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Death of A.B.C. Whipple

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A.B.C. Whipple, who as a magazine reporter helped save an iconic photograph of World War II from the censors, died March 17 in Greenwich, Conn. of pneumonia. He was 94. Mr. Whipple was a Washington correspondent for Life Magazine in 1943, assigned to the new Pentagon, when photographer George Strock sent from the South Pacific some rolls of film including a picture of three dead American soldiers on a landing beach. The photograph was censored under a rule prohibiting the publication of close-up pictures of American soldiers killed in combat, for fear of “damaging morale on the home front.” Having spent the previous year as a Life correspondent in the Midwest (covering newly prosperous factory workers and a few war profiteers), Mr. Whipple argued that a dose of reality was what “the home front” needed. “I went from army captain to major to colonel to general,” Mr. Whipple recalled, “until I wound up in the office of an Assistant Secretary of the Air Corps., who decided, ‘This has to go to the White House.’” After some months, Mr. Whipple recalled, President Franklin D. Roosevelt cleared the photograph; Life published it as a “Picture of the Week” alongside an editorial about the reality of the war; War Bond sales skyrocketed; and the censorship rule was abolished.

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