Cpl. Sharadan Reetz (left), 19, from Indianola, Iowa, and Lance Cpl. Jarrett Hatley, 21, from Millingport, N.C., a squad automatic weapon gunner and an improvised explosive device detection dog handler with 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, rest next to Hatley’s dog Blue after clearing compounds with Afghan National Army soldiers during Operation Tageer Shamal (Shifting Winds) here, Jan. 4. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)
You voted, and 2012’s Corps Top Shot comes from Cpl. Reece Lodder. Lodder, a combat correspondent, captured this photo in January 2012 while helping to clear houses of insurgent activity during Operation Tageer Shamal (Pashto for “Winter Offensive”) in Helmand province, Afghanistan. After being inserted into a remote desert town by helicopter with fellow “America’s Battalion” Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, patrolled for five hours before briefly stopping to rest in a dirty, abandoned, mud-walled compound.
“Everyone was pretty exhausted,” Lodder said. “We’d been up hours before first light, restless from anticipation for the operation and then busy carrying out our patrolling and searching.”
Lodder was no exception, sitting down and catching some rest and refueling with food. As he tried to sleep, uncomfortably, unsuccessfully, he glanced toward his right and noticed Lance Cpl. Jarrett Hatley’s improvised explosive device detection dog Blue perfectly curled up between two Marines. Though his camera was right next to him, Lodder said he took a moment to appreciate the “unexpected slice of reality and humanity amid a long, cold day. It visually, physically and emotionally gets to the core of their experience in this moment. It helps any viewer feel, even if only in a small way, what the Marines and their loyal dog felt.”