In rescuing wounded soldiers in the Vietnam War’s first major battle 50 years ago, Galloway was an early practitioner of “new journalism” — by participating, not merely observing safely from afar.
The seventh annual Bookfest is in Blue Ridge Community College’s Technology Education and Development Center (TEDC) Conference Hall, in East Flat Rock. Its new twist is showing a related movie, in Flat Rock Cinema.
Most Bookfest activities are free to attend. At BRCC more than 45 authors and exhibitors will hold craft workshops, discuss their works, sell and sign books and meet aspiring writers and others one-on-one. Workshops are on play writing, promoting book sales, graphic art and cover design.
Area-based authors pegged for Bookfest vary in genres and styles. Mike Scruggs, a Vietnam veteran and Tribune columnist, is among them. Others are Lisa Bryant, Kenneth Butcher, Brenda Coates, Mary Ann Claud, Katherine Scott Crawford, Amy Donaldson, John Del Vecchio, R.J. Del Vecchio, Dr. Scott Donaldson, Tommy Hays, Ric Hunter, Jeremy Jones, Jamie Mason, Kimberly Maxwell, John P. McAfee, Ray McManus, Adrian Rice, Dr. James Robbins, Terry Ruscin, Patricia Vestal, Pamela Warr, Katie Winkler, Karen White. Blue Ridge Literacy Council officials are also involved.
Galloway, 73, is Bookfest’s featured presenter. He was a special consultant to Secy. of State Colin Powell, and in 2013 for the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration project that goes on this year. He is an ongoing consultant to Ken Burns’ Florentine Films documentary project on the Vietnam War, due to be aired on PBS in 2017.
The Texas native earned multiple literary awards in a half-century writing career lasting to 2010. He worked 22 years with United Press International, mainly as a foreign and war correspondent. He was UPI bureau chief in Moscow, during the Cold War. He then spent 20 years as a senior editor and senior writer for U.S. News & World Report magazine. He lives in Concord.
Galloway served four tours as a war correspondent in Vietnam, starting in Da Nang in April 1965, a mere month after the first battalion of Marines landed there. He covered the 1971 India-Pakistan War, and a half-dozen other combat operations. He rode into Iraq in 1991 with 24th Infantry Division tanks, and returned to Iraq for combat in 2003 and ‘05-06.
The late Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who met Galloway during the Vietnam War, called him “the finest combat correspondent of our generation — a soldier’s reporter, and a soldier’s friend.”
Galloway and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Hal Moore co-wrote the non-fiction book entitled We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young. It was published in 1992, during another war — Operation Iraqi Storm. It recently made the top ten books on war, as chosen by 40 leading historians for Military History magazine. The book sold 1.2 million copies, in six languages. The 2008 sequel is We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam.
The initial of those two books graphically recounts the Battle of la (River) Drang Valley they were both in Nov. 14-18, 1965 at two U.S. landing zones in South Vietnam’s central highlands. This early victory was in the first year of massive troop deployment. Galloway was no mere observing scribe. He earned an eventual Bronze Star, for carrying wounded soldiers while under fire during the most fatal ambush of the war.
His is the lone medal the Army awarded a civilian for combat valor during the Vietnam War. He is among few civilians to get the Doughboy Award, the highest Army Infantry honor. On Veterans Day, 2011, he received the Legacy of Service Award of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
The 2002 hit movie We Were Soldiers stars action hero Mel Gibson as Lt. Col. Moore. Barry Pepper (who has portrayed Dale Earnhardt Sr., Roger Maris and RFK) is Galloway. Randall Wallace directed. Viewers are advised that film shows a reportedly fictitious final charge, which destroys the North Vietnamese reserve force. Instead, the area battle lingered for 300 days. Though greatly outnumbered, U.S. soldiers prevailed with casualty reports varying from 72 to 250, out of some 400 troops. This compares to nearly half dead (including by air strikes) of over 2000 NVA-Viet Cong. Still, Galloway wrote, this was “the battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win” what would end up a decade-long war.
Doors open in Flat Rock Cinema at 6:20 p.m. Saturday, for the private screening. Galloway will give an introductory talk at 6:50; the film starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, and should be ordered ahead online. Food and drinks cost extra.
Similarly, the fee is $25 for Galloway’s reception and book signing which starts 5:30 p.m. Friday. At 6:30, local author Bill Ramsey will interview Galloway before event-goers ask questions.
A panel discussion on Saturday consists of historians and best-selling and award-winning authors Galloway, Robbins, Del Vecchio, McAfee and moderator Nicholas Warr. It is 12:30-2 p.m. The theme is “Examining the Legacy of the Vietnam War through Literature.” This session costs $10, for a boxed lunch.
Author biographies are accessed via http://www.blueridge.edu/blueridgebookfest. Seating is limited for fee-based events and expected to sell out. Ticket-buying should promptly be attempted, via www.blueridgebookfest.org.