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by Jermel Quillopo, staff writer


After graduating from Punahou High School, Fawcett attended Columbia University, where she studied liberal arts. “I always wanted to write,” said Fawcett, “but I didn’t think that I had to go to school for journalism.”

When Fawcett graduated from Columbia University, she went back to work for The Star-Bulletin, writing features and covering social events. When her boyfriend, now husband, Bob Jones, was sent to Vietnam, Fawcett wanted to follow. She said The Star-Bulletin did not want to send her, preferring that she stay and write about the Junior League Ball or the Chinese Narcissus Festival.
She decided that she wasn’t going to take no for an answer and quit The Star-Bulletin to become a freelance writer covering the war.

“My mother and father had always inspired me…to not settle for anything easy,” Fawcett said.
Then Honolulu Advertiser editor Buck Buchwach gave Fawcett an opportunity that changed her life: he wouldn’t pay for her flight to Vietnam, but he was willing to give her $35 per story, with a byline.
At 24, Fawcett arrived in Saigon. She was scared, she said, but knew that the risk was something that would make her a better person, a better writer. She reported on Hawai‘i’s 25th Infantry Division and recalls her work in her book, War Torn, published by Random House.

“ I have always enjoyed writing news stories,” Fawcett said, because they required her to always be thinking fast on her feet. And she remembers enjoying living in Vietnam: “Things were boring at home,” she said. “Vietnam was something new everyday.”

Fawcett was fascinated by such things as the great French food in Saigon during the ‘60s and the wonderful friendships that she had made. Fawcett says that it was not like making friends in school. In war, “You become close to people fast....You build very intense friendships.”

Few took Fawcett seriously, at first, since a woman reporting hard news was rare. She remembers that many U.S. news organizations discriminated against women: “Women mostly would report on parties, food, etc.,” she said.

Fawcett became The Honolulu Advertiser’s chief Vietnam reporter after Jones left, which earned her weekly wages and living allowances. Fawcett remembers being on the front lines with the soldiers. She dug foxholes to take cover from mortar and artillery attacks, and learned how to avoid tear gas attacks.

Advertiser political writer Jerry Burris remembers how fierce Fawcett was: “She was a tiger, and it was a very scary time for her,” said Burris. He remembers her stories “not only covering the war, but also covering the people from Hawai‘i who were in the war.”

Fawcett looks back at her time in Vietnam and knows that it gave her an opportunity to be a respected reporter. Today, she works for KITV-4 as a political reporter and enjoys “getting to learn about things everyday” and being able to build an understanding about things.

Fawcett said she hopes that eventually “women would be treated equally,” and they would be able “to get any position that they want because they are good at what they do, not because they are a woman.”

Her advice to young women: “Don’t be scared. Do what you want to do, follow your dreams, and don’t give up.”

 
 

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