Portrait of George Strock. (Photo by Hal Connet/The LIFE Images Collection)

Portrait of George Strock. (Photo by Hal Connet/The LIFE Images Collection)

An established crime and sports photographer, George Strock (1911-1977) joined LIFE and went off to the war in the Pacific. Initially he cabled editors that he saw so little action he was ready to quit and open a peanut stand. Other photographers did leave, but Strock stayed on for the Battle of Buna, which cost more than 3,000 Allied lives.

Three dead Americans, killed during the fight to take Buna Beach from the occupying Japanese forces, Papua New Guinea, 1943. (Photo by George Strock/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Three dead Americans, killed during the fight to take Buna Beach from the occupying Japanese forces, Papua New Guinea, 1943. (Photo by George Strock/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

On that New Guinea island, Strock scrambled alongside the soldiers. They couldn’t bathe because the water smelled of the dead. They couldn’t bury the dead because of the fighting. At the time, censors banned showing any dead American soldiers, but LIFE raised the point with the government, and FDR himself decided the public was growing complacent and should see some of the reality of the war, thus “Three Dead Americans” ran in LIFE.

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Draftee getting smallpox and typhoid inoculations in the first peacetime draft, Fort Dix, N.J., 1940. (Photo by George Strock/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Draftee getting smallpox and typhoid inoculations in the first peacetime draft, Fort Dix, N.J., 1940. (Photo by George Strock/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

More Like This

"False sunset" during the Blitz, with Tower Bridge silhouetted against burning docks, London, 1940. (Photo by William Vandivert/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

William Vandivert

Senator John F. Kennedy playing peek-a-boo with his daughter Caroline in her crib. (Photo by Edward Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Edward Clark

Drawing room at Notre-Dame-de-Vie withPortraits of Picasso and wife Jacqueline taken by David Douglas Duncan (Photo by Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

David Douglas Duncan

Street scene during business hours. (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Peter Stackpole

President Harry S. Truman waving his hat as he holds up a king salmon while fishing with others on Puget Sound. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

George Skadding

Balinese farmer herding his flock of ducks through a field. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Co Rentmeester