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Longtime NBC News Foreign Correspondent Tom Aspell Dies

Tom Aspell, a veteran foreign correspondent for NBC News, died Monday from lung cancer. He was 62.

Aspell began his career in television as a scriptwriter and cameraman in 1970 and joined NBC News in 1985 as a Cyprus-based producer.

“From Southeast Asia to the Middle East… to the Balkans … to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and dozens of other ‘hot spots,’ Aspell made his mark on behalf of NBC News for 28 years. To a person, all of his colleagues will tell you Tom was great company in the field who loved sharing stories at the end of a day spent documenting history,” NBC News president Steve Capus said in a note to staff.

On Tuesday’s “Nightly News,” Brian Williams described him as a journalist with “an intense brand of cool under fire.”

Capus’ full note is after the jump.

It’s with great sadness that I report the loss of a longtime member of the NBC News organization. Veteran correspondent Tom Aspell passed away last night… as cancer claimed yet another member of our extended family.

Understated … selfless … perpetually cool … shrewd … wry … curmudgeonly … and a damn good reporter, Tom Aspell joined NBC News in 1985 as a producer based in Cyprus. His career began as a scriptwriter and cameraman with Visnews in 1970. Steve O’Neil remembers Tom as a cameraman documenting the war in Cambodia who, while a fierce competitor was, “the nicest guy I knew.”

When Saigon fell to communist forces in 1975, Aspell captured some of those iconic images of the rooftop escapes and was one of the few journalists who stayed behind to document the ensuing stories. In fact, Tom always seemed to be the guy running into the places that others were fleeing. He reported on what was taking place in Beirut from the late 70’s through the early 80’s first for CBS News and later for ABC News.

From Southeast Asia to the Middle East… to the Balkans … to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and dozens of other “hot spots,” Aspell made his mark on behalf of NBC News for 28 years. To a person, all of his colleagues will tell you Tom was great company in the field who loved sharing stories at the end of a day spent documenting history.

Tom was a native of New Zealand whose last posting for NBC News was in Cyprus… where he lived with his wife and two sons. While Tom was an intensely private man, he forged extremely close relationships with many in our profession… his loss will be deeply felt.

-Steve

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