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Dickey Chapelle: The Life and Work of the Legendary Female War Photographer


Dickey Chapelle was a pioneering female American war photographer who brought her camera to combat fields from World War II through the Vietnam War. The 3-minute video above by PBS NewsHour is a look at the life and work of the legendary photojournalist.

Chapelle became a war photographer for National Geographic during World War II at a time in which few women were in the niche. She covered the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Tiny yet tough, Chapelle was known for wearing pearl earrings with combat fatigues to show that she “wasn’t one of the boys.” She was jailed for 7 weeks after being captured during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

During the Vietnam War, Chapelle shot the first photo of a US soldier actively engaged in combat. National Geographic ran the photo despite protests from the Pentagon, earning Chapelle a “Photograph of the Year” award in 1963 from the National Press Photographers Association.

After returning to Vietnam with a marine unit in 1965, Chapelle was struck in the neck by shrapnel from a booby trap and died, becoming the first female American journalist to be killed while covering a war.

P.S. You can find a great gallery of Chapelle’s war photographs in this article by the Washington Post.