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Nguyen Ngoc Luong’s Coverage of the Vietnam War

He was one of the Vietnamese journalists for the New York Times but refused New York’s offer to relocate to The US after the 1975 event, ending the Vietnam war by the victorious Communist government. He preferred to stay in his motherland, Vietnam, because of his pride and respect for the country. He was the journalist Nguyen Ngoc Luong.

Nguyen Ngoc Luong was born on Nov. 26, 1936, in a suburb of Hanoi. His family was fairly poor as a result of Japanese-induced famine during World War II. After Vietnam was partitioned in 1954,  he moved to Saigon and became a social worker before working as an interpreter for Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the commander of United States forces in Vietnam during the 1960s. Besides, he also wrote for The Saigon Daily News, an English-language newspaper. 

His talent was then recognized by Gloria Emerson, a correspondent at New York Times, who hired him as a translator and gave him the camera that turned him into a part-time photographer. This opened up his opportunities to work for the New York Times later. 

Officially, Mr. Luong was listed as a photographer and interpreter for The Times during the Vietnam War, but he was much more than that. 

Without his dozens of published photographs in The Times, American readers would not have been able to imagine the brutality of the jungle war and then the frantic efforts of thousands of South Vietnamese to flee forces descended on it. His faithful translations of battlefield interviews revealed the valuable and hidden truth of the Vietnam War. His winning demeanor often helped him successfully persuade reticent Vietnamese to agree to candid interviews. One of his contributions to fighting against the American troops was the translation of “Winners and Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses, and Ruins From a Long War” by Emerson. It had uncovered the cruel action of the Americans after hundreds of civilians were killed in My Lai in 1970 and condemned the pointless war in VietNam. 

Hundreds of correspondents and translators like Mr. Luong have served in war zones around the world, their contribution to journalism as essential as it is anonymous. He then died of tract infection, in 2015. 79-year- lifetime has been devoted to journalism and projection of war. Not many people realize his contribution, but Nguyen Ngoc Luong is still our great correspondent and translator ever. 

Source: New York Times

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