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Ia Drang - The Battle That Convinced Ho Chi Minh He Could Win

By Joseph Galloway 
Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: October 18, 2010 
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Troops of the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, rush a wounded camrade to a helicopter while under fire at LZ X-ray during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley on November 16, 1965. (Photo by Joseph L. Galloway)
Troops of the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, rush a wounded camrade to a helicopter while under fire at LZ X-ray during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley on November 16, 1965. (Photo by Joseph L. Galloway)

Word spread quickly that a battalion of Americans had been massacred in the Ia Drang Valley, but reporters were told there was no ambush.

Forty-five years ago this fall, in November of 1965, a lone, understrength battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) ventured where no force—not the French, not the South Vietnamese army, not the newly arrived American combat troops—had ever gone: Deep into an enemy sanctuary in the forested jungles of a plateau in the Central Highlands where the Drang River flowed into Cambodia and, ultimately, into the Mekong River that returned to Vietnam far to the south.

What happened there, in the Ia Drang Valley, 17 miles from the nearest red-dirt road at Plei Me and 37 miles from the provincial capital of Pleiku, sounded alarm bells in the Johnson White House and the Pentagon as they tallied the American losses—a stunning butcher's bill of 234 men killed and more than 250 wounded in just four days and nights, November 14-17, in two adjacent clearings dubbed Landing Zones X-ray and Albany. Another 71 Americans had been killed in earlier, smaller skirmishes that led up to the Ia Drang battles.

To that point, some 1,100 Americans in total had died in the United States' slow-growing but ever-deepening involvement in South Vietnam, most of them by twos and threes in a war where Americans were advisers to the South Vietnamese battalions fighting Viet Cong guerrillas. Now the North Vietnamese Army had arrived off the Ho Chi Minh Trail and had made itself felt. In just over one month, 305 American dead had been added to the toll from the Ia Drang fight alone. November 1965 was the deadliest month yet for the Americans, with 545 killed.

The North Vietnamese regulars, young men who had been drafted into the military much as the young American men had been, had paid a much higher price to test the newcomers to an old fight: an estimated 3,561 of them had been killed, and thousands more wounded, in the 34-day Ia Drang campaign.

What happened when the American cavalrymen and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) collided head-on in the Ia Drang had military and civilian leaders in Washington, Saigon and Hanoi scrambling to assess what it meant, and what had been learned.

Both sides understood that the war had changed suddenly and dramatically in those few days. At higher levels, both sides claimed victory in the Ia Drang, although those who fought and bled and watched good soldiers die all around them were loath to use so grand a word for something so tragic and terrible that would people their nightmares for a long time, or a lifetime.

The big battles began when then–Lt. Col. Hal Moore, a 43-year-old West Point graduate out of Bardstown, Ky., was given orders to airlift his 450-man 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, into the valley on a search-and-destroy mission. He did a cautious aerial reconnaissance by helicopter and selected a football field–sized clearing at the base of the Chu Pong Massif, a 2,401-foot-high piece of ground that stretched to the Cambodian border and beyond for several miles. The sketchy American intelligence Moore was provided said the area was home base for possibly a regiment of the enemy. In fact, there were three North Vietnamese Army regiments within an easy walk of that clearing, or the equivalent of a division of very good light infantry soldiers.

Two of those enemy regiments had already been busy since arriving in the Central Highlands. In mid-October, the 32nd Regiment had surrounded and laid siege to the American Special Forces camp at Plei Me. Although they could have easily crushed the defenders—a 12-man American A-Team and 100 Montagnard mercenary tribesmen—the enemy dangled them as bait, hoping to lure a  relief force of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) out of Pleiku and into an ambush laid by their brothers of the 33rd Regiment.

It was an old guerrilla ploy that usually worked, but not here, not now. The ARVN II Corps commander knew if he lost the relief force, Pleiku would be left defenseless. He pressed the Americans to provide continuous artillery and air cover as the column moved toward Plei Me. The 1st Cavalry's big Chinook helicopters lifted batteries of 105mm howitzers, leap-frogging along within range of the dirt road that led to Plei Me. When the ambush was sprung, the American artillery wreaked havoc on the North Vietnamese plan and the 33rd Regiment. Both enemy regiments withdrew toward the Ia Drang with a brigade of Air Cav troopers dogging their footsteps.

Both sides understood that the war had changed suddenly and dramatically in those few days….Both sides claimed victory.

Then–Lt. Col. Hoang Phuong, a historian who had spent two months walking south, charged with writing the "Lessons Learned" report on the coming battles, said that it was during this phase that the retreating PAVN troops began learning what airmobility was all about. The UH-1B Huey helicopters buzzed around the rugged area like so many bees, landing American troops among the North Vietnamese, forcing them to split up into ever-smaller groups like coveys of quail pressed hard by the hunters.

A new PAVN regiment, the 66th, was just arriving in the Ia Drang in early November when its troops walked into perhaps the most audacious ambush of the Vietnam War. On November 3, divisional headquarters ordered Lt. Col. John B. Stockton and his 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, battalion of scouts to focus attention on a particular trail alongside the Ia Drang River close to the Cambodian border. Stockton sent one of his companies of "Blues," or infantry, under command of Captain Charles S. Knowlen, to a clearing near that site. He took along a platoon of mortars that belonged to Captain Ted Danielsen's Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, which had been sent with Stockton as possible reinforcements if needed.

Knowlen sent out three platoon-sized ambush patrols. One of those platoons set up near the trail and began hearing the noise of a large group moving toward it on the trail. The enemy column—men of the newly arriving 8th Battalion of the 66th Regiment—stopped 120 yards short of the ambush and took a break. Then they resumed the march. The platoon of Americans held their breath and their fire until they heard the louder clanking noise of the enemy's heavy weapons company moving into the kill zone. The Americans blew their claymore mines and emptied a magazine each from their M-16 rifles into the confused North Vietnamese and then took off, running like hell straight back to the patrol base. A very angry PAVN battalion was right behind them.

Knowlen and his men beat back three waves of attacking North Vietnamese, but the company commander feared the next attack would overrun his position. Knowlen radioed Stockton at his temporary base at Duc Co Special Forces Camp and begged for reinforcements as fast as possible. Stockton radioed his higher-up, Brig. Gen. Richard Knowles at Camp Holloway/Pleiku, requesting permission to send in the rest of Danielsen's company. Knowles denied Stockton permission, and the legendary 9th Cavalry commander squawked, squealed, whistled, dropped the radio handset and waved Danielsen's men aboard the choppers and away to save the day.

They were about to make history, conducting the first nighttime heli-borne infantry assault into a very hot landing zone. They arrived in the nick of time as the next PAVN assault began. Danielsen's men joined the line, and Stockton's helicopter crews got out of their birds and joined the battle with their M-60 machine guns and the pilots' pistols.

