‘Cigar Marine’ Runs for Congress
Cigars have figured prominently in American politics, from the images of cigar-puffing presidents like Ulysses S. Grant to the famous quip made by Woodrow Wilson’s vice-president, Thomas Marshall, "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar." Will Californians add to that legacy by electing the "Cigar Marine" to Congress? Nick Popaditch is running for the U.S. House as a representative from California’s 53rd Congressional District as a Republican. In 2010, he lost a similar bid in the 51st District to Democrat Bob Filner.
The now medically retired Leatherneck became famous as the Cigar Marine because of an iconic photo shot by Associated Press photographer Laurent Rebours during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The image taken April 9, 2003, showed Gunnery Sergeant Popaditch in the hatch of a tank, smoking a victory cigar in Baghdad with the statue of Saddam Hussein in the background. The photo appeared in newspapers across America, and Popaditch was dubbed the "Cigar Marine,"
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A year later he suffered a severe head wound when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his tank in Fallujah, costing him one eye and most of the vision in the other. He authored an inspirational story of his experiences in Iraq and the fight to overcome his physical injuries, Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander’s Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery. The Website for Once a Marine is part of the Weider History network.