Sean Leslie Flynn (born May 31, 1941; disappeared April 6, 1970, age 28; declared legally dead in 1984) was an American actor and freelance photojournalist best known for his coverage of the Vietnam War. He started a news service in Saigon with John Steinbeck IV, son of the American author.
Flynn was the only child of the marriage of Errol Flynn and Lili Damita. After studying briefly at Duke University, he became a movie actor like his parents. When he retired from acting, Flynn became a freelance photojournalist under contract to Time. In a search for exceptional images, he attached himself to Special Forces units and even irregulars operating in remote areas.
Flynn arrived in South Vietnam in January 1966, as a freelance photojournalist; first for the French magazine Paris-Match, then for Time-Life and finally for United Press International. His photos were soon published around the world. He soon made a name for himself as one of that group of high-risk photojournalists who would do anything to get the best pictures; even going into combat.
In March, 1966, Flynn was wounded in his knee while in the field. In mid-1966, he left Vietnam long enough to star in his last movie. He returned to Vietnam and made a parachute jump with the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division in December, 1966. In 1967, he went to Israel to cover the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. He returned to Vietnam in 1968, after the Tet offensive, with plans to make a documentary about the war. In the spring of 1970, he went to Cambodia, when news of North Vietnamese advances into that country broke.
On April 6, 1970, while traveling by motorcycle in Cambodia, Flynn and Dana Stone (on assignment for Time magazine and CBS News respectively) were captured by communist guerrillas at a roadblock on Highway One. They were never heard from again and their remains have never been found. Although it is known that they were captured by Vietnamese Communist forces, it has been suggested that they died in the hands of “hostile” forces. Citing various government sources, the current consensus is that he (or they) were held captive for over a year before they were killed by Khmer Rouge in June 1971.
Flynn’s mother, Lili Damita, spent an enormous amount of money searching for her son, with no success. In 1984 she had him declared legally dead.
The story of Sean Flynn was immortalized by The Clash in the song “Sean Flynn” from the album Combat Rock. He is a major character in Michael Herr’s Dispatches. He was portrayed by Kevin Dillon in the 1992 mini-series Frankie’s House.
In June 2008, Mythic Films optioned the rights to the Perry Deane Young memoir, Two of the Missing. Young is working on a screenplay with director Ralph Hemecker.
In March 2010, a British team searching for Flynn’s body thought they had found it, when they uncovered the remains of a Western hostage allegedly executed by the Khmer Rouge. Tests results on the human remains found at the grave site in eastern Kampong Cham province, Cambodia were released on June 30, 2010 and they were found not to be the remains of Sean Flynn. Lt. Col. Wayne Perry of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) said there was no match between DNA from the recovered remains and DNA samples they had on file from the Flynn family.
A film inspired by his exploits as a photojournalist entitled, The Road to Freedom, was shot on location in Cambodia.
from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Flynn_(film_actor)
In 1970, 25 journalists were killed or went missing in Cambodia.
Gilles Caron, French, working for Agence Gamma, who disappeared near Svay Rieng, April 5, 1970
Sean Flynn, American, a freelancer, near Svay Rieng on April 6, 1970
Dana Stone, American, from CBS, Svay Rieng, April 6, 1970
Claude Arpin, French, Newsweek, Svay Rieng, April 6, 1970
Guy Hannoteaux, French, L’Express, Svay Rieng, April 6, 1970
Akira Kusaka, Japanese, Fuji TV, Svay Rieng, April 6, 1970
Yujiro Takagi, Japanese, Fuji TV, Svay Rieng, April 6, 1970
George Gensluckner, Austrian, freelance, Svay Rieng, April 8, 1970
Dieter Bellendorf, German, NBC, Svay Rieng, April 8, 1970
Willy Mettler, Swiss, freelance, Kampot, April 16, 1970
Takeshi Yanagisawa, Japanese, Nippon Denpa, Kampot, May 10, 1970
Terro Nakajima, Japanese, Omori Research, location unknown, May 29, 1970
George Syvertson, American, CBS, Takeo, May 31, 1970
Gerry Miller, American, CBS, Takeo, May 31, 1970
Ramnik Lekhi, Indian, CBS, Takeo, May 31, 1970
Tomoharu Ishii, Japanese, CBS, Takeo, May 31, 1970
Kojiro Sakai, Japanese, CBS, Takeo, May 31, 1970
Yoshiniko Waku, Japanese, NBC, Takeo, May 31, 1970
Welles Hangen, American, NBC, near Takeo, May 31, 1970
Roger Colne, French, NBC, Takeo, May 31, 1970
Rene Puissesseau, French, ORTF, Siem Reap, July 7, 1970
Raymond Meyer, French, ORTF, Siem Reap, July 7, 1970
Johannes Duynisveld, Dutch, freelance, location unknown, September 18, 1970
Kyoichi Sawada, Japanese, UPI, Takeo, October 28, 1970
Frank Frosch, American, UPI, Takeo, October 28, 1970
From A Cambodian Odyssey and the Deaths of 25 Journalists
by Kurt Volkert and T. Jeff Williams
Responsible Tourism in Cambodia