The Digital Journalist
Requiem - Bullet pierced camera of Taizo Ichinose The bullet pierced camera of the Japanese photographer, Taizo Ichinose, used in Vietnam is now preserved in a family shrine in Kyushu, Japan ( Rikio Imajo ).


Although Americans think of the second war in Indochina as their war, the majority of photographers who covered the American and Saigon government side were, ironically, non-American. Ten different nationalities are represented among the dead - American, Australian, Austrian, British, French, German, Japanese, Singaporean, Swiss, South Vietnamese. In Cambodia, where the foreign photographers received the recognition and the bylines, equally courageous and frequently equally distinguished work was done by the Cambodian photographers who worked for foreign news agencies. After the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, many of them were murdered by the Khmer Rouge.

Nor can one fail to note the sacrifice of the seventy-two photographers, two of them women, who died on the Vietnamese Communist side. Of their work only a few thousand negatives and prints survive. Most of their effort was lost because of the unimaginably difficult conditions under which they labored. One can see, in the fine action photographs of Luong Nghia Dung or Bui Dinh Tay of the Vietnam News Agency, how talented many of them must have been. They lie with the millions of Vietnamese who died to free their nation from the domination of foreigners in the cause of Ho Chi Minh.

Yet all these photojournalists of Indochina prevailed in the end. In a war in which so many died for illusions and foolish causes and mad dreams - 58,000 Americans, a quarter of a million Vietnamese on the Saigon government side, tens of thousands of Laotians, a million Cambodians in the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge - these men and women of the camera conquered death through their immortal photographs.

(Neil Sheehan, REQUIEM)

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