Joe Galloway and Hal Moore wrote We Were Soldiers Once And Young about their battle in the Ia Drang Valley. They reveal a deeper tragedy around the tipping point battle that would haunt America for a generation. As always the book is better than the movie.
The battle of the Ia Drang Valley casts a long shadow over America’s role in Vietnam. It carries implications today. The ambush and loss of 155 Americans from a single battle (LZ Albany) was the largest loss of life throughout the entire American war including the siege at Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive. Please recall Khe Sanh was a six month siege while the Ia Drang Valley was less than 48 hours.
America’s fast growing role in Vietnam was largely based upon the Ia Drang Valley. The White House would establish “body count” as the measured outcome. At the same time I somehow missed that Norman Schwarzkopf marched into Ia Drang at LZ X-Ray the day after the battle.
Galloway has written an excellent account of the Air Cav surviving LZ X-Ray and also the failures of command moving troops to LZ Albany on the ground. His attention to detail unique that every man in battle is identified by name and hometown…many times the following paragraph revealed that soldier’s death. Three cities where I have lived lost men in the Ia Drang Valley. One solider killed on the second day at LZ X-Ray lived 9 miles from our home in Milwaukee. Young men from greater Chicago and Northwest Ohio also died in battle.
As portrayed in the opening sequence of the movie based upon this book, NVA soldiers executed wounded Americans in the Ia Drang Valley. The history of war in Asian culture is much harsher than in Europe.
The book surprised me by revealing the killing of a Chinese military advisor. His body was removed from the field of battle before American soldiers could secure him. The Chinese military advisors in the field with NVA was not uncommon to the American advisors. It was similar to the ending the French war in InfoChina.
Hal Moore, Ed Freeman, Bruce Crandell, Myron Diduryk, Joe Marm, and Basil Plumley are all highly regarded for their leadership at LZ X-Ray. Their actions saved the lives of many of our countrymen. Crandel and Freeman continued flying at Albany. And former national ABC News reporter Jack Smith was a young soldier who survived the harrowing ambush at Albany. His account of Albany.
This book joins a few, select books including They Marched Into Sunshine by David Maraniss revealing not only the true horror of war but the tragedy of intelligence failures that took the lives of 155 American soldiers in the 1/7 and 2/7 Air Cavalry Battalion. The website lzxray.com has the following information on the LZ X-Ray battle and Albany information.