Knowles was furious at Stockton for disobeying his orders. Stockton just shrugged. If he had obeyed Knowles, more than 100 of his men would not have survived that night in the Ia Drang. Stockton, an Army brat who had grown up in horse cavalry posts all across the West, had resurrected black cavalry Stetson hats for his men and smuggled the 9th Cav's mascot Maggie the mule aboard ship and 8,000 miles to Vietnam in defiance of another of Dick Knowles' orders. But for his actions this night of November 3, John B. Stockton would be relieved of duty and sent to work a desk job in Saigon.

One out of four members of the 7th Cavalry were killed or wounded in the Ia Drang Valley. (Photo: Joseph L. Galloway)
One out of four members of the 7th Cavalry were killed or wounded in the Ia Drang Valley. (Photo: Joseph L. Galloway)

All of this was merely prelude, setting the stage for the savage mid-November battles at LZs X-ray and Albany.

When Hal Moore took the first lift of 16 Hueys—all that he was given for this maneuver—into the landing zone he had chosen in the Ia Drang, he was painfully aware that he was on the ground with only 90 men, and that they would be there alone for half an hour or longer while the choppers returned to Plei Me Camp, picked up waiting troops and made the return flight. It was a 34-mile roundtrip. The luck was with Moore. The clearing was silent for now. Then his men took a prisoner, a North Vietnamese private who was quaking so hard he could barely speak. When he finally did say something, it sent chills through the Americans listening to the translator: "He say there two regiments on that mountain. They want very much to kill Americans but have not been able to find any."

Within an hour of landing and the second airlift of troops just arriving, the battle at X-ray was joined. It would last for three days and two nights before the North Vietnamese would vanish into the tangle of brush and elephant grass, leaving a large circle of their dead scattered around the American position. The smell of rotting corpses hung heavy over X-ray, and with the arrival on foot of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under its new commander Lt. Col. Robert McDade, on the morning of November 16, there were now three Cavalry battalions crammed into that clearing. General Knowles wanted to bring in the first-ever B-52 strike in tactical support of ground troops, and X-ray was inside the 3×5 kilometer box that was "danger close" to the rain of bombs that would fall on the near slopes of Chu Pong.

The 3rd Brigade commander, Colonel Tim Brown, gave orders: Moore's battalion, plus Bravo Company of 2-7 Cavalry, which had reinforced Moore and fought alongside the 1st Battalion troopers, would be pulled out by helicopters and lifted to Camp Holloway on November 16. On the morning of November 17, Lt. Col. Bob Tully's 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, would march out of X-ray, headed northeast directly toward LZ Columbus, where a battery of 105mm howitzers was positioned. Bob McDade's 2-7 Battalion plus one company of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, would follow Tully part of the way, then break off west and northwest toward another clearing closer to the river dubbed LZ Albany.

As McDade's battalion neared the Albany clearing, it was halted, strung out along 550 yards of narrow trail hemmed in by much thicker triple canopy jungle. The Recon Platoon had captured two North Vietnamese soldiers. A third had escaped. McDade and his command group went forward so the battalion commander could personally put questions to the prisoners through the interpreter. He also ordered all four company commanders to come forward to receive instructions on how he wanted them deployed around the perimeter of Albany. They all arrived with their radio operators, and all but the commander of the attached Alpha Company of 1-5 Cav, Captain George Forest, brought their first sergeants with them.

The enemy commander, Lt. Col. Nguyen Hu An, had kept one of the battalions of the 66th Regiment in reserve, and unbeknownst to the Americans that battalion was taking a lunch break just off the trail. The North Vietnamese swiftly deployed along the left side of the column and prepared to attack. The weary Americans, who had had little or no sleep for the last three days and nights, had slumped to the ground where they had stopped. Some ate; some smoked; some fell asleep right there. Suddenly, enemy mortars exploded among the Americans signaling the PAVN attack, and they charged through the tall grass and cut through the thin line of Cavalry troops strung out along the trail.

PAVN machine gunners climbed atop the big termite mounds—some 6 feet tall and as big around as a small automobile—and opened up. Snipers were up in the trees. The fighting quickly disintegrated into hand-to-hand combat, and men were dying all around. In the next six hours, McDade's battalion would lose 155 men killed and 120 wounded. An artillery liaison officer in a Huey overhead wanted desperately to call fire missions in support, but was helpless. All he could see was smoke rising through the jungle canopy. At the head of the column, McDade had no idea where most of his men were and was near-incoherent on the radio. The Americans trapped in the kill zone were on their own. Later artillery and napalm airstrikes were called in, but they often fell on enemies and friends alike. All through that endless night, the PAVN troops combed through the elephant grass searching for their own wounded, and finishing off any wounded Americans they came across. Both sides had lost interest in taking prisoners. There were no Americans captured and only four North Vietnamese prisoners taken—all at X-ray and none at Albany. When the ambush was sprung at Albany, an intelligence sergeant shot and killed the two North Vietnamese prisoners with a .45-caliber pistol.

An Associated Press photographer, Rick Merron, and a Vietnamese TV network cameraman, Vo Nguyen, had finagled a ride on a helicopter going into Albany on the morning of November 18. After a short stay, Merron grabbed another chopper going back to Camp Holloway, and the word spread quickly that a battalion of Americans had been massacred in the valley.

LBJ ordered McNamara to Saigon to find out what happened at Ia Drang, and what it meant.

General Knowles called a news conference late on the 18th in a tent at Holloway. He told the dozens of reporters who had assembled that there was no ambush of the Americans at Albany. It was, he said, "a meeting engagement." Casualties were light to moderate, he added. I had just returned from Albany myself, and I stood and told the general, "That's bullshit, sir, and you know it!" The news conference dissolved in a chorus of angry shouting.

In Washington, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent an urgent message to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, who was in Europe, ordering him to come home via Saigon and find out what had happened at Ia Drang, and what it meant. McNamara met with Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in Saigon and then flew to the 1st Cavalry Division base camp at An Khe, where he was briefed by the Cav commander, Maj. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard, and by Colonel Moore.

On the flight across the Pacific, McNamara wrote a top-secret memo to President Johnson dated November 30. See the Memo. McNamara told LBJ that the enemy had not only met but exceeded our escalation. We have come to a decision point and it seems we have only two choices: Either we arrange whatever diplomatic cover we can find and get out of Vietnam, or we give General William C. Westmoreland the 200,000 additional U.S. troops he is asking for, in which case by early 1967 we will have 500,000 Americans on the ground and they will be dying at the rate of 1,000 a month (the top Pentagon bean counter was wrong about that; American combat deaths would top out at over 3,000 a month in 1968). McNamara added that all this would achieve was a military stalemate at a much higher level of violence.

On December 15, 1965, LBJ's council of "wise old men," which in addition to McNamara included the likes of Clark Clifford, Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, George Ball and Dean Acheson, was assembled at the White House to decide the path ahead in Vietnam. As the president walked into the room, he was holding McNamara's November 30 memo in his hand. Shaking it at the defense secretary, he said, "You mean to tell me no matter what I do I can't win in Vietnam?" McNamara nodded yes. The wise men talked for two days without seriously considering McNamara's "Option 1"—getting out of Vietnam—and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of further escalation of the war.

