The Los Angeles Times Obit on Kate Webb

Kate Webb, 64; pioneering UPI foreign correspondent was captured in Vietnam War.

May 15, 2007
Elaine Woo|Times Staff Writer

Kate Webb, a courageous foreign correspondent who forged a path for other female journalists in a four-decade career spent largely in turbulent Asian outposts, including a harrowing period in Cambodia during the Vietnam War when she was captured and presumed dead, has died. She was 64.

The pioneering reporter had bowel cancer and died Sunday in Sydney, Australia, her brother, Jeremy Webb, told The Associated Press.

Webb was the first woman to head a bureau in a war zone for United Press International, according to Tracy Wood, a former UPI correspondent and investigative reporter for The Times who was assigned to Vietnam a year after Webb's release by her North Vietnamese captors.

"She was a reporter's reporter," Wood said, "truly one of the finest war correspondents, and not just in Vietnam."

Assigned to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, Webb was one of six journalists captured by North Vietnamese troops while covering a battle in April 1971. Subjected to forced marches with little to eat or drink, malarial fevers and repeated interrogations, she emerged from the jungle after 24 days, astonishing colleagues who had already published her obituary.

Over the next decades she scored exclusives on Cambodian Premier Lon Nol's incapacitating stroke and the death of North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. She also reported on revolution in the Philippines, the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in India and the Persian Gulf War.