Fighting and blowing stuff up: Marines release gritty photos of 2018’s best moments

The harrowing image of a U.S. Marine sinking helplessly under water in full gear -- his training rifle in hand -- is among the often-graphic 2018 photos released this week as part of a U.S. Marine Corps “Photo of the Year” competition.

Eighteen images in all were posted on the department’s Facebook page, including a live-fire drill in the dark at Cape Lejeune, on the North Carolina coast. The Marine Corps’ post of the photos has been shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook since Monday.

Marines enduring extremes around the world was the overall theme of the competition, with Marines seen in hand-to-hand combat in the snow, dodging CS gas and explosions, shedding their gear under water, and fighting while half submerged.

The image taken at Cape Lejeune, titled “Into the Sunset,” features shadows of four Marines attached to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, as they wait for nightfall and a series of live-fire exercises.

“Nothing more lethal nor more picturesque than a US Marine and his/her buddies,” wrote Jason C. Ramsey of Oklahoma in response to the Camp Lejeune photo.

Camp Lejeune is located outside Jacksonville and is home to such outfits as the II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2nd Marine Division and 2nd Marine Logistics Group, according to the camp’s Facebook page.

The Marine Corps announced on New Year’s Day that the winning image among the 18 is a photo of a Marine with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion appearing to have his head bowed in prayer, a U.S. flag hanging in the background.

It was taken by Sgt. Joshua Elijah Chacon and the unnamed Marine in the photo was trying to “mentally prepare himself for training at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms in California,” said a Facebook post.

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.