Waco, TX. Local surgeon saw first days of Iraq War with 3rd Squadron 7th Cavalry.
Todd Albright went to college knowing he wanted to be either a doctor or a fighter pilot. He chose being a doctor, but ended up a few years later on the front lines of the U.S. Army invasion of Iraq anyway.
Along that winding road, he earned Bronze Star in the war, practiced as an OB-GYN and ended up in Waco as a reconstructive surgeon specializing in female pelvic medicine for Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest.
" I really looked at it, my whole life, as divine intervention and a little bit of destiny, maybe," said Albright, 52.
After attending medical school on an Army scholarship spending his internship at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, he applied for a yearlong " hardship tour" abroad. Those tours involve remote locations and are not open to families.
At 27, he was still unmarried, and he made plans to move to South Korea. But before he followed through, an unexpected phone call sent him down a different path.
" The Army asked if I wanted to go to flight school to serve in Korea as a flight surgeon," he said. " Did I mention I also wanted to be a fighter pilot?”
He accepted the assignment and went through flight surgeon training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he also learned to fly airplanes and helicopters.
" It wasn’t the plan, but it was an opportunity that I was given and took advantage of," he said.
After training, he served his hardship tour as a general practitioner at Camp Long in Wonju, South Korea, home to between 1,500 and 1,800 people. There he got to work on his flying hours with instructor pilots.
He compares the medical experience with working as a general practitioner in a small town, treating people for everyday illnesses and injuries.
" You’d see a patient and you’d get immediate feedback," he said. " You didn’t wait for the next appointment to see them and learn something, if they’re not getting well right away or having further issues. That was really great for someone really learning to practice medicine.”
After a year, he returned to the United States, finished his residency and became an OB-GYN stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia, where he was only one of two flight surgeons.
In 2002, as rumors grew of impending war in Iraq, Albright was sent to be a flight surgeon Fort Irwin National Training Center in San Bernadino, California, where he saw that training efforts were ramping up. In early 2003, he was deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry and 3rd Infantry Division.
Shortly before the invasion, he met Lt. Col. Terry Ferrell of the 7th Calvary, who asked if he was ready to " make history.”
" I had no idea what he meant," Albright said. " He knew exactly what he meant, because he already knew the battle plan.
Todd Albright won the Bronze Star for his medical work during the Iraq invasion.
Rod Aydelotte, Tribune-Herald
On March 20, 2003, the battle plan began unfolding. He said his unit went from a battalion to a 2,000-soldier task force right before entering Iraq, tasked with securing key bridges and roads for infantry divisions to follow.
" I often refer to it as running the gauntlet, because we were on elevated farm roads and attacked from both sides by the enemy as we drove towards Baghdad," he said.
The battle lasted about three weeks, starting with three days of continual fighting. He stayed with a unit of armored tanks, serving as a flight surgeon for those piloting the 10 or 15 helicopters the unit used for scouting ahead. In his role he was effectively a paramedic and an ER doctor for those on the ground.
" You’re getting people right after they’ve been shot or injured, whatever trauma has occurred," Albright said. " So, not where typical OB-GYNs end up.”
He said the morning of March 25, photojournalist Warren Zinn snapped a photo of Army medic Joseph Dwyer carrying an injured Iraqi boy for the Army Times, one of the most widely-seen photos from the conflict. Albright said he treated and stabilized the boy.
Dwyer would die five years later from substance abuse, after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
Albright said the task force was at one point " paralyzed" by a large dust storm near Baghdad, and found themselves surrounded once the dust cleared.
" We battled hard," he said. " In some cases, our soldiers were picking up the enemies’ weapons to continue the fight. Close air support came to our aid and we battled out of the situation. By the end, our unit had seen more combat over such a short stretch than any unit since Vietnam.”
Albright was awarded a Bronze Star for his service, and left the unit that summer. He would go on to serve at the Chief of Division for Urogynecology at Walter Reed Hospital.
He became deputy commander for clinical services for Ireland Army Community Hospital in Fort Knox, Kentucky, but went back to practicing medicine after two years.
Injured veterans transitioning back to life outside of the Army now had to put together their lives post-deployment, and there was a backlog of cases nationwide.
