'A Hell of a Journey:' Joe Galloway releases new book from the battlefields of Ia Drang
September 9, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Joe Galloway, co-author of the New York Times Best Sellers, We Were Soldiers Once... and Young (1992), and We are Still Soldiers... A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam (2008) visited Soldiers and families of the 1st Cavalry Division Sept. 3 at Fort Hood's Clear Creek Post Exchange.
With vigilance in his attempts to personalize every handshake and greeting, Galloway drew a crowd as he signed copies of his newest book. Personable, approachable and quick witted, Galloway had an attentive ear to even the mere mention of a Soldier currently serving in Iraq, even to go as far as to speak with one such troop on the phone.
"This was really cool. Back when (my husband and I) first met at Fort Campbell, Ky. we were able to meet Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Hal Moore and he signed our first book (We Were Soldiers)," said Nadine Albrecht, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Albrecht, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "It was nice to come here and have [Galloway] sign our books, and he spoke with my husband on the phone from Iraq, so it was very special," she added.
As any military history buff can tell you, Galloway has been at the forefront of war correspondence for over the past 20 years. Those who admire his work including Gen. (Ret.) Norman Schwarzkopf have referred to him as "the finest combat correspondent of our generation -- a Soldier's reporter and a Soldier's friend."
However, it is not his reporting or regional diction that has bound him to the 1st Cav.--it is in his words:
"The men I met and the time we spent together fighting for one another, was a life changing experience that transcends the bonds of friendship and brotherhood."
In his newest book written with long time friend Hal Moore, Galloway revisits the Valley of Ia Drang, and the battlefields that claimed the lives of so many brave young men of the United States Army, and The Peoples Army of Vietnam.
"Myself and General Moore worked on this book for the past two and a half years," said Galloway. "And thank God I got to spend two long summers in Crested Butte, Colo. working on it, up in God's country. I like to think maybe he put his hand on our shoulders and helped us through from time to time. This book is, I think, the equal to We Were Soldiers Once... and Young. It is a different book; it closes the loop to some extent, if that is possible to do."
For Galloway, one of the most touching and remarkable parts of 'We are Still Soldiers' is the relationship the men who were once enemies take on as they walk the valley's haunting battlefields, and re-live the one event that will forever link them to one another.
"This was a hell of a journey, on so many levels." said Galloway. "To be able to stand there on that ground with the guys we did our ever loving best to kill, and they us; and find thirty years later, that maybe we had more in common with our old enemies than any Soldier has with any civilian, of this or any other country."
"We were on the bus with these guys day after day, and the longer we talked to them... it just was fascinating; to be able to roll out your maps and take out your journal, and say 'why did you do that' Why didn't you do this' Do you know that the entire rear of our perimeter was wide open that first day'' The chance to dive into your enemies mind, into his plans, into his commands is remarkable, and is a great deal of the story we tell (in We are Soldiers Still)," he said.
It doesn't take long whether reading his words or speaking in person to figure out that Joe Galloway is not your average journalist. Upon reading his list of accomplishments, the places and battles he has seen, you realize he is more decorated, and has seen more combat than most Soldiers will in their careers. A part of this legacy would forever be solidified March 1, 1998 when Galloway was awarded the Bronze Star with V for rescuing a badly wounded soldier under heavy fire in the Ia Drang Valley, 15 November 1965. Galloway is the only civilian to have received such a medal for the Vietnam Era.
Galloway and his written words are a corner stone in the legend, and legacy of the 1st Cavalry Division, which in his words is the biggest honor he has ever received in his career. He always sports his 'Stetson' proudly on his head, and his Bronze Star over his heart, and the more someone tells him he's a hero, the quicker he is to say the Soldiers are.
"Fort Hood and its Soldiers are like a second home and family for me," Galloway said. "It is always an honor for me to come home, and I always regret having to leave. This place is truly a special one and I pray for the safety of all who live and work here. God Bless you all."