Stories from a Pentax Honeywell H3 Camera


During the U.S.’s war of aggression in Viet Nam, correspondents from many foreign newspapers and television channels came to Viet Nam to cover it. Ignacio Ezcurra, a correspondent for La Nación (The Nation), travelled from his home country, Argentina, to Viet Nam, and went to the fiercest theatres of war in Huế and Sài Gòn in 1968, taking along his Pentax Honeywell H3 camera.



The Pentax Honeywell H3 camera used by Ignacio Ezcurra during the war in Viet Nam.


Fifty years later his granddaughter Luisa Duggan came to Viet Nam to discover it and recorded her emotions with Ezcurra’s Pentax Honeywell H3 camera. To mark Argentina’s 203rd Independence Day (July 9), the War Remnants Museum and the embassy of the Argentine Republic in Viet Nam jointly organised the exhibition titled “Stories from a Camera.”


1. Ezcurra was born in 1939 in San Isidro, Argentina. In 1956 he graduated from high school in El Salvador. In 1960 he received a scholarship from the Inter-American Press Association (Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa or SIP) training in journalism at the University of Missouri (Columbia). In 1961 he returned home and was sent by the Ministry of Culture and Di Tella Institute to more than 60 cities to introduce devices meant for audiovisual and documentary presentations. In 1962 he started working for La Nación newspaper. In 1965 he married Inés Lynch and had two children, Encarnación Ezcurra and Juan Ignacio. Also in 1965 he was invited by the Syrian embassy to the Middle East.


In 1967 he went to the U.S. to learn about racial conflicts. There he interviewed Senator Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the African-American pastor and civil rights activist. He was best known for his coverage of the Vietnam War. He was reported missing in Sài Gòn on May 8, 1968. His memorabilia were returned to his family, and among them was his Pentax Honeywell H3 camera. Through the photographs he took in Viet Nam, Ezcurra depicted various aspects of the Vietnam War.


His inquisitiveness brought him to Viet Nam where the war was raging. He told his mother: “I want to go to Viet Nam. I want to see what is happening because there is something that is not like what they are saying. I want to go there and bring out the truth...”. From the moment he set foot in Tân Sơn Nhất Airport, he experienced gunfire, the roar of helicopters, barbed wire and machine guns. He described a war in which there were bombs and mines, flames and smoke, atrocities, pain, and innumerable losses. Those who endured these were not only combatants. No one was spared, not even war correspondents. He died half a month later amid the crackle of gunfire and ambulance sirens as civilians evacuated amid columns of black smoke engulfing their houses, and he left behind an unfinished article. . .



Ignacio Ezcurra’s press card. 


2. Though he was only in Viet Nam for a short period and did not bequeath a large collection of photos or stories about the Vietnam War, his photographs were an important legacy which told us: The war was always horrific. That can be seen from his description of a U.S. attack in A Sầu Valley (Huế), where the U.S. military mobilised its firepower, flew B-52 bombing sorties and managed to stop the north-south supply via the Hồ Chí Minh Trail in 1968. The U.S. war of aggression in Viet Nam was an unjust war, and the GIs in this combat lost their faith and were filled with fear and obsession. A soldier named Steve Arnold exclaimed “I do not want to go. That place is full of guerrillas.”


Another named Lui Gregore said “Terrified. I am not ashamed to admit this.” Ezcurra revealed: “To avoid becoming the opponent’s first target, officers and non-commissioned officers pulled off their epaulettes, and those carrying radio sets sought to hide the antennas.” His photos also showed that Vietnamese were always optimistic even during bombing raids, and life went on day after day despite the flames and smoke.



Some of the exhibits in the “Stories from a Camera” exhibition.



Ezcurra left an important legacy for future generations of journalists. His book titledHasta Viet Nam (Until Viet Nam) and articles were included in the curriculum at journalism schools in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. Five decades after Ezcurra’s death, his family visited Viet Nam. They came to the War Remnants Museum in Hồ Chí Minh City and donated his memorabilia.


3. The photographs his granddaughter Luisa Duggan took during this visit using the camera he had left had their genesis in her emotions for and memories of him fifty years after his death. Duggan said: “… From a young age, the Honeywell Pentax H3 has always travelled with me to every corner. It is quite heavy, slow and difficult to control,… but I knew it had partnered my grandfather to the battlefield, and returned to my family without him. ‘Our family will go to Sài Gòn on the 50th anniversary of your grandfather’s death. Do you wish to go?’ my mother asked me two years ago, and perhaps that was also a question for the Pentax. Both I and the Pentax agreed. The camera was the first thing I put in my luggage. Now I realize it was the Pentax that brought me to Viet Nam, which is different from what we imagined. There are no enemies here, but only friendly, happy and affectionate people.”


With Ezcurra’s camera and photos taken by him and his granddaughter five decades apart, the exhibition tells Vietnam’s wartime stories through his lens and its peacetime stories through Duggan’s. The exhibition helps promote peace, friendship and cultural exchanges between Viet Nam and Argentina.


By Dr Trần Xuân Thảo (Director of the War Remnants Museum).




Other stories:

  Date 15/07/2019  


  Special exhibition entitled "Waging Peace - U.S. Soldiers and Veterans Who Opposed America’s War in Viet Nam (04/06/2020)


  Stories from a Pentax Honeywell H3 Camera (15/07/2019)


  Exhibition titled ‘Stories from a Camera’ to open at War Remnants Museum on July 9, marking Argentina’s 203rd Independence Day (17/06/2019)

  Exhibition titled “Finding Memories” to open on March 21, 2019, at War Remnants Museum (04/03/2019)

  The Touring Exhibition “Waging Peace” at An Giang University in the Mekong Delta (07/09/2018)

  The Paris Agreement on Vietnam - the Door to Peace (30/08/2018)

  Children’s Artworks on the Theme of “War and Peace” (22/06/2018)

  Exhibition on Lingering Pain (22/06/2018)

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