The Associated Press's decision to release a photo of a dying U.S. Mariner taken in Afghanistan drew lots of controversies in the United States.

The lack of compassion and common decency shown by the Associated Press in releasing this photograph is stunning, said American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill, a retired Navy captain.

The photo shows a 21-year-old soldier Joshua Bernard bleeding after being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush.

Joshua Bernard suffered severe leg injuries and later died from his wounds. The Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson captured this image of fellow Marines helping Bernard.

Joshua Bernard, from the northeastern state of Maine, was hit on August 14 in the village of Dahaneh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Associated Press's decision to publish a mortally wounded soldier is appalling.

He also wrote a letter to the Associated Press president and executive officer Thomas Curley criticizing its decision and also asked the agency to reconsider its choice.

 I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard's death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling, Gates wrote in the letter, according to a POLITICO.com report.

Bernard's father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son's memory.

While the Associated Press senior managing editor John Daniszewski said we understand Mr. Bernard's anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice.

The photographer also defended her decision to send the photo to the agency. Jacobson said that an image makes people see what it really means to have young men die in combat.