Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘University of Texas’

Documentary Film,Eulogies,Khe Sanh,Marines,Veterans,Vietnam War

June 9, 2018

Betty Rodgers Remembers David Douglas Duncan

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When we learned about the passing of renowned war photojournalist David Douglas Duncan on June 7, 2018, I was flooded with a great sense of loss as I remembered our unique connection with him.

Back in 2011 when we were gathering materials for BRAVO!, our editor, John Nutt, suggested including some of Duncan’s powerful photos of the Siege of Khe Sanh in our film. We learned they were archived at the University of Texas (UT) in the illustrious Harry Ransom Center. We also learned that we would need to purchase rights from the university for use of the famous photos, would need to receive Mr. Duncan’s personal permission, and would have to pay him additional fees.

Debris at Khe Sanh. Photo courtesy of David Douglas Duncan.

The procedure began by faxing a letter of request to Mr. Duncan via UT. He was living in France and was 94 years old, so we figured it would take a while. We waited. Then one day the phone rang. It was none other than Mr. Duncan himself, calling from France! I was heartbroken that Ken was not home at the time to take the call, but here was a thrilling moment for me in the making of our film.

I remember two things from our conversation. The first question he asked was where Ken and Bravo Company were situated at the Khe Sanh Combat Base. When I told him next to the ammo dump, there was a notable silence, and then he said, “My God.” After another few moments, he said he would be honored to have us use his images, and that he would not require any additional fees.

Then we proceeded to have a wonderful conversation about the art of photography, something we had in common. I expressed my need to learn more about my camera, or that I needed a better camera, and he said that wasn‘t important at all…you can make great photography with any camera! And he said he had a new book coming out comprised entirely of photos from a Nikon COOLPIX point-and-shoot camera.

The airstrip at Khe Sanh.
Photo courtesy of David Douglas Duncan

Then he bid me adieu and the conversation was over. And so today we bid David Douglas Duncan adieu, with deep gratitude for his generosity founded on compassion, for his courage to tell the story of war through photography, and for the example of living his long life to the fullest.

To learn more about Mr. Duncan, here is a link to an earlier article in the New York Times.