" They want to get out and have stability when they do, and so you end up with a lot of people that are in this situation where they’re not deployable, they’re still working, unless their injuries are too grave, but they’re working through this transition to get out," Albright said.
He said the hospital worked through a backlog of " several thousand," eventually catching back up over the course of Albright’s two years there, then returned to medicine for the next 26 years before retiring and moving to Waco to be closer to family.
Albright said his position as an Army doctor led him to see military families as integral parts of the institution, and they need just as much recognition and support.
" Some have made the ultimate sacrifice and we will forever be thankful, but some have made and continue to make the sacrifices in silence that only another military family member would know," Albright said.
By: Rhiannon Saegert
COPPERAS COVE It took months of planning in a lingering COVID climate, lots of hard work and plenty of stress to ensure everything went off without a hitch, but for the members of the Garryowen Veterans Association of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment " Garryowen, " nothing was impossible.
After all, impossible is not in a Garryowen trooper’s vocabulary, so on Saturday night, the veterans of the storied unit pulled together more than 200 veterans and active duty troopers for the third annual Garryowen Past and Present Reunion held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8577 in Copperas Cove.
Bringing together all past veterans of the unit, regardless of when they served, together with the active duty troops was designed to help the newer troops serving learn and understand the sense of camaraderie and esprit de corps shared among those who had previously served, said Roberto Aguilar, a former trooper and member of the GVA. The first was held in 2018 and was so successful, the veterans decided to make it an annual event, although COVID kept the veterans from holding the reunion in 2020.
" It’s all about family, " Aguilar said. " It’s a great thing, being around my brothers and sisters some I haven’t seen in almost 15 years, It seems like it’s more welcoming than a coming home with blood family, because they are family already family I never realized I already had. "
And while the active troopers in the squadron learn about the history of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division unit, attending the reunion allows them to see the living history, he said. Seeing the interaction of the veterans some who served in the Vietnam War gives them the opportunity to understand that once they are Garryowen, they will always be Garryowen and have an extended family they will always be able to count on.
" We’re living proof that we can continue living on as a family. "
The star of the night was one of the Vietnam veterans who has so far attended all of the reunions. Joe Pena served under then Lt. Col. Hal Moore in 1965 during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, a battle that would become the focus of the 2002 movie " We Were Soldiers. "
" It’s awesome. I never would have seen myself at that young an age, " Pena said of the young troopers he met throughout the night. " It’s awesome to see the young guys who volunteer to protect us. We did our job, and now they’re doing their job and making it safe for all of us. It’s a blessing. "
The reverence the veterans and active duty troopers felt for Pena, whom all consider one of their personal heroes for his actions in Vietnam, was evident during the ceremony to make the infamous Cavalry Grog \
By David A. Bryant | Fort Hood Herald
It is with a sad heart to report the death of Joe Galloway this morning, Wednesday 18th August 2021
Joe was a reporter that was with us troops in LZ X-Ray and wrote the book about us and was a very good friend. He will be greatly missed.
War correspondent and author Joseph Galloway, who covered the front lines from the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam in 1965 to an onion field outside Basra in 1991, died Wednesday of complications following a heart attack. He was 79.
War correspondent Joe Galloway, who covered the front lines in Vietnam, has died
By John Walcott Special to McClatchy
War correspondent and author Joseph Galloway, who covered the front lines from the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam in 1965 to an onion field outside Basra in 1991, died Wednesday of complications following a heart attack. He was 79.
Galloway was a young reporter for United Press International when he covered the battle between the U.S. Army and the People’s Army of Vietnam in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam. His 1990 recounting of it won a National Magazine Award and formed the basis of the award-winning bestseller We Were Soldiers Once and Young that he co-authored with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore. The book was made into the movie We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson.
He was often referred to as a soldier’s reporter and valued sergeants more than generals and political appointees.
Galloway received a Bronze Star for rescuing wounded soldiers under fire in the Ia Drang Valley, the only civilian to be awarded a medal for valor by the U.S. Army for actions during the Vietnam War.