Resupply and medevac at LZ X-ray during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley on November 16, 1965. (Photo: Joseph L. Galloway)
Resupply and medevac at LZ X-ray during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley on November 16, 1965. (Photo: Joseph L. Galloway)

Back in Saigon, General Westmoreland and MACV G-3, Deputy Chief of Staff for  Operations General William DePuy, were studying the statistics of the Ia Drang battles. What they saw was a ratio of 12 North Vietnamese killed for each American. They decided that these results justified a strategy of attrition: They would bleed the enemy to death over the long haul. One of Westmoreland's brighter young aides later would write, "a strategy of attrition is proof that you have no strategy at all." In any event, the strategy was an utter failure. In no year of that long war did the North Vietnamese war death toll even come close to equaling the natural birth rate increase of the population. In other words, every year reaching out far into the future there were more babies born in the north than NVA we were killing in the south, so each year a new crop of draftees arrived as replacements for the dead.

Seven hundred miles north in Hanoi, President Ho Chi Minh and his lieutenants likewise carefully studied the results of the Ia Drang campaign. They were confident they would eventually win the war. Their peasant soldiers had withstood the high-tech firestorm thrown at them by a superpower and had at least fought the Americans to a draw, and to them a draw against so powerful an enemy was a victory. In time the same patience and perseverance that had ground down the French colonial military would likewise grind down the Americans.

Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap studied the battles and correctly identified the helicopter as the biggest innovation, biggest threat and biggest change in warfare that the Americans brought to the battlefield. Giap would later say: "We thought that the Americans must have a strategy. We did. We had a strategy of people's war. You had tactics, and it takes very decisive tactics to win a strategic victory….If we could defeat your tactics—your  helicopters—then we could defeat your strategy. Our goal was to win the war."

The PAVN commander directing the fight at X-ray, Lt. Col. Nguyen Hu An, revealed to us in Hanoi in 1991 that they had figured out one other way to neutralize the American artillery and air power. It was called "Hug Them by the Belt Buckle"—or get in so close to the U.S. troops that the firepower could not be used, for fear of killing and wounding their own. Then, said An, the fight would be man-to-man and much better odds.

For the Americans, Ia Drang proved the concept of airmobile infantry warfare. Some had feared that the helicopters were too flimsy and fragile to fly into the hottest of landing zones. They were not. All 16 Hueys dedicated to lifting and supporting Colonel Moore's besieged force in X-ray were shot full of holes, but only two were unable to fly out on their own. The rest brought in ammunition, grenades, water and medical supplies, and took out the American wounded in scores of sorties. Without them, the battles of the Ia Drang could never have taken place. The Huey was on its way to becoming the most familiar icon of the war.

General Giap also learned one very important lesson. When 1st Cav commander General Kinnard asked for permission to pursue the withdrawing North Vietnamese troops across the border into their sanctuaries inside Cambodia, cables flew between Saigon and Washington. The answer from LBJ's White House was that absolutely no hot pursuit across the borders would be authorized. With that, the United States ceded the strategic initiative for much of the rest of the war to General Giap. From that point forward, Giap would decide where and when the battles would be fought, and when they would end. And they would always end with the withdrawal of his forces across a nearby border to sanctuaries where they could rest, reinforce and refit for the next battle.

Another political decision flowing out of the Johnson White House—limiting the tour of duty in Vietnam to 12 months (13 months for Marines)—would soon begin to bite hard. The first units arriving in Vietnam in 1965 had trained together for many months before they were ordered to war. They knew each other and their capabilities. They had built cohesion as a unit, a team, and that is a powerful force multiplier. But their tour was up in the summer of 1966, and all of them got up and went home, taking all they had learned in the hardest of schools with them. They were replaced by new draftees, who flowed in as individual replacements and who knew no one around them, and nothing of their outfit's history and esprit. The North Vietnamese soldier's term of service was radically different—he would serve until victory or death. One of those soldiers wrote of marching south in 1965 with a battalion of some 400 men. When the war ended in 1975, that man and five others were all that were left alive of the 400.

General Giap knew all along that his country and his army would prevail against the Americans just as they had outlasted and worn down their French enemy. The battles of Ia Drang in November 1965, although costly to him in raw numbers of men, reinforced his confidence. And, while by any standards the American performance there was heroic and tactical airmobility was proven, the cost of such "victories" was clearly unsustainable, even then. Even in the eyes of the war's chief architect.

In the late 1940s, Giap wrote this uncannily accurate prediction of the course of the Viet Minh war against the French:

"The enemy will pass slowly from the offensive to the defensive. The blitzkrieg will transform itself into a war of long duration. Thus, the enemy will be caught in a dilemma: He has to drag out the war in order to win it and does not possess, on the other hand, the   psychological and political means to fight a long-drawn-out war."

Precisely.

Joseph Galloway had four tours in Vietnam during his 22 years as a foreign and war correspondent. The only civilian decorated for valor by the U.S. Army for actions in combat during the Vietnam War, Galloway received the Bronze Star medal with V Device for rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire in the Ia Drang Valley, in November 1965.

 

After Ia Drang: What McNamara Knew, and When He Knew It

After the unprecedented Ia Drang fight, President Lyndon Johnson rushed Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to Saigon to make sense of its implications. In the top-secret memo he wrote on his way back to Washington, excerpted below, he coolly predicts the deadly road ahead and the unlikely prospects for victory.

Excerpts from Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Johnson, Washington, November 30, 1965.

. . . .

2. The situation…Pacification is thoroughly stalled, with no guarantee that security anywhere is permanent and no indications that able and willing leadership will emerge in the absence of that permanent security….

The dramatic recent changes in the situation are on the military side. They are the increased infiltration from the North and the increased willingness of the Communist forces to stand and fight, even in large-scale engagements. The Ia Drang River Campaign of early November is an example. The Communists appear to have decided to increase their forces in South Vietnam both by heavy recruitment in the South (especially in the Delta) and by infiltration of regular North Vietnamese forces from the North. Nine regular North Vietnamese regiments (27 infantry battalions) have been infiltrated in the past year, joining the estimated 83 VC battalions in the South. The rate of infiltration has increased from three battalion equivalents a month in late 1964 to a high of 9 or 12 during one month this past fall. General Westmoreland estimates that through 1966 North Vietnam will have the capability to expand its armed forces in order to infiltrate three regiments (nine battalion equivalents, or 4,500 men) a month, and that the VC in South Vietnam can train seven new battalion equivalents a month—together adding 16 battalion equivalents a month to the enemy forces. Communist casualties and desertions can be expected to go up if my recommendations for increased U.S., South Vietnamese and third country forces are accepted. Nevertheless, the enemy can be expected to enlarge his present strength of 110 battalion equivalents to more than 150 battalion equivalents by the end of calendar 1966, when hopefully his losses can be made to equal his input….

