Jon Swain - writer and foreign correspondent

Jon went to Indo-China in March 1970 to cover the war for the Agence France-Presse news agency. His memoir is about his time there.

Jon Swain, Vietnam 1972

Jon’s reporting of the fall of Phnom Penh on 17 April 1975 won him the prestigious British Press Awards’ Journalist of the Year. Aged 27 at the time, Jon was its youngest winner.

Jon in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province, 1972

These events are covered in Roland Joffe’s Oscar-winning 1984 movie, The Killing Fields. Jon was portrayed by the actor Julian Sands.

The film follows the experiences of three Western journalists, including Jon, who were trapped in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge takeover. All three were saved from execution by the courage of Dith Pran, the Cambodian interpreter for the New York Times. Jon remembers Pran, who died in 2008, in a tribute published in The Sunday Times.

Jon has continued to report on the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

He recalled Pol Pot’s calamitous impact on Cambodia when the Khmer Rough dictator died over twenty years later in 1998.

On the eve of the verdict in the 2010 UN-backed trial of one of Pol Pot’s most notorious lieutenants, Jon spoke to Nic Dunlop, the man credited with finding Comrade Duch about the effects of Duch’s trial.

More than thirty years after the Vietnam war, Jon wrote a moving account of the war’s lost souls - the Hmong tribespeople. These are the remnants of the CIA’s secret army who were abandoned after the American defeat and still struggle to survive in the jungle.

As Vietnam celebrated the 35th anniversary of its defeat of the US in 2010, Jon remembered
what it was like to be there.