Late in his career, Galloway returned to reporting at Knight Ridder, bolstering its Washington Bureau’s coverage of the George W. Bush administration’s case for ousting Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
It was a privilege to work with Joe, one of the great war correspondents of all time, said Clark Hoyt, former vice president of news and Washington editor of Knight Ridder. He earned the trust and respect of those he was covering but never lost his ear for false notes, as shown by his contributions to Knight Ridder’s skeptical reporting on the runup to the Iraq war.
That coverage was not Galloway’s first on Iraq. After Saddam’s troops invaded Kuwait and as the United States prepared for the Gulf War in 1991, U.S. News & World Report sent Galloway to the Riyadh headquarters of the allied commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, to ask for the best seat in the war.
After about two weeks, Schwarzkopf summoned Galloway to his office and told him, I know what you want, and I’m going to give it to you. He sent Galloway to the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) on the Iraqi border in northern Saudi Arabia.
As the division commander, then-Maj. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, recalled it:
I took him alone into the operations center and walked him through the entire plan of attack telling him it was embargoed until we crossed the Line of Departure.
McCaffrey said he told Galloway to go anywhere he wanted.
Next time I saw him was on the back ramp of my M113 in the Assault Command Post as we plunged into the Euphrates River valley well behind the Iraqi Army. I gave Joe an update with a giant battle going on against the stunned and disoriented Republican Guards, he said.
Joe, as usual, was up front with combat soldiers where the action was.
After Operation Desert Storm ended, Galloway co-authored Triumph Without Victory: The History of the Persian Gulf War.
He joined Knight Ridder in 2002, after a stint as an adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
He contributed, often anonymously, to his colleagues’ stories and wrote a column that often was critical of Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their aides who were bent on invading Iraq.
An exasperated Rumsfeld finally asked Galloway to meet with him alone in his office. When Galloway arrived, he was greeted by Rumsfeld - and a group of other high-ranking Pentagon officials.
Good, Galloway reported when he returned to the Knight Ridder office. I had ‘em surrounded.
Galloway then described how after Rumsfeld accused him of relying on retired officers and officials, he had told the group that most of his sources were on active duty, and that some of them might even be in this room.
Asked by his colleagues if that was true, Galloway replied: No, but it was fun watching ‘em sweat. He finished with a colorful analogy.
Galloway’s contributions to Knight Ridder’s critical coverage of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq were later captured in director Rob Reiner’s 2017 movie Shock and Awe, in which fellow Texan Tommy Lee Jones plays Galloway.
Joe Galloway literally risked his life so the world would know the truth about the Vietnam War. His journalistic skills were also invaluable in uncovering the lies that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Reiner said.
Joe and I worked closely on a film that told the story of how the public was fed those lies. But the making of ‘Shock and Awe’ not only allowed Joe’s voice to be heard, it also allowed me to become friends with a true American hero. I will miss him, he said.
Galloway is survived by his wife, Gracie, sons Lee of San Antonio and Josh of Houston, stepdaughter Li Mei of Concord, N.C., and three grandchildren.
Early in my tour in Vietnam in 1968 the combat company to which I was assigned conducted a joint operation with an ARVN unit. ARVN stood for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
The company that fought alongside us that day was made up of civilian soldiers much like us. They were shopkeepers, farmers, teachers, and factory workers. They were weekend warriors. As the operation got underway, we soon met enemy resistance, a few Viet Cong firing at us with AK-47s.
The men of Bravo Company, 2nd of the 7th Cavalry attacked the enemy immediately with overwhelming firepower, skill, and mettle. After our guys had quickly doused this minor fire, I looked around for our ARVN compatriots to quickly learn they were no longer with us.
I was told by my company commander that when the first enemy shot was fired, the ARVN organized a hasty retreat. This picture was not uniform across all ARVN units. Many were well-trained, well-led and effective. But many were not. What they lacked was neither equipment nor supplies. They had good training by professional American soldiers.
What they lacked was motivation, specifically the will to fight for their country. Seven years after that experience, following the withdrawal of most U.S. troops, I was not surprised when the North Vietnamese Army rolled through the countryside and Saigon fell.
After 20 years and 58,000 U.S. combat fatalities, 150,000 wounded, protests in our streets, civil disobedience, political turmoil and dramatic change in the culture and values of America, the war was lost, not by us, but by the people for whom we fought.
