Honoring the First American Woman Correspondent Killed in Action

MilwaukeePressClubLogoAmong the journalists being inducted Friday into the Milwaukee Media Hall of Fame is the one and only Dickey Chapelle. The late photographer’s trailblazing run as a female war correspondent began during World War II in Iwo Jima, when she detoured away from a women’s magazine assignment, and ended with her death in Vietnam in 1965.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Meg Jones put together a wonderful remembrance of Chapelle, born in Milwaukee as Georgette Meyer. Chapelle was very possibly the first female journalist to report from the Vietnam War front, and wanted no preferential treatment while doing it:

In 1962 an officer tried to deny her access to covering a field operation, arguing that there were no toilets for women in the jungle.

“According to my AP colleague Fred Waters,” recalled Peter Arnett, who met Chapelle, in an email interview, “Dickey, in her olive drab field gear, and her feet firmly planted on the ground, snarled at him, ‘Listen soldier don’t worry about me, and when I have to I can piss standing up straight just like you do!’ Of course, Dickey went on the patrol.”

Fantastic. Expect to read a lot more about Chapelle in 2015. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of her death, John Garofolo, who has written a screenplay about her life, is separately compiling a book of photos for release by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press and also working on a play about Chapelle.

[Image via: milwaukeepressclub.org]