45-Year-Old Vietnam War Photos Rediscovered
Charlie Haughey served a tour of duty in Vietnam from March 1968 to May 1969. A photographer from a young age, he was commissioned by his commanding officer to take pictures. He was asked to focus on uplifting images, to boost the morale of fellow soldiers serving in his unit, the Army's famed 25th Infantry Division. As a side note, Oliver Stone's movie Platoon depicts the Vietnam war from the perspective of soldiers serving in this unit. By the time Haughey left for the States he had taken almost 2000 pictures, but the prints and negatives were stored in boxes at home and forgotten for decades.
In 2002 Haughey decided that his images needed to be seen, and the Chieu Hoi project was born. Chieu Hoi, as Haughey's brothers in arms used to call him, brought his negatives and prints out of storage, and a team of volunteers has been scanning and uploading the images to the photographer's Facebook and Tumblr pages. The first public viewing of Haughey's photographic work took place earlier this month at ADX in Portland Oregon . The show, titled "A Weather Walked In", saw 28 prints displayed, with some of the images selling even before the opening.
Haughey's images range from the humorous --a Captain apparently inspecting a row of soldiers, laughing almost to the point of tears-- to the introspective --portraits of soldiers doubtful of what the next day may bring. So many decades have passed since these images where taken that most of them fall into the anonymous record category, with no way of know knowing the identity of the pictured soldiers, or if they survived the war.
Due to the amount of prints and negatives that need to be scanned the Chieu Hoi project will be a long-term project. Be sure to follow Charlie Haughey's Facebook and Tumblr pages; new images are published every week.
For those interested in documentary photography, specifically of the Vietnam War, I also recommend "Where War Lives" by Dick Durrance. Durrance documented the Vietnam experience from the perspective of the common soldier, from induction, through boot camp and finally service in Vietnam. Much like Charlie Haughey, Dick Durrance published his pictures twenty years after he returned from the war.