tv Oral Histories Vietnam War Correspondent Joseph Galloway CSPAN April 21, 2021 9:44pm-11:28pm EDT
from virginia beach joseph galloway was a correspondent for united press international during the vietnam war next he recounts his time in the war zone including his first day in country in 1998. he received the bronze star with v for valor the only american civilian to be awarded the medal during the vietnam war. this interview is from the veterans history project and was conducted by the atlanta history centers, kenan research center. i was born three weeks before pearl harbor and i did not meet my father until the end of 1945 when he came home from service.
he and five of his brothers wore the uniform in world war ii and four of my mother's brothers. so we were heavily invested in that war and my earliest memories. are of living and houses full of frightened women looking out the window for the telegraph boy. you know, they were all of these uncles and aunts were. young couples they had maybe one or two kids. the war broke out and then the father is gone and he's gone mostly for the duration of the war. so we my mother and i lived between her mother's house in little town of marquette, texas. and his mother's house in the little town of franklin, texas,
which was 28 miles away. and we would ride the bus. between those two we my mother was pretty good at figuring out when we had worn out our welcome in one place and we moved to the other had a little like can remember a little alligator. embossed cardboard suitcase we would pack all our belongings in and hid down the road. those were the years of world war ii and i have a memory of scrap metal collections and saving bacon grease which i have no idea what they did something to do with ammunition. there were i you know, i remember my mother. they only gave you the ration
book only had one coupon for a pair of shoes per person per year. and i'm a growing boy you go through shoes pretty quick. so my mother gave up her shoe rations so that i could have two pair a year. and that my father was earning twenty one dollars a month. in the army and he gave us a an allotment. so that we got $18 of his twenty one. lived off of four dollars a month that bought his cigarettes i guess. and it was it was interesting times. do you remember specifically when your dad came back from the
war? oh, i remember it like it was yesterday. he came back and he came up on the porch and he had a little overseas cap. he was wearing and i wanted that cap and i was begging for it. and he took that cap off his head and he threw it out in the yard and i ran to get it. and when i got back mom and dad were in the house and the door was locked. so they got busy making my little brother. but it was interesting times interesting times. my dad worked at a couple of jobs took a course at a&m. and took a job with umbilo oil company in south texas in a little town called refurio.
and my mom and i loaded what furniture we had by then and on the back of a pickup truck and drove down in the winter to join my dad. he had found a place he could rent it was in the oil boom town and places to live were very hard to come by. so he was down there living in a rooming house for a good while until he could find an apartment to rent. and we joined him and i went through 11 years of public school in that little town and graduated from a high school there in class of 1959. before we move ahead. i want to ask you a question about your father and your uncles did your father? and/or your uncle's talk about
their experiences. in world war ii not much. not much now my dad did not go overseas he was. scheduled to go with the division to the army division to the pacific theater. and they were almost literally lining up to get on the boat. when they they came through asking if anyone could type and he could type and they pulled him out of the out of the line and he spent the war at fort ord, california. and he finished up as a tech sergeant. the other uncle's they were all over the place one was army air force. and he flew in the pacific new guinea and all those places. my mother had one brother who
was in the 101st airborne and was wounded pretty badly. in europe in the normandy campaign and the rest of them, i think we're just one was in the navy the youngest brother of my dad. managed to get in the war like in 44 and was on a navy ship that was hit by kamikaze pilots off of okinawa. he survived that. most of them made it home one shape or another but but they got home from it, okay? and boy, were they in a hurry to get on with life and living? but they didn't talk about it much didn't talk about it hardly at all. until i came home on leave from vietnam. and i remember my uncle jigs who
had been a pilot. in the pacific and he never would talk about it. in fact, he was kind of really nervous around crowds and he considered a family reunion a crowd. i mean he would disappear out the back door into the woods and and stand around smoking and walking. and i came back from vietnam. i didn't like crowds much myself, and i walked out there in those woods and for the first time ever. uncle jig started telling me about his service and what he saw in the new guinea campaign and things like that, but they didn't think it was worth. talking to you if you did not understand what they had gone through. and i understand it stood that a whole lot more when i had gone
through it myself. sure you did. so, what did you do after you got out of high school? i went to college for six weeks. and those six weeks stood me in good stead. i was the campus stringer for the local daily newspaper in victoria, texas. the victoria daily advocate and it to me, it was a junior college and to me it just seemed like an extension of high school and i'd had that right up to here. so i i was i just turned 17. and i i was begging my mother to sign the papers so i could enlist in the army. i wanted out of south, texas. i wanted out of texas and i wanted out of school. and i finally browbeat the poor woman to the point where she said. okay, i'll sign.
and she and i were in the car on the way to the recruiting office and we two blocks away you pass. the newspaper office and my mother one last gas potemps at joe. what about your journalism? i say good call mom stopped the car. and i got out and i went in and i saw i knew the managing editor of finding man named jim reck. and i said, mr. reck, you wouldn't happen to have a vacancy for a reporter and he said well as a matter of fact i do. and he hired me on the spot 35 bucks a week and freedom subscription to the newspaper. and that saved me from the army. i had probably been in vietnam. carrying a rifle and stripes on my shoulder.
