Stories of War

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Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:27 pm

I know quite a few members are well read on the history Cambodia, and in particular the Khmer Rouge and Vietnam war, but there are many of us who aren't as well informed. As I sometimes come across articles or stories relating to those events, I thought I'd drop any interesting ones here rather than flood the main board.

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Sydney H. Schanberg
The New York Times
8th May 1975

Evacuation Convoy to Thailand: Arduous Trip Through the Secret Cambodia

BANGKOK, Thailand, May 8—The evacuation journey by truck to Thailand from Phnom Penh, were hundreds of foreigners had been confined In the French Embassy compound for nearly two weeks, gave a brief but revealing glimpse into the covert spy system and communally organized countryside of the Cambodian Communists—a glimpse that as far as is known no Westerners had ever had before.

The petty squabbling between various groups that often dominated our lives in the French Embassy compound followed us on the journey to the border. A group of Soviet diplomats refused to share their food with anyone. They even complained that they were not getting their proper convoy ration of rice.

There were supposed to be exactly 20 persons to each truck. But in the darkness and confusion some stowaways managed to ak aboard. Five were on our truck — three Asian wives of Westerners whose papers were incomplete but who were fiercely determined to get out, a child of one of these women, and a German television correspondent.

Full https://www.pulitzer.org/winners/sydney-h-schanberg
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:34 am

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Tim Page in Phnom Penh, in front of a memorial to the journalists who died in Cambodia. Photo: Sam Jam

David Hutt
July 7, 2015

He shot some of the most iconic images of the Vietnam War, but Tim Page became just as famous for his ferocious appetite for life.

Most articles about Tim Page begin with a reference to drugs. Something along the lines of: “He lit up his fifth spliff of the morning…” or, “There was a faint scent of opium lingering outside his room.”

“I can’t avoid the truth, I do smoke a lot and did a lot of drugs and am known for it,” says the 71-year-old as we sit on the sun-pocked patio of a quiet hotel in Kampot, southern Cambodia, watching fishing boats churn their way down a peaceful river.

But, he adds, his reputation as a “wigged-out crazy”, a “stoned-out freak” – descriptions of Page in Michael Herr’s classic Vietnam War book Dispatches – is starting to fuck him off a bit.

It was also during this conflict that his aforementioned reputation was incubated. He was known for getting closer to the action and into more dangerous situations than most war photographers.

full https://southeastasiaglobe.com/tim-page ... sia-globe/
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:53 pm

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Kate Webb earned a reputation as a fearless reporter during the Vietnam War.CreditCreditBettmann Archive/Getty Images


By Elizabeth Becker
Nov. 17, 2017


The Women Who Covered Vietnam

Once we got to Indochina, we had to seek out news organizations so desperate for reporters on the spot that they would employ a woman. Then again, it’s not as if we were better off at home; if we had stayed in America or Europe or Australia, we would have been confined to covering society, food, fashion and the home.

What was it like? There’s a reason none of us wrote a female version of “Dispatches,” Michael Herr’s memoir of white nights of drugs, rock ’n’ roll and sex followed by hair-raising coverage of battles. In that book, Herr refers to us as “girl reporters” and treats us more or less like wallpaper.

We had enough on our hands with the sexual politics of the day and the endless gossip about our personal lives. Brash memoirs à la Lena Dunham would not have worked. Emblematic of my experience in Cambodia was the first news conference held by the newly arrived American ambassador, John Gunther Dean. At one point Dean asked a reporter to repeat a question, saying he had been “distracted by Miss Becker’s legs.”

Kate told me that even though she hated the “bang-bang,” as she called the fetishization of guns and gung-ho culture found among many of our male colleagues, she had to master war reporting to understand the suffering. She showed me how to measure a bomb crater, how to safely follow a military unit and how, in the midst of it all, to save one’s humanity.

full https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/opin ... etnam.html
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:52 pm

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Richard Dudman (far left), Malcolm Caldwell (far right), the author, and Commander Pin, a senior Khmer Rouge military figure, stand near Cambodia's eastern border. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Becker)

By Elizabeth Becker
October 3, 2016


Two reporters escaped with their lives, but left Cambodia with very different stories. History shows one was right.

