The Vietnam War had long been an area of great interest for writer Ben Stanley, but it never became real for him until he stumbled across the incredible story of Auckland brothers Jim and Garry Lott (see page 67). Their father was American and although the brothers grew up in Mt Albert and considered themselves Kiwis, both served in the United States Marines in South Vietnam. Garry survived the war but Jim was killed in action on May 8, 1968 – one of only two New Zealanders whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC.
Stanley’s visit to the wall last September sent him on a reportage journey he describes as “the most moving of my career. The story of the Lott boys is a war story in its truest form – because it’s as much about the guilt of survival and what it means to lose someone you love so young.” May 8 also has special importance for the Stanley family, he says; it was the date his uncle died. Watching his father grieve for a muchloved brother helped Stanley understand Garry Lott’s pain.
A multiple Canon Media Award-winning journalist (and a finalist again this year), Stanley splits his time between his hometown Tāupo and Memphis, Tennessee, where he recently proposed to a beautiful redhead named Lauren.