Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran George Dibbs, who shot combat footage in Europe and the Pacific during World War II.
George Dibbs of New Jersey started his Army career when he enlisted in 1940, managing the War Department theaters. Dibbs then went on to teach the Advanced Motion Picture class at the Signal Corps Photographic Center. Eventually, Dibbs grew tired of watching combat footage. Although Dibbs asked his colonel to give him combat duty, the colonel always said no. Eventually, Dibbs purchased a ticket for a train to Washington D.C., where he asked for a combat role.
In his new role, Dibbs selected and trained eight men who joined him in taking footage at the request of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Dibbs took combat footage in Europe, the Philippines, Japan and New Guinea. Filming was dangerous, as the combat photographers had to be in front of the troops to get footage. Hospitalized multiple times, Dibbs refused to go back to the U.S. He noted that “The good Lord or somebody must have been watching me,” as he recalled the time he walked back and forth five times through a minefield and made it out unharmed. In their efforts to gather footage, Dibbs and his team would land first, get off the ramp under enemy fire, and set up cameras to film the troops who were coming off the ramp behind them.
When Dibbs came back to the U.S., he became head of all the military photo schools in New York City, which soon moved to Fort Myers, Florida. Dibbs decided to stay in New York and work on military film distribution because his family was there. Dibbs sent letters with each training film sent out during the 27 years he worked there. They detailed the military occupation connected to the film, the type of military units connected to the film, and the purpose and appropriate use for the film. Dibbs also created an annual conference that the highest officials across the world involved in the military film attended.
After his service, Dibbs advocated for the importance of film in the military. He said top-produced training films are essential due to their express purpose to better train and prepare service members, promote victory in battle and save lives. Dibbs received several different awards. One particularly memorable award he won was an Army mock Oscar, a reference to the years he spent as one of the most significant contributors to military film work.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Jewel Luckow
Editor: Essence McPherson
Fact checker: Brandon Warren
Graphic artist: Brett Blandford