To meet this possible—and in my view likely—Communist build-up, the presently contemplated Phase I forces will not be enough. Phase I forces, almost all in place by the end of this year, involve 130 South Vietnamese, 9 Korean, 1 Australian and 34 U.S. combat battalions (approximately 220,000 Americans). Bearing in mind the nature of the war, the expected weighted combat force ratio of less than 2-to-1 will not be good enough. Nor will the originally contemplated Phase II addition of 28 more U.S. battalions (112,000 men) be enough….Indeed, it is estimated that, with the contemplated Phase II addition of 28 U.S. battalions, we would be able only to hold our present geographical positions.

. . . .

3. Military options and recommendations. We have but two options, it seems to me. One is to go now for a compromise solution (something substantially less than the "favorable outcome" I described in my memorandum of November 3) and hold further deployments to a minimum. The other is to stick with our stated objectives and with the war, and provide what it takes in men and materiel….(recommend up to 74 battalions by end-66: total to approx. 400,000 by end-66. And it should be understood that further deployments (perhaps exceeding 200,000) may be needed in 1967.)

. . . .

5. Evaluation. We should be aware that deployments of the kind I have recommended will not guarantee success. U.S. killed-in-action can be expected to reach 1,000 a month, and the odds are even that we will be faced in early 1967 with a "no-decision" at an even higher level….
 

 


47 Responses to “Ia Drang - The Battle That Convinced Ho Chi Minh He Could Win”


  1. 1
    mbdemery says:

    Terrific article! An eerie reminder about how the catastrophe of war spiraled out of control. I'd love to hear more about the author's first hand perspecitve of the realities on the ground during the battle.
    mbdemery.wordpress.com

  2. 2
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    'RONNIE GUYER PHOTO COLLECTION
    http://www.lzxray.com/guyer_collection.htm

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Gerald Kendrick says:

    Be sure to read his books, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young and We Are Soldiers Still, if you haven't. Well worth the read on the war in Vietnam.

  5. 5
    Gerald Kendrick says:

    That is, Hal Moore's books. My error for not specifying.

  6. 6
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  8. 8
    SSG Keith O. Maynard,USARET says:

    Thanks for telling our story, before we are all gone!
    B Co 229th 1st Cav Air Mobile

  9. 9
    mike fillmore says:

    Thanks, Your stories ( Lives ) be told , Thanks——————- THANKS—– Addendem ; Thanks to ; Pres.Richard M. Nixon's 1968?, 1969 , 1970 secret bombing of cambodia OR This Unit could have had 5000 more casualties ! ,Garry Owen

  10. 10
    CW4 BILL TERRYUSA.RET. says:

    I WAS THERE A YEAR LATER IN NOVEMBER '66,(C/227TH.BN.1ST AIR CAV) HEARD ALL ABOUT THE IADRANG VALLEY SHOOT OUT FROM OUR SENIOR AVIATORS THAT WERE IN COUNTRY THEN! GREAT STORY BY JOE! HAS ANYONE NOTICED LIKE I DID THE AIRCRAFT IN THE PICTURES IS A UH-1D MODEL? NOT A UH-1B MODEL AS DEPICTED? THE B MODEL DOESN'T HAVE THE CREWCHIEF AND DOOR GUNNER'S WELL ON THEM TO SIT IN! WE DIDN'T GET THE UH-1H MODELS UNTIL WE WERE OVERUN AT CHU LAI AND THE SAPPERS BLEW UP/SHOT UP 12 OUT OF THE 20 D MODELS WE HAD. NEXT DAY WE FLEW THE ONES FLYABLE TO QUINHON AND TRADED THEM IN ON H MODELS ! BILL TERRY, HOORAY FOR GUYS LIKE JOE GALLOWAY !

    • 10.1
      Ikramuddin Akbar says:

      Does it matter which models of helicopters had been in service there on that deadly game day? Only a man of uncommon courage can dare to go covering a deadly combat. Jo even put his life at stake help rescuing out the wounded. I have read about the encounter, and still mourn the dead. They gave their lives for a cause. A genuine cause. Sons of brave mothers came so far to fight not for their country but for the vulnerable to save them from the Godless, ruthless, and brutal VC. May God bless them. Hope you won’t mind sir!

  11. 11
    Walt McDonald says:

    Ah, the Ia Drang! My unit, Company A 1st BN 14th INF, 25th ID was in our own mess on Nov13, 1966. Our B Company on Nov 19, 1966. The stories of these two battles can be found at http://www.1-14th.com. God Bless those that gave their all and those who survived. contact me at 66pavnhunters@gmail.com

  12. 12
  13. 13
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    .

    CLARITY =

    ..A Freeper Vet goes to the Vietnam Wall..

    http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1019769/posts

    .

  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    .

    45th Anniversary Battle of IA DRANG-1965 =

    Gala event honors Vietnam heroes

    http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2628525/posts

    .

  17. 17
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    IA DRANG-1965 Veteran RICK RESCORLA -

    'Heart of a Soldier' 9/11 Opera to debut

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2648020/posts?page=3

  18. 18
    Russell l. Ross says:

    LZALBANY was not an AMBUSH!
    http://www.generalhieu.com/e66pleime-2.htm

    The Fog of War: The Vietnamese View of the Ia Drang Battle
    For the past 35 years the US Army and the North Vietnamese have claimed victory in the October to November 1965 Ia Drang Valley Battle. While the United States side of the battle has been extensively documented, the Vietnamese version has remained obscure.

    Although heavily colored by communist hagiography and propaganda, recently published
    People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) accounts provide answers to many questions and acknowledge a number of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) mistakes and command failures. When added to information from US sources, these accounts reveal how greatly the fog of war, over optimism and blind fate influenced the battle.

    The B3 Front Plan

    According to PAVN, the Ia Drang Battle grew out of the B3 (Central Highlands) Front's plan to lure US and South Vietnamese forces into battle on terms favorable to the communists. The plan included besieging the remote Plei Me border outpost south of Pleiku in South Vietnam's Central Highlands and forcing US and South Vietnamese forces to come to the rescue. The goal was to annihilate five or six US companies.1

    The NVA 320th and 33d Regiments were to launch the campaign, but one of the NVA's finest units, the 304th Division would reinforce the B3 Front. In August 1965 the 304th received orders to move south to the Central Highlands. The 304th's lead element, the 66th Regiment, was scheduled to arrive in time for the campaign's final phase.2

    Aware they could not match newly arrived US forces. power, NVA commanders knew their strategy was risky. During political indoctrination sessions before the campaign began, 320th Regiment troops expressed serious doubts.3

    Stunning Blows

    The troops had reason to be skeptical. The 33d Regiment, launching the Plei Me siege on 19 October 1965, was stunned by unexpectedly powerful US air strikes that inflicted heavy losses and totally disrupted communications between regimental headquarters and forward units. After the battle, B3 Front headquarters admitted that this loss of communications with front-line units severely hampered its ability to make timely and informed command decisions during this phase of the battle.4

