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By admin | June 23rd, 2015

Board Votes Posthumous 2015 Denig Award to Dickey Chapelle

"Dickey" Chapelle, 1959

“Dickey” Chapelle, 1959

The USMC Combat Correspondents Association Board of Directors have unanimously voted to posthumously present the 2015 Brig. Gen. Robert L. Denig Sr. Distinguished Service Award  to the late Georgette Louise “Dickey” Chapelle on this, the 50th anniversary year of her death, near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam November 4. 1965 during the combat operation “Black Ferret.”

In making the announcement President Manny Pacheco called attention to the fact that in addition to this being the 50th anniversary year of her death (Nov. 4, 1965), it corrects what should have been corrected many years ago. “It had always been thought that this organization had honored Dickey in the late 1960s but in checking all known records, there is nothing in existence proving any award was made.  In voting her the Denig award we have corrected that situation.”

For those members either did not know or were too young to have remembered her, Dickey Chapelle was a war correspondent who covered Marine action during the battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima in World War II.   She later became very well known for her interviews in 1958 with President Fidel Castro of Cuba and for her coverage in Hungary of the freedom fighters where she was captured for nearly a month and thought to be a spy.

In the early 1960s Dickey would travel very early to Vietnam covering our advisory activities.  She would return again several times before her death.  At a plaque dedication near ChuLai and the site of her death, III MAF Commanding General Lewis Walt would remember something Dickey had said to him months before:

“When I die, I want it to be on patrol with the United States Marines.” She’d gotten her wish.

Dickey and the love affair she had with “her Marines” were well known in the ranks.  On learning of her death, then-Commandant, General Wallace M. Greene Jr., issued the following statement (in part):

“… She was not only a skilled, dedicated newspaperwoman, but she was an exemplary patriot whose great love for her country was an inspiration to all who knew her and worked with her.  It has been said by her media colleagues that she died with the men she loved. It must also be said that affection, admiration and respect was mutual. She was one of us, and we will miss her.”

We who knew her would quickly agree that, had she been eligible in 1942, she would have been one of the first to answer General Denig’s call for combat correspondents.  She embodied all of the great traits found in our early CCs and combat camera Marines. One of our Life Members who was professionally associated with her during several Vietnam campaigns said it best:

“Anyone who has ever known the waspish little foreign correspondent/writer/photographer, even casually, knew what she was doing in Vietnam. She belonged there – she was a Marine, as much so as any who ever took the oath of enlistment.

For more information on Dickey Chapelle’s life, please see  The 10th Annual McCarthy Lecture Series – Heather M. Stur, Ph.D. – “‘What’s a Woman Doing Here?’ Dickey Chapelle, War Correspondent”


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