i guess now you've got an experience. i believe when you were much younger where you got into journalism. oh, absolutely. i you know, it's not like i just woke up one morning 17 and wanted to be a reporter. when i was nine years old, i traded my old bicycle to an uncle. for a 1912 remington typewriter. this is one of those square things about yay high and yay wide and weighed about 50 pounds. and i got my dad to bring me a box of carbon paper. and if i hit those keys as hard as i could i could make six copies. of my home reported home-grown newspaper for my neighborhood by then. we lived in an oil camp. with about 30 houses all the men work for humble oil and refining
company, which was a family-owned company in those days. it's now called exxon. it was bought by standard oil of new jersey. and my dad and several of his brothers all worked for that company. and we lived ten miles outside of refugio, texas on the middle of a big ranch in the middle of one of the biggest oil fields in texas. and i was the local reporter and publisher. of about a weekly newspaper if i could manage it and i i made a successful business of it. back then it was a real popular christmas gift for kids. was a little fronting for us that that you you set rubber pipe. on this thing and you could run these boy you could run them off
a lot quicker and i could type them. and some kid would always get one of those for christmas. and he'd make a newspaper and then he get tired of it. i would sell him my newspaper subscription list. i'd already collected the money. and he would have to fulfill the subscription and not have any money. no operating cash and he would get bored and he would quit after a week or two. and then i would start it up again. so you are just a journalist. you were a businessman, too. dang, right and it worked obviously, but i i you know, it was a lifelong interest. i worked on the school newspaper first running the mimeograph machine you remember those i still smell it. yeah. and then as a reporter and
writer and i had a i had very good almost great english teachers and journalism teachers really encouraged me to that. and at the end of a long life i have to say i wouldn't change a thing. sure, you wouldn't a lot of us are glad you did what you did. so after your mom. save me from the art. talk about what happened after that i went to work on the daily newspaper. i worked they generously called it five and a half days a week what it was was six days a week. i think i had tuesday and half a day sunday off. and i worked on the copy disk editing stories writing headlines. and once in a while they would
i walked in the next day, and i could always tell when he was mad because his neck got read and he was sitting there, he had five cigarettes burning at once and his ashtray. he didn't look at me. he mattered. he muttered. he really screwed that up. i've had every member of both garden clubs phone to, me explaining who their president is and who is not. i thought my career was over before it began. but i survived. it was a very good place to learn.
i had either side i was flanked by older guys who had been in the business a long time. one was a fellow who made it all the way to the new york times, and then dropped his way all the way down to a small daily in texas, and then dried out. but was still a very flamboyant writer and reporter. and on the other side was a very solid, excellent reporter. the thoughtful man who had been the managing reporter of it even smaller paper that won the pulitzer prize, with great box 13 scandal and south texas, when lyndon johnson stole his way to congress into the u.s.
senate. there was a mysterious box. 13 and alice, texas, that somehow caught fire in the basement of the courthouse as the texas rangers were on their way to check it out and see if it really did vote 133 to two in favor of lyndon johnson and that was going to put them in the senate. it did. the ballots all burned up for the rangers got there. so that guy is sitting there on one side. more solid citizen you cannot imagine. then this glimpse lamb man on an other side. i gotta education out of the deal. both ends of the spectrum. both were good journalists in their own way. i have no one to blame it on.
i'm self educated. i was always a reader. reading five, six books a week. and have ever since i was ten years old. and still do. >> that had to really help you as a journalist. >> absolutely. you can't understand what's good writing is until you understand by reading. i used to hire people for upi los angeles, i would say they would come for all of their clippings and i would tell them look, somebody else could have written that and put your name on it as far as i am concerned. i don't want to see here clippings i want to see your library1nayk÷- card. if you don't have one get out of my office.
that tells me more than anything. >> what was your experience covering something outside the country? whether it was a war or an issue? my first assignment outside the united states was in 1964 with my bosses a couple of years, trying to get to vietnam. they finally agreed to transfer me to tokyo, japan. put me to work on the desk. tokyo was asia headquarters reunited prints. i went to work on the copy desk there as asia editor. as i was leaving the states, i went to see my old mentor,
harry truman, former president of the united states and told him that i was going. and he said well, you are going to tokyo. you're going to japan. when you get there i want to to take a look at the hiroshima place. he says i take a lot of crap. i want you to take a look at it. be my eyes and ears. and let me know how they are doing. so in the early spring of 65, i went down, took a photographer and went down to hiroshima. and called on the mayor, the governor, and did the whole town, and wrote a report to harry truman. i found it was a hostile --
town, and all the damage had been repaired since. >> go ahead. >> what was his response? did he comment? >> he did not comment. i did not hear back from him. i sent him the report just so that he wouldn't know and wrote a story about it. he just wanted to know what the people thought about him. the mayor of hiroshima is a socialist. she said oh mr. galloway, we people of hiroshima hold no grudge against mr. galloway but
we wish you would say that if you had to do it all over again he would bomb us again. i happen to know as mayor, as a young man i worked as a clerk in the post office in hiroshima and the night before was moot. his boss, he had been working long hours, his boss as you look tired. why don't you sleep in tomorrow morning? he lived about ten miles outside of the city. and when the place got nuked he was not there. he was home asleep. and it saved his life, of course. and i said mister mayor, if harry truman had it all to do over again, and the situation was exactly the same you better sleep in again. he was not amused.
he did not. the interview was over at that point. harry truman was just a remarkable man. i first came to know him when my first job outside of texas was kansas city. the first day at work, the bosses i'm going to break un, on the day side a bit, then you're going on the night shift because you were the last guy hired. you get the crappy schedule. he said inevitably in new york desk is going to ask you to give a comment from harry truman from this, that, or the other. he showed me the rolodex and said this is mr. truman's home phone. you call it. it wasn't two weeks until exactly that happened. i don't know what it was.
it was some question. and i with trembling fingers doubt the former president's phone number and 9:00 at night. and he answered his own phone. and i was apologizing like crazy. he said oh son, i like reporters. it's editors that i hate. go ahead and ask your question. i asked it. he said yes. the answer to that is on page 197 volume two of my memoir. but i don't expect that you editors can read, so i will give you the answer again. and up apologizing again. he said i do like reporters. he said come see me at the library today. the last day i had off i hold
my butt to missouri, visited mr. truman and it became a habit. i would go by and see him a couple of times a month. i would go in, and i would stick my head into the door of miss rose, the secretary, the boss. she would say how many school buses did you see in the parking lot when you arrived? i said must have been 20 or so. she said, then you must know where he is. then i would go all down the hall into the auditorium and the former president would be sitting on the lip of the stage with his little feet dangling, talking to 508th graders from joplin missouri about the constitution of the united states of america, and the responsibilities of the office of the president.
