A Refugio native who went from local name to worldwide fame has passed away.
Joe Galloway, one of the most noted war journalists in American history, passed at the age of 79 on Aug. 18. Galloway’s passing was a result of a heart attack earlier in the month of August, his wife Grace Galloway noted in a social media post. His work has been featured across the globe in print and on screen, including inspiring the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers.”
Born in Bryan on Nov. 13, 1941, Galloway’s family relocated to Refugio during his upbringing due to his father, Joseph, earning a position with Humble Oil.
His journalistic career began in Texas before moving onto United Press International in Kansas City and Topeka. While with UPI, Galloway meticulously covered the Vietnam War, earning a reputation as one of the finest war journalists in the country.
While in Vietnam, Galloway courageously aided in the rescuing of a wounded soldier while under enemy fire. The act took place during the Battle of la Drang on Nov. 15, 1965, and Galloway would be awarded the Bronze Star for the act 33 years after.
Galloway’s service in Vietnam would lead to his largest cultural crossover, co-authoring “We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young” with Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore. The release of the book in 1992 would be received with commercial and critical acclaim, selling over one million copies and gaining praise from all sources on its precise account of the Battle of la Drang.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of United States coalition forces during the Gulf War, said the book was “written the way military history should be written.” The book has been on the Marine Corps Commandant’s Reading List for Career Level Enlisted since 1993, making Galloway’s work required reading for military personnel.
The book also inspired the 2002 Randall Wallace film “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson as Moore and Barry Pepper playing the role of Galloway. The film would go on to gross $114.7 million at the box office.
Galloway’s overseas service would take him to several other foreign lands, serving as a bureau chief or regional manager in places such as Tokyo, New Delhi, Singapore and Moscow. His other major journalistic contributions include coverage of the 1971 India-Pakistan War, as well as his award-winning coverage of the Gulf War.
His passing has left a mark on many worldwide organizations.
“Joe spent his career with the troops during multiple wars, always telling the story of the war from the soldier’s perspective,” the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund wrote on social media. “Most of all, in our experience, Joe was an outspoken, irascible, and usually unfiltered advocate for Vietnam veterans. We will miss his voice, his unique perspective, and his kindness to our troops.”