Jurate Kazickas: female Vietnam War reporter

Playing outside the lines

         After winning $500 from the game show Password, Jurate Kazickas, used her winnings to fly to Vietnam to cover what she described as the “biggest story of her generation” as a freelance reporter.

        Kazickas spoke to Elon University students and professors Thursday afternoon about her adventures as a reporter in the Vietnam War.

        In 1967 women were not allowed to be overseas to cover the war because they could not handle the war zone, they would be a distraction to the soldiers and officers, and that they had no facilities for them. The editors had strict policies that no woman would cover the war and so did the U.S government that no woman would go into combat zone.

Kazickas in Vietnam

Kazickas in Vietnam

 

 

      The Vietnam War touched everybody Kazickas knew, she felt compelled to cover the only story of her generation. Vietnam she described was “wild” and,

       “Once you got your press card you were free.”

       The grunts, who were 18 to 19 year old helicopter pilots were always offering her a ride and she would go where ever they were going. The grunts loved having reporters around but the older generals did not like having women reporters around.

Could have been the end

        Kazickas was able to hold her own on the field. She dug her own foxholes and carried the heavy pack. However, one day some cross fire started to raid the camp and instead of getting low to the ground like your supposed to she ducked and ran to the nearest foxhole.

      “Male or female, bombs don’t discriminate,” warns Kazicakas. She got hit with shrapnel in her backside and had to be taken to the hospital.

       “My wound caused great consternation because they didn’t even know a woman was there.”

        After that she was never the same. She went back on the field but scared and only stayed in Vietnam a few more weeks. Kazickas found it surreal that,

       “Literally you could cover a fire fight and come back to Saigon, take a shower and go out to a bar.”

Today’s war

Kazickas talks to students and professors at Elon University

       That is much different from the Iraq war today. Today more that half of the reporters out in the field is a woman.  In Iraq they are useful because they are allowed to go into homes of women and get their personal story.

      Since the start of the Iraq war more than 230 journalists have died compared to 63 in Vietnam.

       “Is any story worth your life?” Kazickas asked the audience. 

       Reporters can’t turn away from a war story, they are compelling, “addictive and intoxicating…there will always be wars,” concluded Kazickas. 

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