A former Marine who unwittingly became an icon of the Iraq invasion is now planning to launch his own line of cigars in an effort to raise money for wounded service members.
Retired Gunnery Sgt. Nick Popadich, immortalized in an April 2003 photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Laurent Rebours, will launch his new label called Cigar Marine this Saturday at an event in El Dorado Hills, Calif. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund with the goal of raising $1 million.
Popadich is best known as the “Cigar Marine” for the 2003 photo of him in downtown Baghdad celebrating atop a tank, with an ear-to-ear grin and cigar in hand. His likeness was broadcast across the globe in the hours and days following the fall of Baghdad.
Popadich later retired as a gunnery sergeant after being injured in 2005 during the First Battle of Fallujah. He was struck by a rocket propelled grenade after opening his tank’s hatch and lost his right eye. He later became known for his prosthetic eye emblazoned with the Eagle Globe and Anchor.