Dickey Chapelle in a 1942 selfie
Wisconsin State Historical Society
Dickey could barely control her excitement when the lieutenant agreed to take her to "the front." She would soon be taking photos of the most important, most violent battle of the Pacific War.
So she was puzzled when, 40 minutes later, he stopped the truck in a desolate, quiet area of volcanic ash ridges. This was the front? She climbed to the top of the empty ridge, took some photos, and left.
Marines climbing a ridge on Iwo Jima
Photo NOT taken by Dickey Chapelle
Accredited to Louis R. Lowry, USMC
Courtesy of Betty Michels McMahon
Back on Guam that evening, Dickey discussed her day with Barbara Finch, a more experienced war correspondent. Barbara was surprised to learn the front had been so quiet.
"Tell me every sound you heard," she said.
"A tank fired once," Dickey replied. "A man shouted...and there were wasps and I could hear the shutter of my camera click."
"There were what?" Barbara asked?
"Wasps, I guess. Insect noises anyhow."
Barbara smiled. "I don't think we'll file that the entire front was wholly inactive today, after all. And--I guess somebody will have to tell you., There is no insect life on Iwo Jima. It's a dead volcano."
"You mean, those weren't--"
"They were not wasps."
Dickey had come under direct Japanese sniper fire.
From "Dickey Chapelle: "As Far Forward as You'll Let Me" from Women Heroes of World War II: The Pacific Theater.