François Sully (1927 – 1971) was born France and fought against the Nazis in the French Resistance as a teenager and was wounded on his seventeenth birthday in Paris. After the liberation of Paris he enlisted in the French Army, fought the Nazis in Germany and then volunteered for the French Expeditionary Forces, arriving in Saigon when the Japanese surrendered in 1945. Discharged in Saigon, Sully tried his hand as a tea planter and rancher before turning to journalism. In 1947 he joined Sud-Est Asiatique, a now defunct French magazine, working for them until 1953. He was assigned to cover the battle of Dien Bien Phu by Time-Life. He escaped from behind the Viet Minh lines. In 1959 he joined United Press International (UPI). He wrote articles for Time magazine and his photographs were carried by Black Star until he joined Newsweek in early 1961.
In March 1962, Sully was to be expelled from South Vietnam by President Ngo Dinh Diem, egged on by Madame Nhu, as his reporting was deemed “helpful to the enemy”. Unofficially, Diem intended the expulsion to serve as a warning to all journalists reporting the failings of his U.S.-assisted war against the Viet Cong. The other journalist on the expulsion list was Homer Bigart of the New York Times. Diem backed down after the U.S. Mission explained that expulsion would only worsen an already bad relationship with the press. Five months later, however, in August 1962, Sully was sent packing after some seventeen years in Indochina. The Newsweek issue of August 20, 1962 carried a long article by Sully “Viet Nam: The Unpleasant Truth”. His expulsion became a major political affair between Saigon and Washington. Sully departed Saigon on September 9, with most of the press corps at the airfield in a show of solidarity. After his expulsion Sully proceeded to Harvard where he put in a year at the Nieman Foundation and worked in bordering countries to Vietnam. He returned to the Newsweek bureau in Saigon after the November 1963 Coup and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem.