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50th Anniversary of Vietnam: Through a Veteran’s Lens

Story by Tera Dittbrenner, photos by Bernie Azure.

Bernie Azure an Assiniboine from Montana, volunteered for Vietnam when he was 19 years old. He returned with an archive full of images he shot while deployed in Chu Lai, about 50 miles south of Da Nang. “I always wanted a record of my existence on the planet, and the people I spent time with,” he said.

His Vietnam experience sparked a career as a reporter and photographer for the Lake County Leader in Polson. Today, he works as a public information officer for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. His photos from Vietnam appear in print for the first time, 50 years after the war began.

About war photography, Azure said:

“I’ve always admired journalists who do that, who go out, who have that sense of duty, that’s a paramount, ideal way to be, to have the need to expose the dirtiness and ugliness of war, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll have an effect, a positive effect, in showing the ugliness, the futility, the damage, and the waste that it has.”