This same scenario is now unfolding in Afghanistan. The U.S. military mission there averaged between 15,000 and 25,000 troops until 2009. This was the year President Obama ordered a surge to 33,000 troops to push back against Taliban victories. By August 2010 there were 100,000 U.S. combat personnel in Afghanistan and the Taliban were significantly diminished.
But now the last remaining American combat units are withdrawing. There have been 2,312 American service members killed and 20,066 wounded in action in Afghanistan since 2001. Through the end of last year, according to the Pentagon, the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan have cost $824.9 billion. (" Biden to Announce That U.S. Troops Will Pull Out by 20th Anniversary of Sept. 11," Luis Martinez, Matt Seyler, and Cindy Smith, ABC News, April 13, 2021)
In the haunting words of Peter Seeger’s song from the Vietnam era, Mary Travers sang words for wives and mothers and sisters, for brothers and friends. But where the soldiers go may be less distressing than why. Why does America send its young men and women to desolate countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Vietnam?
Are we the world’s policeman? Should we be? Can we be? There is much injustice throughout the world. We are only 5% of the earth’s population. Our values are our values. Our system of government is our choice. It fits us. It may not fit everybody. We cannot impose American values and government structures on every country in the world. Surely, we have learned this by now.
Pushing back against this sentiment are pictures of young girls and women deprived of opportunity and personal dignity; of people who are educated and capable of contributing to Afghan society lined up in alleys and shot or beheaded; of ignorant zealots screaming " Allahu Akbar!" (God is Great!) as they destroy all that America has helped to build over the past two decades.
America’s military forces are trained to win wars. They are incapable of converting the citizens of other countries to American ways of life. They do not have the capacity to replicate all that is America in foreign lands. Once the war is won, the mission is complete.
The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan are, win the war and leave. The longer we stay, the more likely we will fail. Afghanistan will revert to the condition we found 20 years ago, the same condition the Russians found decades prior. It will devolve into a backward nation ruled by uneducated religious zealots whose understanding of life is based on a seventh century interpretation of what God wants.
Women will be treated like chattel. Young girls will not be allowed to attend schools. Western ways will not be tolerated. The war was not lost because we are leaving. It was lost because we stayed too long.
We gave the Afghans all the tools they needed to secure their country. What we could not give them was the will to fight. Better for us to learn this lesson again, to use our military forces to protect and defend America and American interests, to win wars and not to get mired in costly and complex nation building missions.
By: Michael K. McMahan
" Plans for the 7th Cav's Birthday on July 28, 2021, at Fort Hood are tentative at the moment ... more info to follow. For any of you considering attending, please save the date on you calendars." John Guillory President, 7th Cav Association.
Hello everybody, it's John Guillory your 7th Cav Association President, with a quick question. is there a writer out there who would enjoy the challenge of penning the online 7th United States Cavalry Association News Letter? There are 6 Issues per year, and you may write about anything that pertains to the 7th Cavalry, the US Army and the VA. You can review past issues at BOOTS & SADDLES. Please let me know if you are interested or have any questions use the CONTACT at: HERE Thank you! John Guillory President, 7th Cav Association.
UPDATE: From the president of the 7th US Cavalry Association, John Guillory. The 2020 - Louisville, Kentucky (5-9 October 2020) has been CANCELLED The next reunion is now scheduled for 22-26 September 2021 at Fort Hood, TX. The offices of president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer are all up for grabs. If you have a desire to be a part of the leadership team of the association, then please submit your name to John before close of business April 30th. All submitted names will be placed on a ballot, which will be passed out at the annual meeting of the association on Saturday of the reunion. Only those names on the ballot will be considered for election, no nominations will be accepted from the floor. We really would like to see troopers from all eras be a part of this election! Come on, guys, join the party! Put your name in for nomination for one or more of these offices. Please send the nominations to John [ use contact form online ] If you plan to nominate someone other than yourself, please get permission from that person to submit the name. We don't want anyone having a heart attack in the middle of lunch, you know.
My Turn: Recognizing an American hero this Veterans Day.
If you know me well, you know that my life was profoundly influenced by Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey.
