Wednesday, 06/12/2023 09:30

Senior journalist reflects on war reporting in new memoir


The cover of the war memoir Hồi Ký Phóng Viên Chiến Trường - Trên Những Nẻo Đường Chiến Tranh Và Hòa Bình (War Correspondent's Memoirs - On the Paths of War and Peace) by senior journalist Trần Mai Hưởng. VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Anh

HÀ NỘI Senior journalist Trần Mai Hưởng, former general director of the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), has released a new book that takes readers on a nostalgic journey through his time as a war correspondent.

The memoir, entitled Hồi Ký Phóng Viên Chiến Trường - Trên Những Nẻo Đường Chiến Tranh Và Hòa Bình (War Correspondent's Memoirs - On the Paths of War and Peace), is published by Vietnam News Agency Publishing House in collaboration with Alpha Books.

Journalism is a truly dangerous profession, especially for war correspondents. They constantly find themselves in the midst of life-and-death situations, facing the arrows and bullets of uncertainty.

Throughout the 20th century, Việt Nam experienced four wars, and nearly 500 war journalists lost their lives, 260 of them being officially confirmed as journalists from VNA. Among those fortunate to survive and return to tell their life stories, is journalist Trần Mai Hưởng.

Throughout the 468-page book, readers are truly immersed in the experiences of a war correspondent - someone who stands between life and death, yet remains determined to write, capture photographs, and timely deliver information to the readers.

"Suddenly, the ground shook, and I witnessed a series of bombs scattered right in front of me, creating a vacuum that made it difficult to breathe, followed by waves reverberating through the air..." Hưởng wrote.

Senior journalist Trần Mai Hưởng (centre) is pictured at the book launch. VNA/VNS Photo Ngọc Anh

Amidst such sacrifices and hardships, the author vividly portrays the images of Vietnamese troops’ and people's fights and victories.

He was among the journalists present on the frontlines during the liberation of the central province of Quảng Trị in the 1972 General Offensive and Uprising Campaign. He personally witnessed and recorded the moments of exchange between the two sides and the overwhelming joy when imprisoned Vietnamese soldiers were reunited with their loved ones in Thạch Hãn, Quảng Trị, after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in early 1973 and during the Spring of 1975.

The author was also present when the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế was liberated, promptly transmitting news and articles capturing the festive atmosphere of the city. He was also in Đà Nẵng immediately after the city was liberated, ensuring timely reporting despite the challenging journey on a motorcycle.

And the most memorable moment was when Hưởng was present at the Independence Palace to capture the historic moment when the Liberation Army tanks advanced into the grounds of the Independence Palace on the afternoon of April 30, 1975.

Journalist Trần Mai Hưởng was at the right time and place to capture the historic moment when the Liberation Army tanks advanced into the Independence Palace on the afternoon of April 30, 1975. Photo courtesy of the journalist

This photograph was later widely renowned and became a symbol of the Great Spring Victory in 1975, which the author considers "an unforgettable memory in his journalistic career." He vividly portrays the joyful atmosphere as Sài Gòn (HCM City) was completely liberated, capturing the diverse emotions through his writing.

Not only providing reports on the Vietnamese people's resistance war against the US, Hưởng also covered the border war in the Southwest, safeguarding the homeland and assisting the Cambodian people in escaping genocide and reviving their nation.

He was a frontline correspondent present in Phnom Penh when the city was liberated, providing timely news, articles and photographs about its liberation, and many other images of Cambodia.

When the Vietnamese military completed their mission in Cambodia, he personally witnessed the warm sentiments of the Cambodian people towards the Vietnamese soldiers.

Later on, the author was also present in the northern provinces of Hà Giang and Cao Bằng during the fight against the invading enemy forces.

He also had the opportunity to visit the US, seeking out "milestones related to his memories," such as the Vietnam War memorials in New York and Washington. There he took vivid notes about the Vietnamese expats in the US who always remember and wish their homeland prosperity and development.

In the introduction of the memoir, journalist Lê Quốc Minh, Central Party Committee Member, Editor-in-Chief of Nhân Dân (The People) newspaper, and Chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association, wrote: “This memoir is valuable for readers across the country and for us journalists in particular. I hope that every journalist will read this book at least once.”

According to Deputy General Director of Vietnam News Agency, Nguyễn Thị Sự, the memoir is introduced in a very meaningful context, coinciding with the commemoration of Vietnam People's Army Day on December 22.

“The book takes readers back to the wartime years, with intense events and characters. It helps younger generations like us to better understand a time of youthful enthusiasm, dedication, and the author's and his colleagues' commitment at VNA during that period - those who have fulfilled the glorious mission of being 'journalists, soldiers,' contributing to the tradition of VNA and making significant contributions to the revolutionary press of Việt Nam,” she noted.

Nguyễn Đức Lợi, standing deputy chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association, said: "In their career, not every journalist has the opportunity to experience the most crucial moments of history and the biggest turning point in the resistance war against the US.

“This book is truly a valuable resource for the general public and especially for journalists,” he added. VNS

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