Remembering Sean Flynn: A Heroic Son’s Legacy

On May 31st, we pay tribute to the remarkable life of Sean Flynn, the valiant son of the legendary actor Errol Flynn. While Sean’s own acting career showed great promise, it is his selfless acts of heroism during the Vietnam War that forever etch his name in history. On this special day, we remember Sean Flynn, his bravery, and the sacrifice he made to save others.

Born on May 31st, 1941, Sean Flynn had an upbringing filled with privilege and fame. As the son of the charismatic Errol Flynn, he grew up in the spotlight of Hollywood. However, Sean sought to make a name for himself outside the shadow of his father. Sean embarked on a career as a photojournalist, capturing the harsh realities of war through his lens.

During the Vietnam War, Sean Flynn fearlessly ventured into several parts of Vietnam to document the truth. With his camera as his weapon, he aimed to bring the harsh realities of war to the public’s attention. Sean’s dedication to truth and justice was unwavering, and he showed immense courage in the face of danger.

In April 1970, while reporting on the conflict in Cambodia, Sean and fellow journalist Dana Stone were captured on Route 1 in Svay Reing province by unknown forces. One of the last who saw Sean alive was French journalist Bernard Volker. Sean’s last words to Volker: he was going to a nearby hill to take some panoramic pictures, Sean was never seen again.  This unfortunate event left a devastating impact on Sean’s mother and siblings, who tirelessly fought for answers and held onto hope for his safe return.

Sean Flynn’s heroism, however, did not end with his own capture. It was Sean’s extraordinary act of bravery during his initial year in Vietnam; there was a particular event in which he accompanied a team of Green Berets and South Vietnamese forces that retook a hill near Han Tanh special forces camp in Quang Tri Province. Amidst intense gunfire, Sean bravely fought alongside the soldiers, utilizing an M-16 rifle he picked up. Sean wore a tape recorder and documented the entire firefight.  Sean narrowly evaded the perilous encounter with only a knee injury, however Sean’s came close to death on several occasions that day from enemy motors and small arms fire.  “I thought not only me but all of us were greased.” Flynn said; this was not the first time that Flynn had been under fire with the Green Berets.  Later that year Flynn’s quick thinking and vigilance proved crucial in averting a disaster for an Australian platoon near Vũng Tàu. While photographing the troops, he successfully identified a mine, potentially saving them from devastating consequences

While the fate of Sean Flynn and Dana Stone remains a painful mystery to this day, their legacy lives on. The families they left behind have endured years of heartache, never losing hope and forever seeking closure. “The family of Sean Flynn and I have immense gratitude for the United States Government, former colleagues, and third party volunteers who have over the last 53 years searched for Sean and Dana in Cambodia. Rory Flynn and I are hopeful all of this reporting might lead to  Sean’s remains being located and repatriated to the family.” Mike Luehring, Sean Flynn family archivist/family advocate.

As we remember Sean Flynn on his birthday, it is crucial to honor his legacy and the sacrifices made by him and the other men and women who worked in the face of danger covering the war in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam .  Over 17 international journalists still remain unaccounted for to this day. It is a reminder to never take for granted the sacrifices of our soldiers and journalists who risk their lives to bring us the truth.

On this day, let us remember Sean Flynn, a son who followed his own path, an intrepid journalist who fearlessly exposed the horrors of war, and incredible human being who touched everyone he met.  May his memory continue to inspire us to pursue truth, justice, and the pursuit of peace in the world.