Tag Archives: john hlavacek

Television Coverage of the Vietnam War


The First “Living-Room War”

I entered high school in the middle 60’s when the war in Vietnam was escalating at a rapid pace. Newspapers and magazines were plastered with photos and stories about our involvement in Vietnam. The top stories on the nightly world news were always about the war. Newsmen were often in the middle of the action reporting the horrors of war as it happened.

I enlisted in the Navy shortly after graduating from high school and was on the 120-day delay program before I would become active. The Navy never occurred due to an untimely event in my life. I then became eligible for the draft and I knew Vietnam would be my fate…

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John Hlavacek

In early December 1970, I had the privilege of meeting John Hlavacek a reporter/foreign correspondent for a midwest television station. I was no longer with the Charlie Troop Blues due to an injury on the greenline of Phuoc Vinh and was chosen to be our Troop mail clerk for the remainder of my tour.

John’s mission was to film and interview soldiers serving in Vietnam from the TV viewing area around Sioux City, IA and Omaha, NE. He was putting together a program to be viewed as a TV Special during the 1970 Christmas Holidays. The families of the soldiers were notified by the TV stations ahead of times they could watch their loved ones when the program aired.

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Walter Cronkite

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Dan Rather

“I always want to emphasize, I felt honored — and I use the word measuredly — to cover American men and women in combat in Vietnam. Because, what everyone may think of the war — it may have been the wrong war and the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons — but the Americans who went there, went there for the right reason. They went there because they loved their country, and their county had asked them to go.”

-Dan Rather

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Photographer Dickey Chapelle

Chaplain John McNamara of Boston makes the sign of the cross as he administers the last rites to photographer Dickey Chapelle in South Vietnam Nov. 4, 1965. Chapelle was covering a U.S. Marine unit on a combat operation near Chu Lai for the National Observer when she was seriously wounded, along with four Marines, by an exploding mine. She died in a helicopter en route to a hospital. She became the first female war correspondent to be killed in Vietnam, as well as the first American female reporter to be killed in action. Her body was repatriated with an honor guard consisting of six Marines and she was given full Marine burial.

There were more images of conflict and battles in Vietnam than any previous war. Many scholars consider Vietnam to be one of the most well documented wars in modern times. War reporters began to report on the bloody battles of the Vietnam War and the Washington politics surrounding it. The American people began losing faith in the war effort and the government. “Reports during the Vietnam War and images from the front line on television were crucial factors in turning public opinion against the war.

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John Hlavacek


Globe-Trotting Foreign Correspondent

Baby boomers that lived in the Midwest in the 70’s may remember John Hlavacek. He was a reporter/foreign correspondent for KMTV-TV in Omaha, Nebraska and traveled around the world covering many history changing events.

I got a surprise phone call from him this morning, and we had a very interesting conversation. Lisa Pelto, a friend of his left a comment on my blog and that’s how we were able to connect. Thanks Lisa! I’ve been trying to locate him for quite some time.

The last time I spoke with John was over 40-years ago in Phuoc Vinh, Vietnam. He was on assignment filming a story for a Christmas Special to be viewed on KCAU-TV. I was one of a handfull of soldiers from that TV viewing area that he interviewed for the program. He said he would try to locate the complete audio/video for that show which he has stored in archives at Texas Tech.

What a remarkable man! At 93 years young he is going strong and he’s working on another book soon to be released.

John was inducted into Journalist’s Excellence Hall of Fame on April 24, 2010…

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Report from Vietnam


Foreign Correspondent John Hlavacek

As I walked out of my hooch one afternoon to perform my daily mail clerk duties, I ran into a man whose face I had seen many times on TV back in the ‘World’. It was John Hlavacek a reporter/foreign correspondent for KMTV-TV in Omaha, Nebraska, and he was looking for me of all people.

His mission was to film and interview soldiers serving in Vietnam from the TV viewing area around Sioux City, IA and Omaha, NE. He was putting together a program to be viewed as a TV Special during the 1970 Christmas Holidays. The families of the soldiers were notified by the TV stations ahead of time so they could watch their loved ones when the program aired.

He wasted no time doing the interview after I told him Charlie Troop 1/9th was a prime target for frequent mortar attacks. He asked a few questions, did his filming and quickly moved on but not before I got his autograph…

A letter and videotape was sent to my parents by KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa.

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