    The 320th Regiment's ambush of a large South Vietnamese relief column on 23 October also resulted in heavy NVA casualties. 5 On 26 October, two days after the 1st Brigade, 1st US Cavalry Division, arrived in Pleiku, the B3 Front commander decided that discretion was the better part of valor and ordered troops back to the Ia Drang base area.6

    From 24 October to 9 November, 1st Brigade, 1st US Cavalry Division, heliborne airmobile elements fought a series of engagements against retreating communist troops in the Ia Drang Valley. The 33d Regiment bore the brunt of the US attacks. The regimental hospital was overrun on 1 November. On 4 November, US 2d Squadron, 12th US Cavalry Regiment forces engaged two 33d Regiment, 3d Battalion companies in a stiff battle. On 6 November, two 2d Squadron, 8th US Cavalry Regiment companies estimated several hundred NVA 1st and 2d Battalion, 33d Regiment forces killed. Twenty-six US soldiers were killed; 53 were wounded.7

    The B3 Front viewed the 4 and 6 November engagements as victories and claimed that from 29 October to 9 November five US platoons had been annihilated and that 385 US troops were killed or wounded.8 Actual 1st Brigade losses were 59 men killed and 196 wounded.9 The NVA 33d Regiment suffered catastrophic losses, being reduced to less than half its authorized strength.10

    Post battle NVA analyses conclude that US helicopter leap-frog attacks into the heart of the base area had thrown the NVA back onto the defensive, disrupted command and control, and prevented the NVA from concentrating forces.11 The US 1st Brigade withdrew, setting the stage for the arrival of the two principal participants in the Ia Drang Battle: the 1st US Cavalry Division's 3d Brigade and the NVA's 66th Regiment.

    The Battle Heats Up

    The NVA attacked on 12 November. Twenty-six NVA sappers, armed with four mortars and guided by local guerrillas, raided the new 3d Brigade Headquarters at the Catecka Tea Plantation, killing seven US soldiers and wounding 23.12 Earlier, on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the 66th Regiment had dropped its heavy equipment, lightened its packs and proceeded by forced march to the battlefield.13 The 66th crossed into South Vietnam on 1 November and headed for assembly areas. During the approach the regiment suffered its first losses. On 3 November, the 8th Battalion was ambushed by a US reconnaissance patrol, provoking a vicious night engagement that led the 8th Battalion to believe it had annihilated a US platoon.14

    On 10 November, the 66th Regiment arrived at the Chu Pong Massif on the southwestern side of the Ia Drang Valley near the Cambodian border. The Chu Pong, a massive terrain feature, housed B3 Front Headquarters, its support units and supply warehouses. The regimental headquarters and the 7th Battalion occupied adjacent bivouac areas on the mountain's southeastern face. Five kilometers away, the 9th Battalion occupied the eastern face. The 8th Battalion established a base in the Ia Drang Valley itself, perhaps eight miles away. Although tired and hungry from the long forced march, the troops began building huts, digging fortifications and transporting rice and ammunition from the B3 Front's supply caches.15

    While the 66th Regiment's battalions were at almost full strength. 500 men with from 120 to 125 men per company and well-equipped with AK-47 and SKS rifles, light and medium machineguns, RPGs, 82-millimeter mortars and recoilless rifles, Central Highlands jungles were foreign to them. Most of the men were as unfamiliar with the terrain as US troops were.

    The 1st Battalion, 7th US Cavalry, arrived at landing zone (LZ) X-Ray, a clearing less than one kilometer below the 9th Battalion's positions. This fact played a significant role in the coming battle.16

    NVA histories reveal that contrary to claims that the NVA lured US troops into a trap, the NVA were completely surprised by US troops' 14 November landing at LZ X-Ray. When the first US helicopters arrived, 66th Regiment and 9th Battalion commanders were surveying the terrain several kilometers away on the banks of the Ia Drang River. The 66th Regiment Political Officer Ngoc Chau and the 9th Battalion's deputy political officer were also away from their offices.17

    From his new headquarters atop the Chu Pong, B3 Front Forward Commander Nguyen Huu An watched in dismay as US air strikes and artillery blasted the 9th Battalion area and as waves of US helicopters swooped out of sight behind the mountain.18 Once on the ground, 7th US Cavalry troops advanced straight up the slopes of the Chu Pong toward 9th Battalion positions.

    Under heavy bombardment, unable to see what was happening because of the thick jungle vegetation and with its forward outposts eliminated in the initial US attack, the 9th Battalion did not detect approaching US troops until they were only 100 meters away. US troops advanced in two columns, one headed for 9th Battalion's 11th Company; the other headed for the 9th Battalion Headquarters area. Just as the shooting began, the 9th Battalion almost collapsed.

    Acting on his own, the 11th Company commander launched a fierce counterattack against US troops, but the 9th Battalion political officer, who in the absence of the military commander was in charge of the battalion, panicked. He bolted from the command post, leaving the battalion leaderless.19

    A lesser unit might have broken and run, but 9th Battalion troops were among the NVA's best. A first lieutenant, the senior officer left in the command post, immediately took charge. Calling for help from the unengaged 13th Company, he ordered all headquarters personnel. cooks, runners and medics to grab weapons and fight. One by one, the battalion's four companies joined the battle as work details returned and commanders pieced together what was happening.

    The 9th Battalion commander, racing back from the banks of the Ia Drang, reached the 11th Company an hour later but never returned to his command post, and he never reestablished contact with all of his units.

    At 1700, US troops finally withdrew. The 9th Battalion's units also began retreating, scattering in all directions. The 66th Regiment commander bypassed the 9th Battalion to return directly to his regimental command post, got lost and did not find his way back to his headquarters for two days.

    Some isolated troops, not realizing their units had left, remained behind and continued to engage US forces in scattered fire fights until late that night. The 9th Battalion reported destroying one US company and crippling another.20 After the battle, the 9th Battalion commander was severely criticized for failing to regain control of his battalion and allowing it to disintegrate.21

    Meanwhile, B3 Front Forward Headquarters and the 66th Regiment were trying to control the battle. Learning that the commanders were not at their command posts, Deputy Regimental Commander Pham Cong Cuu, who was at 7th Battalion Headquarters when the attack occurred, alerted the battalion to prepare to move out.

    Taking a group of 7th Battalion officers with him, Cuu went forward to assess the situation. He arrived in the 9th Battalion area in the early afternoon and found it in a state of confusion, with many wounded moving to the rear and no one sure what was going on. The wounded deputy battalion political officer could tell him only that the enemy troops were all US forces (no South Vietnamese) and that they were aggressive and well-armed.22

    Chau, arriving in the area later, encountered the 9th Battalion's retreating 13th Company and directed it to leave one platoon behind to maintain contact with US forces. During the 66th Regiment commander's absence, Chau assumed command.23

    Late in the afternoon, B3 Forward Headquarters ordered Chau to attack the US position with available forces. Chau sent 7th Battalion troops forward to join the scattered 9th Battalion elements. He placed Cuu in direct command of the assault.24

    The attack was originally scheduled to begin at 0300 on 15 November, but because of the unfamiliar terrain and continuing US artillery bombardment, it was almost daylight before troops were in position. Two 7th Battalion companies and 9th Battalion elements prepared to assault one side of the US perimeter while the 7th Battalion's weapons company deployed on the other side as a blocking force. This would also allow them to provide machinegun grazing fire across the position.25

    At this point it becomes difficult to reconcile NVA accounts with what actually happened. The accounts say 7th Battalion assault companies overran the US position and briefly swept the area before withdrawing at 0645 under heavy US air attack. Surviving US troops were said to have fled into the jungle.

