Catherine Leroy, [Crowd of soldiers taking photographs during a USO performance, Vietnam], 1960s (2014.47.1)
This last blog post for Women’s History Month is devoted to Catherine Leroy. The French photojournalist boarded a plane to Vietnam in 1966 at the age of 21. She had no experience in a war zone or, as she put it, “I had never heard a shot fired in anger.” When she arrived in Saigon she headed over to the office of The Associated Press where she was given three rolls of film. It was the start of years of committed and award-winning coverage of war.
For a brief period during the Vietnam war, Ms. Leroy was kidnapped by the North Vietnamese Army together with the French journalist Francois Mazure. Rather than instantly leaving after they were set free, the two journalists seized the opportunity to interview and photograph the men who captured them. They gladly cooperated and posed in set-up battle scenes. The story and photographs ran six pages long in Life magazine. Within months of her arrival in Vietnam, Catherine Leroy had positioned herself as a powerful voice in the world of photojournalism.