Col. Manuel Jimenez stands on patrol in Afghanistan (Victor J. Blue)

Health Editor’s Note: Here is an article from Smithsonian magazine’s January/February 2018 issue, in which photojournalist Victor J. Blue documents the journey of a wounded Marine’s return. The story begins with Victor Blue arrival, in July of 2010, at small firebase in Marjah, in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. As an embedded photojournalist, he was used to being close to soldiers and marines, both physically and otherwise, as he would go out on patrol with them to capture the war. Blue then follows Corporal Manuel Jimenez for the next eight years as Jimenez moved forward with his life. Great story from Smithsonian Magazine…Carol  

The Story Begins:  One fateful afternoon, Blue accompanied the First Platoon, Fox Company, 2-6 Marines on a patrol mission, similar to a handful of other missions he’d been on during his first few days with the unit. But this one was different. As they were returning to the base, an improvised explosive device buried in the road exploded right as Cpl. Manuel Jimenez walked by it. It blew apart his arm, filled him with shrapnel and almost severed his carotid artery.

Over the course of the eight years since sharing the experiences of that terrible day, Blue kept in touch with Jimenez — visiting him at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, at his family home in New Britain, Connecticut, and following him as he volunteered in New York after Hurricane Sandy, participated in the 5K Run for the Warriors race and completed his B.A. in business — documenting and capturing his path to recovery in photos.

The time stamp on the first picture I made after the blast, out of focus and full of dust, says 11:26:06 a.m.

Seconds after an IED buried in the road hit Cpl. Manuel Jimenez, Cpl. Eric Hopp rushes in to help. The unit had engaged in a firefight against the Taliban earlier that same day. (Victor J. Blue)

A few pictures later, at 11:27:41, team leader Cpl. Eric Hopp has a tourniquet on Cpl. Manuel Jimenez’s arm. Only about 1 minute and 35 seconds, from blast to stopping the bleed. I remember the force of the explosion and how it made my shoulders seize and then I couldn’t hear. How I looked back and forth, trying to figure out where it came from until I realized it was right behind me. I remember I wheeled around and saw a curtain of white and I felt Corporal Hopp running past me. I pushed the button and squeezed off a couple of pictures, but the camera wouldn’t focus. It felt like someone slowly turned up the volume in my head, and then I could hear Jimenez screaming. I ran into the white dust until I saw him on the ground, writhing, and Corporal Hopp above him, saving him.

Team leader Hopp leans over Jimenez to stop the bleed. The IED was set off using a command wire that stretched into a nearby field and was activated with a motorcycle battery. (Victor J. Blue)

The war in Afghanistan took Cpl. Manuel Jimenez’s left arm. But in the eight years since we shared that terrible day, he’s made it clear that an arm is all he let it take from him.

Read more about Corporal Manuel Jimenez’s story written by Victor J. Blue and see pictures taken by Blue from his position of being an embedded photojournalist in Afghanistan with First Platoon, Fox Company, 2-6 Marines.


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  1. Veitnam would have kept on grinding away if it were not for the protestors and there would have been many more crippled and dead . To all protestors of that garbage war fought for the garbage living on Capitol Hill I thank all of you , living and dead . My own brother protested while I was there living the LIE of PATRIOTISM ! God where are the protestors today ?

    • Sorry highball, protesters did not end the Vietnam war. That’s bunk. One senator, as I recall said something like; “I don’t care about protesters, as long as they pay their taxes”. What ended the war is:
      “The Quiet Mutiny” Soldiers quit fighting. Here’s a great documentary on that very subject.

  2. Sorry Carol I did not mean to disrespectfull, If you have any idea how hard that was for me to write, I just cant explaine! I am shivering!

  3. sorry Carol war is bulshit, all you can say about hero,s is crap!every one in a war envirament usually is a hero because they look after there mates back, thats where mateship is bred from. when some some one puts there life on the line to save you, YOU OWE THEM! There,s a bond ship there that the people im talking about will only ever know(ask your husband) My son Brad did two tours of East Timor & then did 2 in Irag. He got blown up 8 times in IEDs driving Hum Vees &was the only one to survive out of them, in one of those engagements he led a attachment of marines who seriausly where out of there depth. Now i have to watch my son slowly DIE of a degeneratave brain disorder because of those IEDs, you got any Idea what thats like! I came out of Viet Nan a mess & got my self sorted by my self & now I feel like Ive cheated my son because he,s going to die before me, Have you got any Idea what that feels like! WAR IS BULLSHIT!

    • mytime, As Marine Major General Smedley Butler pointed out in his book, War is a Racket, War is bull shit and so much more. I am very sorry about your son’s injuries and would have wanted neither him or your family to go through this. TBIs are insidious. You did not need to apologize for your comment…. Anyone who goes toward danger, instead of away from it, is a hero. Enduring hospitalizations makes one a hero, no easy street there and no one wants to be there. Carol

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