Marine Veteran David Douglas Duncan – The most famous photographer of the Korean War


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David Douglas Duncan joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943, earning a commission and became a combat photographer. Following two brief assignments in California and Hawaii, Duncan made his way to the Solomon Islands.

Duncan was attached to Marine Aircraft Group 23, but his orders allowed him access to most combat operations in the Pacific. He found himself fighting the Japanese on Bougainville Island with Fijian guerrillas, in the belly of a P-38 fighter plane to make aerial reconnaissance and on the USS Missouri to photograph the Japanese surrender.

Life Magazine hired Duncan after WWII and he covered events around the world, including the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He compiled many of his photos from the Korean War in to a book he published in 1951 called “This Is War!” and donated the proceeds to widows and children of fallen Marines.

David Douglas Duncan turned 100 years old in January, 2016. Thank you for your service! #SemperFi

Author

Tim Hudak

  joined the VA digital engagement team in December 2013. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations and enjoys wrestling his German shepherd, Capone (who wins more often than you would think).

Comments

  1. Alessandra Kellermann    

    Wonderful story Tim and thank you for your service from all of us at Homefront Hugs USA !

  2. James Caccavo    

    I first met David Duncan in 1967,when I was sitting in the New York office of Life magazine editor, Ruth Lester. In walked this tall, tanned gentleman wearing a corduroy sport jacket & red tie. and kissed Ruth. ” Oh, Jim, this
    Dave Duncan”, as she introduced us, “Jim is going to Asia,” she explained.
    “Be careful over there,” said Duncan as he shook my hand, smiled & left as quickly as he had dropped in. I would eventually end up in the Vietnam war, inspired by his books. I would meet him again in 1970 in Seattle, Washington where he was speaking, promoting his new book, War Without Heroes.” We had breakfast together the next day, and became friends. I corresponded with him briefly, but lost touch over the years. So glad he is still with us. He really is a living legend.

  3. robert fisher    

    I first heard of Mr Duncan when i came across his book on the korean war in a trade a book store, i did not realize what a treasure i had in my hands. Being a Marine i knew the story of the Marine’s in Korea but Mr Duncans photo’s put me in the field with the grunts.It is hard to explain but his picture’s put me in the snow with the marine’s, i felt the numbing cold, the harsh wind and the wish to just survive another day. I remember looking at a photo of a Marine huddled in a ravine and started crying , i was there with him not knowing if i would make it another day , but knowing one thing i was not going to leave my Marine buddie’s and if they died i was going to die with them. Mr Duncan is a national treasure and should be celebrated as such. SEMPER FI DEVIL DOG.

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