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

American sailors on shore leave sit in a pedicab while their buddy takes their picture, Shanghai, China, December 1945. (Photo by George Lacks/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

George Lacks

The watermelon stripe baby Tapir stretching out beside the older family member at the Brookfield zoo.(Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Francis Miller

A pilot looking out the window of a plane. (Photo by Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Bill Ray

Models lying on beach to display bathing suits. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Nina Leen

An unidentified woman looks at the tag on one of many paintings in a storage room in the home of financier and art collector Chester Dale, New York, New York, 1938. (Photo by Rex Hardy/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Rex Hardy

View of illuminated office windows in a section of the Lafayette Building (also known as Export-Import Bank Building), Washington DC, 1946. (Photo by Walter B. Lane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Walter B. Lane