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Catherine Leroy (born 1945, Parismarker – died 8 July 2006, Santa Monicamarker) was a French-bornmarker photojournalist and war photographer, whose stark images of battle illustrated the story of the Vietnam War in the pages of Life magazine and other publications.

Catherine was brought up in a convent in Paris. She was moved by images of war she had seen in Paris Match, and decided she wanted to travel to Vietnam to "give war a human face." At the age of 21 booked a one way ticket to Laosmarker in 1966, with just one Leica M2 and $100 in her pocket.

On arrival in Saigonmarker Leroy met the photographer Horst Faas, bureau chief of the Associated Press. A year later she became the first accredited journalist to participate in a combat parachute jump, joining the 173d Airborne Brigade in Operation Junction City. Two weeks after the battle for Hill 881marker, she was wounded with a Marine unit in the demilitarized zone. In 1968, during the Tet Offensive, Leroy was captured by the North Vietnamese Army. She managed to talk her way out and emerged as the first newsperson to take photos of the Vietcong behind their own lines, some of which were used for a Life magazine cover.

Her most famous photo, Corpsman In Anguish (1967), was one of three taken in quick succession portraying U.S. Marine corpsman Vernon Wike. In the pictures the soldier is crouched in tall grass during the battle for Hill 881 near Khe Sanhmarker. He is cradling his comrade who has been shot while smoke from the battle rises into the air behind them. In the first frame Wike has two hands on his friends chest, trying to staunch the wound. In the second, he is trying to find a heartbeat. In the third frame, "Corpsman In Anguish", he has just realised the man is dead.

After Vietnam, she covered conflicts in several countries, including Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Lebanon. After her experiences in Beirut she swore off war coverage. Later in life, she founded and ran Piece Unique, a website for people who wanted expensive designer clothes and accessories at bargain prices.

Leroy worked for the Gamma and Sipa photo agencies and later sold her work to The Associated Press and United Press International. In 1972, Leroy shot and directed Operation Last Patrol, a film about Ron Kovic and the anti-war Vietnam veterans. Leroy co-authored the book God Cried, about the siege of West Beirutmarker by the Israeli army in 1982.

Leroy won numerous awards for her work, including the George Polk award for Best Reporting Requiring Exceptional Courage and Enterprise Abroad, Picture of the Year, The Sigma Delta Chi and The Art Director's Club of New York. She was the first woman to receive the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, for her coverage of the civil war in Lebanon, in 1976. In 1997, she was the recipient of an Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missourimarker.

She died in Santa Monicamarker, Californiamarker, following a battle with lung cancer.

External links


Obituary by Phil Davison, The Independent newspaper, 17 July 2006

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