The Foreign Ministry delivered a letter to the AP's Hanoi bureau Monday remembering a "kind and caring gentleman and friend" whose "professionalism and tenacity impressed us very much."

Esper died Thursday in Massachusetts after a long illness. He had retired from AP in 2000 after 42 years.

He reported on the Vietnam War for 10 years from the former U.S.-backed Saigon and refused to leave when it fell to the northern communists on April 30, 1975. He returned in 1993 to open the AP's first postwar bureau in Hanoi and maintained close ties with many Vietnamese after leaving.

By Margie Mason - The Associated Press - February 6, 2012