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usmc-docs  •  personal diary
Col. Robert L. Denig, "Diary of a guardia officer" & other papers, 1929-30

     This page houses the personal diary of Colonel Robert L. Denig, USMC, during his stint as Northern Area Commander in Ocotal in 1929-30, along with other papers & photos in the Denig collection pertaining to Nicaragua.  The originals are housed in the Archives & Special Collections room of the Marine Corps Research Center in Quantico, VA.   (Right:  Denig, at center; detail of photo in Denig Collection, MCRC)

     Grateful acknowledgement is extended to the staff of Archives & Special Collections of the MCRC; to Lebanon Valley College students Olivia Edwards, Nicole Wilhelm, and Mary "Katie" Yost for their excellent work at the MCRC for three days in early January 2015; and to the Arnold Grant in Experiential Education for funding this research.

    I dedicate this page to the memory of Dr. David Clark Brooks, native of Deep River, CT, longtime public servant in the US State Department, historian of Nicaragua, and a very dear friend who died much too young in April 2014.  David introduced me to Denig's "Diary of a Guardia Officer," and we had many long discussions & arguments about how to read it & what it meant & means.  I remember back in October 1990 in the city of Ocotal, David balancing a dog-eared copy of the "Diary" on his lap reading selections aloud, in spontaneous Spanish translation, to the esteemed Dr. Emilio Gutiérrez Gutiérrez in the good doctor's sitting room in his home next to the town's central square.  In his inimitable way, David charmed the socks off this 89 year-old pillar of Ocotal high society, to whose home he had somehow managed an invitation, and used Denig's "Diary," something tangible & authentic & real, as a cultural bridge to help bring these very different worlds together in greater mutual understanding.  That was Dave. 

Always seeking authentic human connections and to bring out the best in people, Dr. David Clark Brooks, US State Department, with the exceptionally talented emerging comic book artist Machai Ferreira, Luanda, Angola, 2013.

     Click on the image below to access the full text of Denig's "Diary" in one large PDF file.   

Warning:  the file weighs in at a hefty 183 MB.


     Other papers & photos in the Robert L. Denig Collection in the MCRC (click on thumbnails for JPEG images; the first nine items were photographed at 72 dpi; the remaining images & photos were scanned at 600 dpi):

June 25, 1930.   Patrol Report of Captain O'Leary, Las Nubes, to Col. Denig, Ocotal, with translation of note by Juan Pablo Umanzor appended.   xxx

June 26, 1930.   Col. R. L. Denig, extract from telegram from Jefe Director.   xxx

August 3, 1930.   "Great Northern News," Ocotal, cover, p. 1.   xxx

August 3, 1930.   "Great Northern News," Ocotal, p. 2.   xxx

August 3, 1930.   "Great Northern News," Ocotal, p. 3.   xxx

August 3, 1930.   "Great Northern News," Ocotal, p. 4.   xxx

ca. August 3, 1930.   Cartoon drawing of "His Royal Highness" Col. Denig with his mule Geniveve.   xxx

January 12, 1930.   Sketch of battle of Las Cruces near Quilalí.    xxx

ca. January 12, 1930.   "Sketch Map of San Juan Area."    xxx

August 3, 1930.   "Great Northern News," Ocotal, cover.   (Scanned in high resolution)

ca. January 12, 1930.   Cartoon depiction of "The First Plane Drop, Peña Blanca, 1927."   (Scanned in high resolution.)  A fascinating lampooning & exocization of Nicaraguans as half-naked Pacific Islanders, or native savages, or something. 

ca. 1930.  Col. Denig in Ocotal, with who appears to be Liberal Gen. Augusto Caldera of the Nicaraguan Voluntarios (second from left).  No caption, no date.   

ca. 1930.  Col. Denig in Ocotal with who appears to be Gen. Augusto Caldera at his left (to the viewer's right).  No caption, no date.   

ca. 1930.   Rear of photo reads: "Maria Theresa Salcedo, School Teacher of Ocotal & her staff. Colonel R. L. Denig of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua."