ANOTHER LEAF FALLS FROM THE TREE – FEW OF US REMAIN – FELLOW WAR CORRESPONDENT DON HIRST PASSES ON TO “THAT PRESS CAMP IN THE SKY, WHERE THE BAR IS ALWAYS OPEN AND DRINKS ARE ON THE HOUSE”
FORMER EDITOR OF OVERSEAS WEEKLY IN VIETNAM FOUGHT COURAGEOUSLY AGAINST THE CANCER THAT FINALLY KILLED HIM
THIS “BAO CHI” WILL MISS A LOYAL FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE OF MANY YEARS
By MAJ GLENN MacDONALD
U.S. ARMY RESERVE (Ret.)
Time to get out the tattered black notebook from my desk and cross off yet another name of our dwindling band of Vietnam war correspondents, A red “D” in a circle goes next to the line denoting the beloved Don Hirst, who courageously defied death until the very end. It was a magnificent fight, chronicled over the years by the former Overseas Weekly editor who slipped into eternity Sept. 7th. He was 72.
Don’s journalism career in some ways paralleled my own, as we both were enlisted men and NCO’s in Vietnam. The Baltimore native was a combat photographer and I a combat correspondent. He did two tours in-country with the Army and I did three consecutive, from 1966-1969.
Like Don, I also was an accredited civilian war correspondent there, first in 1971 as a free lance and two years later with ABC RADIO NEWS. Hirst was a hard-charging editor of O.W., the tabloid newspaper that the GI’s loved. It took on the brass and published stories – especially court-martials of officers – that the Pentagon tried to cover-up.
MilitaryCorruption.com, where I was privileged to be editor-in-chief for 18 years, was a direct by-product of Oversea Weekly. Our style and format closely followed theirs. They blazed the trail for our kind of journalism.
There are three names that shine from the period 1966-72 at OW: first, the female editor par excellence (see related story list at bottom of this article) Ann Mariano; Brent Procter, and Don Hirst. Now, Brent is the sole survivor.
Don Hirst and I had a friend who was a combat photographer with the 54th Signal Bn. in Nha Trang. SP4 Marc Lofaro of the Bronx, New York was shot dead by a sniper a short distance from me as we covered street fighting on Jan. 30, 1968. It was the first night of the Communist “Tet offensive.”
Years later, Don and I discussed the death of our friend and fellow journalist. “I was on TDY in Saigon at the time and that might have been me killed instead of Marc if I had been back in Nha Trang, ” Hirst regretfully told me.
Well, old friend, you have now seen Marc again and shook his hand. Tell him that I’ll be along one of these days and we’ll all have a wonderful reunion in that proverbial “press camp in the sky.”
DEATH COMES WITH A CRAWL,
OR COMES WITH A POUNCE,
AND WHETHER HE’S SLOW OR SPRY,
IT ISN’T THE FACT
THAT YOU’RE DEAD THAT COUNTS,
BUT ONLY, HOW DID YOU DIE?
By Edmund Vance Cook
Born: June 5, 1866
Died: December 18, 1932
OTHER GREAT PEOPLE WE HAVE LOST…