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War Is Not Just For Heroes
World War II Dispatches and Letters of U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent Claude R. “Red” Canup
At the outbreak of World War II, Brigadier General Robert L. Denig Sr., then heading the Marine Corps’ Department of Public Relations and tasked with finding experienced reporters, photographers and broadcasters to cover the Pacific campaigns, put out the word to civilian newsmen: Make it through boot camp and we will make you sergeants and send you to the Pacific.
Two years later a 33-year-old sports editor from South Carolina answered the call. His friends in Anderson, S.C., thought Claude “Red” Canup was several bricks shy of a full load. No spring chicken, Red made it through Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., and soon found himself attached to Marine Aircraft Group 45, Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing and on the tiny atoll of Ulithi, soon to be in support of Iwo Jima combat operations.
The first order BGen Denig gave to his new group of correspondents in 1942 was, “[G]ive most of your time to the enlisted man, what he thinks, says and does. If Pvt. Bill Jones of Cumberland Gap wins the boxing title, tell the people of Cumberland Gap about it.”
Canup took this to heart and, by wars’ end, had produced 398 “dispatches” about Marines of his unit for various hometowns across America. Fortunately for us, Red was a pack rat and kept copies of everything he wrote.
Now, 68 years later, his onion-skin dispatches are brought to life in the book “War Is Not Just for Heroes,” edited by Red’s daughter, Linda Canup Keaton-Lima. This work has captured some of the best reporting of flight operations ever to come out of World War II. More interesting is how and why this combat correspondent came to produce them.
You can almost see Red perched on the wing-root of a shot-up fighter jotting down the pilot’s thoughts when he engaged the Japanese Zero. He would be equally at home writing about parachute riggers or a Marine pilot who inadvertently became a military “pinup” winner of a girl’s college contest. Calling him prolific is an understatement.
Red also kept a daily log of happenings on Ulithi and wrote highly descriptive, humorous narratives in letters home. The letter writing carried over to the Okinawa campaign and the occupation of Japan.
His first dispatches, plus his letters home, quickly proved that Okinawa was a different ball game than Ulithi. To his brother: “Things have been rough, and a few nights I dared not leave my hole in the ground.”
Typical of his dispatches was this one about a new air ace: “Capt Floyd C. Kirkpatrick, 26, flying with the Black Jack squadron of the 2nd MAW, recently became an ace. Shooting down three enemy planes from his Corsair plus the two and a half kills from the Samoan area gives the pilot ace status. He is a graduate of Klamath Union High School and attended the University of Oregon, commissioned April 1942.” Short, to the point and exactly what his bosses at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps expected.
Red’s tent soon took on “formal” trappings as the Okinawa Press Club, operated by then-Staff Sergeant Canup, fellow Marine combat correspondent Sgt James Driscoll and combat photographer Technical Sergeant Charles V. Corkran. During the shelling, bombing and strafing of Yontan Airfield, civilian and military correspondents alike crowded into a “family size” foxhole in back of the press tent along with visiting pilots. It would be at this tent that Red would later interview Marine pilot First Lieutenant Tyrone Power, former Hollywood great, and Captain James “Zeke” Swett, an ace credited with 16½ planes, landing there after his carrier, USS Bunker Hill (CV-13), was disabled by the Japanese.
Red’s writings were not confined to war action. At war’s end and just before his promotion to technical sergeant, he reported from Yokosuka, Japan, on the formation of the Tokyo Bay Masonic Club and wrote vivid descriptions of the decimated cities, as well as interviews with recently released Marine prisoners of war. As interesting and as prolific as his dispatches were, perhaps equally interesting is Red’s commentary on the day-to-day life of a correspondent in a Marine aviation unit in WW II.
Throughout “War Is Not Just for Heroes,” Red offers his own accounting of what it was like to be a somewhat overaged Marine given the great opportunity of reporting from a war zone. His wit and wisdom make this a great read, and we can thank his daughter for having the perseverance to see it through to publication. In this centennial year of Marine aviation, this book is even more relevant.
On a personal note, I met Red in the late 1980s long after my Marine retirement. During the next 10 years or so of his life, we kept up regular correspondence and, after my retirement to Florida in 1994, he would often call me from a restaurant on nearby Interstate 75, asking if I wanted to have lunch “with an old redhead” and his wife who were on their way farther South. I’m sure restaurant onlookers thought we were nuts because most of his stories kept the three of us old-timers in stitches, and Red always had a story to tell.
WAR IS NOT JUST FOR HEROES: World War II Dispatches and Letters of U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent Claude R. “Red” Canup. Edited by Linda M. Canup Keaton-Lima.
Published by the University of South Carolina Press.
264 pages. Stock #1611170672.
$26.96 MCA Members.
$29.95 Regular Price.
- “Denig’s Demons”: And Telling the Marine Corps Story (Article)
- Marine Corps Quotes (Magazine Page)
- Denig's Demons (Photo Gallery)
- Marion Carl And The Assault Up The Solomons (Magazine Page)
- Hell In China (Magazine Page)
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Today in USMC History
Historic Leatherneck Magazine Covers
Leatherneck Staff Artist, Technical Sergeant Robert Fleischauer, felt that our July cover should be commemorative of the Fourth of July. Since the members of the missile units are probably the Corps' best rocketeers, he picked them to perform a standard Fourth of July action. Whether or not the "Honest Johnny" is useful as a combat piece is a matter for debate, but you can't beat it for morale." [July 1957.]
