Charlie Black wrote a tremendous number of articles for the Columbus Ledger Enquirer during his numerous tours of duty in Vietnam in the mid-sixties. His unique approach to covering the war was to put on a uniform, lace up his combat boots, hump his own gear (manual typewriter and weapon included) and slog through the mud, heat and bugs alongside the soldiers he wrote about. Most of the other reporters relied on headquarters briefings and rear-echelon interviews as the basis for their information. Guys like Charlie and Joe Galloway were on the choppers, at the front, in foxholes getting shot at and, occasionally, shooting back. The perspective gained from these up-close experiences made for some very personal reports of not only the action, but more importantly, the human involvement of our guys in action. The connection that developed between Charlie and the troops was one of mutual respect and love forged out of shared experiences.
I first witnessed this connection when I attended the Ia Drang reunion in Washington, D.C. during the tenth-year celebration of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial (“The Wall”). I had not read much of Charlie’s works before then. At this reunion, guys were showing an almost mystical fascination with Charlie’s daughter (now my wife), Tracy. It struck me that having her in the room with his troops was in some small way like having Charlie back amongst the soldiers he loved so much. I had never seen anything like this before and it intrigued me. Why were these guys so connected to him? After reading some more of his works and reading of him in other publications and books, I came to understand.
As it turns out, the only known collection of Charlie’s articles consisted of a pile of yellowed newsclippings which Charlie’s wife, Mary, had collected and maintained. The Columbus Ledger Enquirer no longer had his works (remember, he pre-dated computers and all the archival trappings that come with them). I felt it important to preserve his writings so that they would not be lost to his survivors. Then, after reading We Were Soldiers Once…And Young written by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret) and Joseph L. Galloway, I realized that there was a higher mission than in merely preserving his works. As John McCain has noted about “The Greatest Generation”,-those who fought in World War II- important stories are lost as these soldiers die. I decided to create not only a collection of Charlie’s works but more importantly, a forum for stories, thoughts, ideas and testimonies to be gathered together and made available for subsequent generations. So that our kids will know of the struggle, valor, heartbreak and humor involved with protecting our cherished freedoms, I encourage all to use this site to preserve the memories as a means of honoring the contributions of yourselves and others and ensuring that these stories will survive. Please submit your recollections in any fashion with which you are comfortable. You can use the “Guestbook” on the site, email Tracy at email@example.com or me at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to us at 160 Wall Street, Coventry, CT 06238 (the home of the Revolution’s Patriot Spy, Nathan Hale). We will be responsible for placing your memories alongside Charlie’s.
Thank you for all of your contributions and God bless America.
Michael P. Enders
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