    Cuu claims he reported by radio to B3 Front Headquarters that his men had overrun the US position, captured more than 70 weapons and that he had 150 effectives left in his force, which indicated losses of from 300 to 400 men. Cuu admits B3 Front was at first incredulous about his report, asking if Cuu had personally checked the report or if he was just relaying reports from subordinate elements.26 In fact, a section of the 1st Battalion, 7th US Cavalry's perimeter had been briefly overrun, but the penetration was quickly repaired and the US position held. Forty-two US soldiers were killed and 20 were wounded.27

    After what was thought to be a victory, the NVA attack force withdrew, leaving only one platoon behind to maintain contact with the US force. According to NVA accounts, the 66th Regiment's commanders were unaware of a new US battalion's arrival on foot: the 2/5 Cavalry, and the lost platoon's rescue. They knew only of the incessant US bombing and shelling their stay-behind element endured and of the helicopters arriving at LZ X-Ray to evacuate bodies and bring in reinforcements.28

    The Second Attack

    B3 Forward Headquarters ordered a second attack on LZ X-Ray and ordered the 33d Regiment to attack two nearby US artillery fire bases to support the LZ X-Ray attack a mission the 33d Regiment could not carry out.29 With most of 7th Battalion destroyed, the 66th Regiment was forced to use the 7th Regiment's unblooded 3d Company and one platoon of 1st Company as the main assault elements, supported by the 7th Battalion's heavy weapons.

    At 2000 on 15 November, NVA troops reached the assembly area and went forward to attack positions. However, the stay-behind force had not noticed that US defenders had pulled their lines back 50 meters in the perimeter section that was the second assault's primary target. This move, with the constant artillery bombardment, confused the attackers.30

    Not until 0300 on 16 November did NVA troops get close enough to US lines to launch an assault. Although they claim to have inflicted numerous casualties before being driven back, NVA historians acknowledge that the assault was largely unsuccessful.31 While US forces actually suffered only six wounded; the NVA sustained significant losses.32

    According to the Vietnamese, 7th Battalion, 66th Regiment elements returned to the area the night of 16 November to collect the dead and wounded but were detected and fired on, causing panicky US troops to fire wildly around the entire perimeter.33 This probably refers to an incident at first light on 16 November when US defenders at LZ X-Ray, firing a Mad Minute to preempt a dawn attack, flushed out a large group of NVA hiding close to the perimeter.34 Vietnamese accounts admit that after this attack the 7th and 9th Battalions were hors de combat: the 7th because of its horrendous losses and the 9th because its units were still scattered and disorganized after the haphazard retreat on 14 November.35

    Misperceptions engendered by the fog of war and the exaggerated victory claims that two NVA battalions made began a tragic chain of events. Although actual US losses were 79 killed and 121 wounded, NVA commanders believed the original US battalion at LZ X-Ray, the 7th US Cavalry, had been crippled.36 Blinded by US airstrikes and artillery, NVA commanders did not know that LZ X-Ray had been heavily reinforced, that the cavalry was being evacuated or that LZ X-Ray was to be abandoned the next day. Ignorant of these facts, An ordered the 66th Regiment's 8th Battalion still fresh and waiting in the Ia Drang Valley to move south to finish off what he believed to be a crippled US battalion.37

    The 8th Battalion commander, Le Xuan Phoi, headed his men out on the evening of 16 November, but when US air and artillery strikes blocked his route, he was forced to stop and reorganize. At dawn the battalion moved out again, heading south in battle formation with the 8th Company acting as an advance guard some distance ahead of the main formation. The battalion's main body followed: the battalion headquarters, two infantry companies, a weapons company and the regimental 12.7-millimeter heavy machinegun company, attached to the battalion for this operation.38

    For US troops left at LZ X-Ray, the night of 16-17 November passed quietly. The next morning the squadrons left LZ X-Ray on foot, heading north toward the artillery fire base at LZ Columbus about three miles away. While the 2/5th Cavalry proceeded directly to LZ Columbus, the 2/7th Cavalry.10 to 15 minutes behind .turned off about three kilometers out and headed for a clearing designated LZ Albany.

    Having seen the hundreds of NVA bodies rotting in the sun around the perimeter and after the quiet night at LZ X-Ray, the troops assumed the NVA was finished. Nearly 2,000 NVA soldiers, almost an entire regiment, had been reported killed. After adding the number wounded, there should have been nothing left of the two NVA regiments.39 The march to LZ Albany would be just a walk in the sun.40

    Shortly before noon, the 2/7th Cavalry point element tripped over several hidden NVA soldiers who belonged to one of the five-man ambush teams from the 33d Regiment that had been assigned to cover potential helicopter landing zones. US troops captured two soldiers, but three escaped. The US column halted to interrogate the prisoners.41 Meanwhile, the NVA 8th Battalion's main body, 1 kilometer behind its lead company, encountered NVA 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 33d Regiment elements. The escaped NVA soldiers reported that two US platoons were just ahead and moving in their direction. Phoi immediately sent a runner to recall his point company and began deploying for battle.

    Poor visibility caused by thick vegetation and terrain hampered the NVA and US troops. Unaware he was facing a full US squadron and with little time, Phoi deployed from march formation. He put only the lead company on line, backed by the weapons company. He held the other units in reserve.42

    The US column again moved forward. Phoi waited until US soldiers were yards away before opening fire. The two lead US platoons were shattered. Behind them more US troops advanced, firing as they came. Only then did Phoi realize that the two platoons were not alone. He moved another infantry company up immediately behind the first, then attacked.43

    After receiving the battalion's recall order and hearing the sounds of gunfire, 8th Company, on point, sped back toward the battle. The company's lead platoon got lost and never made it into the fight. The other company ran straight into the US column's rear and immediately attacked. Phoi now committed 7th Company, shifting it into a line alongside 6th Company. Meanwhile, two companies of the nearby 33d Regiment, led by Cuu, also entered the fray.44

    The NVA 8th Battalion was quickly decapitated. The commander died before the battle ended, and the political officer died within the first hour. Almost all company- and platoon-level officers lay dead or wounded. At an 8th Battalion squad leader's request – an indication of how many 8th Battalion officers were down – the 1st Battalion, 33d Regiment, deputy commander assumed command of both battalions. Within hours he, too, was dead.45

    Leaving the bulk of the 2/7 US Cavalry trapped between and hopelessly intermingled with NVA forces hidden in the tall jungle grass, US forces at either end of the column regrouped into two separate perimeters. Virtually leaderless and under heavy US air and artillery attack, the surviving NVA troops, their hatred of Americans fueled by communist tales of US atrocities in South Vietnam and party exhortations to become heroic killers of Americans, mindlessly slaughtered US wounded.46

    Vietnamese accounts of the battle give contorted explanations of why so many US soldiers were shot in the head or in the back.47 A postwar review reveals that NVA commanders knew what really happened. During the battle there were "mistakes" in implementing the NVA policy on taking prisoners of war.48 The NVA took no prisoners.

