As chief of photo operations for The Associated Press in Saigon for a decade beginning in 1962, Horst Faas didn't just cover the fighting he also recruited and trained new talent from among foreign and Vietnamese freelancers.
Mr. Faas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photographer who carved out new standards for covering war with a camera and became one of the legendary photojournalists in nearly half a century with the AP, died on Thursday in Munich, said his daughter. He was 79.
Mr. Faas photographed wars, revolutions, the Olympic Games and events in between. But he was best known for covering Vietnam, where he was severely wounded in 1967 and won four major photo awards including the first of his two Pulitzers.
“Horst was one of the great talents of our age, a brave photographer and a courageous editor who brought forth some of the most searing images of this century,” said AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll. “He was a stupendous colleague and a warm and generous friend.”
Mr. Faas was a brilliant planner, able to score journalistic scoops by anticipating “not just what happens next but what happens after that,” as one colleague put it.
“Horst Faas was a giant in the world of photojournalism whose extraordinary commitment to telling difficult stories was unique and remarkable,” said Santiago Lyon, AP vice president and director of photography.
In later years, he turned his training skills into a series of international photojournalism symposiums.
Mr. Faas also helped to organise reunions of the wartime Saigon press corps, and was attending a combination of those events when he became ill in Hanoi on May 4, 2005.
Though requiring a wheelchair, he continued to travel to photo exhibits and other professional events, mainly in Europe, and collaborated in the publishing of two books in French about his own career and that of Henri Huet, a former AP colleague in Vietnam. Mr. Faas also made two arduous trips to the U.S., in 2006 and 2008.
Mr. Faas' Vietnam coverage earned him the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Award and his first Pulitzer in 1965. Receiving the honours in New York, he said his mission was to “record the suffering, the emotions and the sacrifices of both Americans and Vietnamese in ... this little bloodstained country so far away”.
Burly but agile, he spent much time in the field and on Dec. 6, 1967, was wounded in the legs by a rocket-propelled grenade at Bu Dop, in South Vietnam's Central Highlands. He might have bled to death had not a young U.S. Army medic managed to stem the flow. On crutches and confined to the bureau, Faas was unable to cover the February 1968 Tet Offensive, but directed AP photo operations like a general deploying troops against the enemy. AP photographer Eddie Adams came back with the war's most famous picture, of Vietnam's national police chief executing a captured Viet Cong suspect on a Saigon street.