Common Thoughts for an Uncommon Man

I just wanted to share few words concerning the Joe Galloway Lifetime Achievement Award. Recipients who are so honored carry a huge responsibility – not just to the hero whose name the award bears but the ideals and values he exhibited when the time came to “put up or shut up”.

When I got that call from the Army Public Affairs Association president Doug Coffey, he said, "I asked you to come (to the annual APAA Awards banquet) because you've been selected for the Joe Galloway Lifetime Achievement Award." Whaaaatttt? It WAS a total surprise! What immediately came to mind was the narrative of Mr. Joe Galloway’s heroic actions in Vietnam and how living up to that standard appears a daunting challenge.

To get an appreciation for Mr. Galloway’s selfless service as a war correspondent following U.S. military actions, this excerpt says volumes:

“On May 1, 1998, Galloway was decorated with the Bronze Star with V for valor for rescuing wounded Soldiers under fire in the la Drang Valley in November 1965. His is the only medal of valor the U.S. Army awarded to a civilian for actions during the Vietnam War.”

Wow! How does one live up to that level of selfless sacrifice?

For me, it takes on a different but no less committed form of selfless service -- as it should for a number of us.

Foremost is an unwavering and internalized commitment to the ideals and values professed by the shapers of a grand experiment – the United States of America. What a concept! Imperfect but hopeful. Young but maturing. Self-contained but outwardly focused. One can see those qualities in Mr. Joe Galloway's actions.

The essence for me is that in order to get anything worthwhile and lasting accomplished, you have to be part of a team and understand organizational structure (United States) and leadership (shapers), and the impact for the end-user (outward focus). What holds it all together is an informed and committed citizenry – for us, that’s our Soldiers!

There are certain things that are important — focus on the mission and concern for people. Give them what they need to be successful. In Army Public Affairs, it's all about Soldiers – those selfless servants who protect the ideals and values of this great country. Focus on those Soldiers, your efforts will not be in vain.

The functional methods of delivering the powerful elements of public affairs are evolving quickly, just like the Army is changing dramatically. You have to have a vision to show how best to evolve the institutionalized public affairs organization and its people to enable efficient and effective use of those dramatically different delivery means.

But, in embracing those changes do not discard the ideals and values so graciously displayed by a mere mortal – Mr. Joe Galloway.  Thank you, kind sir!

(Special thanks and tribute to my friend and colleague, SGM (Ret.) Dan Coberly – a true professional and public affairs warrior! God bless you, my brother.)

Larry Whitley, 2016 Joe Galloway Lifetime Achievement Honoree

(This article is part of a series of articles from our 2015 and 2016 award recipients we will publish in our Monday Blog in the upcoming weeks. We thank Larry, a retired sergeant major, for his service and taking the time to share his thoughts on the award. – Mike Howard, Communications Chair)