    The next day, US forces counted 403 NVA bodies and hundreds of weapons left on the battlefield. In this instance, however, the NVA claim to have annihilated a US battalion was not entirely without foundation. The 2/7th US Cavalry and attached units suffered 155 killed and 121 wounded.49 The encounter, which Vietnamese histories admit was completely accidental, was one of the war's bloodiest battles.50

    On 18 November, the US artillery fire base at LZ Columbus was hit by an attack that was easily repelled. Three US soldiers were killed and 13 wounded in exchange for at least 27 dead NVA.51 This unsuccessful attack was the 33d Regiment's belated effort to carry out the order it had been given three days before.

    The regimental chief of staff commanded the attack. Because of poor reconnaissance, one battalion's assault troops missed the perimeter entirely, hitting only thin air. Admitting serious morale problems, PAVN officers faulted the attack for inadequate coordination and the troops for not pressing the assault with sufficient resolution.52

    The campaign's final battle was anticlimactic. On 20 November, South Vietnamese airborne forces, supported by US artillery, encountered the 320th Regiment's 635th and 334th Battalions along the Cambodian border. The 635th.s commander, whose unit had suffered heavy losses during the South Vietnamese relief column ambush in October, refused to engage the enemy and retreated without authorization, leaving the sister battalion alone on the battlefield.

    The two units lost hundreds of men and weapons, and it was several days before the 320th Regiment managed to reestablish contact with the 635th Battalion. A PAVN analysis admits the regiment did not accomplish its assigned mission.53

    The Aftermath

    An NVA review of the campaign found that in their first major battle with US forces, NVA commanders had seriously underestimated their opponent. Specifically, the NVA had been surprised by the 1st US Cavalry Division's armed helicopters' firepower; the use of B-52s to tactically support ground troops; the power of the 1st Cavalry's field artillery, which the NVA had believed would be unable to deploy and operate effectively in this roadless, jungle-covered region; and the incredible mobility of 1st Cavalry troopers who, even when their forces were caught at an initial disadvantage, used helicopters to concentrate rapidly and decisively to shift the balance of forces and turn the tide of battle.54

    The North Vietnamese were also disturbed by leadership problems that surfaced during this campaign. All three regimental commanders were censured for their conduct during the campaign. The 66th Regiment commander received a severe reprimand for failing to command his unit during the LZ X-Ray battle. The 33d Regiment Commander was criticized for failing to maintain contact with his troops during the siege at Plei Me, for not personally commanding the attack on LZ Columbus and for delegating all decision-making responsibility to subordinates. The 320th Regiment commander was cited for failing to personally conduct reconnaissance of the terrain before ambushing the South Vietnamese relief column and for clumsily handling his unit throughout the campaign.55

    A 1966 Central Highlands Front report claimed that in five major engagements with US forces between 14 and 18 November 1965, NVA forces killed 559 soldiers and wounded 669.56 PAVN histories claim the United States suffered 1,500 to 1,700 casualties during the Ia Drang Campaign.57 The US military estimates that 3,561 NVA were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded during engagements with the 1st Cavalry. The US Army estimated 305 killed and 524 wounded for the 35-day campaign.58 Neither side believes the other's figures.

    The US military viewed the battle as proof that its helicopter-assault tactics and strategy of attrition could win the war. The NVA saw in the heavy US casualties inflicted at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany vindication for its belief that communist troops could also inflict sufficient pain on US forces. Clearly, each side saw only the results it wanted to see, and each thought it had hurt the other more than it had.

    Later in the war, as firepower and attrition continued to take their toll, the NVA realized it suffered from a problem common to all the need for truthful reporting and a willingness to hear the truth. "Based on our experiences . . . we can see that reporting from subordinate commanders to their superiors did not accurately reflect the real situation. Successes were usually exaggerated and mistakes and failures were not reported. This had a not insignificant impact on our operations. It caused senior commanders to misjudge and misevaluate the situation, which in turn led them to make incorrect policy decisions and to set goals and objectives which were unattainable. . . . Commanders must listen to the opinions of subordinates. . . . They must not be afraid to hear negatives, they must not be willing to listen only to those things which are positive, and they must never accuse a subordinate of harboring harmful thoughts and opinions when the subordinate is only telling the truth. . . . Commanders . . . must not be afraid to discuss mistakes and failures. Time after time, after every victory we won, so often that it seemed to be the rule rather than the exception, we fell into the traps of subjectivism, over-eagerness and over-simplification".59

