Vietnam Photographers: Capturing the War on Film
Press Release · Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Washington, DC

Come to the National Archives on Thursday, November 1, at 7 p.m., to hear top Vietnam War combat photographers discuss their role and iconic work capturing the horrors and humanity of the Vietnam War. The program will feature many of the photographs they took, presented on the theater screen. This special program is presented in observance of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, in partnership with the U.S. Army Center of Military History, and in conjunction with the Remembering Vietnam exhibit.   

Photographers Ted Acheson, Robert LaFoon, William San Hamel, Richard Durrance, and Carl C. Hansen all served in Vietnam as combat photographers with the Department of the Army’s Special Photographic Office (DASPO).  They produced some of the most iconic and important images from the war of soldiers’ experiences through swamps and jungles. Joining them will be moderator Lee Reynolds, Strategic Communications Officer for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, and Dr. Erik Villard, Digital Military Historian with the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

The event will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C. and live streamed on YouTube. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.  This public program is free to the public, but reservations are recommended and can be made online.

The Department of the Army Special Photographic Office (DASPO) was authorized by President Kennedy in 1962, with the objective of providing objective information to the Pentagon, the Department of the Army, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Congress. Their mission was to capture combat action and document military movements in the field.

William San Hamel is a former Army captain and Vietnam veteran. He served as Acting Director of Administration for the U.S. Army Photo Agency from 1965-1966; Mopic Photo Officer with the 221st Signal Company from 1966-1967; and as Pictorial Unit Commander and Motion Picture Director for the DASPO. Following a career in advertising, he now serves as president of the DASPO Combat Photographers Association.

Richard Durrance is an award-winning professional photographer and author/editor of Where War Lives: A Photographic Journal of Vietnam. He served as a DASPO photographer in Vietnam.  He later joined the staff of National Geographic and went on to a successful career in corporate and advertising photography.

Ted Acheson served in Vietnam as a motion picture photographer with the DASPO. Named "Cinematographer of the Year" in 1969 by the Department of Defense and the National Press Photographers Association, his work appeared regularly on U.S. nightly news segments throughout the war. He was wounded during a firefight near Hue, and was awarded a Purple Heart and an Army Commendation Medal for his service.

Related Exhibit: “Remembering Vietnam: Twelve Critical Episodes in the Vietnam War
Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, National Archives Museum, through January 6, 2019
Explore 12 critical episodes in the Vietnam War from its World War II origins to the Fall of Saigon. These key events and turning points trace the policies and decisions made by the architects of the conflict, and the forces that drove them. Iconic and newly discovered documents, films, images, and artifacts along with insights from veterans, civilians, and historians shed light on the complex history of United States’ involvement in Southeast Asia.  For more information on the exhibit, visit Read about the exhibit in Prologue Magazine.

“Remembering Vietnam” is presented in part by the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family, Pritzker Military Museum & Library, AARP, FedEx Corporation, and the National Archives Foundation. Additional support provided by the Maris S. Cuneo Foundation, The Eliasberg Family Foundation, Inc., and HISTORYⓇ.

Related National Archives Online Resources:

Program Video:  Vietnam – The Combat Artist Program

Blog about Vietnam Veterans looking at DASPO photographs at the National Archives:  Reminiscing with Vietnam Veterans at Archives II

Facebook post about former DASPO photographer Harry Breedlove, who spotted a photo of himself on the wall of the National Archives Research Room at College Park

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. For upcoming programs, visit the Calendar of Events online:


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For media inquiries, please contact: National Archives Public and Media Communications at (202) 357-5300 or via email at

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