This blog is for Communication among Marines and people interested in the Marines. The 10 is for Communications. The Photo above is Marble Mountain, Danang, Vietnam.

Jul 23, 2011

Joe Galloway Talk to Vietnam Helicopter Pilots

There aren't many reporters that relate to the troops the way Joe Galloway can.

A good talk, a good man.

Subject: Joe Galloway's talk - You are my brothers in arms

Given to the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association

  "Thanks to all of you for giving me the honor of speaking to you.  
have got to tell you that looking out across this  assemblage 
I must the last time I visited Leavenworth Prison.  confess: 
I haven't seen this  many bad boys collected in one location since. 
When I first learned that I would be doing this gig I asked an aviator 
buddy of mine what else I needed to know......and he said, well, most 
of you would be bringing your wives along.......that half of you were
so damn deaf that you couldn't hear a word of what I was saying.....the
other half would be so damn drunk you couldn't understand what I was 
saying..... so I might just as well talk to the ladies......

I have waited years to be able to share this story with so august a group 
of aviator veterans as this: A few years ago I was at a large official dinner 
and I was seated next to a nice lady who was the wife of a two-star general. 
I knew the lady had two college- age daughters and I also knew that one 
of them had been dating a Cavalry I thought to make some 
\polite conversation and I offered her my condolences at her daughter's 
choice of companionship. "Oh No!" the general's wife said. "He is a fine 
young man. Nothing wrong with him......and at least he isn't a goddam 

I just wanted you to know that your successors in the bizness continue to 
win friends and influence people in high places. Before I go along any 
further in this thing I need to ask you some questions: --Is there anyone 
here who flew with the 1st Cavalry Division? The 229th? The 227th? 
How about the old 119th out of Holloway? Any Marine pilots who flew 
them old CH-34 Shuddering Shithouses??? Now I know I am among 
close friends......I know that old Ray Burns from Ganado, Texas, is 
here.....and I have got to tell you a story about me and Ray that goes 
back toOctober of 1965. Plei Me SF Camp was under siege by a 
regiment of North Vietnamese regulars. I was trying to get in there a fool......but after an A1E and a B57 Canberra and one Huey 
had been shot down they declared it a No-Fly Zone. So I was stomping 
up and down the flight line at Holloway cussing......when I ran across Ray. 
He asked what the problem was and I told him. He allowed as how he 
had been wanting to get a look at that situation and would give me a 

    I still have a picture I shot out the open door of Ray's Huey. We are 
doing a kind of corkscrew descent and the triangular berms and wire 
of the camp below fill that doorway.....along with the puffs of smoke from
 the impacting mortar rounds inside the camp. Hell.....I can scare myself 
bad just looking at that photo.

   Well old Ray drops on in and I jump out....and the Yards boil out of the 
trenches and toss a bunch of wounded in the door and Ray is pulling
 pitch.....grinning......and giving me the bird. When the noise is gone
 this sergeant major runs up: Sir, I don't know who you are but Major 
Beckwith wants to see you right away. I ask which one is the major and I
 am informed he is the very big guy over there jumping up and down on
 his hat. I go over slowly. The dialogue goes something like this: Who the
 hell are you? A reporter. Son, I need everything in the goddam world
 from food and ammo to reinforcements.....and
 I wouldn't mind a bottle of Jim Beam.......but what I do not need is a god 
dam reporter.   And what has the Army in its wisdom delivered to me? 
Well....I got news for ain't a reporter no more; you are my 
new corner machine gunner." Ray.....I want to thank you for that ride
.......wasn't for you and Chuck Oualline I wouldn't have had half as 
much fun in Vietnam.

     Hell.....every story anyone has about Vietnam starts and ends with a guys were simply fantastic. Thank you all. Thank you
 for every thing....large and small.

