Honoring veterans who weren’t welcomed home, war correspondent Joe Galloway began his career covering the Vietnam War. The men he met overseas are his friends to this day. He’s now making sure they and their fallen comrades are paid the respect they deserve.
We spoke to Galloway about his new mission to support veterans and document their experiences. He told us he is doing it for the sake of saving their accounts of the war in Vietnam, and for the benefit of those who may delve into further research of the war in future generations.
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First, Galloway described his own life-changing experience in the war.
“My first day to go out in the field, I got off a plane in Da Nang carrying a Samsonite suitcase and wearing chinos and loafers,” Galloway told Rich Kolko, WINK News Safety & Security Specialist.
Young and naive, Galloway quickly learned the reality of war.
“I fell into the bloodiest single battle of the Vietnam War in November 1965,” Galloway said.
The Battle of Ia Drang.
“We’re the first battalion of the 7th Cavalry — Custer’s old outfit was — surrounded by a vastly larger force, a very good north Vietnamese regular army troops,” Galloway recalled. “They were there to kill us all.”
Galloway went on to describe the bloodshed and the aftermath of the battle.
“And I was on this helicopter to witness this battle and to participate in it. Because it went on for two nights and three days,” He said. “And before it was all done, 234 Americans were killed. 250 wounded out of two battalions. And 2000 enemy soldiers dead and rotting in the jungle all around us. The stink of it was overwhelming.”
Death was all around the battlefield.
“I would never see battle more horrific than on those three days in November 1965,” Galloway said. “We were literally fighting for our lives. And either we succeeded, or we all died.”
FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOE GALLOWAY
The war dragged on, and Galloway kept himself entrenched with boots on the ground, even picking up a weapon.
“I grew up in Texas. If you shoot at me, it really pisses me off. I’m going to shoot back,” Galloway said.
And he had to.
“I carried my own M16, and I went to that battle caring a lot of ammo,” he said.
The war’s images are hard to forget, and Galloway formed a bond with American soldiers in Vietnam that can never be broken.
“I look at them and I see their faces when they were 19. I look at them and I see an infantry platoon moving across a piece of jungle and their heads are moving like a tree full of owls,” Galloway said. “These are the best people I ever met in a long lifetime.”
Now, Galloway focuses on making sure their sacrifices live on.
Up to this point, Galloway has more than 700 interviews for a documentary project. He’s working with the U.S. Department of Defense and Library of Congress.
Galloway, himself, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal by the U.S. Army for carrying wounded soldiers away from the battlefield. Much of this was depicted in the film “We Were Soldiers,” based on the book he wrote with Lt. Hal Moore.
“We’re all in our last semester. We don’t have a lot of time left,” Galloway said. “That’s why I’m spending what time I have left capturing their stories on film.”