In this episode of the podcast Vietnam Veteran News tribute will be paid to the memory of a wonderfully amazing lady by the name of Anne Morrissy Merick. She recently passed away in Naples, Florida and was notable as being ABC’s first female television field producer, and one of the few female network producers covering the Vietnam War. Her story was featured in a piece in The Washington Post titled: Anne Morrissy Merick, a trailblazing Vietnam War journalist, dies at 83 that was submitted by Samantha Schmidt.
Anne Morrissy Merick broke more glass ceilings than Hillary Clinton could ever even think about breaking. While in college at Cornell University in 1954, Merick rose to the position of sports editor of the college newspaper. She was the first female in school history to hold that job. That and other experiences prepared her for the obstacles she would face when she was sent to cover the Vietnam War in 1967 as ABCs first female television field producer.
Her biggest challenge arose when U.S. commander in Vietnam General. William C. Westmoreland was “horrified” to find a young woman in the field with his troops. the general immediately issued an order that became known as the “Westmoreland Edict” which banned female reporters from accompanying troops to front lines. Incensed, Merick decided to take action.
Along with Ann Bryan Mariano of the Overseas Weekly, She journeyed to the Pentagon with the intention of meeting Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to overturn this ban. They were brushed off from meeting with McNamara himself and were offered the consolation prize of appealing to McNamara’s deputy assistant, Phil Goulding. Goulding listened and gave only vague responses in a condescending manner according to Merick in her book “War Torn: Stories of War From the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam.”
But that wasn’t good enough for Merick. Following the advice of Alexander the Great, “There is nothing impossible to him who will try,” she invited Goulding out for a drink after the meeting and listened to him talk about his six children for hours. Merick wrote “When he said good night, he added that Westmoreland’s edict would be lifted and we could go back out in the field.” This was accomplished with no “hanky-panky” on the part of the women according to Merick.
Anne Morrissy Merick went on to serve as an ABC producer in Vietnam for seven years.