Dickey Chapelle was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She went on to study at MIT, but left to work at a local airfield. Eventually she relocated to New York and began working as a photographer for Trans World Airlines.
While her credentials were a bit thin, her willpower was not. She went on to become a war correspondent photojournalist for National Geographic. While she was originally placed in an extremely “safe” assignment, she talked her way into the action. She was first hand with the Marines during the battle of Iwo Jima and covered the battle of Okinawa.
She continued her career covering the war and went to great lengths to be in the middle of the action. She was jailed for seven weeks during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 after being captured. She also learned to jump with paratroopers.
Her daring attitude and compelling images led her to both success and respect. She earned several awards from the journalistic community and military leaders. Dickey Chapelle put a human face on the impact of war.
She “was a tiny woman known for her refusal to kowtow to authority and her signature uniform: fatigues, an Australian bush hat, dramatic Harlequin glasses, and pearl earrings.” She was well-known for her tenacity and courage to get the story.
Chapelle was killed during the Vietnam war. While on patrol with a Marine platoon a lieutenant tripped a landline which killed her. She was given a full Marine burial for her contribution to the war. She was the first war correspondent to be killed in the Vietnam war and the first female American reporter to be killed in action.
The following story profile Dickey Chapelle and some of her colleagues.