I heard a crash and ran from my bedroom to the living room, coming face to face with a gunman who pointed his pistol at me. I ran and hid in a bathtub while the assassin raced upstairs, where he saw Dudman, who ran into his room and locked the door.

I waited by myself in the dark for several fearful hours before we were rescued. Dudman was safe, I was told, but Caldwell had been murdered. The Khmer Rouge foreign minister blamed the Vietnamese for Caldwell’s murder. Still traumatized, I said, no, the gunman was Cambodian. I knew a regime that controlled our every move could have protected us from that assassin

The curtain lifted only once, during a road trip to an agricultural region. We were standing at an empty highway rest stop when, across the road, I saw a single-file line of thin children, barefoot and in rags, carrying light firewood. I grabbed my camera and took a few photographs while our guide explained that these children were “students” learning about farming.

I snuck out twice from the guest house during our siesta hour and saw blocks of abandoned buildings left to rot. On the first of these forays, I ran into a group of workers in black pajamas who let me take their photograph and then disappeared into a building. They seemed almost afraid of me. The second time, I was caught. After that, the guesthouses were locked during the day as well as at night.

I kept thinking I’d turn a corner and I’d see real life. I’d run into some kids playing a game, or some women talking….Cambodians are lively people, but there was nothing. What was missing was almost profoundly more upsetting to me than what was there.”

full extensive article https://www.cjr.org/special_report/geno ... orters.php
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:01 am

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By David A. Andelman

Phnom Penh Before the Fall: A Reporter’s Memory

It was just before 2 pm on February 26, 1975 when the twin-engine Air Cambodge prop plane arrived over Pochentong Airport and began a series of downward spirals until we touched down. This “falling leaf” pattern was designed to thwart Khmer Rouge gunners targeting incoming flights. We taxied quickly to a three-sided enclosure of sandbags. The door opened, and there, waiting at the stairs was Sydney Schanberg.

At the Hotel Phnom (now Raffles Le Royal) I found few amenities. For the next two months, I’d stretch out in my bed surrounded by mosquito netting and write my stories on my Lettera 32 portable typewriter by the light of a kerosene lamp. Of course, there was no electricity—except for a couple of hours once or twice a week, or all night whenever an army general bunked in with one of his lady friends.

At the table my first morning was Al Rockoff—one of the single oddest, most fearless and most supportive human beings. If you were his friend, you were his friend for life and there was nothing he wouldn’t do to protect and befriend you.My most immediate concern was with Schanberg and his amanuensis, fixer, translator and soul mate to both of us. This was Dith Pran. Born in Siem Reap just outside Angkor Wat on September 27, 1942, he was almost exactly two years older than I was.

Sure enough, 20 minutes down the path, we found the wat. Inside were a young Cambodian colonel, Van Dy, and an aide with a heavy combat radio. There was gunfire out beyond the clearing where we crouched. The captain pointed across to a tree line where his forces had engaged the Khmer Rouge. The colonel was on and off the radio, but seemed relatively unconcerned. What he was concerned about, was plummeting morale.

“OK, run for it,” my escort said. Dragging my suitcase, I ran for the open rear cargo door, heaved the bag in and leaped in behind it. Seconds later, the pilot started the takeoff roll, and we were in the air. Down below, I could see puffs of smoke just beyond the runway we’d left. An hour or so later, we were touching down in Bangkok. My war, and my last visit to Cambodia, was over.

Full extensive article https://worldpolicy.org/2015/04/17/phno ... rs-memory/
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:53 pm

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By Seth Mydans
July 6, 2000


Apart from death, he said, ''that was another fear I had, that I'd get out alive and have nothing to show for it.''

