A former Army medic made famous by a photograph that showed him carrying an injured Iraqi boy during the first week of the war in March 2003 has died of an apparent overdose, police said.
The photograph of Joseph Patrick Dwyer running to a makeshift military hospital while cradling the boy appeared in newspapers, magazines and television broadcasts worldwide.
Dwyer died late last month at a hospital in Pinehurst, according to the Boles Funeral Home. He was 31.
After the photo was published, Dwyer laughed when a reporter told him of its widespread circulation and 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.
Warren Zinn, 30, the former Military Times photographer who captured the image, is now a law student at the University of Miami.
"The sad thing is that he clearly had a problem coming back from this war and nothing was done about it, or not enough was done," Zinn told Army Times.
On June 28, 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 that night, according to authorities.
Dwyer's parents told a Newsday reporter that they had struggled to get help for their son. He had received treatment off and on in VA facilities, but he was never able to shake his anxieties.
"Every second that goes by, there is another soldier just like Joseph," Maureen Dwyer told Newsday. "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."
Dwyer served with the 3rd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of Fort Stewart, Ga. He earned the Combat Medical Badge and other military awards.