During World War II, combat photography came into its own as a subtle art form. Since then, scores of talented photographers embedded with troops have quietly documented the heartbreak, the havoc, and the horrors of war. Some of these images have proven so profound that they’ve garnered Pulitzer prizes, and transcended the wars during which they were taken to contribute to the collective human experience of war.
Here are eight of the most iconic war photos of all time.
Normandy Invasion, 1944
This Navy Signal Corps photo shows troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day.
Raising the flag at Iwo Jima, 1945
Joe Rosenthal’s historic photo depicts five U.S. Marines and one sailor raising the American flag over Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The Kiss, 1945
This photograph, by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in Life in 1945 with the caption, “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.”
Taken by Eddie Adams, the photo bears witness to South Vietnam national police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a suspected Viet Cong member.
The Terror of War, 1972
Taken by AP photographer Nick Ut, the photo most prominently shows nine-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc running naked on a road after being severely burned in a Napalm attack.
Burst of Joy, 1973
The photograph depicts United States Air Force Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm being reunited with his family, after spending more than five years in captivity as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
Firdos Square Statue Destruction, 2003
In April 2003, Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Square in Baghdad was toppled shortly after the Iraq War invasion.
Iraq Casualties, 2007
In this photo taken by Aaron Thompson, eight-year-old Christian Golczynski receives the flag that covered the coffin of his father, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus Golczynski.