never the power. but always he talked about the responsibilities. i think back on that, and i think on every president that we have had since then and i can't see even one of them in that same position doing that same thing. harry truman was truly one of a kind. he was a man of the people. and he never, never thought of himself as anything but. and he spent many, many morning in that auditorium talking to a bunch of kids. >> so his image as a regular guy is accurate. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> one amazing experience for you. >> you have no idea. mr. truman was doing a speech and dodge city, kansas, and the 24th day of october of 1862.
because i was a friend of his there would be six or seven reporters in the hall and the hotel suite, he would send somebody out to bring me and. i was sitting there in the hotel room with harry best truman, john d montgomery, the kansas chairman. when the phone rang mr. -- mrs. truman answered and i could hear her voice. and she says harry, it is the white house calling for you. and mr. montgomery and i offer to get up and leave the room. and harry said no. sit down. it was jack kennedy calling to declared the cuban missile crisis. he was giving truman a heads up that he would be within the
hour making this speech. and we waited there with him and watched him, critiqued him, in new speech. that's pretty heavy stuff for a kid who is 20 years old. >> that really is. was he positive about kennedy speech? >> when kennedy said that he was invoking not the monroe doctrine, but the rio de janeiro treaty, and harry said george marshall and i wrote that treaty for exactly this reason. point by point. truman was making his points, along with kennedy.
you have no idea. i left there. we were trembling on the brink of nuclear war. and i have one of my uncles, he flew he's an engineer on the strategic fuel air command ship, a tanker, i had to drive through their on my way from to pika listening to kennedy speech and he was gone. so was every airplane there. and so was every airplane at chilean air base in topeka. all of those places were sacked basis. my uncle told me that every b-52 that we had was either in the air or on the ground, where
he and the tankers were seated. they were cocked, blocked, and ready to rock. we came so close. we came so close to nuclear war right then and there. >> i'm not sure that people know how close we got based on that. >> i don't think they do. i don't think they do to this day. >> that's a fascinating experience. it's 1964. let's, start there with your first trip of the season, we started to talk about that. harry truman experience. >> i spent, as soon as i got to tokyo, i asked the boss there, i said, i want to go to saigon. i want to go cover to cover vietnam war. he said, i just sent a second american decide gone, we will
never see more than that. and i knew better. but, i thought i will hide and watched. i worked on the tokyo desk. you know, writing all of the china stories. and all of the copy from asia came through to be edited, re-written, shortened, lengthened, sent to new york. and that is what i did for a few months. but then, things got hot. in march of 65, the first marines landed. and the pressure was on in south vietnam. my boss was having to send people in temporary duty so we could cover this. finally, he just said, okay, you are going. get on the plane. and early april of 65, i was on
a plane to vietnam. i got there. took a couple of days to get the accreditation cards and everything. i got on a c 1:23 flight that went all the way, stopping at every town, and every base in vietnam. and i was in the war. i was in the war so quick i had not even gotten to the black market to buy fatigues and boots. i was wearing chinos and loafers. and i even have a picture of myself on my first combat operation. i got to detonating, i have my clothing in a samsung night suitcase my mother had given me for high school graduation.
in this very excited, dark skinned gentleman came running up and he said you are mr. galloway. and i said, yes. and he said, i am the upi photographer. you come with me. i said, what about my suitcase? and he said everything about my suitcase, put it in the aerial squadron terminal and dragged me onto a c-130. i did not know where i was going what was happening and we flew to qantas in i city. and we got off, and if you've ever seen somebody stuck a stick in and anthill. it was like that. people were just going every which way. there was a sense of panic in the air on this little air strip.
and already ran over to a helicopter to talk to this guy, and then he waved it me, and i went over. we got on this helicopter. then he waved at me. i don't know where we are, leaving for i don't know where to, and we flew out of there about ten minutes on this marine ch 34 helicopter which is korean war vintage. shaking, i mean, give you a real massage. and we flew out of there in about ten minutes and we circled and i'm looking out the open door, and there is a hill, not very high heel. it was in the middle of a rice paddy, a big rice paddy like so. and we landed on the top of that hill, the guy shut the chopper off, and there was dead silence. and we got out, and i looked
around and there were probably 200 little -- they were not foxholes, they did not have time. they were just little indentations. and there was a man alive in each one like he was holding a rifle, except there was no rifle and that man was dead. they were all did. they had been overrun and all of them were killed by the v8 kong. >> where we were doing there was the crew chief for the helicopter needed help. we had to go man to man until we found it to american advisers and recover their bodies and brought them back to the helicopters and brought them home. that's the only reason that carlos on that helicopter, he needed help carrying bodies.
it was a shock. it was a total shock. and to that moment my knowledge of war was limited to john wayne movies, for god sakes. but now, i saw the reality. and i saw 200 dead vietnamese and i saw two dead americans. and i looked at their faces and i carried their bodies and i looked at them all the way back to that base of the helicopter. and they did not look like john wayne to me. in the movies you are good, you get up after, you turn the camera off and you are okay, but not in a war. you're still dead. we got back to that town, that base, and it was getting near
dark, and they told me, he said look, they are so scared that all the americans leave at night in fly back to dining, but if we stay in the night, we will get a start early in the morning and we will be ahead of the ap. i said, sounds good to me, henry. and we went over to spend the night and the mac v was the advisor compound, we went over to that compound and there was a tall skinny totally exhausted army captain standing at the gate and he said, boy, am i glad you guys decided to stay here tonight. we have been on 24/7 alert for the last five days. and i need some sleep. and you guys come and guard the base tonight.
