arrived, Dwyer said he couldn't get to the door, according to a
police report.

Police kicked in the door at Dwyer's request, and he was taken by
ambulance to a Pinehurst hospital. Thomas said bottles of prescription
pills were found near Dwyer when police arrived. The former medic died
later the night of June 28, according to authorities.

Dwyer served with the 3rd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of Fort
Stewart, Ga. He earned the Combat Medical Badge and other military


Jul 4, 2008, 10:00:55 PM7/4/08

"Puritan" <> wrote in message

> The Associated Press
> A former Army medic made famous by a photograph that
> showed him
> carrying an injured Iraqi boy during the first week of the
> war has
> died of an apparent overdose, police said.
> Joseph Patrick Dwyer died last week at a hospital in
> Pinehurst,
> according to the Boles Funeral Home. He was 31.

photo here:


Jul 7, 2008, 3:45:22 PM7/7/08
The sad saga of a soldier from Long Island

9:37 PM EDT, July 5, 2008,0,814136,print.story

The March 2003 image became one of the most iconic of the U.S. invasion
of Iraq: that of a bespectacled American soldier carrying an Iraqi child
to safety. The photograph of Army Pfc. Joseph Dwyer, who was raised in
Mount Sinai, was used by news outlets around the world.

After being lionized by many as the human face of the U.S. effort to
rebuild a troubled Iraq, Dwyer brought the battlefield home with him,
often grappling violently with delusions that he was being hunted by
Iraqi killers.

His internal terror got so bad that, in 2005, he shot up his El Paso,
Texas, apartment and held police at bay for three hours with a 9-mm
handgun, believing Iraqis were trying to get in.

Last month, on June 28, police in Pinehurst, N.C., who responded to
Dwyer's home, said the 31-year-old collapsed and died after abusing a
computer cleaner aerosol. Dwyer had moved to North Carolina after living
in Texas.

Dwyer, who joined the Army two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks and who was assigned to a unit of the 3rd Infantry Division that
one officer called "the tip of the tip of the spear" in the first days
of the U.S. invasion, had since then battled depression, sleeplessness
and other anxieties that military doctors eventually attributed to
post-traumatic stress disorder.

The war that made him a hero at 26 haunted him to the last moments of
his life.

"He loved the picture, don't get me wrong, but he just couldn't get over
the war," his mother, Maureen Dwyer, said by telephone from her home in
Sunset Beach, N.C. "He wasn't Joseph anymore. Joseph never came home."

Dwyer's parents said they tried to get help for their son, appealing to
Army and Veterans Affairs officials. Although he was treated off and on
in VA facilities, he was never able to shake his anxieties.

Inadequate treatment

An April report by the Rand Corp. said serious gaps in treatment exist
for the 1 in 5 U.S. troops who exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress
disorder or depression following service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Half of
those troops who experience the disorder sought help in the past year,
the report said, and those who did often got "minimally adequate treatment."

"He went away to inpatient treatments, none of it worked," his father,
Patrick Dennis Dwyer, said. "And the problem is there are not adequate
resources for post-traumatic stress syndrome."

After a PTSD program in Durham, N.C., turned Dwyer away because of a
lack of space, Maureen Dwyer said her son received inpatient care for
six months at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, beginning
last August. After doctors discharged him in March, she said, his
anxieties returned with such intensity that Dwyer's wife, Matina, 30,
took their daughter Meagan, 2, and moved out five days later.

Maureen Dwyer said her son married a month before his deployment. She
said her son began experiencing serious depression soon after his
vehicle in Iraq was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2003. She said
his problems continued after his deployment ended and he returned to an
Army facility in Texas.

The El Paso shooting was only one of several incidents there, according
to interviews. He had a number of driving accidents when, he later told
his family, he swerved to avoid imagined roadside bombs; he once crashed
over a curb after imagining that a stopped car contained Iraqi
assassins. After a July 2007 motorcycle accident, his parents tried,
unsuccessfully, to have him committed to a mental institution.

Warning signs

After his Iraq deployment ended and with increasing urgency, Dwyer's
friends urged him to give up his firearms. His parents worried about his
practice of pushing furniture against the interior walls of his Texas
home, arming himself with knives and sleeping in a closet. He told his
family he was suspicious of counseling. He complained that prescribed
drugs were ineffective. They say he turned to sniffing Dust-Off computer
cleaner to drug himself to sleep. Pinehurst police said abusing that
aerosol contributed to his death.

"I know I don't need to be carrying a weapon," Dwyer told Newsday in a
2005 interview. "And I'm scared of going home without having one, even
though I know probably nobody's going to attack me."

Dwyer's mother said he left the service in March 2006. Unable to hold a
job, he lived with his wife and daughter on a Veterans Affairs
disability check, while being in and out of psychiatric care.

"Talking to him, he knew he was going to die," Maureen Dwyer said.

A lack of services

After her son was discharged from Northport, Maureen Dwyer said she was
especially concerned because there were no VA mental health facilities
near his Pinehurst, N.C., home.

Five days after arriving home, Dwyer left the house to buy more
Dust-Off. While he was away, his wife gathered a few belongings, called
Maureen Dwyer to tell her she was taking their daughter and left.

On June 28, Dwyer called for a taxi to take him to the hospital, but he
was too weak to open the door. Breaking through, Pinehurst police Lt.
Michael Wilson -- who said he had been to the apartment before for
earlier incidents -- found Dwyer on the floor, coherent but unable to
walk. Within minutes, Dwyer was dead.

"All of a sudden his eyes got fixed and he just stopped responding,"
Wilson said.

Dwyer, dressed in his Army uniform, was buried Wednesday at Sandhills
State Veterans Cemetery, after a Roman Catholic funeral. The cemetery is
about an hour's drive from where Matina and Meagan now live in North

Maureen Dwyer, who broke into sobs as she spoke about her son, said she
agreed to be interviewed despite her grief because she said she hoped to
bring attention to the disorder.

"Every second that goes by, there is another soldier just like Joseph,"
Maureen Dwyer said. "Another family can't go through this. All the
politicians talk so great about the soldiers, about patriotism, but
mental illness is something they are not putting enough into."

Extirpirate - a portmanteau of extirpate and pirate

As of the day this message is being posted there are,
lacking an unexpected alternate outcome, 196 days
remaining in the imperial presidency of George W. Bush

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