updated 12/17/2008 3:20:45 PM ET 2008-12-17T20:20:45

Robert Poos, who covered the Vietnam War as a reporter for The Associated Press and later was managing editor of Soldier of Fortune magazine, has died at age 78.

Poos died on Monday at a hospice in Arlington, Va., said his wife, Bobbie. He had suffered respiratory ailments and a broken hip.

A Marine during the Korean War, Poos joined the AP in 1957. Assigned to the AP's Saigon bureau in 1965, he quickly became noted for aggressive and daring combat reporting.

During the January 1966 battle of An Thi, where U.S. cavalry troops were surrounded by Communist forces, Poos and AP photographer Henri Huet helped recover and stand guard over wounded GIs.

"We figured we could be overrun and wiped out in the next 24 hours," Poos recalled years later.

Two months later, Poos himself was wounded in the chest when gunmen attacked a Buddhist pagoda in Danang where he and other journalists were covering a standoff by anti-government monks.

'Damned fine shoeleather reporter'
Joseph Galloway, who competed with Poos as a UPI reporter in Vietnam, called him "a great friend in a foxhole or a watering hole, and a damned fine shoeleather reporter of the old school."

In late 1966, Poos was named chief of AP's bureau in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and later was a news editor in Tokyo before returning to the U.S., where he spent two years in AP's Washington bureau. After leaving AP in 1970, he was a spokesman for the American Railroad Association.

Later, as managing editor of Soldier of Fortune in the 1980s, he wrote about military topics and became involved in a controversy over carrying a sidearm while covering a story in Central America.

On assignment in Afghanistan, Poos smuggled out Soviet AK-74 ammunition, the first of that type that the Pentagon had ever seen, according to SOF editor and publisher Robert K. Brown.

As the military magazine's "first professional" journalist, Brown said, Poos "was recognized by his peers as one of the few who actually filed copy from where bullets were flying and the blood was dripping."

Poos joined the AP in St. Louis in 1957 after studying journalism at Southern Illinois University and working for the Southern Illinoisan newspaper in Carbondale, Ill.


Earlier, as a Marine in Korea, he was among the "Frozen Chosin" who staged a fighting winter retreat in 1951 from the Chosin Reservoir, under attack by Chinese Communist forces who had entered the war on the side of North Korea.

Besides his wife, Poos is survived by two daughters by a previous marriage, Lisa Green of Virginia Beach, Va., and Laura Poos of Hampton, Va. Plans for a memorial were pending.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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