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Joe Galloway - Ia Drang Valley

Jun 01, 2021
I was never made to feel unwelcome in the field with Marine soldiers, look at this, I mean I'm the only civilian you'll see there and that's something special, because you can spend two years in the big green machine and I never see a sign that a a civilian doesn't care if he lives or dies and I did, so I was always pretty well received and you know, I tell the story that you went out with a company of infantry, it could be three for hours or three days you're marching for that first hour and they stop and tell you, smoke them if you have them and everyone sits down and the guy next to you says who the hell are you.
joe galloway   ia drang valley
I'm a reporter, you mean? You're a civilian, yes, and you're here with me, yes, damn, they must pay you a lot of money. No, I work for United Press International. They are the cheapest company in any business. Oh, he says, then you're crazy and no one. He understands crazy people like infantry, so once they put you in that locker, you know the guy next to him would say who the hell is he and he's like oh, he's a crazy reporter, so that was it and the next morning you'd be his kind of crazy reporter. Coming of age on a battlefield, covering soldiers and Marines is the best possible training for a young reporter.
joe galloway   ia drang valley

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joe galloway ia drang valley...

I would go out and march with them, I would write a story, I would take pictures, I would send my stuff in with the safe knowledge that my article would probably be published. Stars and Stripes and I would go back to that company or else it would appear in his hometown newspaper and his mom would cut it out and put it in her next letter and, as it was, I would come. You march with that company again and you don't misspell names or make mistakes in the hometowns of guys who carry rifles and are armed and dangerous, that makes you a very cautious and careful reporter and that's good, it was on Sunday 14 November 1965.
joe galloway   ia drang valley
I passed my 24th birthday and great things were happening in the central highlands. I had been there for several weeks covering things and there were attacks and the special forces camp at play. I was besieged by a regiment of North Vietnamese and entered. there and I spent a few days with the special forces and now here is the first cavalry division that is sending a battalion to no man's land, you know, an area where no one has really gone before and we can do this thanks to helicopter this will be the event that will test if the helicopter really will be the weapon of choice in Vietnam or the means of transportation the infantry would no longer have to walk, they would fly to work or that was the theory anyway and we're going to find out and I spent that birthday night in a trench that I dug under a T-shaped bush in a plantation where the headquarters of the third brigade of the first taxi was and they were loading a company to fly to this operation and they had all the hueys lined up and I slid down and found an empty seat and I got on and here comes a guy in line and he has a doctor with him and he's looking for a spot and he looks at me and says who are you, I said I'm a reporter, get out of there and he puts the doctor in my seat, I can't argue with that, but I was upset because I couldn't get in the first elevator and I went to see the brigade commander, Colonel Tim Brown, I said, "Look, I need to get in there" and he said, "Look, it's probably going to be a hike." long and hot in the sun and there won't be any action, but just in case, if something happens, I'm going to get out there, take my command helicopter and I'll take you, well, it wasn't an hour later that something happened and the hell broke out hell and the colonel zoomed out of his headquarters heading to his helicopter and I Right behind him Colonel Brown flies to the site of this battle, it's not hard to find because the smoke rising from that battlefield is 5000 feet in the air and we spin and he's talking to Colonel Moore on the ground and he wants to land. and colonel moore is seeing him off and says look, this lz is hotter than a gun, you land that command helicopter with all those antennas here and you're going to have to walk home, they're going to shoot it to pieces and then we're obviously not going to land and just then an Air Force Skyraider bomber passes below us and leaves a hundred-foot trail of fire and smoke and they're shouting for anyone to see a shot, anyone to see a shot and It was my side of the helicopter, so I leaned out and looked at him the whole time, I clicked on the microphone and I said, no, no, no, no, he mounted it to the ground and it's still there today, uh, the air, the joint task force, my people .
joe galloway   ia drang valley
He contacted his widow 12 or 15 years ago and told her we know where it is, where the wreckage of his plane is and we'll go out and do a dig and recover the wreckage if you want that and she said no, I don't think so. he died doing something he loved, he died supporting a historic battle and the air force took care of me and my five children put all the kids to college, so we're good and we're leaving, rest in peace there in the jungle and there it is where is the. But they let us free and the colonel dropped me off at an artillery base about three four miles away and I spent the afternoon there looking for a helicopter ride to get into the battle and it was difficult to get them and as the afternoon passed four more showed up. or five journalists, including my nemesis Peter Arnett of the Associated Press, and although I had the advantage over them, I had marched with Colonel Moore's battalion three days earlier and spent the night with them in the very cold hills. those mountain plateaus and I knew him, so I saw a captain running by and I knew he was Colonel Moore's operations officer, Captain Matt Dillon, and I grabbed him and I said to Matt, I have to go in and he said I'll go in as soon as soon as it's dark with two hueys full of ammunition I said I want a ride and he said I can't I can't say yes it has to be the colonel I told him to call him on the radio so I followed him to the store and he Colonel Moore I could hear the battle on the radio earpiece and he informed the colonel what he was bringing and when and then he said that reporter Galloway wanted to accompany him and Colonel Moore's response was that he was listening very closely.
