Vietnam reporter fought for a woman’s right to cover war

Photo from Katherine Ann Engelke

The American news media doesn’t cover war on the front line much anymore. But when it did, Anne Morrissy Merick fought her own country for the right to be there.

She died last week of complications from dementia in Naples, Fla., it was reported today. She was 83.

During the Vietnam War, Gen. William Westmoreland ordered that female reporters could not spend the night in the field with the troops — the men. That effectively eliminated the possibility that women could cover the war at the front.

So she organized a half-dozen female reporters.

“An edict like Westmoreland’s would prohibit women from covering the war. It was a knockout blow to our careers. We had to fight,” she wrote in a book she co-authored. They got the Department of Defense to override Westmoreland.

“She was very proud,” daughter Katherine Anne Engelke tells the Naples Daily News. “She wanted to tell the story. She didn’t think that being a woman should keep her from telling the right story.”

“She loved Vietnam,” Engelke said. “When you talk to these war reporters when they come back, they were all so sad about what happened. She loved the country and the people.”

(h/t: Paul Tosto)