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Reynaldo Leal

Reynaldo Leal was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas, the son of two Mexican immigrants. As a corporal in the US Marine Corps, he took part in Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah and saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Iraq War. His photographs have appeared in the Winter 2007 and the Spring 2007 issues of VQR.


Border Town, a photo-essay

 Since the moment a foreign foot first touched American soil, there has been a constant inward flow of immigrants; each for their own reason but most to escape hardships and oppressions and to search for a better way of life. All have made their ind [...]

The Big Suck: Notes from the Jarhead Underground

1There are places even in Fallujah where the streetsong drops away to nothing, shaded alleys devoid of sound: you step inside them and for a moment it seems like nothing outside could ever get to you. Keep your steps right and you could let the patro [...]


Breathing In

Spring 2011 | Essays

That funk.

No one had to explain to Tim Wymore or LeRoy Torres or any of the other troops and contractors why they couldn't breathe.

The burn pit on Balad Airbase in Iraq had a life of its own. Black smoke and orange flames shot heavenward twenty-four seven. Big as five football fields. Ten acres easy. Lit up the whole night sky. When the seasons changed and the winds died and the air didn't move, the smoke just hung, a stagnant mass over the whole base.