Reporting from the Front: Richard Tregaskis, War Correspondent

Tregaskis in Ca Mau, 1963. Richard Tregaskis Papers, Box 82, Folder Vietnam – Tregaskis in Vietnam, 1960s-1970s.

Although not members of the armed forces, war correspondents risk their lives on missions to inform the world about what is truly happening in war zones. One such war correspondent was Richard Tregaskis (1916-1973), whose papers are held here at the American Heritage Center. As a correspondent, Tregaskis covered many wars, including WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He received the International News Service Medal of Honor for Heroic Devotion to Duty (1942-1943), and the Purple Heart (1944). He also traveled the world many times over as a writer for a number of magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, and wrote several screenplays.

At the start of WWII, Tregaskis was assigned to cover the Pacific Fleet operations as a correspondent for the International News Service. As a fleet correspondent, was aboard a cruiser that escorted the Doolittle Raiders and their carrier on the first raid of the Japanese mainland and he covered the Naval battles at the Coral Sea and Midway. He accompanied the operation to Guadalcanal and landed with the Fifth Marine Regiment, the assault wave of the attack, and stayed several months with the forces there. He wrote about this experience in his book Guadalcanal Diary.

He was then transferred to the European theater, where he went into the Salerno landings in Italy with the American 82nd Airborne Division and was seriously wounded by German mortar fire while serving with paratroops and US Rangers near Cassino.

Richard Tregaskis recovering from a head injury received in Italy, 1943. Richard Tregaskis Papers, Box 4, Folder 18.

He was hospitalized for five months, temporarily lost his speech, and had two operations during which a plate was fixed in his skull. After recovery, he joined American and British forces in France just before the breakout from the Normandy Beachhead. He remained with the American Infantry and Armored forces during the sweep through Northern France, Belgium, and into Germany. On the western front, Tregaskis became the first correspondent to fly in a fighter plane during a dogfight with enemy planes.

In 1945, on assignment for the Saturday Evening Post, Tregaskis joined a B-29 crew where he flew from Kansas to Guam, where they were based for assaults on Japan. He flew with the crew on five bombing missions, and was transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga where he flew with a torpedo bomber squadron in an attack on the Japanese battleship Ise. By the time the war ended, he had flown in 32 combat missions.  Tregaskis then joined the military government staff of General MacArthur’s forces at Manila as a correspondent. He was aboard the USS Missouri for the surrender of the Japanese and flew with MacArthur on the first airlift to Japan.  Tregaskis then covered the Chinese Civil War, and in 1953 he went to Korea to write and direct a documentary film titled “The Faith We Hold,” on the United Nations forces fighting there.

In 1957, Tregaskis first visited Vietnam when he drove a jeep the length of the country from Hue to Saigon.  In 1962, he returned to cover the war in Vietnam and flew 68 assault missions with helicopter-borne Vietnamese troops (flown by Americans). From this experience came Vietnam Diary, which won Tregaskis the CBS George Polk Award for Hazardous Reporting. He returned to Vietnam many times in the late 1960s-early 1970s to cover various stories there.

Tregaskis with Viet Cong POWs after an assault mission. The Viet Cong shot down a U.S. military helicopter. Richard Tregaskis Papers, Box 79, Folder Vietnam – POWs, 1962-1963

Although most known for covering wars, Tregaskis traveled the world many times over reporting on a variety of issues and topics. In 1946, he started a 45,000 mile trip on assignment for True Magazine. It was during this time that he covered the Chinese Civil War, at a time when the war between the Nationalists and the Communists was reaching its climax. This trip also took him to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Java, Bali, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Iraq, and Egypt. He also spent time in Australia writing about American migrants who had gone there to settle, and stayed with families in England, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. In 1955, he went on assignments to Japan, Hawaii, Germany, England, Hong Kong, Okinawa, and the Philippines along with his 2nd wife, Walton, who was now his photographer. In 1963-1964, He completed another ‘round-the-world trip with his 3rd wife, Moana (also a photographer), while on assignment for a number of magazines.

