Pioneer Viet­nam War jour­nal­ist Morrissy Mer­ick dies at 83

Cape Breton Post - - In Memoriam -

Anne Mor­risy Mer­ick, who suc­cess­fully fought for equal treat­ment of fe­male re­porters dur­ing the Viet­nam War, has died. She was 83.

Mor­risy Mer­ick died May 2 of complications from de­men­tia in Naples, Florida, her daugh­ter, said her daugh­ter Kather­ine Anne En­gleke.

ABC had as­signed Mor­risy Mer­ick to cover the war in 1967 when U.S. com­man­der Gen. Wil­liam West­more­land or­dered that fe­male re­porters could not spend the night in the field with the troops. That made it im­pos­si­ble for the fe­male re­porters to go on most com­bat mis­sions as there would be no way for them to re­turn to the base at night.

She and Over­seas Weekly ed­i­tor Ann Bryan Mar­i­ano or­ga­nized the half-dozen fe­male re­porters cov­er­ing the war to chal­lenge West­more­land’s or­der. They ap­pealed to the De­fence De­part­ment, which over­rode West­more­land.

“An edict like West­more­land’s would pro­hibit women from cov­er­ing the war. It was a knock­out blow to our ca­reers. We had to fight,’’ wrote Morrissy Mer­ick in the book she co-au­thored in 2002 with eight col­leagues, “War Torn: Sto­ries of War From the Women Re­porters Who Cov­ered Viet­nam.’’

Morrissy Mer­ick gained na­tional at­ten­tion in 1954 when she be­came the first fe­male sports ed­i­tor of Cor­nell Univer­sity’s stu­dent news­pa­per. “This sports writ­ing doll breached the last bas­tion of mas­culin­ity left stand­ing this side of the shower room,’’ Famed sports colum­nist Red Smith wrote.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, she be­came sports ed­i­tor of the in­ter­na­tional edi­tion of the New York Her­ald Tri­bune.

ABC hired her in 1961 as an as­so­ci­ate pro­ducer, where she cov­ered the civil rights move­ment and the space pro­gram. She worked for nine months for ABC in Viet­nam. While there, she met her hus­band, U.S. News and World Re­port re­porter Wen­dell “Bud’’ Mer­ick.

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