Today’s #MediaMonday is a bit of a history lesson. When I was in Honolulu a few weeks ago, we happened upon an Army museum while walking around town. The U. S. Army Museum of Hawaii is on the grounds of the Hale Koa Hotel and the Ft. DeRussy Recreation Center in Waikiki. Once a bastion built to protect Hawaii from invading forces, the structure now houses a museum that tells the military story of Hawaii, from ancient times to the Vietnam War. Helicopters, tanks, guns and vacant bunkers, and a wealth of information about the importance of Hawaii’s military history are all preserved in this free museum.
There are a variety of exhibits throughout the two floors, but one I found most fascinating was entitled: "Reporting from Vietnam: War Correspondents in the Field." This exhibit opened on May 9, 2017, just a couple weeks before we were there, and displays photographs by former Honolulu reporters Denby Fawcett and Bob Jones. The couple, who married during the war, rediscovered a box of 35 mm negatives that had not been touched for nearly 50 years.
Fawcett began her reporting career, on the island of Oahu, at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, covering gardening and social events. But interest in the war was heating up and she wanted to be a combat reporter. Her editors scoffed at the idea so she quit! Oahu’s other paper, the Honolulu
Advertiser, hired her for the position but told her she had to pay her own way if she wanted to go. Making $35 per story, she worked in Vietnam from May 1966 until late 1967.
She was eventually hired as a general assignment reporter at the paper and then pursued a career as a political reporter on television. In 2011, she was inducted into the Associated Press Television Radio Hall of Fame for a lifetime of achievement.
According to an article in Hawaii Army Weekly about the opening of the exhibit and her role as a journalist during the war, Fawcett said, “it was the largest story of our time and I’d read about it every day in the papers. … Like a lot of people, I wanted to know more and learn what was really going on there.”