Covering the War as an American

By Millard Grimes

“I’m not covering this war in an objective manner,” said The Enquirer’s man in Viet Nam. “I’m covering this war as an American. I want it to be known which side I’m on.”

That’s our Charlie Black, talking to a Newsweek reporter who introduced Charlie to the entire nation in an article this week.

Charlie was already known to families in every state of the union, who have subscribed to The Enquirer to follow his stories of the individual men in the 1st Cavalry Division.

Charlie and the 1st Cavalry got to Columbus about the same time, the summer of 1963. He went along on its first major maneuvers. He saw a concept take shape as a proven method. He had great faith in both the men and the ideas that went into transforming the experimental Air Assault Division into America’s most famous fighting unit of 1965.

There were times when the concept appeared headed for the scrap-pile. Helicopters can be contrary machines. But the men of the division -- and Charlie Black -- had faith in their mission and its ultimate justification.

That faith met its severest test three weeks ago in the Valley of Ia Drang, a long way from the practice fields of Fort Benning. There had been tests at various levels in the fall maneuvers of 1963 and 1964, but the Ia Drang battle was the one which gave the Air Cavalry its final diploma.

And Charlie Black was there too.

In recent weeks, Charlie has received the nationwide recognition for his coverage which we on The Ledger-Enquirer Newspapers have always known he deserved. He’ll be coming home soon, but his prolific typewriter will be turning out the story of Viet Nam and the 1st Cavalry for many more weeks. He couldn’t write it all while living in the field and serving occasional patrol duty.

In May of 1964, this column contained a tribute to Charlie, which was appropriate then, but much more so today.

It said: “You don’t run across reporters like Charles Black very often. He not only is of the old school, he also belongs to the new school, and then he has a special school all his very own… He wants to write the story of the peacetime GIs, who are often forgotten by the public. Chuck has done that better than just about anyone I know, and we’re proud that the pages of The Columbus Enquirer have been his vehicle.”

Now, he’s had the chance to write the story of peacetime GIs who suddenly find themselves thrown into a strange and cruel war.

And Charlie says that America can be very proud of the young fighting men which this supposedly-soft age has produced.

When he gets back, Charlie will have some great stories to tell of glory and courage and tragedy and devotion. – MILLARD GRIMES

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