Overseas Press Club

Overseas Press Club Foundation
Encouraging the next generation of foreign correspondents

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Remembering Richard Pyle
Overseas Press Club Foundation

From the Washington Post:

By Charles J. Hanley 

Richard Pyle, a journalist whose career with the Associated Press spanned the globe and a half-century of crises, wars, catastrophes and indelible moments in news reporting, died Sept. 28. He was 83.
His wife, actress-writer Brenda Smiley, said the cause was lung fibrosis and obstructive lung disease. The location was not reported.

Mr. Pyle covered the presidency of John F. Kennedy, the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon and the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center’s twin towers. At 75, Mr. Pyle dashed to the shore of the Hudson River in Manhattan when Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger’s jetliner made its lifesaving splash-landing in 2009.

In the end, Mr. Pyle was proudest of his Vietnam War coverage during five critical years, the last half as chief of the AP’s Saigon bureau. He began in 1968, working alongside colleagues who included reporter Peter Arnett and photographers Horst Faas and Nick Ut, all of whom won Pulitzer Prizes.
The combat death in 1971 of AP photographer Henri Huet weighed on Mr. Pyle, by then bureau chief responsible for an entire staff. Huet and three other photographers were killed when a South Vietnamese army helicopter was shot down in a remote area of Laos. Their remains were beyond retrieval, but Mr. Pyle vowed to get there someday.

More than 20 years later he received a call from the Pentagon’s missing-in-action search teams, seeking information, and by 1998 a team was headed to the crash site, accompanied by Mr. Pyle and former Saigon photo chief Faas. They later described the mission in a book, “Lost Over Laos.” Mr. Pyle also wrote of the experience for Vanity Fair. No identifiable remains were found, but recovered shards of bone were interred at the Newseum, the journalism museum in Washington.

After a final big Vietnam story — flying to Hanoi for release of the last American prisoners of war — Mr. Pyle plunged into a new assignment in Washington in 1973 and was among the first journalists to report on the resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.

In the 1980s, first as Asia news editor in Tokyo and then as a roving Mideast correspondent, Mr. Pyle covered scores of headline stories, from revolution in the Philippines to war in Lebanon and the Iran-Iraq conflict.

Back in the United States in 1990, he joined the AP’s New York bureau. But the Pyle byline still ranged far afield: He reported on such New York stories as mob boss John Gotti’s 1992 trial and the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as well as the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 1999 conflict in Kosovo.

Mr. Pyle was the author of the 1991 book “Schwarzkopf,” on the 1991 Gulf War commander, and co-author of “Breaking News: How the Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else,” a 2007 history of the AP. He retired in 2009.

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the Overseas Press Club Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that launches the careers of college students who wish to become foreign correspondents, as Richard famously did.

Brenda Pyle says this would be a wonderful tribute to her beloved husband.

There are three ways to donate:

1) Send a check to the OPC Foundation, 40 West 45th Street, New York, NY 10036. Mark the check as being in honor of Richard Pyle.

2) Call Jane Reilly, the foundation's executive director, who can accept credit card payments over the telephone. She is at 201-408-4866.

3) Donate with PayPal



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