okay? and i got -- they had a little old army switchboard in there, and the guy managed to connect me through to the bureau inside gone, and i am dictating a story when they started watering the place. and i'm underneath the switchboard still dictating, and the guy at the other end says what is that noise? and i said, they are shooting at us, you idiot. [laughs] it was my introduction to vietnam and the war. that night, already took the first shift for three hours, and then it was my turn. the guy gave us an m2 grease gun, 45 caliber missile machine gun. in my turn, i'm out there, i'm
scared to death! i'm in this bunker with a slip that looks out right at the road. well, during my shift, yet to be attacked the selfie enemies compound, commanders compound, off the little road. they hit it with satchel charges, blowing it up. and i'm figuring, we are next. finally, after the longest night of my life, there is a little light in the east. the sun is going to come up and man, i made it. and i look down the road and it comes to vietnamese guy on a bicycle with a big package on the front on his handlebars. and i have -- i'm jacked around in that machine gun, and i have it right on him and i'm about to blow his gizzard out when the captain hits me on the shoulder and says, son, if you shoot
that man you are going to have to cook our breakfast. [laughs] he was the cook! and our breakfast was on his handlebars and tell you, you know? you can't make stuff like that up. >> you learned a lot and about 24, ours didn't you? >> it did not take long. you know, it didn't take long. my next introduction was one of the americans who had been in saigon for a good while by them, ray hurd undone. he was also a texan. he came up to danang introduce me around. and he took me around to see the vietnamese carbon corps commander who was a four star general.
ty h. i, when chunky. later he would side with the buddhist in an uprising and he exiled from the country. but at that time he was truly the warlord of the northern part of south vietnam. and current and took me into introduced me to his man and he was very blunt spoken guy and he looked at me and he said, are you american? are you here to stay? you know? you have come in here and you are pushing us aside. you are saying we are taking this war over. he said, you know, we have been fighting this war for 20 years. a long time. and now, you say, you are going to take it over. are you going to stick? are you going to stay the course? because if you decide a year, or ten years from now that
you're going to cut and run, when you leave there are going to be people shooting holes in your helicopters and it will be me and my troops. and i just looked at him and said, general, that's way above my pay grade. i don't know who they think you're talking to. i'm just a kid reporter. you need to be talking to somebody else. >> that said a lot, when he said that. >> it meant a lot. he said a lot. i thought about him -- he was exiled. the cia saved him. i think when the cow key wanted to shoot him but a mutual friend of ours, a guy named general sam d. wilson talked into not shooting him. and letting him and his family come to the states. he lived in northern virginia
until fairly recently when he died. but you know, i began and then to understand something of just how complex the history and society of that place and those people was. and we had no business being there. we were getting ourselves in the middle of a civil war with a people we didn't understand, that we were, if anything, contemptuous of. your average american gi just looked at them as groups. and did not understand who they were what they were with their history was and i don't think you should go to war against
anybody without really knowing those things. you know? why are you willing to take it upon yourself to change a people and a country by violence if you don't know what they are. you don't know their language. this is foolishness. so, i, pretty early on, decided that there was just no way we can win this thing. no matter how much force we brought against them. just look at that chi ming trail. i went into the museum in hanoi and they would tie sticks and bamboo to a plane to an old heavy aren't bicycle.
and then load 400 pounds of stuff on it and you. and you've got two guys, one officer pushing and died ink from the front, the other is pushing from the back. they would go from 800 miles. over 400 pounds. turn around. the bicycle. then another load. we are sending 5 million dollar planes piloted by 5000 dollar pilots to attack two guys, barefooted, in pajamas on a bicycle. i don't see how that computes. and i certainly don't see how that competes to victory and war. it was not going to happen. never even got close. never even one year of that war
did we kill more of the enemy and their natural birth rate in hanoi, in north vietnam. so every year they were making a new crop of drafty's for 18 years down the road. and we could sit there and do everything that we could, and only kill less than that number of increase. >> so you came to that realization early. >> early. >> and yet, first of all i work for united press. they did not pay us to have a opinion. they did not pay as to write what our opinion was. in fact, they actively discouraged to having a opinion.
>> did you have experiences where you wrote something and they censored it, they wouldn't publish it? >> no, never. because i knew what you wrote, and what you should not. and the other thing was that i spent my time in the field. i spent my time with soldiers. and i was not going to be the one to tell them but the deaths of their comrades were useless. i couldn't do that. i could never barrett. not because i would be afraid. but because i would be ashamed to hurt them that badly. so i knew, but i didn't say. >> that's good. >> when it is over we can talk
about it. but not when you are grieving the loss of so many of your friends. and i was losing friends as well, there were 70 journalists who were killed in action just trying to get the story for the picture. just trying to tell the truth. you know, when i turned 30 years old i did an accounting. and i had more friends who were dead that alive. that is what happens when you go to war when you are 23, and 24. >> can i ask a question? >> sure. sure. joe there was a question that your students asked you earlier. you had a wonderful meeting with the students. they asked me about the troops. on the service site?
