Published : Monday, November 4, 2019 | 5:56 AM
Pasadena City College instructor Marc Yablonka is teaching the world about the people who covered the Vietnam War. He has written a new book to honor the reporters and photographers on the front lines and beyond, called “Vietnam Bao Chi: Warriors of Word and Film.”
Yablonka is an instructor at the Community Education Center of Pasadena City College. He said not enough credit goes to the reporters and photographers who were on the scene during the war that impacted our lives in the early 1970s.
“When we think of Vietnam and the coverage that it got, we usually defer to the civilian photographers and reporters who brought the word home to the United States and to the world,” Yablonka said. “But my book was the first of its kind in that it deals with the fact that there were actually guys — and I say guys — because back then there were no women snapping photos and writing stories.
“The guys who did so in the service of all five branches of the military,” Yablonka said. “I have been in Vietnam since the war ended, as a correspondent myself, as a stringer, as a freelancer for different publications. So my trips to Vietnam were after the war. I was certainly old enough to have been in Vietnam at the time, but I was one of those who had a student deferment, so I did not have to go.”
Yablonka said there he always had the drive to report on those who reported from the war of his lifetime.
“I guess the impetus for my reportage about Vietnam is because I wasn’t there,” he said. “And my mission has been for many years to write about people who were in all kinds of different capacities. So basically I’m coming at the Vietnam war several years after it’s over, but I feel that my mission and that the message is important enough to get out.”
During his own reporting for the book and for his freelance work, Yablonka said he discovered the touching stories of others as well.
“I’m basically an educator by background,” Yablonka said. “I got into Vietnam and I got my first job in education at one of the adult schools in LA in 1975. That year, the Vietnam war ended. We started getting all these Vietnamese refugees who were very endearing and in many cases, told sad stories about what they’d endured. Then the boat people came along a couple of years after that. Flash forward to 2019 and I’m still an educator.”
Yablonka has had good reactions to the book and he’s been making the rounds.
“The reaction has been positive,” Yablonka said. “Journalists captured the horrors of the war but they also captured the good that the military was doing.”
See reviews of Yablonka’s book here:
In addition to paying tribute to the military, Yablonka has gotten the support of some people who are also included in the work.
“I just recently headed a panel on my book, at the Los Angeles Center of Photography that was put on by the American Society of Media Photographers,” Yablonka said. “Three or four of the people who are in my book were there to join me, notably Dale Dye who is the actor and director of films. Dale has what’s called Warriors Incorporated, where he trains actors, the likes of Tom Hanks and others, in what it was really like to be a soldier.”
Yablonka said not enough credit has been given to the war correspondents of Vietnam over the years. It was a demanding job that required quick maneuvering.
“There were actually guys who would tell you that they often had to make split-second decisions on whether to shoot their cameras or their M-16,” he said.
“The guys who I interviewed are very appreciative because when we think of the Vietnam war, we often think of the civilian coverage,” Yablonka said. “But these reporters and photographers deserve great honors.”
For more information go to Yablonka’s website: https://warstoriespress.com