CAMERAS, COMBAT AND COURAGE
Author: Dan Brookes
Publisher: Pen & Sword, 235 pages, 360 illustrations
Published: March 2020
This is another thoroughly absorbing book and partner volume to Dan Brookes Shooting Vietnam. This volume continues the first-hand accounts of what it was like to be a military combat photographer in what became the most photographed war in history. Cameras, Combat, and Courage follows the young men who lived the war through the lens of a camera, and tells the tale of men like Wild Bill Muchler, Mac McClellan, Curtis Hicks, Christopher Jenson, Marvin J. Wolf to name but a few. We have vignettes into the tragic story and self-sacrifice of William T. Perkins Jr during Operation Medina in October 1967 and then the dreadful ‘GhostRiders’ event in May 1970 when five combat photographers were killed when their helicopter was shot down. We follow the combat photographers through the rice paddies and swamps, jumping into hot LZ’s or strolling through deserted country villages or the noisy streets of Saigon. Dan Brookes, a talented photographer and Camp Gaynor ‘lab-rat’ processes the story of cameras, combat and courage through the men who were there, including those whose paid the supreme sacrifice.
As you would expect with a book on this subject it is lavishly illustrated with a wide selection of photographic images, not only of the war but the photographers themselves. There are sometimes powerful images of the people, culture and the land that was subjected to the horror of this war. The ones that stand out are those of the bombed out buildings and damaged cars in Cholon during the Tet Offensive showing that no one was safe, the Pan American 'Welcome to Sunny Saigon' advertising billboard that gave the false perception that this was likened to a holiday destination, that of AVRN troops crossing a river in the U Minh Forest and that of the dead US soldier killed by a sniper that caused such uproar back home. This was the war that these young photographers saw and recorded, blemishes and all. If you enjoyed Shooting Vietnam or have an interest in this South East Asia conflict, buy this book. Highly recommended.