Fall of Saigon snapper Hugh Van Es dead at 67

May 16th, 2009 - 12:51 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Hugh Van Es and his wife Annie The photographer who’s image is most used to illustrate the fall of Saigon, Hugh Van Es, has died from a brain hemorrhage in Hong Kong aged 67.

Van Es’ photo of helicopters evacuating people from the roof of what is widely believed to be the roof of the then US Embassy in Saigon but was in fact a residential apartment block housing CIA staff, is one of the most poignant images to come out of the Vietnam War.

His photo of people snaking their way onto the roof to a waiting helicopter was used by publications around the world and summed up in one image the fall of the American fighting machine.

Born in the Netherlands in 1941, Van Es captured the fall of Saigon on film, recording the victorious North Vietnamese Army swarming through the streets of Saigon and American’s taking desperate evacuation measures to get to ships waiting off-shore.

A long-time resident of Hong Kong, Van Es was inspired by legendary combat photographer Robert Capa.

In addition to covering the US/Vietnam conflict, Van Es also covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.

Fellow veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett, who was with Van Es the day he snapped his historic photo, said, “his sunny demeanor endeared him to his colleagues and to the American and Vietnamese soldiers he photographed.”

The Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, where Van Es was a regular, will hold a minutes silence in honor of the man who photographed the fall of Saigon on Friday night.

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