The Late Horst Faas Risked Everything To Get These Gritty Wartime Shots

Horst FaasHorst at a retrospective in France in 2008.

Photo: AP

Horst Faas, legendary photojournalist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and senior photo editor at The Associated Press, died in Munich on Thursday, his daughter told the AP. Faas was 79.Faas, born in Germany in 1933, joined the AP in 1956 and was best known for his war photography: Congo, Algeria, and most famously, Vietnam, where he was the AP’s chief of photo operations from 1962-1972.

Faas didn’t just cover the violence, but also recruited and trained young, talented foreign and Vietnamese freelancers, creating what came to be called “Horst’s army”, who fanned out with photography equipment supplied by Faas to take “good pictures”.

After retiring from The AP in 2004, his health began to deteriorate, and he became paralysed from the waist down in 2005. He is survived by his wife and daughter.


In a Pulitzer-winning shot, a father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armoured vehicle. The child was killed as government forces pursued guerrillas into a village near the Cambodian border.

A Vietnamese litter-bearer wears a face mask to keep out the smell as he passes the bodies of U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers killed in fighting against the Viet Cong at the Michelin rubber plantation, about 45 miles northeast of Saigon.

A wounded Vietnamese ranger is ready with his weapon to answer a Viet Cong attack during battle in Dong Xoai on June 11, 1965.

Children ride home from school past the bodies of 15 dead Viet Cong soldiers and their commander in the village of An Ninh in Vietnam's Hau Nghia province on May 8, 1972.

In this March 1965 photo, U.S. Army helicopters provide artillery cover to advancing South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian border.

Two South Vietnamese children gaze at an American paratrooper holding a grenade launcher as they cling to their mothers who huddle against a canal bank for protection from Viet Cong sniper fire in the Bao Trai area, Vietnam.

South Vietnamese government troops from the 2nd Battalion of the 36th Infantry sleep in a U.S. Navy troop carrier on their way back to the Provincial capital of Ca Mau, Vietnam.

In this January 1965 photo, the sun breaks through dense jungle foliage around the embattled town of Binh Gia as South Vietnamese troops and U.S. advisers rest after a cold, damp and tense night of waiting in an ambush position for a Viet Cong attack that didn't come.

U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into the tree line to cover the advance of Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp on March 29, 1965.

Landing light from medical evacuation helicopter cuts through smoke of battle for Bu Dop, South Vietnam, silhouetting U.S. troops moving the most seriously wounded to the landing Zone on November 30, 1967.

A Vietnamese infantryman jumps from the protection of a rice paddy dike for another short charge during a run and fire assault on Viet Cong Guerrillas on April 4, 1965. Straw stack fire in the centre was set by guerrillas as a distraction.

A Vietnamese medic jumps from a secure position behind a rice paddy dike, crossing a swampy paddy under fire from Viet Cong guerrillas, August 8, 1966. He was coming to the aid of wounded regional forces.

A battalion scoured Trung Jap, northwest of Saigon, for information on a Vietcong force in the area. A Vietcong bride was arrested, blindfolded and bound, when troopers saw her hiding a bag. In the bag they found a picture of her boyfriend, a Vietcong guerrilla, with Chinese-made grenades dangling from his belt.

A South Vietnamese woman mourns over the body of her husband, found with 47 others in a mass grave near Hue, Vietnam.

Artillery troops of the new South Vietnamese 25th division line up for a parade in front of 105 and 155 Howitzers in the coastal town of Quang Nai, South Vietnam, a Viet Cong stronghold, on August 15, 1962.

Wounded Laotian soldier walks to his cot at the USAID hospital at Ban Xon, 65 miles north of Vientiane in February 1971. The hospital cares for the 10 thousands of Meo and Lao refugees in the northern central Laotian mountains.

Baluba warriors in the central Congo province of Kasai train for battle with homemade small arms on January 2, 1961. Faas said he was not made welcome and the Balubas were in deadly earnest.

Boys belonging to the Katangese Youth Movement, wearing improvised uniforms of their own design, drill with homemade wooden rifles in the native quarter of Elisabethville, Congo.

Two Palestinian women peek from the window of their home onto the street in the Damascus suburb of Jarama on November 8, 1999. Jarama is where one of the refugee camps for Palestinians was set up by the Syrian Government after the 1948 Palestine war.

Once a week the students of the Ming Chuan College of Commerce for Girls have to line up for military drill in Taipei City, Taiwan (shown here in April 1972). The drills are commanded by a Chinese army officer. Until the girls graduate from school they have to dress in school uniforms and wear short government prescribed haircuts.

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