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A Westchester Photographer Uncovers a Mystery in Lasdon Park

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1966 Dana Stone and Sean Flynn Vietnam War. In 1966 Dana Stone went to Vietnam and became friends with Sean Flynn, son of movie star Errol Flynn. Here they are with Dana Stone seated and right behind him on the right is Sean Flynn. Flickr / manhhai. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

A local photographer uncovers the story of two Vietnam photographers, one with a connection to a Hollywood legend, in Katonah.

I first visited Katonah’s Lasdon Park in the spring of 2000 because I had heard about the remarkable Veterans Memorial Trail of Honor. After I completed my walk on the trail, I noticed a small concrete memorial near the entrance for Vietnam War combat photographer Sean Flynn, who I later learned was the son of legendary actor Errol Flynn. I found this fascinating, but I didn’t follow up on why a memorial to Sean Flynn was in a Westchester County park until last March.

1966 Dana Stone and Sean Flynn Vietnam War. In 1966 Dana Stone went to Vietnam and became friends with Sean Flynn, son of movie star Errol Flynn. Here they are with Dana Stone seated and right behind him on the right is Sean Flynn. Flickr / manhhai. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

1966 Dana Stone and Sean Flynn Vietnam War. In 1966 Dana Stone went to Vietnam and became friends with Sean Flynn, son of movie star Errol Flynn. Here they are with Dana Stone seated and right behind him on the right is Sean Flynn. Flickr / manhhai. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Turns out, a retired Westchester County Parks administrator had the monument placed there, along with a memorial tree, before the Trail of Honor existed. He, like me, was an Errol Flynn fan. He wanted to honor Flynn’s son, who had lost his life covering the Vietnam War.

Sean Flynn and fellow combat photographer and friend Dana Stone crossed the Vietnam–Cambodia border on April 6, 1970, in hopes of getting an exclusive story from the perspective of the Viet Cong, who were in Cambodia. Sadly, the two were captured and never seen or heard from again. Ultimately, it was determined that Flynn and Stone were executed in June 1971. Their remains have never been found, despite exhaustive searches.

Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn / public domain photo from National Library of Australia, via Wikipedia

The memorial dedicated to Sean Flynn.

In response to requests made by the friends and family of Dana Stone, Friends of Westchester County Parks agreed to install a memorial monument alongside Sean Flynn’s monument this spring to honor Stone. The installation will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the photojournalists’ deaths.

memorial

Photo by David Rocco

For more information, read Two of the Missing: Remembering Sean Flynn and Dana Stone, by Perry Deane Young (2009).