What Happened to Errol Flynn’s Son?


Sean and Dad, in happier times

On April 6, 1970, while traveling by motorcycle in Cambodia, Sean Flynn and Dana Stone (on assignment for Time magazine and CBS News respectively) were captured by communist guerrillas at a roadblock on Highway One. They were never heard from again and their remains have never been found. Although it is known that they were captured by Vietnamese Communist forces, it has been suggested that they died in the hands of “hostile” forces. Citing various government sources, the current consensus is that he (or they) were held captive for over a year before they were killed by Khmer Rouge in June 1971.

Flynn’s mother, Lili Damita, spent an enormous amount of money searching for her son, with no success. In 1984 she had him declared legally dead.

The story of Sean Flynn was immortalized by The Clash in the song “Sean Flynn” from the album Combat Rock. He is a major character in Michael Herr‘sDispatches. He was portrayed by Kevin Dillon in the 1992 Australian mini-series Frankie’s House, based on a book by Flynn’s friend and colleague, photojournalist Tim Page.

In June 2008, Mythic Films optioned the rights to the Perry Deane Young memoir, Two of the Missing. Young is working on a screenplay with director Ralph Hemecker.

In March 2010, a British team searching for Flynn’s body thought they had found it, when they uncovered the remains of a Western hostage allegedly executed by the Khmer Rouge. Tests results on the human remains found at the grave site in eastern Kampong Cham province, Cambodia were released on June 30, 2010 and they were found not to be the remains of Sean Flynn. Lt. Col. Wayne Perry of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) said there was no match between DNA from the recovered remains and DNA samples they had on file from the Flynn family.

A film inspired by his exploits as a photojournalist entitled, The Road to Freedom, was shot on location in Cambodia.

In the war zone

Data gleaned from the POW Network:

Photo journalists Sean Flynn and Dana Stone left Phnom Penh on
rented Honda motorbikes to find the front lines of fighting in Cambodia.
Traveling southeast on Route One near a eucalyptus plantation in eastern
Cambodia, the two men were stopped at a check point at grid coordinates
XT171209 in Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia, and led away by elements of the
Viet Cong Tay Ninh Armed Forces and elements of the combined North
Vietnamese-Viet Cong Ningh Division based in Cambodia.
On the same day, French journalist Claude Arpin and Japanese correspondents
Akira Kusaka and Yujiro Takagi arrived by auto at the same location on Route
1. Details are sketchy regarding these foreign nationals, but by 1988, they
were still classified as missing.
Sean Flynn is the son of actor Erroll Flynn. Although Flynn had spent much
of his life in California and New York, his mother, Lili Loomis, maintained
homes both in Palm Beach and Ft. Dodge, Iowa. Flynn was on a photo contract
to Time Magazine, and his friend Dana Stone was on contract to CBS to cover
American fighting in Cambodia. Both men were "veterans" of combat news.
Stone attended school in New Hampshire, but his home was in Vermont, where
his parents resided. He had been in the U.S. Navy at the time of the Bay of
Pigs incident. Both men frequently travelled with military units on patrol
and operations. The Marines who knew Dana Stone called him, "Mini-Grunt".
Information obtained from indigenous sources indicated that Stone and Flynn
were executed in mid-1971 in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia.
Various sources, including an intercepted radio message from COSUN, the Viet
Cong high command, indicate that Flynn and Stone survived. One source
reported that he had seen "a group of very long haired, bearded, tall
prisoners near Minot, Cambodia" who were identified as "imperialist
journalists". Over the years, meanwhile, there has been occasional word from
isolated Cambodian villages that someone saw the "movie star" who is being
held prisoner by the Khmer Rouge.
Flynn's colleagues have said, "If anyone is equipped to survive...years of
hardship in the jungle, it's Sean Flynn...he's very much an expert at jungle
survival."
Flynn, Stone, Arpin, Kusaka and Takagi are among 22 international
journalists missing in Southeast Asia, most known to have been captured. For
several years during the war, the correspondents community rallied and
publicized the fates of fellow journalists. After a while, they tired of the
effort, and today these men are forgotten by all but families and friends.
Tragically, nearly the whole world turns its head while thousands of reports
continue to flow in that prisoners are still held in Southeast Asia.
Cambodia offered to return a substantial number of remains of men it says
are Americans missing in Cambodia (in fact the number offered exceeded the
number of those officially missing). But the U.S. has no formal diplomatic
relations with the communist government of Cambodia, and refused to directly
respond to this offer. Although several U.S. Congressmen offered to travel
to Cambodia to receive the remains, they have not been permitted to do so by
the U.S.

Sources:
Wikipedia
POW Network. http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/s/s602.htm

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