The first photograph of the American dead in W.W. II was not approved for release by the War Department censors until 1943. Snapped by LIFE MAGAZINE photographer George Strock, the haunting image proved unsettling and caused quite a stir throughout the American home front. One young poet in the army was so deeply moved, he wrote a poem on the subject:
Perhaps they struggled with geography
When they were boys, lisping the sinewy names
Of far-off lands they never hoped to see,
With thoughts intent upon their outdoor games;
The wind halloos and shouts of after-school,
A rag-tailed kite against a gray March sky,
And boyish laughter ringing "April Fool"
When someone took their bait.
Well, there they lie,
Three lads on Buna Beach, grotesquely laid
In the informal pose of sudden death;
While we, who live secure because they paid
In currency compounded of their breath,
Would hesitate and ponder on a scheme
To bargain interest to perverse their dream.
-Keith B. Campbell
Private 1st Class, U.S. Army
Click here to read General Marshall's end-of-war remarks about American casualty figures.