Media people

Personal OC media stories 40 years after Saigon

tracy-wood-1973.jpgTracy Wood at Pleiku, in South Vietnam, in 1973.

OC Voice writers Tracy Wood and Thy Vo both wrote personal stories for the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, which was marked in Orange County (and elsewhere) last week. Wood, at the time a correspondent for UPI, was one of the few female combat correspondents to cover the war in Vietnam. She later was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. In her piece, she writes about the lessons she learned in Vietnam about official corruption and how it has informed her reporting on government ever since. Vo's parents "were in the second wave of refugees to leave Vietnam after Saigon fell in 1975."

Here's a sample of Wood's piece:

As a young reporter covering the Vietnam War I saw first hand the horrors of combat. And, compounded by political corruption, thousands died for no reason.

I remember Newsweek correspondent Alex Shimkin. One day he was sitting with several of us in the United Press International (UPI) Saigon office, discussing a range of recent war events. Three days later he was dead from a North Vietnamese hand grenade.

Three years later, a key member of the UPI staff disappeared after the Khmer Rouge brutally conquered neighboring Phnom Penh, Cambodia barely two weeks before Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. He, like thousands of other Cambodians, never was found.

And then there are those I knew only by name. The young men who died or were wounded on firebases, believing they were defending the essential principles of freedom. The civilians who died or were injured because they were in the wrong place when fighting broke out.

Remember, in war, it is the young fighters and civilians who die. The leaders who initiate it almost never face discomfort. And when the system also is corrupt, big profits can be made from ordering people to die.

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