can you tell us a little bit about that? >> oh absolutely. it would turn up to go march with a infantry. marines or army. it did not matter. you might stay three hours or three days or even a week, but it always went kind of the same. we wore fatigues like there's, jungle boots, sometimes carried a weapon. sometimes not. but he would be marching along for a while, and they would stop for a smoke break or check the map or eat some see urchins, and the guy next to says who are you? i'm a reporter. you think about, that are you a
civilian? yeah. and you're out here with me? yeah. , they must pay you a lot of money. i work for united press. the cheapest outfit in the world. you are crazy as hell. but nobody understands crazy like the infantry. they were just grin. the guy next to him would say who the hell is like that? i would say it's some crazy reporter. but if you state the night, the next day his answer would be it is our crazy reporter. you stayed with him. then, and it never changed from war to war. there is a kid who lives over on the coast of north carolina who i ran into with the
southern cavalry, in the middle of nowhere, saudi arabia. and he is stuck in my mind because he had a cloud about that big tattooed on his butt cheek. the first time i met him he showed it to me. he now is a high school history teacher in north carolina and i know where he is, we keep track of each other. the relationship between a correspondent and the soldier is just the same as between one soldier and another. or it seems to me. because i felt as much a soldier as i did a reporter. >> and i am sure that that is because you stayed with him. you don't fly it in the morning flying at night. you love their life. >> i lived their life. i rolled up many a night in a
poncho, it is awful uncomfortable. there are bugs and snacks. i can remember nights when the mosquitoes were so bad that i took the plastic bag that i kept my cameras and lenses in and put it over my head because they were driving me crazy. it is kind of hard to breathe in a plastic bag, but it's better than being eaten alive by mosquitoes. you know, the first time that i took those orange anti-malaria pills i went blind for 12 hours. i couldn't see past the end of my nose. so i could not take those pills. and i thought if it is a choice between going blind and getting malaria i will take malaria. so one thing, i spent 12 years in southeast asia, and i have
everything you could have. i had dinghy fever, i had malaria, i had every parasite known to man, including the world record 23 foot long cheap warm. you know, i loved southeast asia, and i thought to myself i would love to live here all my life but i don't think that my life will be very long if i do stay here so i better get out. >> as i mentioned in the introduction, you're the only person that's been awarded a combat medal by the army. would you talk about that battle? what's around it? how you got into it? and what happened? >> it's a long story and it started in mid october in 1965 with the laying of eight north
vietnamese army siege against a little special forces camp, up in the mountain yard country in the southern highlands. in that camp were a dozen americans on special forces a-team. maybe 100 or 125 cidg they called them. irregular defense force. people that were hired on as mercenaries by the special forces. and that place fell under siege. and they shut down two or three helicopters and fighter planes, shot down a -- for god sake. they closed the airspace. >> the special forces sent a
reinforcing team in, led by a guy named major charlie, a fellow out of georgia, out of the university of georgia. football player. a special forces guy. later would go on to found of the delta. he and his little team from b57 detachment, they were specialists and going from laos to cambodia. they were sent into stephen the resistance and the camp. i missed them going in just by a matter of hours.
i was stopping down the line, and i ran into a buddy of mine. captain burns. he said what's the matter joe. said i wanted to get into the special forces camp. i said i can't find it ride. he said let me check. he went into the flight office and said well their space is close to over there i want to go. i wouldn't mind taking a look at myself. come on, i will go. he flew me and and i shot a picture. it's laying on its side. we're about 150 feet.
kind of spiralling in. it's perfect. you've got the triangular camp right on the frame of this picture, the frame of the open doorway. and you can see the mortal -- mortar shells exploding all over it, that's where we are going. he pulled in there, i jumped out, he flew wounded out there, my body is gone, shooting the plexiglass as he heads around the mountain on my ride. special forces master sergeant comes up and he says sir, sir, i don't know who you are but the major ones to see right now. he said it's that big fellow jumping on there with his hat?
that's what he did. jumping on there with his hat. i went there timidly and he said who the hell are you? i said i'm a reporter. he scratched his head and he said i need everything in the world. i need food i would love to have whiskey, a box of cigars, what has the army and it's witness sent me but god reporter? he said son i have news for you. i don't have a vacancy for a reporter but i desperately need a corner machine gunner and your. it he proceeded to send me to a bunker. trains with sandbags piled up.
a ear cooled, 30 caliber machine gun, and he showed me how to load it, how to clear a gm, he gave me my instructions. he said you can shoot the little brown men outside the wire. the ones on the inside belong to me. he said and one more thing, i want to always to have your left eye on that bunker down there. that is our supposed allies. i don't trust them as far as i can throw them. if i can turn the machine gun around, -- i ran that machine gun for two days and nights. finally i got relief. a column broke through. they had planned the ambush to lure the relief column out of
play coup, that was the last one out of play coup, if they could ambush them they could crush the, camp finish us off in a hurry, but we were the bait. then they could take it and go, and cut the country and half. right down around 19. and the -- the fact that the cavalry was there and was able to jump artillery along with that arvin column and broke through the ambush -- they had a whole regiment of nor the enemies there to take them out. between air support and that immediate artillery, they couldn't do it. that set the stage for the campaign.
