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Catherine Leroy, 60; War Photographer

July 11, 2006|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Later that year, she went on patrol with a Marine unit in the demilitarized zone and was hit by mortar fire. Dozens of pieces of shrapnel pierced her body, breaking her jaw and destroying her cameras. She believed that a camera hanging from her neck saved her life. Six weeks later, she was back in the field.

On vacation at China Beach when the Tet Offensive began in early 1968, she made her way to Hue, South Vietnam, with a French journalist. They spent the night in a cathedral full of refugees but moved on the next morning, knowing they would be captured.

Taken to an occupied colonial home, they were held in servants' quarters but released after the North Vietnamese realized they were French reporters. When her camera was returned, Leroy began to shoot pictures and interview her former captors.

The soldiers were posing, Leroy recalled in 2002, "but to me this was a big shock. It was the first time I saw the other side as normal human beings."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday July 13, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Leroy obituary: The obituary of photographer Catherine Leroy in Tuesday's California section described a picture titled "Corpsman in Anguish, 1967" and identified the subject as a Marine. He was a Navy corpsman assigned to a Marine unit.

The photos she took that day wound up as a cover story in Life magazine in 1968. The color photo showed two North Vietnamese soldiers clutching their assault rifles and staring into the lens. The headline said: "A remarkable day in Hue: The enemy lets me take his picture."

Leroy is survived by her 91-year-old mother, who lives in France. The French Embassy is arranging to return Leroy's body to France.

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