Tregaskis was also interested in air transport and the space program. In 1957, Tregaskis flew on the first flight of America’s first transcontinental jet transport, the Boeing 707. In 1959, he made the inaugural Qantas flight to Australia, and he flew to Tahiti in 1960 on the inaugural flight of the French airline TAI. In 1961, he wrote X-15 Diary about the work of the pilots, scientists, engineers, Air Force, and NASA pioneers in the space world as they developed and flew the X-15 rocket ship, the first space craft.

Tregaskis’ career ended tragically with his death in 1973; Tregaskis was swimming along the Hawaiian coast in August, 1973 when he drowned.

The Richard Tregaskis papers at the American Heritage Center are full of interesting material. Aside from both published and draft versions of his books and articles, the collection contains a large number of Tregaskis’s diaries and notebooks that he used on his travels and assignments to record his observations and research, including his time in Italy and France during WWII and his various trips to Vietnam. The collection also contains many wonderful photographs from his travels and assignments during WWII, Vietnam, China, Korea, and all around the world. Everyone should be able to find something to interest them in the papers of this fascinating individual.

–Emily Christopherson, Processing Archivist

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10 Responses to Reporting from the Front: Richard Tregaskis, War Correspondent

  1. marvin sack says:

    I am looking for information on the 5th Logistical Command in which I served from 1962-1963. I saw the 5th log patch on TV in August, Septemper, October time frame in 1963 onTV. It was either ABC, CBS, OR NBC.
    Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    • ahcadmin says:

      Hi Marvin,

      We will pass your question along to the reference archivists and someone will be in touch shortly. Thanks for reading!

      • Marvin G. Sack says:

        I thank you for all the information you can provide me.
        Would like to know what happened to the unit as well as the individuals in the Engineer section of which I was a part of.
        Thank you in advance and GOD BLESS.
        Marvin G. Sack Retired

      • ahcadmin says:

        Dear Mr. Sack,

        We are sorry that we did not receive notification of your inquiry until now. One of our reference archivists will be in touch shortly!

        Our apologies for the delay!
        The Reference Department
        American Heritage Center
        University of Wyoming

      • I thank you very much for all you can provide me.
        I would very much to find out where in Veit Nam that they were wiped out.
        The day and the names of those that were involved.
        I was in the unit till January of 1963.
        Thank you very much.
        Marvin g. Sack

  2. Neal Haber says:

    Richard Tregaskis wrote stories for newspapers around the United States while he was in Vietnam researching his book “Vietnam diary”. The stories were published I believe, weekly, by newspapers. I was wondering if you have copies of all the stories that he did. I was in the hospital in the bed next to Richard Tregaskis when he was in Vietnam. I believe he was in the hospital for dysentery among other problems. He wrote a story that was carried in the newspapers and dealt with a conversation that he and I had while in the hospital. Please advise.

    • mmarcusse says:

      Thank you for the question Neal. One of our reference archivists will look into your question and get an answer to you in the next few weeks.

      • Marvin Sack says:

        I am still waiting for a response. 2016 and still waiting for an answer. Thank you

      • ahcadmin says:

        Hi Marvin, Sorry about the delay. We had a number of staffing changes happen in 2016. Let me look into this and I will get a response to you. I will most likely end up sending a response to the email address associated with your WordPress account.

      • ahcadmin says:

        Hello Again Marvin, I’ve searched within our holdings for material relating to the 5th Logistical Command but we do not have material listed under those terms. If you could provide any additional information about the Corps (I Corps, Second Corps, etc) or Division you were in and/or which camp you were stationed at, any of that would help me continue the search.

        We may not have anything in our holdings that helps with your search (although I’m going to do a bit more searching with the dates you provided and any other info you may have), so I did want to point you to some additional resources. The National Archives maintains official records for all branches of the US Military. More information on their military records can be found at this website: It appears that most military personnel records from Vietnam are in St. Louis; information about those records and how to access them can be found at this website: There is also a National Vietnam Veterans Museum in Texas that may be able to assist in your search as well. Their website can be found here: They do encourage Vietnam veterans to contact them; they can be reached at 940-325-4003 or there is also an email submission form on their website at this address:

        I’ll send an email to the address associated with your account with this information as well

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