October 28th, 2015 / posted by paularath

Hanoi Temple

My first job after college and my year spent traveling around the world was at CBS News Hong Kong Bureau.

No, I wasn’t a foreign correspondent, I was simply the office manager. I worked for Bernard Kalb, an icon of journalistic excellence and an absolutely ideal man from whom to learn the workings and  ethics of journalism. It was, in so many ways, a dream job for a 22-year-old. It was my job to make sure all the news footage got from Indochina to be “Cronkited” via satellite to NYC or syndicated in London or Paris. I also handled the logistics of getting the correspondents and  60 Minutes crews what they needed and where they needed to be (hotels, planes, ground transportation, etc.)

I was sometimes sent to places such as Saigon, Phnom Penh and Vientiane, but not to cover the news. Rather, it was to be a courier for things that really needed to get into the hands of our correspondents and their crews: mumps vaccine to the guys in Saigon, a battery pack to cameraman Keith Kay in Phom Penh, cash to Bert Quint in Vientiane.

It was exciting and exotic but I certainly didn’t get to see much of the countries.

Now, for the first time since 1971, I am going back to Indochina, this time as a visitor. I have dreamed of this for so many years!

A few years before I was in the area, my brother was fighting in Vietnam as a “grunt” radio man and point man with the 9th Infantry. He once told me that he kept a surfboard in Danang and whenever he had a break from the fighting, he would head to the ocean and surf. Of course, Danang is on our itinerary.

I will not be blogging during this trip as I usually do. I have chosen not to take my laptop with me. Instead, I will keep journals (as I did throughout my travels prior to the ’80s) and will sketch and photograph what moves me.

We return on November 13 and you can expect some travel blogs at that time. It will be a fine opportunity to share with you some of what it looks and feels like to return to countries that I only knew in wartime.

– Paula Rath



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