Marc Phillip Yablonka, the author of Vietnam Bao Chi: Warriors of Word and Film, provides a glimpse of the Vietnam War that many are not familiar with. His book documents the stories of the U.S. military’s combat journalists and photographers that recorded the events of the Vietnam War through news reports and photographs. There are a lot of books about the civilian media that covered the war in Southeast Asia; but very few about the men and women who wore a uniform with the same job.
The book contains interviews with 35 combat correspondents and photographers who reported on the Vietnam War. The profiles are of men from all the services – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. The stories by Yablonka cover the exploits of these military journalists and photographers from 1962 to the end of the war in 1975. The book’s title – Vietnam Bao Chi – comes from the Vietnamese word (loosely translated) for journalist – Bao chi.
A few of the people that Yablonka writes about will likely be well-known within the military community. Dale Dye is one of them. He was a Marine officer who served his first Vietnam tour in the infantry. He later moved to a new job – Marine Corps Combat Correspondent. After the war Dye would work in Hollywood advising the entertainment industry in the production of movies about the military. He was a member of the cast in the film Platoon where he played the of Captain Harris – a company commander. Dye was the technical advisor for that movie as well.
Those in the Special Forces community will recognize the name of Jim Morris. Yablonka provides a concise history of his writings both during the Vietnam conflict and after. Jim served in both the 1st and 5th Special Forces Groups and is one of the better known writers of the Green Beret experience in Vietnam. Part of his career (for a short time) in SF was serving as a Public Information Officer (PIO). While serving on Okinawa with the 1st SFG(A) Jim edited The Liberator – the monthly magazine of the 1st SFG(A). Later, while serving in Vietnam he edited The Green Beret – the magazine of the 5th SFG(A). Morris’s work has been published in periodicals such like Esquire, Saturday Evening Post, and Soldier of Fortune. Morris eventually turned to writing books – both fiction and non-fiction. One of his better known books is War Story.
One story of interest by Yablonka is of Chip Maury – a Navy seaman who learned to skydive with the 1st Special Forces Group Parachute Club on Okinawa. In time, he would accumulate over 1,800 jumps. He also did lock outs from submarines as well. His photography work took him on trips on board Swift Boats traversing the rivers and canals of Vietnam. His time with the Navy included free-fall camera work as a member of the Navy Special Warfare’s “Leap Frogs”. While serving in Vietnam he carried not only his camera – but weapons such as the M-16, 9-mm pistol, CAR-15, and a grease gun.
This book is an easy read. The numerous stories – in their own separate chapter – can be read one at a time or several at a time. So the reader can read a few of the stories, put the book down, and then pick it up again much later without losing the focus of the book. This story of military combat journalists and photographers will be of interest to those who served in the Vietnam conflict as well as historians, journalists, photographers, and others. A good read!
Vietnam Bai Ch: Warriors of Word and Film, by Marc Phillip Yablonka, Casemate Publishers, 2018. Available in Kindle and hardcover.
About the Author: Marc Phillip Yablonka is a military journalist and author. His articles have appeared in Stars and Stripes, Military Heritage, Soldier of Fortune, and other periodicals. He is the author of three previous books. He served as a public affairs officer with the California State Military Reserve.