“The Join Up on the Nick” by Major Alex Durr, USMCR, a member of the History Division, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Va.
Hospitalman Daniel T. Bobic, assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3d Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, rappelled at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, in late April, 2002.
The oldest post of the Marine Corps, Washington, DC, is celebrating 200 years of excellence. Posed near the Barracks main gate were members of the official Color Guard of the United States Marine Corps (left to right): LCpl Joseph N. Keough, rifleman; Sgt Blake L. Richardson, Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps; Cpl Gerardo A. Guajardo, organizational color bearer; and LCpl Gregory A. Serwo, rifleman.
GySgt Verlando Frazier, East Coast Food Service Management Team, looked ready to dig into some of the new items included in MREs.
This photo by Sgt Earnie Grafton of Marines from Fox Co., 2/4 shows varied emotions as they greeted the coalition forces outside Kuwait city.
A fleet of trucks was needed to transport Dr. Felix de Weldon’s original model of the Iwo Jima flag-raising statue from the sculptor’s home in Newport, R.I., to the grounds of the Marine Military Academy at Harlingen, Texas. After the statue’s arrival, a nearly around-the-clock effort by skilled workmen was required in order to have the memorial reassembled and ready for dedication ceremonies on April 16, 1982.
In April this year (1981), two squadrons of AV-8A “Harriers” sailed for the Mediterranean aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau. Purpose of the cruise was to demonstrate the Navy/Marine Corps team’s capability to augment naval forces in any area of the World on short notice and to provide at-sea training for Marine Harrier pilots.
The cover of Leatherneck’s Bicentennial issue is an oil painting by the late Colonel Donald L. Dickson, USMCR. The painting depicts General George Washington’s Colonial troops at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Va., during the French and Indian War.
Sightseeing tours for the men of the Marine Barracks, San Juan, Puerto Rico, include a trip to the El Morro Fortress. San Juan is now retired as a Post of the Corps.
The Marines in Vietnam have found that the programs which work best are those which operate close to the people. Our July cover is a mixed media (acrylic and charcoal) by Art Editor James L. Hopewell. It catches the spirit of Marines who enjoy their relationship with the Vietnamese around them.
In Naples, Italy, Marines are responsible for the internal security of the Headquarters of NATO’s Southern European Command, while the elite Carabinieri Corpa provides external security. PFC Robert M. Mallard’s NATO shield was admired by a Carabiniere as the two men prepared to take up their side-by-side posts at the entrance of the imposing NATO Headquarters, which appears in the background of this cover.
"We've Fought In Every Clime And Place": Stamping out the Caco Insurrection in the Republic d' Haiti.
January 2002: The Marines engraved another mark in the rich history of the Corps when they came from more than 400 miles offshore to establish a forward operating base south of Kandahar in the war on terrorism. The Marine CH-46 helicopter on the cover, photographed by PH1(AW/SW) Greg Messier, USN, fought in the desert sand to land and resupply Marines such as the ones (inset) photographed by Sgt Joseph R. Chenelly.
January 2001: This firefight during the Frozen Chosin Reservoir Campaign of 1950 was painted by “Chosin Few” veteran Jack Cannon, who served with Company B, 1st Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment and resides in the warmer climes of New Mexico. The cover was part of Leatherneck’s 50th anniversary salute to the Korean War veterans.
January 1992: This cover photograph of runners during Marine Corps Marathon XVI in Washington, D.C., was photographed by Sgt Deirdre Hallett.
January 1991: This month’s cover by Ross Simpson captures the Marines’ waiting-but-ready posture in the Middle East.
January 1982: Participants in the Sixth Annual Marine Corps Marathon presented a colorful spectacle as they began the 26-mile, 385-yard run in Washington, D.C., November 1, 1981. The cover photo, by Tom Bartlett, was taken from a bridge overlooking Highway 50 about a half-mile from the starting line.
January 1981: Nearly 7,800 runners participated in the Fifth Annual Marine Corps Marathon held in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. The oldest finisher was 78; the youngest was 10. Leatherneck staffer Ron Lunn pre-positioned himself near the Nation’s Capitol to photograph runners during their 14th mile of the 26-mile, 385-yard course.
January 1972: This month’s cover, by Marine Combat Artist Peter Gish, shows members of the New Corps sightseeing in the Old World. While on liberty in Athens, Greece, the 3d Bn, Eighth Marines, were able to tour the Erektheon Porch and Cariatides. The water color is from the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Art collection.
Originally Published December 1983 -- Something tells us that we could date the cover without knowing when it was published.
Originally Published December 1972 -- We're not sure what's more interesting, Santa or the old style gas pump.
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This November 1992 article in the Marine Corps Gazette looked at the uniform regulations of 1859 and the attempt to standardize uniforms within the Corps. Read the story and see more pics.