Catherine Leroy

Born outside Paris in 1944, Leroy displayed her taste for the adrenaline rush when she obtained her parachute license at age 18 to impress her then-boyfriend. Carrying $200 and a Leica M2 she made her way to Vietnam in 1966. Her meeting with Horst Faas was the break she needed as she was able to become embedded with the marine. He license to jump out of planes made access to the battles possible.

She was injured and almost died had it not been for the protection afford her by one of her cameras. She spent 6 weeks recuperating in a hospital; she returned to her unit after that. She and another Frenchman were captured by the Viet Cong but after it was clear to the commander that they could get their story out thru photos and print, they were allowed interviews and then released. This adventure ganered them the cover of LIFE

“When you look at war photographs,” Leroy says in her thick French accent, “it’s a silent moment of eternity. But for me, it is haunted by sound, a deafening sound.” For her, the soldier with the cigarette triggers a memory of sudden fire, men screaming, the sensation of crawling forward on her elbows to a man who had been walking just a few feet ahead. “In Vietnam, most of the time it was extremely boring. Exhausting and boring. You walked for miles through rice paddies or jungle — walking, crawling, in the most unbearable circumstances. And nothing was happening. And then suddenly all hell would break loose.”

After her stint in Vietnam, Leroy went onto to cover other conflicts including Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Lebanon. She in fact won the 1976 Robert Capa Photojournalism award. In later years she settled in Los Angeles and succumb to cancer at the young age of 60.

Photographer Catherine Leroy about to jump with the 173rd Airborne during operation “Junction City”, Vietnam, 1967 Photograph taken by a GI and sent recently to Catherine Leroy

Photo shot while Leroy was jumping


LA Times

Catherine Leroy Website

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