Al Rockoff, once a wild and daring much-wounded freelance photographer -- and now an only slightly less wild free spirit with a frighteningly untrammeled gray beard -- has become a part of the history he recorded, pretty much by standing still.

He is the man portrayed by John Malkovich in the movie ''The Killing Fields'' -- a portrayal he hates -- who stayed here in Phnom Penh, along with the tiniest handful of other journalists, to photograph the end of the war and the dawn of Cambodia's horror under the Khmer Rouge.

In the weeks that followed, Mr. Rockoff chronicled the scenes inside the embassy, but he also spent considerable energy concealing his film, hiding it in the dry tank of a toilet and then, during the truck ride to Thailand, taping it to the inside of his leg.

He denies that he is obsessed with Cambodia and the trauma that he witnessed and shared. But he is quite happy to describe himself as suffering from what he calls P.T.S.D. -- post-traumatic stress disorder.

''Yeah, I've got it,'' he said. ''But how you handle it defines whether you've got P.T.S.D. For what I've got, I'm normal.''

full https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/06/arts ... apher.html
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:14 am

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New York Times correspondent Sydney Schanberg (L) talking with Cambodian colleague Dith Pran in The Times office in New York, Jan. 15, 1980.

by Dan Southerland
2016-11-08


Remembering the Best of the ‘Fixers’

More important in many cases, their job was also to get us back safely from the war to the capital city of Phnom Penh.

But most of the fixers were on their own. Dith Pran was one of them. He was also one of the few who managed to avoid being executed by the Khmer Rouge after they captured Phnom Penh. He did so by passing himself off as an uneducated peasant

In 2010, I placed an ad in Cambodia’s most widely read newspaper asking if anyone knew the whereabouts of one of my favorite fixers, the man who had gotten Woody Dickerman and myself out of trouble in the spring of 1975.

Then as now, fixers run risks equal to those of any war correspondent but in most cases without life insurance or an evacuation plan to get them out of trouble when battlefield conditions become dangerous enough to offer a choice between life and death.

Two American photographers—one of them, Sean Flynn, son of the actor Errol Flynn—disappeared up the road near the Viet Cong roadblock that day. It turned out that they were hoping to see the war from the other side.

full https://www.rfa.org/english/commentarie ... 41223.html
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:03 pm

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by Dan O'Donnell.

An eyewitness account of the 1997 coup, and the looting of Pochentong Airport,

His big, mad, jungle eyes rolled around under a neat pressed beret. He bristled with clean, well-oiled side arms, extra magazines, grenades, a field aerial, short wave radio and a very shiny bayonet; the absence of an AK47 was noted, suggesting he was the commander of the soldiers that were going berserk around us. Smiley Ang and I lay splayed on the dirt in front of him, we tried to remain calm whilst thinking fast.

To be amongst it was incredibly exciting. My girlfriend at the time was a news camerawoman. As we chased the fighting through the streets on a motorbike, she shot pictures riding pillion. It was exhilarating: an adrenaline-driven junket. Much more fun than being holed up in a 4 star hotel full of alarmed diplomats and frustrated journalists. Both desperately trying to file reports over jammed phone lines, hampered with sketchy information and patchy electric supply.

The call was from our security guards at the airport fuel depot. The father & two sons were absolutely terrified. With almost no Khmer, even I could work out that they were in deep trouble. It seems 25 - 30 CPP soldiers had overrun the depot. They were hell bent on stealing everything and were not taking kindly to their witnesses. As soon as curfew broke, I rode straight round to Smiley's apartment located near the central market. I suggested we go and try and help the guards, he didn't agree. Despite his protestations, I knew he would follow.

