“THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES” – A DEAR FRIEND
DIES AND THE END SUDDENLY COMES IN SIGHT
GEORGE ESPER, BELOVED ASSOCIATED PRESS
WAR CORRESPONDENT IN VIETNAM, SLIPS AWAY
IN HIS SLEEP – MOST GENEROUS AND RESPECTED
NEWSMAN IN SAIGON PRESS CORPS – REST IN
PEACE – YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN
© 2012 MilitaryCorruption.com
Within an hour of hearing of his dear friend’s death, MAJ Glenn MacDonald, USAR (Ret), our esteemed colleague and longtime editor-in-chief here at MilitaryCorruption.com, dictated the words written below from his sickbed in Maine. A 100% disabled (combat-related) former Army combat correspondent and later, civilian newsman in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, MacDonald has suffered declining health in recent weeks and faces his own mortality.
George Esper, 79, was a special friend, the kind made under fire in wartime, experiencing shared danger.
Mac was a 20 year-old NCO when he first met the Associated Presscorrespondent. Esper and Ann Mariano (first editor of Overseas Weekly in Saigon) had a profound effect on our editor, as well as his journalistic hero, Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent Peter Arnett.
“We knew George hadn’t been well for some time, but I’d hoped he could take me up on my invitation to come visit me at my retirement home on the lake in Maine,” MacDonald said. “Now, that will never be.”
In a departure from our usual stories, we reproduce here below, a personal message sent via e-mail by Mac to the dwindling band of his fellow war correspondents whom also loved and will miss their dear colleague George Esper, just departed.
By GLENN MacDONALD
It’s an especially hard blow to lose George.
He was the kindest and most gentle person I knew in the Saigon Press Corps – a dear friend for more than 40 years – a man of great honor and integrity.
At the various war correspondent reunions we attended, or talking on the phone over the years, I’d always remind him: “George, you know you’re the most beloved correspondent of them all.”
He’d always laugh it off, but I know he was touched by my words.
I remember the night in 1995 when I was still on the job, a UPI correspondent in tuxedo, slipping out of the ballroom at intervals to phone in news copy and do radio spots.
When George was called to the podium to share some of his stories of Vietnam, everyone gave him a standing ovation. Cheers rang out in the room as evidence of our love and great respect for this wonderful man.
I’d like to think last night, when George peacefully passed on in his sleep, the angels cheered as he made his way to his heavenly home, where they say there is no more pain and suffering, and every tear is wiped away.
See you soon, old friend. Thanks for everything.
AN UNPRECEDENTED HONOR – COMMUNIST
VIETNAM MAKES OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON DEATH
OF BELOVED ASSOCIATED PRESS WAR
CORRESPONDENT GEORGE ESPER – SAYS AP
NEWSMAN “A KIND AND CARING GENTLEMAN”
WE JOURNALISTS WHO WERE PRIVILEGED TO
HAVE KNOWN AND WORKED WITH ESPER
KNEW HE WAS POLITICALLY UNBIASED – LIVED
HIS LIFE AS TESTIMONY TO KINDNESS AND
DECENCY – HE WAS TRULY “ONE-OF-A-KIND”
© 2012 MilitaryCorruption.com
For some ten years, George Esper enabled The Associated Press to score scoop after scoop in the intensive battle for news coverage supremacy between AP and United Press International, as well as other wire services and news organizations in Vietnam.
The hallmark of the AP war correspondent was his even-handed, fair reportage. While some of the “mainstream media” wore their leftist bias on their sleeve, Esper was a consummate professional. A onetime Air Force captain, George loved America and would never do or say anything to undermine national security. He always told the truth and let his readers decide what was what.
A friend to all, and outstanding mentor to young journalists over the years, George was known for his kindness and decency.
He was a competitive reporter, but he never played dirty or engaged in methods that would bring shame upon his profession.
Perhaps that is why, in a truly unprecedented action, the Communist government in Vietnam issued an official statement upon the recent death of this outstanding “bao chi.”
From his sick bed in Maine, our editor-in-chief, MAJ Glenn MacDonald, USAR (Ret), sent in his thoughts on the unusual honor for a onetime “enemy” correspondent.
By GLENN MacDONALD
In a letter delivered to AP’s Hanoi Bureau, (an office once headed by Esper in the mid-1990’s), George was remembered as a “kind and caring friend.” The missive went on to praise Esper’s “tenacity and professionalism.”
George was gentle, but he also was brave. He didn’t always stay in Saigon, like some journalists during the war. We’d see him at fire bases in the boonies, the Danang Press Club, up at Khe Sanh and Lang Vei, or at any place in Vietnam where news was breaking.
He married a Vietnamese woman and fathered three children. I had many conversations with him since I was a very young Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. The killing and destruction all around us greatly affected Esper.
George was a soft touch for hoards of homeless children who hung around the hotels selling peanuts. He also was always there with a couple bucks for fellow correspondents short on cash, from Saigon to Phnom Penh and all points in between. I know, since George bailed me out once, by the pool behind the old Hotel Phnom in Cambodia
MilitaryCorruption.com thanks the Vietnam officials in Hanoi who, like us, saw George as a good and decent man who told the truth and tried to make this world a better place.