when the cavalry battalion just outside the camp, i was going up to hook up with them. i want to say my goodbyes to major beckett, and he said you have done good on that machine gun, the way. you want to come with me on some of my other missions? and i said, how long do they last? and he said, sometimes ten days, two weeks, three weeks. i said, major, they're probably going to fire me for being three days in this camp with no contact with the home office. i said, i better say no. and he said, you're not carrying a piece, sun. i said, well technically speaking, in spite of the use of the made me these last two days, i'm a civilian noncombat
and. he said, there is no such thing in these mountains, boy. he said, sergeant, get this boy tim 16 and a bag of magazines. he is going to need them. he is going to stay up here. and i brought me and i'm 16 and a bag of 20 loaded magazines and i threw them over my shoulder and marched off with the cap to clear those mountains around the camp. we found the wreckage and remains of ten chinese aircraft to heather gunners chained to the tripod. so that they would not run when they came under intense air attack. there was a regiment worth of machine guns there and we got
them. we got them all but that was, those were harry times. that was the prelude to the campaign. i went back to pleikin file the story and shipped my film, and then i came out to a place called the -- where the cavalry brigade had just set up. to run their operation with the morris battalion, and one other battalion first and second of the seventh gallery and later they added another cavalry to it and they had big v8 kong attack on the headquarters one night. i was in town and quebec out
the next day and boy it was a close run thing. we had artillery and they were charging across an open air field, dirt runway and here came the north vietnamese and mostly mostly the v8 kong now that the plantation had come down. they crank those howitzers down, and they had big rounds and they ate them alive they had practiced attacking a certain way and they hadn't counted on those artillery pieces and once they rehearsed it they just keep doing it until it works or until there are all dead and in that case they were all dead. they just charged into those how it's your barrels, and you
can't do that. it is a deadly operation. anyway, that set my feet on the way to landing zone x-ray on the 14th day of november. one day after my 24th birthday. i spent that night under a bush in a foxhole, i dug myself with a company of infantry guarding the regimen, the brigade headquarters. and the next morning the battalion air assaulted in there at the foot of the mastiff which ran which ran 12:14 miles back into cambodia. so it was a natural highway for infiltration and it was a limestone and it was full of
caves that were easily dug and the enemy was in there and they had supplies in there and it was a regimental headquarters area and how more lands his battalion right smack in the middle of them. on the one to 10 am 14th sunday. i will never forget. it >> 1965. >> 1965. and i was on one of the helicopters taking the company out of katenka tea plantation to go to x-ray and i had slipped onto the helicopter and along came and officer. he had a medic with him. he kept looking in the helicopter after helicopter and he came to the one that i was on and he looked in at me and
said, who the hell are you? and i said, i'm a reporter. he said, i need that seat for a medic, yet the hell off of that helicopter. so, i got thrown off and i didn't regret it a bit. they needed a medic more than a reporter. and the brigade commander said, the worry about. it's probably going to be hot long walk in the sun, and if anything happens, of going out there. so, you just hang right here. well, they know more than land, and then all hell broke loose. the radios went wild. the colonel comes storming out of this tent. and i just fell right into a slipstream and went right to his command helicopter and got aboard. we flew out there.
and it wasn't hard to find there was smoke rising in the air 5000 feet high. it was straight to it, we were circling overhead. the colonel wanted to land but hell more very much did not want to land their. he was telling him on the radio, you land that command ship with all those antenna down here and you're gonna be a bullet magnet. and i guarantee you you're gonna have to walk home because your bird won't fly when they finish shooting it up. i got two birds already on the ground here. and the colonel was arguing of it, but losing the argument. we were circling when they shot down an a one a sky breaker. it went in right below us streaming 100 hundred far from
its belly and i put my -- i'd cans on layers. anybody see a shooter? anybody see a shooter? and i walked from my side of the helicopter, i watch that bird go right into the jungle, and i clicked the mic and i said, no shoot, no shoot. he rode it in. he is still there. air force captain. he had a wife and five kids. some years ago they went to his wife and said, we have located the wreckage and we can do a recovery of remains. the wife said, look, the air force has taken care of putting all five of my kids through college he was very proud of
his service and what he was doing and he rests in a place of a historic battle leaving them in peace. that was her choice and he rest there today. and i can see that plan going in just as clear as day. and the colonel was not going to land, so he dropped me at the fire base about five clicks away, where the howitzers were providing fire support. but i still wasn't there. it took five hours more. i recognized hal moore's three
he went hurrying vinaigrette have been and i said math, i need a ride in there. he said, well, i'm going in a soon as it is dark with a load of ammo and water. but i can't take you without the old man say so. i said, get him on the radio! and i followed him into the tent. he got on the 25 and there is hal moore on the other end. he's telling me what is bringing it, when he is coming. and he said, by the way, that reporter, galloway he is here and he wants to come in with me. and i'm listening close. and hal moore says, if he is crazy enough to want to come in here and you have room, bring him. and i had my ticket to ride. all i had to do than, by now, there is peter arnett and the
ap and for other five or so reporters are in that fire base and i've been wanting a ride to. and all i had to do than was hide from them until i got near dark and they caught arrived back to play coup where they could get a cold block in a hot meal. and i got a ride in in the pages of history. as soon as it was dark, i got on a helicopter piloted by colonel bruce campbell. then major grand all. and we flew in to landing zone x-ray just before moon rise and there i was. truly, the worst, bloodiest battle of the entire ten years of the vietnam war.
242 americans killed in four days, 300 wounded badly in four days, all told, 305 americans killed in the operation. >> there has been a lot written about this, but this is an opportunity for people to hear it first hand from somebody that was there. please, talk about that to whatever extent you want to and what you think people ought to know about that battle. >> well, most of what you need to know about the battle, you can find in the book. and in the movie. the movies may be 75% reality based on the book, 25% hollywood bs, which is the reverse of normal for those
guys anyway. but the very meaty details of that battle are in page after page, 440 pages of our book. >> it is very detailed, too. >> we put our hearts and souls and everything we could find about that battle, about the men on both sides, the commanders on both sides, two trips to hanoi to interview the enemy commanders. >> what was that like? >> that was, first of all, we had not done that, we have fought two wars since world war ii. the last time we were able to do that was with world war ii, and only because the german generals were in our prison camps. and they have to answer our questions. this was, i was --
we -- the first trip we virtually forced the door open. i forced the door open. they were not willing participants. and, they had said that they would give us a visa and the general and i got to bangkok and picked up our photographer and then the embassy kept saying, we have no authority from hanoi to give you a visa. and i was getting furious because u.s. news was picking up the bill for three of us, in the hotel in bangkok, and it was getting very expensive. there was going to be no product at the end. i didn't like that. so, the guy at the embassy, the enemies embassy, said, why don't you go see this australian business man here in
bangkok. he has very good ties to hanoi. to very high up people in hanoi. maybe he can explain it. so, the general and i in the morning went out to this guy's house, he lived out in pasha he said look here's the deal you are a reporter, they understand you. you can get a visa anytime. it is this general here, they don't understand, and they don't want to give him a visa because they don't understand the purpose that he wants to come to hanoi. and i said, okay. the purpose both of us come to hanoi, is to ask your commanders to tell us their side of this battle. it is what's military historians do, or would love to
do if they could. and he said, well, they don't understand that in hanoi. i said, okay, i know what they do understand in hanoi. so, you send them a message, right now, and you tell them i am the deputy foreign minister of the u.s. news and world report magazine. 12 million people in the united states read that every week. and i'm going to write every story, personally, on vietnam and southeast asia for the next 25 years, i'm going to stick it this deep and break it off. [laughs] and he said, my god mr. galloway, surely you don't need to tell them that. i said, i want you to tell them precisely that. if i don't get that visa, there
are toast. you know? i got a call at 7 am the next morning from the guy at the embassy, saying mr. galloway, would you and general more come down and get your visas? and we were on our way to hanoi. but they wouldn't give us who we wanted. they gave us jacques who was wonderful to have. they gave us the chief of military history, who had been on the battle hill, which was wonderful. but they wouldn't give us the actual north vietnamese army commanders. but with those two that i got, i can make a cover story on the 25th anniversary of the battle. and it is interesting, because that story convinced hanoi that
we were exactly what we said we were, and our purpose in being there was precisely to accurately quote what they said and to tell the story of this battle. and they decided that was as much in their interest as it was any other sides. so, that article got us the contract to write the book. we were in the middle of writing that book when a cable arrived from hanoi and said, if you and general more will come back to hanoi, we will give you the north vietnamese commanders who fought against you. and so, we debated a little bit and said, we have to do it. there is no not doing it. we got on a plane and got to hanoi and they put us in that
same a little, raspy, guest room hotel in the center of the defense ministry compound in hanoi. it is like being put in a residence in the center of the pentagon. we were in the very belly of the beast. we would go in and sit down with general han. i think i taped seven hours of interview with him. six hours with general -- the division commander. these guys who went on -- general man became the are of the generals army of the peoples army of vietnam in a member of the politburo.
general han rose to three stars, and was commander of their equipment of the army war college. when the chinese attacked and seized that mountain inside north vietnam, and i want to say, 1970 -- i want to say, 1973, 1974. somewhere around there. maybe 76, i don't know. but they came in, they invaded vietnam. they seized this mountain and the vietnamese had done a couple of counterattacks, they had gotten beaten back. they grabbed general man out of his college duties, his war college duties and his staff set him out to the border and said, you better take that mountain back. and he told us about doing that. they did. so, we were given exactly what we had asked for. and --
we came back, by now it was october, and we were supposed to hand the manuscript and by christmas. so, here i am, i have half a book to write and i have all this new material to feed in. so, we were burning the midnight oil, seven days a week, finally we had it done. we got on the train to new york from washington. the general was staying at his sons house at night, but i was keeping him up till midnight. he described it later he said, now i know what it feels like to work on a plantation in the old days. in being the slave driver. he said, i chained his leg to my dining room table. [laughs]
>> it paid off. >> that it did. that it did. we took that box with the manuscript in it up to new york and walked in to their senior vice president and chief editor and plopped that on his desk and how moore said, we have brought you the heart of the buffalo. this book editor was horrified. he thought blood was going to be leaking out of that box. [laughs] >> well, you can see why that's maybe one of the greatest books about war. the kind of research, and being able to do what you did. that hasn't been done really. >> we loosened the goalposts. we printed up probably 300 copies of the manuscript, and i very carefully placed it with people that knew when they were
going to be reading and would be able to start the buzz. and the reaction was overwhelming. i knew we had it. i told general moore. you know, this is going to change your life. he said, how do you mean? >> i said, you are about to become a very famous. he said, i don't know if i am ready for that. [laughs] >> talk about what you did subsequent to that for the rest of your career. just any experiences you would like to share. >> well, i stayed in vietnam from that november of 65 until september of 66. and while i was leaving vietnam, i wasn't leaving asia, i liked
that place. so, i went back to tokyo and did two years there. then i transferred to be the bureau chief in jakarta indonesia. and i stayed there six years. that i went from jakarta to new delhi, to be the south asia manager. i think ahead eight countries. everything from afghanistan and through burma. wonderful place. then i came back to singapore for two years as the southeast asian manager. but all this time, i kept going to different wars. i went to -- in 71, i covered this marxist guerrilla uprising in sri lanka. then i went from there to dhaka, in east pakistan from the india pakistan war. i started off the war on the
side of the pakistan army, and ended up being liberated by the indian army and watching the creation of a new nation, bangladesh. i get interview requests from bangladesh. i think they think i'm a george washington figure. [laughs] they keep wanting me to come over for their festivities. and i, you know, bangladesh is not high on my list of tourist attractions. [laughs] but i did that. i covered the indonesian takeover of fortune gives team more. stuff like that, the uprisings in pomp new guinea, stuff like that. it was almost a constant in my life. i kept things packed so that i could grab and run right for
the airport. you had to keep research material handy on a country, on any of these countries. and i had that, i would grab it, i could read it on a plane going in and hit the ground and start filing stories. that is what you have got to do when you are a wire service firemen. you're always putting out fires. >> well, and that has to be exciting? >> it was. it was! and i get to where it is time to think about leaving southeast asia, and they call up and say, well, we want to make you the bureau chief in moscow in the soviet union. now, at that point, i had not seen a winter in 12 years. and there are going to send me in the middle of winter to the soviet union. and that is what they did.
