“Reaching Out” Larry Burrows

Larry Burrow’s “Reaching Out” is a visceral photograph taken in 1966 depicting Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie reaching for a fellow soldier following a firefight in Vietnam.  It really shows the devastation that the war brought as seen in the background of the photo as well as capturing a more human, compassionate moment between those soldiers. One of the most interesting things I found while researching this picture was that Life Magazine decided not to use this photo when the photographer, Larry Burrows, originally captured it in 1966 and it was therefore not published until 1971 just after his death. Larry Burrows spent nine years in Vietnam covering the war, and was killed in a helicopter crash in Laos along with three other photographers in February of 1971.
Originally the photo was published in an article to commemorate Burrows just a few months after his death. The fact that it was not published until 1971, along with the fact that Burrows was a Life Magazine employed photographer is making it a little more difficult to find immediate reactions to the photograph in other publications or by the general public. But since the photograph has become such an iconic image shows that it definitely had an emotional impact on those that saw it. I am going to continue to search newspapers and other archives for references to the specific picture and Burrows as well.

Taylor Wiseman


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