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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2008

Army medic in Iraq photograph shunned fame

In a picture widely published at the start of the Iraq war, Pfc. Joseph Dyer, 26, was photographed carrying an Iraqi boy injured during battle to a makeshift military hospital. In a picture widely published at the start of the Iraq war, Pfc. Joseph Dyer, 26, was photographed carrying an Iraqi boy injured during battle to a makeshift military hospital.

PINEHURST, N.C. - 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.

Mr. Dwyer died late last month at a hospital in Pinehurst, according to the Boles Funeral Home. He was 31.

After the photo was published, Mr. 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.

On June 28, Mr. Dwyer called a 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, Mr. Dwyer said he couldn't get to the door, according to a police report.

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

Mr. 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.

In Iraq yesterday, an American soldier was killed when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The military also announced the deaths of four private contractors in a similar attack Monday in northern Iraq. Eight contractors were injured in that bombing, which occurred about 15 miles south of the city of Mosul.

Officials did not disclose the nationalities of the contractors, and local authorities had no additional information on the incident. The military also provided no further information on the attack that killed the soldier.

At least 4,115 American service members have been killed since U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in March, 2003, according to the independent Web site icasualties.org.

The number of attacks nationwide has dropped to its lowest level since 2004, according to the U.S. military. But commanders regularly warn that militants remain capable of deadly strikes.

In other violence, a bomb targeting a police patrol in central Baghdad killed one person and injured four others, police said.

Elsewhere in the capital, at least 12 people were injured when guards opened fire to disperse a crowd of demonstrators seeking welfare payments from a government office.

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