WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime American foreign correspondent Joseph L. Galloway, best known for his book recounting a pivotal battle in the Vietnam War that was made into a Hollywood movie, has died. He was 79.
A native of Refugio, Texas, Galloway spent 22 years as a war correspondent and bureau chief for United Press International, including serving four tours in Vietnam. He then worked for U.S. News & World Report magazine and Knight Ridder newspapers in a series of overseas roles, including reporting from the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
Galloway died Wednesday morning, his wife Grace Galloway told AP, after being hospitalized near their home in Concord, North Carolina. He is also survived by two sons and a step daughter.
“He was the kindest, most gentle and loving man,” Grace Galloway said. “He loved the boys and girls of the U.S. military. He loved his country.”
With co-author retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, Galloway wrote We Were Soldiers Once … And Young, which recounted his and Moore’s experience during a bloody 1965 battle with the North Vietnamese in the Ia Drang Valley. The book became a national bestseller and was made into the 2002 movie We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson as Moore and Barry Pepper as Galloway.
“Joe has my respect and admiration — a combat reporter in the field who willingly flew into hot spots and, when things got tough, was not afraid to take up arms to fight for his country and his brothers,” Gibson said Wednesday.
Galloway was decorated with a Bronze Star Medal with V in 1998 for rescuing wounded soldiers under fire during the la Drang battle. He is the only civilian awarded a medal of valor by the U.S. Army for actions in combat during the Vietnam War.
Galloway also served as a consultant for the 2016 PBS documentary The Vietnam War, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. They said he will be missed.
“Joe was a very brave and courageous reporter and phenomenal storyteller the likes of which they don’t make anymore,” Burns and Novak said in a joint statement. “We were lucky he came into our lives and made our understanding of the Vietnam War that much more vivid.”
After reporting from the front lines during Operation Desert Storm, Galloway co-authored Triumph With Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War. As he approached age 50, that was Galloway’s last combat assignment, but not the end of his career covering the U.S. military.
In 2002, Knight Ridder asked Galloway to return to reporting after a stint as an adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell to bolster its Washington bureau’s skeptical coverage of the Bush administration’s case for ousting Hussein.