Yasutsune “Tony” Hirashiki was born in 1938 on the island of Okinawa but moved to the mainland before World War 2. He wrote that he was won over to Americans by a GI who gave him a magical piece of cinnamon chewing gum when he was a child in the post-war shortages.
Later, his family moved to Osaka, he graduated from high school in 1956, and began working as a copyboy for Osaka Television. He moved to Mainichi Broadcasting in 1958 and was promoted to staff cameraman.
Tony joined the Saigon bureau in 1966, moved to the Tokyo Bureau in 1969, but returned to Saigon in 1970. He was also sent to cover wars in the Golan Heights and Bangladesh but continued to primarily cover Vietnam and Cambodia until the fall of both nations to communist forces in 1975.
Finally, Tony transferred to Bonn, West Germany in 1975 and covered conflicts in Eastern Europe, Iran, Israel, Lebanon and Africa. Tony was assigned to the New York Bureau in 1983 and covered domestic stories including presidential elections and the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Towers.
Tony continued to work for ABC News until May 2006 when he retired–exactly 40 years after he was hired as a staff cameraman in Saigon. The Hirashiki family became American citizens in 1993. He currently lives in Hackensack, New Jersey and can usually be found watching baseball or visiting his grandson.
Tony has written two other books, Heartbreak Hotel about Japanese reporters in Saigon during the Vietnam War, and Eyewitness about his travels in the years since 1975.
See Tony Hirashiki on Thursday, October 12 at 10:30 a.m. in the Johnson Center, Meeting Room F. Click for details.