Mud, Blood and Terror
Mud, Blood and Terror

Mud, blood and terror: The brutality of the Vietnam War captured in harrowing images

LIFE magazine war photographer, Larry Burrows, covered the fighting on the front lines during the Vietnam War and is now being remembered for his extraordinary work as the 41 year anniversary of his death approaches.

Mr Burrows captured the compelling images of Operation Prairie, the U.S. offensive against the North Vietnamese near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), that lasted from August 3 to October 27, 1966.

His photographs of the bloody aftermath of the attack, juxtaposed against the lush and picturesque scenery of the Southeast Asian nation, are being revisited on LIFE.com as the London-born photojournalist is remembered.

Mud, blood and terror

Wounded: U.S. Marines carry the injured during a firefight near the southern edge of the DMZ, Vietnam, October 1966

A2

Worn down: An American Marine during Operation Prairie

A3

Bloody: Marines carry an injured soldier back to the medics for treatment following an assault on Hill 484, Vietnam, October 1966 (left). An American soldier (right) with a bandaged head wound looking dazed after participating in Operation Prairie just south of the DMZ

An estimated 1,329 Americans were killed during the operation. More than 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the conflict in Indochina that ended in 1975.

One of the most famous images in the collection by Burrows is the shot ‘Reaching Out,’ the moment when wounded Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie, photographed with a blood-stained bandage tied around his head, is drawn to his fellow soldier, who lays wounded on the ground.

A4

Reaching Out: Wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie (center, with bandaged head) reaches toward a stricken comrade after a fierce firefight.

A5

Battle: A dazed, wounded American Marine gets bandaged during Operation Prairie.

A6

Fallen: Four Marines recover the body of Marine fire team leader Leland Hammond as their company comes under fire (At right is the French-born photojournalist Catherine Leroy)

Burrows himself suffered a tragic end as he worked on the front lines, he was killed on February 10, 1971 over Laos when his helicopter was shot down. He was 44-years-old.

Fellow photographers Henri Huet, 43, of the Associated Press, Kent Potter, 23, of United Press International and Keisaburo Shimamoto, 34, of Newsweek were also killed in the crash.

Ralph Graves, then LIFE magazine’s managing editor, remembered the Englishman as ‘the single bravest and most dedicated war photographer I know of,’ in a moving tribute he wrote following Burrows’ death. ‘He spent nine years covering the Vietnam War under conditions of incredible danger, not just at odd times but over and over again.’ ‘The war was his story, and he would see it through. His dream was to stay until he could photograph a Vietnam at peace,’ Mr Graves added in the 1971 issue dedicated to the fallen correspondent.

Comrade: American Marines tending to a wounded soldier during a firefight south of the DMZ

Comrade: American Marines tending to a wounded soldier during a firefight south of the DMZ

Though the lost photographers were mourned, their remains were not discovered until 37 years later thanks to the tireless effort spearheaded by AP writer Richard Pyle. The remains of Mr Burrows, Mr Buet, Mr Potter and Mr Shimamoto now sit in a stainless-steel box beneath the floor of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., part of a memorial gallery honoring journalists killed in the line of duty. A total of 2,156 individuals, dating back as far as 1837, are included in the museum’s memorial.

War correspondent: Terry Fincher of the Express (left) and Larry Burrows (right) covering the war in Vietnam in April 1968

War correspondent: Terry Fincher of the Express (left) and Larry Burrows (right) covering the war in Vietnam in April 1968

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *