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Local author reflects on early battles of Vietnam War

Posted at 6:40 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 19:41:19-04

ROBSTOWN, Texas — The Corpus Christi area has its fair share of Vietnam veterans. But the area is also home to one of the war's most famous storytellers.

Refugio's Joseph Galloway was a correspondent who reported on the war from 1965 to 1975. Galloway most notably remembers the very first battle that he calls the deadliest of the Vietnam War.

“It was finding myself in the middle of the bloodiest battle of the entire war," he said. "In the la Drang Valley in November of 1965. One day past my 24th birthday.

"There was danger everywhere. Two hundred three-four Americans were killed in four days of fighting. At times it was bayonet to bayonet. Close, close, close. Deadly all the way.

"Turned out to be the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War, although the war was just beginning. I think you will find the battalions at that time were 60 percent draftees and, yet, everybody fought to the best of the ability -- no one quit."

Galloway went on to co-author the book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young. It detailed those battles of the la Drang Valley. The very place Ruben Chavez fought and died. Chavez's legacy lives on in his hometown of Robstown with a street bearing his name.

The soldiers who did return home following the war weren’t treated the best, Galloway said.

“When people ended their tours in Vietnam and came back to the United States, they were not received with any welcome," he said. "No respect, no parade, no nothing. They were expected to just basically disappear.

"I think that America and Americans owe those veterans who survived the day a loud welcome home and a big 'Thank you for your service...' "

"If you see a Vietnam Vet, and he’ll be wearing a cap, go up to him shake his hand and say 'Thank you' and say 'Welcome home.' It’s been a long time coming.”

Galloway also co-wrote the book We Were Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam. Most recently he released They Were Soldiers: The Sacrifices and Contributions of Our Vietnam Veterans.

In the last eight years, Galloway has taken on a new project: He's been working with the Department of Defense, interviewing Vietnam veterans.

They were aiming to talk to 1,000 veterans, hitting 800 before the pandemic slowed things down.

Galloway said each interview is two-hours long. The point is to archive and research the war and continue learning about it years and years down the road.