Monday, March 4, 2013

A Network Newsman Writes Home From Vietnam, 1967-1968

The Tet Offensive in South Vietnam Began on January 30, 1968, and fighting continued until the end of February. [ These letters and others were published in The Washingtonian magazine, October 1989. The correspondent sued the magazine for $50 million for publishing them. The magazine agreed to run an apology saying that it "regrets any intrusion on *********'s privacy and that it had not intended to cause him "harm or embarrassment or to impugn his character or integrity in any respect."]

January 23, 1968
Danang, South Vietnam
Dear ***** **** **

Everyone thinks the North Vietnamese are going to make a big attack on the Marines north of here sometime soon. But I am staying far away from any battles, as I promised you. I have been sending out the cameraman and when he comes back I write my script from what he tells me while staying safe at the press center. For instance, a few minutes ago the Marines announced they are making a landing somewhere up the coast from boats. I sent the cameraman alone and I am waiting here...for him to come back.

They are not paying me enough to get me out of this place into combat again. So there's nothing to worry about....

Love, ******

February 3, 1969

Dearest *******,

I want you to know I am safe out of Danang, Hue, Khe Sanh, and back in Saigon in one piece and finished with the war at last. The only problem now is trying to find a way to get out of here. All the commercial airliners are canceled. So I am on the list to go out on the first military flight. Fourteen or so correspondents are on the list ahead of me, but five are just about to leave, so I will be leaving in two or three days.

David Burrington was supposed to come out here for one month. (I guess that's the way they are doing it now.) But then he was canceled. Doug Kiker of the Huntley-Brinkley show is coming for two or three weeks, but the cable says he will not go into combat. That the kind of deal to get! George Murray arrived and brought your letters, which I was glad to get.... I told him of my decision to try to live because I have you to live for instead of going to dangerous places where there is a chance of dying.

Love, *******

May 4, 1968

Dearest ***** **

My disappointment about not going to the peace talks is beginning to wear off a little bit. But I'm still in pretty bad shape. I can't sleep either at night or during the day. And I have no interest in this Panama story at all.

I've tried to reason with myself that I shouldn't feel so bad about not being assigned to the peace talks. I know they've sent all the big stars, with the exception of Garrick [Utley]. But it doesn't make me feel any better.... There is no other correspondent at NBC who has been more involved with the Vietnam story than me.... I went to Vietnam and went into combat when no other NBC correspondent would I won an award for NBC and almost got killed for NBC news.

Okay, I suppose I will get over this disappointment eventually. But the real problem is what does this mean for the future.... Only one younger guy has been taken into the "star" group recently and that was [Jack] Perkins, instead of me. So I see years and years ahead of just being in the mediocre group of correspondents, okay to cover the minor stories but not a big enough star to cover the really big stories.

Your depressed husband. *********

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