The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Journalist recounts experiences reporting the Vietnam War

Joe Galloway’s eyes welled with tears as he spoke of the young soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam to an overflowing auditorium in Jepson Hall Wednesday night.

“They’re my brothers,” Galloway said, “I care more for them than I can say. I’m standing here because some of them laid down their lives so that I might live, and I can never repay that debt, but I keep trying.”

Galloway, who covered the Vietnam War as a young reporter for United Press International, introduced the screening of “We Were Soldiers,” the movie adaption of the book “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young” that Galloway wrote with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore about the battle of the Ia Drang Valley.

Moore, whom Galloway refers to as “his best friend in this lifetime,” was the lieutenant colonel commanding 450 men during the battle, while Galloway was the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting.

The screening was part of "Documenting the Vietnam War," a film series hosted by the journalism department and its chairman Robert Hodierne, who was also an accredited journalist in the Vietnam War.

The book, completed after 10 years of research and hundreds of interviews with American and North Vietnamese soldiers by Galloway and Moore, tells the complete story of the events that unfolded in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965.

In the movie, Mel Gibson plays Moore and Barry Pepper plays Galloway.

After the screening, Galloway took questions from the audience, filled mostly with community members, and many who were Vietnam veterans.

Galloway joked as he recounted the competition between the news wire services, UPI and Associated Press, during Vietnam, and his “nemesis,” AP journalist Peter Arnett, who also recently visited campus for the Vietnam film series.

Galloway told the story of how he hitched a ride into the Ia Drang Valley, beating the other journalists to the story.

While asking for permission to hop on one of the helicopters into the battle, Galloway recounted Moore saying, “If he’s crazy enough to want to come here and you’ve got room, bring him.” Galloway said, “All I had to do then was hide out from Arnett and the other guys…and I got a ride into the pages of history.”

Galloway, who now spends much of his time travelling and speaking to various veteran groups, said he was still bitter about the way the Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home from fighting in the war.

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“When you’ve done the best you could,” he said, “and you’re proud of the uniform you’re wearing, and you’ve got to take it off and throw it in the trash can and hide the fact that you served your country honorably. I’m still bitter about that on their behalf.”

The Vietnam film series continues on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. with the showing of “The Hanoi Hilton” and guest speaker Paul Galanti, who was an American prisoner of war in Vietnam. 

Contact managing editor Brooke Harty at brooke.harty@richmond.edu. 

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