Longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon, who risked his life dozens of times to report from armed conflicts during his 47-year career with CBS News, has died. Simon, 73, died Wednesday evening of injuries sustained in a car crash in Manhattan.
Starting with stints in Vietnam that saw him escape the war-torn country on one of the last U.S. helicopters out, Simon was a perennial fixture of CBS’s reporting on war. Covering conflicts ranging from The Troubles in Northern Ireland to the 2011 revolution in Egypt, Simon’s reporting refused to shy away from the horrors of war. He reported from bombed-out villages, over-packed morgues, and hospitals where victims writhed in agony. He reported from Rwanda, Haiti, and Sarajevo, shining a light on some of the worst atrocities of the modern era.
In 1991, while covering the Gulf War, Simon and three co-workers were captured by Iraqi forces. He spent 40 days in an Iraqi prison, suffering beatings, death threats, and solitary confinement. After his release, a visibly weak Simon went in front of the cameras again, declaring, “As you can see, we’ve lost a little weight. We’ve aged a little bit. We’re fine.” Simon later wrote a book, Forty Days, about his experience.
One of the most decorated field reporters of his time, Simon earned several of the highest accolades in his field, including 27 Emmys and four Peabody Awards. Beyond his coverage of war, he was also an avid nature reporter, filming polar bears in the Arctic and baby elephants in Africa. In 2012 and 2013, Simon won Emmys for his coverage of people striving against adversity to found orchestras in Central Africa and Paraguay.
Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather eulogized his late colleague on Thursday, writing, “He was old school, in the style of Edward R. Murrow: notepad, shoe-leather, play no favorites, pull no punches and go where the action is.” Rather went on to praise Simon’s dedication to the truth:
“He didn’t just witness history, he strived to understand it. Yes, he was fearless when bullets were flying, but he also never blinked when staring down a despot or thug in an interview. He was always prepared. He knew when he was being lied to or toyed with, and rather than shirk from the challenge, he would embrace it and become more determined to expose the truth, or as close to the truth as possible.”