When Barry was a 26-year-old U.S. Army captain on his second combat tour in Vietnam, I was a 21-year-old lieutenant under his command.
As a field artillery forward observer, I was assigned to the company's headquarters platoon. I thus had the privilege of spending nearly every hour of every day with Capt. McCaffrey and, later, with an exceptional first sergeant named Emerson Trainer.
In the short time that followed I came to understand the essential elements of leadership and courage. The lessons I learned, sometimes in the context of live enemy fire, have followed me my entire life.
McCaffrey was awarded three purple hearts in Vietnam, a Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Cross twice and other medals. When he was airlifted from Bravo Co., 2nd of the 7th Cavalry in February 1969, no one expected him to survive his wounds.
Those who helped with his medivac later told me if he did survive he would most certainly lose his left arm below the elbow. Dozens of surgeries and an unimageable level of grit and determination proved otherwise and his remarkable military career continued.
In time he was a lieutenant colonel and a professor at the U.S Military Academy at West Point, a job that is highly regarded and coveted by many. As a fabled West Point graduate, he could have coasted to a well-earned retirement teaching cadets important lessons that would guide their careers.
But Barry missed the challenge of leading soldiers in combat. He left the comfort and prestige of the classroom at West Point for front line command jobs and eventually was the commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division that played an important role in the Gulf War.
On June 1, 1996, at the commencement ceremony at West Point, Secretary of Defense William Perry commended McCaffrey’s performance during the Gulf War.
Perry said, " Whatever else is required of you in your Army career, you will first of all need to be a warrior. And you could find no better role model than Barry McCaffrey. Barry became one of America’s greatest warriors. He led forces into combat in Vietnam, where he was grievously wounded. In Desert Storm, General McCaffrey’s 24th Infantry Division led the famous left hook that caught the Iraqi army by surprise and led America to one of its most convincing battlefield victories ever."
These words cannot tell the whole story of Barry McCaffrey. On Nov. 5, 1968, I was standing in a chow line waiting for the first hot meal available to our combat company in many days when I saw Capt. McCaffrey jogging across the fire base.
He called the platoon leaders, sergeants, and me together and told us we needed to " saddle up" and run to waiting helicopters to fly toward a rescue operation for Charlie Co.
Minutes later Barry and I were on a helicopter descending toward a hot landing zone that was surrounded by enemy soldiers. Charlie Co. was scattered and in disarray. We felt the thump of the enemy’s 30-caliber machine gun bullets bouncing off the armor of our helicopter as we descended toward the LZ.
Soon we were scrambling for cover as enemy gunfire zipped around us. McCaffrey established my RTO, Steve Phillips, and me in a position at the top of an ant hill where we could effectively call in artillery, aerial gunfire, and F-4 fighter jets.
We fought all night. Barry was everywhere, directing junior officers and sergeants and inspiring every man in our unit with an amazing display of competence and courage. Without the leadership and valor of Capt. McCaffrey, the enemy would have overrun our position that night.
It was then that I began to learn what it means to be a leader.
In 1996, Gen. Barry McCaffrey was the youngest and the most highly decorated general officer in the U.S. Army. In 2008, I drove to Fort Benning, Georgia, the night Barry was inducted into the U.S. Army Rangers Hall of Fame, a night I will always remember.
In 2010, he was recognized as a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
In addition to his remarkable military career, Barry served as director of the Office of National Drug Policy, a position sometimes known as the " Drug Czar." He has served in many leadership roles for the underprivileged and has been recognized by the NAACP for his work in fighting for racial justice in the military and in greater society.
Barry McCaffrey has served our country with dignity, honor, and courage. I am proud to have been one of thousands of soldiers who have stood in his shadow and benefitted from his advice and example.
His impact on my life is greater than I can possibly express, and I know there are many who can say the same.
Thank you, Barry, for all you have done for our country, for me and others like me.
You don't need a chest full of medals to establish the profound courage you have demonstrated so often. You have an army of soldiers who will proudly stand up and proclaim you an American hero.
We are a better nation because of you. I am proud to know you, to call you my friend and to acknowledge all you have accomplished in a truly remarkable life.
By Michael K. McMahan, Hendersonville Times-News - Hendersonville, NC