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The reluctance of many Vietnam veterans to show their photographs and talk about their experiences is in direct contrast to the notoriety and public exposure many photojournalists experienced through the publication of their images and stories. Tregaskis and Moana were in Vietnam specifically to document the war for the American public. Tiernan was in Vietnam as an enlisted man fighting to stay alive. Photography ran a distant second as far as priorities were concerned. Tregaskis could, for the most part, pick and choose his subject matter. The average soldier photographed whenever he could, often documenting his day to day activities, buddies, and surroundings. Both types of combat photography convey important information to the viewer, and the variety offered by the professional and snapshot photographer provides an interesting visual portrait of America’s involvement in Vietnam.
Photo: Vietnam, 1968-1969. Photograph by Craig Tiernan. Private collection, Craig Tiernan.
"I walked out toward the reassuring shape of the Boeing 707 jet with a line of blackheaded, tiny Vietnamese passengers who seemed extraordinarily happy, smiling and waving goodbye to the airport crowds. They seemed to feel the same sense of escape, the same lightening of burdens in leaving Vietnam, as I did…I felt a great sense of release from the mud, the paddies, the entangling jungle, the frightening mountains, and the lurking VC’s – and from the multiple gory shocks and sudden surprises of war, set as these things are in Vietnam against the background of misery, filth, parasites, and rampant medieval disease." (Richard Tregaskis, Vietnam Diary)"Whenever anyone asks about it, ah, it’s not something that you feel like dragging out because no one’s proud of the Vietnam Era, the veterans are even becoming, I mean, they became pretty gun shy about talking about anything because you never knew who you were talking with. Were you talking with someone who supported the war or someone who didn’t support the war? You know, it was over with and you move on."
"That’s the thing that people forget, that this war came right into people’s living rooms each and every night. Probably 15 minutes every night on the national news, it was Vietnam footage, Vietnam stories and the divisiveness, it’s still unbelievable, with all of that reporting that there still could have been so much divisiveness in this country as far as the people that were over there." (Craig Tiernan)