Portrait of an Older Vietnamese Man During the Battle of Hue, February 1968
military historyhistoriesstoriesportraitsTet OffensivesnipersWounded in action (WIA)stressinternal stresscombatcombat zonesbattlespressurewar photographyciviliansWar
Portrait of an old Vietnamese man during the Battle of Hue, February 1968. Photo by Don McCullin Here is an interview with Don McCullin discussing his observations during the Tet Offensive: DON MCCULLIN, THE BATTLE OF HUE - FEBRUARY 1968: WOUNDED LIEUTENANT. The Colonel that I was with, his name was Myron Harrington, said to me, "This will be a 24-hour operation". Two weeks later and 70 men killed and a thousand casualties, the Marines took a bit of a beating. I came away from Hue, a much older, and a much wiser person than I went in because I didn't take my clothes off for 2 weeks. I didn't shave, I didn't wash, and I was living like an animal. With Delta company I was on the wall. And what happened was that the snipers were just cutting these people to pieces, and we couldn't see these snipers - like all snipers they are secret killers. This particular day, I was with a probing patrol of Marines and they got really badly hit and the actual lieutenant who was in charge of this patrol was hit - clipped in the throat - and he was also badly wounded in the thigh, he was immobile and couldn't move. So I crawled over to him and I said, "Look. I can't do much for you, but let me bandage your leg and let's get out of here, I'll help you." And he said, "No, I'm going to bring down fire on this position" and I said, "You must be crazy." The thing was, he was in very big shock and he was losing it -- or he'd lost it, really, and so I calmed him down. The things, events changed and the pressure came off of us, and thank god he didn't send that command to bring the artillery down on our own positions. But that's what men are like in war, they sometimes break up and they lose it. It's all about shock and it's all about being in war really. We have been through many of those days. The thing of course, is that we don't lose it. DON MCCULLIN - ON PHOTOGRAPHING THE VIETNAM WAR: We became war junkies. It was always at the expense of other people's lives. That wasn't right for us to get off on that, but we did it. And in many ways we went to Vietnam and we also raped the country, we changed our money on the black markets, we became famous photographers and doors opened for us more easily because we made a name in photography. But we always have to remember how we made that name. We made it at the expense of other people's suffering. We went to those places, we got a certain amount of excitement out of it, and even that was wrong because the worse it got, the more excited we got. Admittedly we were afraid - sometimes we occasionally paid the price in blood, from our own bodies. Well, if I have to think back about it -- first of all, it's done me a great deal of harm. It helped to ruin part of my life. My first marriage broke up, and also I started to get slightly off the rails. It affected my life and I was a very angry young man, I needed to test myself. But in the end it was an indulgence, because I didn't need to do that. What I've discovered in myself now, is that -- first of all I hate those photographs I took all those years, that is to say the photographs I have done in the past 10 or 15 years give me much more pleasure because they are about life, they are about the countryside, they are about the land, and the rivers, and the beauty of our planet and even that is under threat. What is left of my photography and my energy -- my body is refusing to climb hills or carry all of my equipment. But I still have the passion of photography. And I will exercise that passion until I am on my knees.
Images hosted by: Salt Lake Community College
Original version: Collection with various creators donated by Bernie Weisz; Archival digital version: SLCC Digital Archives. CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License.
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