that is where you go. you get the army mentality. they are going to move you every three years somewhere and you can look. so, i went. it was fascinating. i'm glad it was at the end of a long foreign career, because i understood what i was seeing. i could go in there and tell them, look, i have seen much better run dictatorships than you think about going here. [laughs] >> they will probably listen to you, a little. >> well, they had no choice but to listen sous vide. would i understood going in was that anything they did to me as the upi bureau chief in moscow, we were going to do to the bureau chief in washington d.c.. and while i was not a professional spy, he was, the
colonel in the kgb. wow. and the russians never make stupid trades. and i knew that, and they knew that i knew that. and i hammer them every day. and they could stand there like a and a hailstorm and take it. [laughs] i had fun, you've got to have some light amusements in a place like moscow. there is not much to be had. >> that was a culture shock, i guess, after places you had been? >> it was. you know, it is 52 shades of gray. and i gather that it is much improved in some ways and much worse in others, but it looks to me like it is still run by the kgb. whatever they call that form of government they have got, it is
a mess and it was a mess, then. it is easy to believe that all of the intelligent people ran away 1917 and all you got left all right nation of potato farmers. well. >> jeez. >> what did you do subsequent to that in that you would like to share with us as far as your experiences? >> they offered me the paris bureau, but i was tired of overseas, so they sent me to los angeles which worked perfectly like another foreign country. [laughs] i had a hard time finding the fees offices but other than that. i had a couple of years for upi in los angeles, and then i switched over to be the west coast editor at u.s. news.
that was different, very different, first of all they paid me real money. upi never did. and i never cared because i would live overseas and living off of my expense account. and whatever pitiful salary they paid me i could put in the bank. and i worked in los angeles for two years for them, and when my savings were gone, i had to find a real job after only 22 years with united press international. i left and went u.s. news and did two years, and then was called back to their headquarters in washington d.c. and i did a senior editorial job for a while. minassian your writer job, which was much more fun. i got to do all kinds of things.
a very great pleasure to do this, and i left that and did a one-year tour as a special consultant to general colin powell that's the state department. i was sworn into government service on the tenth day of september 2001. and i was standing in line at the badge office at state when they flew the planes into the pentagon and the world trade center. and the world turned upside down. i spent then exterior writing speeches and articles for secretary powell, one of the finest men i have ever worked for. and then i went to work for knight-ridder newspaper as their senior military correspondent. they gave me a weekly
syndicated column, so, i could finally begin taking real >> -- revenge. [laughs] >> or at least trying to balance the scales. but >> when did you get out -- well, you are still in journalism, technically -- >> sort of. i'll tell you what, i decided to hang it up in 2006, february, to be precise. i was on my last combat patrol in a place called mosul, iraq with the 2:56 stryker brigade of the u.s. army. and i was in a platoon of three stryker vehicles and we had been on patrol for about three hours.
i'm in the back hatch with a sergeant, we are talking on the interim when the radio went crazy. we had a pair kywo warrior helicopters flying over us as we patrol the city. and one of them had just been shot down. and his wing man gave the stryker the exact coordinates of where the plane, the bird, the helicopter went down. and we were there in two minutes. and it had crashed in a -- somebody had dug a half block foundation, excavation for a building that never got built. and any hole in the ground in iraq begum's a garbage dump. they had been throwing garbage in it for years.
and it was rainy season, it was cold, raining, and we skidded down the muddy sides of that pit and started looking for the wreckage of the helicopter, well, it was all wreckage. the whole junk heap. finally, we spotted a tendril of smoke and we found the wreckage of the chopper, and there were two men in it. when we pulled it apart with our bare hands and got the pilot out, he was dead, just. and we tore into the other side of the helicopter and got the copilot out. >> he was alive, we had a pulse. and we got him up the side of that money pit, and into the back of a striker, to get him to a helicopter landing panned. he dug before he got there.
i tell you, i was standing there in that rain, and thankful it was raining because you could tell i was crying. because i knew what was going to happen with those two families. a wife in each one, two babies in each one, all under the age of four. and an army said dan is going to pull up and their lives are going to be destroyed. and to me it was exactly the same as looking in the faces of those two men i pulled off that mountaintop in vietnam. so many years before. and i could not take it anymore. i'm 65 years old, and i'm still running up and down sand dunes after a 19-year-old marines? and looking in the faces of
dead americans. that is not right. so i quit. i quite. i hung it up the 1st of june, 20 -- lord, i can't even remember now. 2006. and on the 1st of june, i loaded the last of my stuff in a u-haul truck, as big one as i could rent, and i headed south to texas. >> you sure earned your right to retired. >> well, that would not let me. >> what is the rest of the story? >> they keep me busy. i kept writing the column for another four or five years. then i married doc grace c, and she would not move to texas, so i had to move to north carolina
and then they hired me to work for the vietnam war 50th commemoration project. so, i have been doing that for three years, they keep me on the road going around the country doing interviews with vietnam veterans, doing speeches. i guess it keeps me limber and out of the parts. [laughs] >> it also served a great mission of being with those veterans, letting them tell their stories. >> yes. i learn something new from every interview. i really do. there are stories that show your blood, there are stories that make your heart glad, it is all different, but you learn something from everyone. >> they probably learn something from you. >> i don't know, a lord. i'm not supposed to do that.
[laughs] >> do you have any questions? >> now. >> just one last one, i know we have kept a way too long. but you saw soldiers in vietnam and you have seen soldiers in the post 9/11 conflicts. do you see differences? are they the same? >> the differences are external. the differences are in training, equipment, and weaponry. you know, there is not a lot of doubt. the modern equipment is better than the old stuff. but that is not what makes a soldier. soldiers, hearts, i want you look for any fetal. those are unchanged, they are unchanged through 6000 years of recorded history.
soldiers do with a due out of a selfless -- selflessness, and a willingness to give without hope of reward. they do it for their family, they do it for their country, but most of all, and what i have found, they do it for each other. the man on the left in the man on the right. and that is unchanged and unchanging. they are always gonna be willing to step up and do it.
up next, david vaster taylor recount his time and describes the segregation of black and white troops as well as the racism he experienced at the hands of his officers. >> i was born in st. paul minnesota, july 13th 1945 at 6:13 pm. >> that's an important time. >> who were your parents, and what were their occupations? >> i've