Gunny Nick Popaditch was made famous in an AP photo on April 9, 2003 as “The Cigar Smoking Marine” while he sat in the turret of his tank in front of the Sadam Hussein statue as it was about to be pulled down by the people of Iraq with the assistance of his tank battalion. The picture went viral world-wide and became an icon of the Iraq war.
Just one year later, the Gunny’s life took a dramatic turn when he suffered a head wound in the first battle for Fallujah which resulted in the loss of his right eye, and a 92% loss of vision in his left eye. The Gunny’s heroic battle after returning home inspired his book “Once A Marine”.
Gunny Pop has been a fixture at our FOCUS sessions almost since the beginning. He not only shares his inspirational story of recovery and achievement since he was wounded, but he also spends the entire week with our warriors in their bunkhouse and counsels them on life’s challenges. Gunny is now pursuing his Masters degree at San Diego State University, and will teach high school upon completion.