Arguing like this, I said: he could easily take everything and sell it to his commander, after all, he was the boss. But one day there would be order again. When that time came, there would be reprisals from the UN aimed at anyone responsible for violence and damage that was not related to direct military action. Why not take the $2000 I am holding now, and $2000 will be delivered later. This way, he would profit without fear of future recrimination. Besides, after passing everything up to his commander, $4000 was probably more than he'd make anyway.

full https://www.mekong.net/cambodia/coup_pch.htm
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:05 pm

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Image:Jon Swain

Jon Swain
19 April 1998


Jon Swain, who narrowly escaped execution on the day the Khmer Rouge took Phomh Penh, recalls Pol Pot's calamitous impact on a country that has never recovered from his tyranny.

As Phnom Penh fell on that hot, sticky April day in 1975, Mean Leang, a Cambodian colleague, was in the post office filing dispatches to the Associated Press in Hong Kong on an antiquated telex machine. "I feel rather trembling," his final message read. "May be last cable today and for ever." Then he was cut off.

The war had made a wilderness of destruction out of Cambodia; whole towns and villages were in ruins. Now, with Phnom Penh's fall, most Cambodians wanted only to return to their homes and pick up the threads of an insouciant pre-war past.

Ngor's head was clamped in a vice. The Khmer Rouge cut off his little finger, strung him up on a cross and roasted him above a fire to make him confess to being educated. Ngor, a doctor, convinced his tormentors that he was a taxi driver. Ngor survived the "killing fields" but was tragically murdered two years ago during a robbery in Los Angeles. He never ceased campaigning to bring Pol Pot to justice.

"To spare you is no profit; to destroy you is no loss" was one of Pol Pot's slogans. Another: that Angkar, the Khmer Rouge's Organisation on High, was all-seeing. "Angkar has more eyes than a pineapple," Brother No 1 was fond of saying.

full http://jonswain.org/articles/articles/p ... age32.html
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Re: Stories of War

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:29 pm

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Lt. William L. Calley, Jr. during his court-martial at Ft. Benning, Ga. in April 1973. (Joe Holloway, Jr/AP)

Jun 14, 2018

How reporter Seymour Hersh uncovered a massacre, and changed the Vietnam War dialogue

When journalist Seymour Hersh found proof that U.S. soldiers had massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians in a Vietnam village in 1968, no one wanted to publish his story.

"They were throwing live babies up in the air, and catching them on bayonets."

"They were raping everything, everyone. They were killing like you've never seen before, it's a massacre out of ... the 13th century," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti, during a conversation about his new book Reporter: A Memoir.

By the time the soldiers left, it's estimated that 504 people had been murdered. The Pentagon tried to cover up the massacre, but Hersh's dogged investigation eventually broke the story in November, 1969 — even though Life and Look magazines both turned it down. Hersh eventually found a willing publisher in Dispatch News Service (DNS), a news agency founded just the year before.

Hersh's first indication that something had happened at My Lai came from Geoffrey Cowan, a young lawyer advocating against the war.

"He gave me a tip," Hersh remembers. "He said: 'Some GI shot up a village and killed a lot of people, as many as 75, and it's all over the Pentagon.'"

"He stopped in the corridor," Hersh said, "And he reached down with his right hand and he whacked his bad knee — the one that had been shot up — and he said; 'Sy, that guy Calley, he didn't shoot anybody higher than that. There's no story. He's just a criminal."

Hersh tracked him down to the senior bachelor officers' quarters at Fort Benning, Ga. — accommodation usually reserved for high-ranking generals."He was staying in a pretty plush place for a kid that was up for mass murder," Hersh remembered.

It was eventually picked up by the Washington-based Dispatch News Service, and distributed to newspapers across the U.S. on Nov. 12, 1969. Today it's credited as a turning point in the conversation around the Vietnam War, emboldening voices that wanted to end it, and making the argument to continue more difficult to justify. But Hersh is circumspect in discussing his story's impact.

"It didn't stop us from being brutal again in war," he said. "Do we fight wars any better?"

Article contains graphic images.
full https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the ... -1.4704660
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