On November 14, 1965, the opening shots were fired in the first major battle involving American forces in the Vietnam War. The U.S. soldiers landed by helicopter in the central highlands of South Vietnam and found themselves vastly outnumbered. By the time the Battle of Ia Drang ended three days later, more than 200 U.S. soldiers and more than 1,000 North Vietnamese troops were killed. But both sides claimed victory.
Joe Galloway, a young reporter from United Press International, was with the American troops during the battle and found himself covering the fighting and also participating in it. He and an Army officer who led the fighting, Lt. Col. Harold Moore, would later write the classic book "We Were Soldiers Once...And Young" about their experiences
The book was made into a film in 2002, and in Here & Now host Indira Lakshmanan's interview with Joe Galloway, we hear the scene when some U.S. soldiers were horribly burned by napalm that was accidentally dropped on them by an American plane. In that scene, Galloway is called on to help one of the soldiers who mortally wounded, a young man named Jimmy Nakayama, who later died.
Galloway pledged to tell his story and the stories of the other men who died in the battle, and he has been doing that ever since. Today, Galloway is working with the Department of Defense recording oral histories with veterans for the Vietnam War Commemoration. In this audio extra he talks about that work:
- Joe Galloway, journalist and co-author of "We Were Soldiers Once...And Young."
This segment aired on November 12, 2015.