Editorial by Dirck Halstead
I had intended that this issue of the DIGITAL JOURNALIST be devoted to wars and memories. However, as I was planning it I started thinking more in terms of my experiences in wars, and the people I have known, some of whom are no longer with us.
During this time I learned that the NEWSEUM, the Freedom Forum's new exhibit hall for Journalism in Rosslyn, Va., was about to exhibit the works of photographers killed in Vietnam. The show was to coincide with the release of REQUIEM, a book of the photographs, published by Random House.
Looking at the pictures on the wall, memories
flooded over me. I knew then I had to share the experience with you.
In particular, I would like to tell you about three of the photographers
I knew very well, Henri Huet, Larry Burrows and Kent Potter.
In March, 1965, Henri Huet walked into the brand new UPI bureau office in Saigon, where I was Bureau Chief. He was short, dark-haired, and always had a smile on his face.
Born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother and French father, Henri had been a combat photographer covering Vietnam for the French Army and was now seeking work with an American news agency. While looking at his negatives, I realized that he was a very good photographer.
Henri was an incredibly dedicated photographer. On one occasion he walked into the bureau, dripping blood from a wound he had received on an operation with the 173rd Airborne, but wanted to drop his film off before he went to the hospital.
By early 1966, Henri went to work for Horst Faas at AP. Henri shot what I can only call "the perfect story." It was when American forces had their first major battle against main force North Vietnamese units. LIFE magazine devoted the cover and twelve pages to his photographs.
Larry Burrows was considered by the Saigon press corps as the "pro." His photographic talents were equally well utilized by LIFE magazine - He could shoot exquisite food layouts, or painterly feature pieces, as well as war.
Whenever Larry, based in Hong Kong, came to Vietnam we knew that we were about to be shown up for the photographic clods that we were.
At one point he requested that he be allowed to be strapped to the wing of a plane to photograph a combat mission. When the rest of the photographers heard about this we all protested to the Vietnamese: "why was Larry Burrows being allowed to do this kind of thing?" The Vietnamese replied, "because he is an artist."
Kent Potter came to me when I was the UPI picture bureau manager in Philadelphia in the early 1960s. He wanted to be a news photographer. I worked with him for several years, helping to shape his journalistic career.
I went to Vietnam in 1965, and several years later Kent followed me, and became the UPI picture bureau chief.
Kent was only in his twenties, and after a year in Saigon, he came back to New York on home leave. I was struck by how he had matured in the past year. Vietnam had toughened him, but there was still a whimsical side to him.
The two of us drank late into the night. Next morning, bleary eyed and looking out over Manhattan, Kent said to me, "you know, I came back First Class on Pan Am."
Pan Am had just started 747 service between London and New York. Kent had, against UPI rules, upgraded to first class. He continued, "you know, I could be killed tomorrow, and at least I will know what it was like to ride in that First Class cabin upstairs."
Two weeks later, Kent Potter along with Larry Burrows and Henri Huet, and Keisaburo Shimamoto, were shot down when their helicopter strayed over Communist batteries in Laos, February, 1971.
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