Joseph Galloway, the war correspondent and author whose career took him to the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in 1965 and the First Gulf War in 1991, died on Wednesday from complications following a recent heart attack. He was 79.

Galloway was born in Refugio, Texas, and began his journalistic career working for the Victoria Advocate. He then moved to the United Press International (UPI) before moving up to become the bureau chief for UPI covering Tokyo, Vietnam, Jakarta, New Delhi, Singapore, Moscow, and Los Angeles. 

He worked four tours in Vietnam and later worked for U.S. News & World Report magazine and Knight-Ridder newspapers in several overseas roles, including reporting from the Persian Gulf in 1991. Galloway also provided critical coverage of the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

In the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in 1965, LTC Hal Moore and the men of the 7th Cavalry faced off against a numerically superior North Vietnamese force in one of the first major combat engagements of the war. In 1990, Galloway and Moore collaborated on the book We Were Soldiers Once…And Young recounting the events of the battle. The book became a best seller and in 2002 was made into a major motion picture starring Mel Gibson as Moore and Barry Pepper as Galloway. 


The Only Civilian to Receive a Combat Decoration During Vietnam

Joe Galloway Hal Moore Ia Drang Valley
Joe Galloway (left) and Hal Moore (center) wrote the book that became a film of the Battle of Ia Drang Valley. (AP)

Joe Galloway was considered a “soldier’s reporter.” He often sought insight from the sergeants and privates fighting the war rather than from the generals who were far away from the action.

In 1998, he was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device for his attempts at saving a cavalry trooper’s life during the Ia Drang battle. He was the only civilian honored with a combat decoration during the Vietnam war.

In 1991, during the first Gulf War, he was sent to the desert. There, he met with General Norman Schwarzkopf and asked him for “the best seat in the war.” Schwarzkopf sent Galloway to the 24th Infantry Division, then-commanded by MG Barry McCaffery.