Tuesday, April 22, 2014

a farmer sneaking into Cambodia!

etc stuff on Cambodia

I still have...my well used passport....including all the shots one needs for Asia.  The gamma is a huge shot...and awful!  Lots of pages of shots. The NBC News doctor had just two days to give me a bunch.

See the note on the inside cover of the passport where I inked out NBC NEWS while standing in line at Cambodia customs in Phnom Penh.  No press reporters were permitted to enter Cambodia.  This was when the enemy soldiers were all over the country infiltrating South Vietnam.
I was actually going on R & R from Saigon to Hong Kong and had NO idea the plane stopped over in Cambodia...so if one is a good newsman...one gets off and tries to fake his way into the country.  
It was a verbal battle with the control officer who kept saying I was “press” and I kept telling him I was a tourist and my occupation was farmer.  He had a press list from Saigon but it was a year old so I wasn’t on it. He finally gave me a three day visa.

Two days later...in my Phnom Penh hotel...a British reporter working for Newsweek knocked on my door and told me there had just been a coup ‘d tat!  

I found a freelance cameraman NBC News had used and so we quietly went about filming...and the last day of my visa my driver and I took the Newsweek guy and the film and drove to the Thailand border.  He took the film as he had to leave anyway and dropped it off at the NBC news office in Bangkok...and they put it on the satellite to New York.  It was the FIRST and only news footage of the coup! 
So if you see any footage of the Cambodian coup (Lon Nol) it was probably mine.  The cameraman didn’t have sound equipment so I couldn’t do a narrative.

      ...and I left a CBS crew on the bridge on the Thai border. They were screaming at me for help to get into Cambodia!  
   Why help them!
Only time I turned my back on anyone in the news biz.  
It later backfired on me in the CBS offices in New York.  They had me write a top of the hour newscast which I recorded for them and they were impressed...until their head of TV news found out I was there and he remembered the Thai incident and screamed at them: 
“I wouldn’t hire that s.o.b if he was the last guy on earth!”  
I could hear him several offices away.  
So...no working with Walter and Dan!

end...etc notes on my Cambodia coverage.


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