Combat correspondent leaves treasure for Marine Corps history

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comNovember 8, 2012 

  • Excerpt

    Vanishing American

    Tokyo Rose, the Japanese radio comedienne, would have given her left eye for this one had it happened on Guadalcanal instead of this close to home:

    When a Jap bomb scored a direct hit on a fully gassed and bomb-loaded bomber here the other night, the explosion threw a book 200 feet from the plane.

    It was Zane Grey's "The Vanishing American."

    The novel was picked up the next morning by Marine Second Lieutenant Roswell V. Dobbs, aerological officer, of Seattle Wash. (20May45)

The Marine Corps has a special birthday gift this year as it marks 100 years in aviation.

It's a book by a South Carolina woman containing World War II dispatches written by her father. He was an Upstate sports editor who went through boot camp on Parris Island at age 33 to become an enlisted combat correspondent.

Claude R. "Red" Canup was assigned to MAG 31 in the Pacific. He typed out hundreds of short, clear bursts of news about troops that Leatherneck magazine today calls "some of the best reporting of flight operations ever to come out of World War II."

Linda M. Canup Keaton-Lima, a retired educator living in Tega Cay, set out to tell her children about their grandfather. Their Granddaddy Red was buried in Anderson in 1999 beneath the eagle, globe and anchor. The project turned into much more. It became a book published this spring by the University of South Carolina Press, "War is Not Just for Heroes."

Nine years after her father's death, Keaton-Lima got a cardboard box from her brother filled with their father's neatly organized treasures: notebooks full of onionskin carbon copies of all his dispatches, his letters home, personal notes and tape recordings of his recollections of the war and his duties as a correspondent.

Canup escaped the cotton mills of home, survived the Great Depression, became a household name from a quarter of a century of daily columns in his hometown newspapers, and then chronicled the corporate story of the Daniel Construction Co. (later Flour-Daniel) in Greenville. "Every dollar I earned came from writing," he said.

In 1944, he became a Marine. He left babies at home to answer the call of Brig. Gen. Robert L. Denig, who built a corps of experienced journalists to go to the front and tell people back home what the Marines were doing.

"Denig's Demons" were to "give most of your time and attention to the enlisted man -- what he says, thinks and does." They were not to write about themselves and not to editorialize. A memorial to Denig will be dedicated Nov. 17 on the grounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.

Keaton-Lima hopes many Americans will find family members in her father's dispatches, the only intact collection known to exist of any World War II Marine combat correspondent. They are now housed by the museum.

Canup was on the front during the last 12 months of the war, with his squadron making the first kill by Okinawa-based Marine pilots, and the last kill of the war.

"Night fighters I covered re-wrote the record books, and I wrote the stories of the only eye-witness accounts of the airborne suicide attack on Yontan," Canup wrote to Denig in 1945.

"But my deepest satisfaction was in helping see to it that there were no unknown Marines."

Related content

  1. The University of South Carolina Press
  2. Book review in Leatherneck magazine
  3. Marine's war dispatches
  4. Linda M. Canup Keaton-Lima

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