     Now I guess I got to get down to bizness. All of you know that I have
 spent most of the last forty years hanging out with the Infantry.....a
 choice some folks view as perverse if not totally insane. But there was
 always method in my madness: With the Infantry things happen close
 enough that I can see what's happening.....and slowly enough most times
 that even I can understand what I'm seeing. There's just this one little
 downside to my long experience with the Infantry:

   During that time I have personally been bombed.....rocketed.....strafed..... 
and napalmed by the U.S. Air Force.....U.S. Navy......U.S. Marines.....
and U.S. Army well as by the air forces of South Vietnam
.....Laos......Sri Lanka......India......and Pakistan. Now I don't consider 
myself an inconsiderable target.....and wasn't even back when I could 
fit comfortably behind a palm tree......but here I am....running my mouth
.....nothing hurt beyond my dignity. Don't get me wrong; I don't hold 
any grudges against those gallant winged warriors. But ever since the 
first time they attacked me and missed.....I have never ever used the 
words "surgical bombing strike" in any story I ever wrote.

   I had the chance to say some good things about all of you at the
 Memorial Service at The Wall on Sunday. I meant every word of 
that..... and more. You chopper guys were our heroes in Vietnam. 
You were our rides....but you were much much more than that. 
We were always either cussing you for hauling our butts into deep 
kimchi.....or ready to kiss you for hauling us out of it. I have a feeling 
that without you and your birds that would have been a much shorter 
and far more brutish war.

   You were our heroes, though, first, last and always. You saved us 
from having to walk to work every day. You brought in our food and 
ammo and water.....and sometimes even a marmite can full of hot 
chow. To this day I think the finest meal I ever ate was a canteen 
cup full of hot split pea soup that a Huey delivered to a hilltop in the 
dry paddies of the Bong Son Plain in January of 1966. For a moment 
there I thought if the Army could get a hot meal out to an Infantry 
company on patrol maybe.....just maybe.....we could win the damn 
war. Oh well.

    I think often of all that you did for us.....all that you meant to us: 
You came for our wounded. You came to get our dead brothers. 
You came....when the fight was give us a ride home from 
hell. There isn't a former Grunt alive who doesn't freeze for a moment 
and feel the hair rise on the back of his neck when he hears the whup 
whup whup of those helicopter blades.

   What I want to say now is just between us.....because America still
doesn't get it.....still doesn't know the truth, and the truth is: You are 
the cream of the crop of our generation.....the best and finest of
an entire generation of Americans. You are the ones who answered when
you were called to serve.....You are the ones who fought bravely and
endured a terrible war in a terrible place. You are the ones for whom the
words duty. .honor. country have real meaning because you have lived
those words and the meaning behind those words.

   You are my brothers in arms....and I am not ashamed to say that I love 
you, would not trade one of you for a whole trainload of instant
Canadians.....or a whole boatload of Rhodes Scholars bound for
England......or a whole campus full of guys who turned up for their draft physicals
wearing panty hose. On behalf of a country that too easily forgets the
true cost of war.....and who pays that price....I say Thank you for
your service! On behalf of the people of our country who didn't have good
sense enough to separate the war they hated from the young warriors
they sent to fight that war.....I say we are sorry. We owe you all a very
large apology.....and a debt of gratitude that we can never adequately repay.

  For myself and all my buddies in the Infantry I say: Thanks for all the rides in 
and out....especially the rides out. It is great to see you all gathered here for  
this reunion. A friend of mine, Mike Norman, a former Marine grunt....wrote a 
wonderful book called "These Good Men" about his quest to find and reunite 
with all the survivors of his platoon from Vietnam. He thought long and deep 
about why we gather as we have done this evening and he explained it thusly:

 I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories 
or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they 
long to be with the men who once acted their who suffered and 
sacrificed.....who were stripped raw......right down to their humanity. I did not 
pick these men. They were delivered by fate and the military. But I know them 
in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were 
willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation.....the  memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made.....the 
reason we were so willing to die for one another.

   As long as I have memory I will think of them all.....every day. I am
sure that when I leave this last thought will be of my
family and my comrades.......such good men. I'm going to shut up now and
let us all get dow n to the real business of drinking and 
war stories.

Thank you. I salute you. I remember you. I will teach my sons the stories and 
legends about you. And I will warn my daughters never ever to  go out with 

Good evening. God bless...

Thanks to Col Al Jennings USMCR Ret for Sharing.

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