Whipple died of pneumonia, said his son, Chris Whipple. Chris Whipple said his father was a Pentagon correspondent for Life magazine who tried to convince the military to allow the photo by George Strock of three dead soldiers on a landing beach to be published. Whipple went up the military ranks until he reached an assistant secretary of the Army Air Forces who decided to send the issue to the White House, his son said.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt eventually cleared the photo. Publication of the photo ended the censorship rule, boosted support for the war and had a lasting effect on photojournalism, Chris Whipple said. “I think that he felt this was a watershed in the course of the war,” Chris Whipple said. “I think that he felt that in his own way he had made a real contribution. I think he thought it was a special achievement and probably the most important thing he did as a journalist.”
Whipple gave an interview in 1986 for an oral history project for Time Inc., said Bill Hooper, archivist for Time. He said Whipple’s job involved getting photos cleared.
“I had to go over to the Pentagon and really beat on the censors,” Whipple said.
Whipple said the photo by Strock was his favorite, saying the military did not allow such photos to be published.
“And that took a lot of negotiating on the part of a lot of people at Life who were trying to get that picture cleared,” Whipple said.
Whipple went on to become executive editor of Time-Life Books and wrote more than a dozen books about maritime history.
His contribution to photojournalism broke a tacit agreement with the government by news organizations to show American war efforts only in a positive light. When the photo was published in Life, The Washington Post wrote the picture “can help us to understand something of what has been sacrificed for the victories we have won.”