He said if he's crazy enough to want to come here and you have room, bring him, so all I had to do was hide from the other reporters until it got dark and they flew back to Placo for a hot meal and a cold bunk. and a hot shower and I was taken to the pages of history. I was sitting with my back against a small oak tree and suddenly the world fell apart, two battalions of the enemy were attacking a company-sized section of our perimeter and we were positioned right behind them, probably no more than 30 yards or so, and everything the enemy fired at that company that didn't hit, something happened right by where we were sitting or lying down because I fell on my face. and I was, you know, flattening out as much as I could because everything in the world was sailing through all kinds of lead, almost up to my knees, and at that moment I felt a hit on my ribs and I looked down and it was a combat boot and I looked up and it was Sergeant Major Basil Plumley, a werebear from West Virginia, and he leaned over and over the battle pit, which is really deafening.
You have no idea how loud war is until you're in the middle of it and he bends over at the waist, bends over and shouts in his loudest voice, I can't take pictures lying on the ground, son, and I thought about it and I realized he was right, got up and followed him. Which is a smart thing, if you're a war correspondent, you follow someone who's got stripes on their arm, you can't go so wrong like that and especially in the case of Sergeant Major Plumley, this was the third war he'd done in the war. world. ii made the four combat jumps of the 82nd airborne sicily salerno normandy and holland and one combat jump in korea and here he was in his third war and he knew that we were in serious danger of being invaded and he was assembling What kind of battalion of reserve could include a reporter and he walked up to the battalion surgeon and medical platoon sergeant sergeant keaton and he pulled out his .45 and he got into the thing and he yelled gentlemen, prepare to defend yourself and the doctor looked like he had been shot, I want I mean, he had been removed from his residence and he was an honorary captain, that's what he really is and I certainly didn't expect to have to use that 45 that he was carrying, but plumley was doing what he felt he should do and as this battle progressed, you know , in Hollywood the sergeant major gave me an m16, but it didn't happen that way, I brought mine, I had an m16 and a lot of magazines loaded in my pack and you know there are some events that are so horrible and so immediate that you can't be a neutral observer, you can't be the non-combatant civilian who stays out of this, these are people who are giving their lives so you could live and you owe them something too and I carried water I carried the wounded and finally I took the m16 and I did what what I had to do because you can have the best story in the world if you don't live to tell it die with you and so I did what I had to do and I have no doubt about it they wear the nation's highest medal of valor, the medal of honor uh and i could probably name you a dozen other guys from this battle who deserve that same medal. what i know is that bruce and ed in their time and joe marm wear that medal in honor of all of us, all of us who fought there, all of those who died there, all those who returned home damaged by that battle, this is me I know and I do not say this in any way to disrespect them because they are wonderful representatives of all of us and they wear that medal, they wear it with great humility and they know better than no one who is for all of us, oh you know.
That was my first tour in Vietnam, I did three more and covered Americans in the war for 43 years. I have never again seen a battle so immediate, so violent, so bloody, you know, in a matter of four days and four nights. 234 young Americans were murdered and another 250 or 300 were seriously injured and the truth is not a single one left that place. The same man who arrived there changed all of us and changed our lives. I knew that 80 young Americans had put their lives in order to live. , to live to tell his story and I knew I owed them and really all soldiers and Marines had a sacred obligation to tell their stories to present their stories to the American people uh and you know, that's that. a heavy burden but one that I carry with pride and I have spent my life since those days 50 years now half a century trying to fulfill that obligation I am speechless and I always have been it was very hard for me to go down And I stood there and looked at those names and for a couple of years anyway I sat on the benches in the woods, on the slope of the wall, and took it in, but I didn't see the details, the details are what they are. so important, uh, I think it's, you know, the most incredibly moving piece of art I've ever seen, it warms my heart, the names on there, I know a lot of them, it's very difficult, uh, when we got the first galley proofs of our book, we were soldiers.
Once, when I was young, I put it in a plastic bag, took it down and put it on panel three to the east, where are engraved the names of 305 soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division who died in the place where I drank, where their names are recorded and I left it there for them, finally their story. I told you

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