    ——————————————————————————–

    1. LG Hoang, Phuong: "Several Lessons on Campaign Planning and Command Implementation During the Plei Me Campaign," The Plei Me Victory: Looking Back after 30 Years. Military History Institute and 3rd Corps [hereafter cited as The Plei Me Victory] (Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House, 1995), 37-38; Nguyen Huy Toan and Pham Quang Dinh, The 304th Division, vol II, Editorial Direction: 304th Division Headquarters and Party Committee, (Hanoi, People's Army Publishing House, 1990), 21.
    2. Toan and Dinh, 19-20.
    3. Mai Hong Linh, "A Number of Issues Relating to Party and Political Activities During the Plei Me Campaign-1965," The Plei Me Victory, 110.
    4. Military History Institute and 3rd Corps, The Plei Me Offensive Campaign-1965 [hereafter cited as The Plei Me Offensive] (Hanoi: People.s Army Publishing House, 1993), 33.
    5. Ibid., 35.
    6. Phuong, 40; The Plei Me Offensive, 37.
    7. J.D. Coleman, Pleiku: The Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988), 168-84; The Plei Me Offensive, 39-40.
    8. Phuong, The Plei Me Victory, 40.
    9. Coleman, 189.
    10. Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young (New York: Harper-Collins,1993), 57; Coleman, 185.
    11. The Plei Me Offensive, 41; Pham Vinh Phuc, "Special Characteristics of U.S. Helicopter Assault Landing Tactics During the Plei Me Campaign," The Plei Me Victory, 122.
    12. The Plei Me Offensive, 44; Moore and Galloway, 39.
    13. Toan and Dinh, 26-27.
    14. Actual US losses were 4 killed and 25 wounded. US forces reported killing almost 100 NVA; Coleman, 163; Moore and Galloway, 33; Le Nhu Huan quoting Pham Cong Cuu, "The 66th Regiment Annihilates the US 2nd Cavalry Battalion in the Ia Drang Valley," The Plei Me Victory, 98; Phuong, 41.
    15. Now, PAVN historians admit the Ho Chi Minh Trail was not the main source of supplies for this campaign; weapons and ammunition were shipped in from Sihanoukville, and food and supplies were purchased in Cambodia; The Plei Me Offensive, 27.
    16. Toan and Dinh, 29; Huan quoting Cuu, 96-98.
    17. Nguyen Quoc Dung, The Plei Me Victory, 129. This article contains the 1 January 1966 B3 Front "Report on Five Battles Against US Forces," 14-18 November 1965; Toan and Dinh, 29; The Plei Me Offensive, 45.
    18. CG Nguyen Huu An and Nguyen Tu Duong, New Battlefields: A Memoir (Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House, 1995), 36.
    19. Toan and Dinh, 29-30; The Plei Me Offensive, 45.
    20. Ibid.
    21. MG Tran Ngoc Son, "A Few Thoughts on the Lessons of the Plei Me Campaign," The Plei Me Victory, 205; The Plei Me Offensive, 46.
    22. Huan quoting Cuu, 98-99.
    23. The Plei Me Offensive, 47; Toan and Dinh, 31.
    24. The Plei Me Offensive, 47-48; An and Duong, 37-38.
    25. Huan quoting Cuu, 99-101. The 7th Battalion's 3d Company, away on a work detail, did not participate in this attack; Toan and Dinh, 31-32; Moore and Galloway, 171, say the Viet Cong H-15 Battalion participated in this attack. Coleman, 274, says the H-15 Battalion made the later attack on LZ Columbus. Some PAVN histories place the H-15 east of Plei Me and do not mention it in either battle.
    26. Huan quoting Cuu, 101-103; Toan and Dinh, 32.
    27. Moore and Galloway, 193.
    28. Toan and Dinh, 32; Huan quoting Cuu, 102.
    29. The Plei Me Offensive, 49; An and Duong, 39-40.
    30. Toan and Dinh, 33; Moore and Galloway, 214.
    31. Toan and Dinh, 33-34; The Plei Me Offensive, 49.
    32. Moore and Galloway, 223.
    33. Toan and Dinh, 34; Do Trung Mich, "66th Regiment Develops the Traditions and Lessons of the Plei Me Victory," The Plei Me Victory, 152.
    34. Moore and Galloway, 224; Coleman, 241-42.
    35. The Plei Me Offensive, 50.
    36. Moore and Galloway, 233.
    37. Toan and Dinh, 35; The Plei Me Offensive, 50; Linh, 117-18.
    38. Toan and Dinh, 35-36.
    39. Moore and Galloway, 112; Coleman, 210. While elements of the 33d might have been at LZ X-Ray, PAVN accounts indicate that most of the regiment was not.
    40. Coleman, 248; Moore and Galloway, 233, 251-53.
    41. The Plei Me Offensive, 51; Moore and Galloway, 258, 262; Coleman, 253.
    42.Toan and Dinh, 36.
    43. Ibid., 36-37.
    44. Other, smaller NVA units might also have participated in the battle. See Moore and Galloway, 261, and [author not given] "Remembrances of the First Fight Against the Americans in the Central Highlands," The Plei Me Victory, 238-40.
    45. Toan and Dinh, 37-39; Linh, 115; The Plei Me Offensive, 52-53.
    46. Linh, 109-10.
    47. Ibid., 40; Dung, 131.
    48. Phuong, 44.
    49. Moore and Galloway, 366, 373-74.
    50. The Plei Me Offensive, 85; Mich, 155.
    51. Coleman, 274-77.
    52. The Plei Me Offensive, 54-55; Mich, 152.
    53. The Plei Me Offensive, 55-56; Coleman, 278-79.
    54. The Plei Me Offensive, 60-61.
    55. Ibid., 69-70; Son, 205.
    56. These included the 9th Battalion's battle of 14 November, the 7th Battalion's two attacks on 15 and 16 November, the LZ Albany fight and the LZ Columbus attack.
    57. Dung, 126; History of the People's Army, 216 [no other publishing information given].
    58. Coleman, 283; Moore and Galloway, 399.
    59. Military History Institute of Vietnam, The Saigon-Gia Dinh Offensive Theater (1968), Hanoi, 1988, 86-87.
    Merle L. Pribbenow
    Military Review – January-February 2001

    A Few Things You Should Know about Pleime-Iadrang Campaign
    "Victory at Pleime" ?
    Tactical Moves in Pleime Battle
    The Two Principals Players Of Pleime Chess Game
    Pleime Battle's Diary
    Why Pleime
    Reviewing "Why Pleime"
    General Schwarzkopf's Naïveté In Ia Drang Battle
    LZ X-Ray After Action Report – LTC Hal Moore and Colonel Hieu
    Pleime Battle Viewed From G3/I Field Force Vietnam
    Than Phong 7 Operation Viewed From G3/I Field Force Vietnam
    Pleiku Campaign
    Command and Control Skills in Pleime Campaign
    What Historians Failed to Tell About the Battle at LZ X-Ray
    Battle of Pleime
    Plei Me Battle
    1st US Cavalry Division Gives Support in the Battle at Plei Me
    Seven Days of Zap
    Battle of Duc Co
    American Perspective of Pleime Battle
    The Truth about the Pleime Battle
    The Unfolding of Strategic and Tactical Moves of Pleime Campaign
    CIDG in Camp Defense (Plei Me)
    Things the VC Don't Want People To Know at Pleime Battle
    Pleime Through New York Times' View
    Ia Drang Valley Battle? Which One?
    NVA Colonel Ha Vi Tung at Pleime-LZ Xray-LZ Albany
    Pleiku Campaign
    Pleime Campaign
    Crushing the American Troops in Central Highlands
    Crushing the American Troops in Western Highlands or in Danang?
    NVA 66th Regiment in Pleime-Ia Drang Campaign
    The Fog of War: The Vietnamese View of the Ia Drang Battle
    What Really Happened at Ia Drang Battle
    The Political Commissar at the First Battle Against the Americans in Central Highlands
    First Engagement With American Troops at Pleime-Iadrang
    generalhieu.com

  19. 19
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    .

    NEVER FORGET

    BRUCE CRANDALL =

    Hero to say goodbye to iconic 'Huey'

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2663604/posts

    NEVER FORGET

    .

  20. 20
    John says:

    You should know that all “facts” (not opinions) point to us winning the Vietnam War. The popular notion that we lost the war is a myth. The more you tell a lie the more it becomes the truth. We have been beating ourselves up with guilt for over 30 years based upon deception, lies and myths.

    When any soldier from any war describes their experience, they are telling their own little view of the war that happens directly to them. All combat veterans can tell stories of horror and mistakes from any nation’s army. Many of these are not mistakes, but the soldier’s perception in his little arena. The perception of a company’s office daily progress would differ from manager and worker. The soldier and worker in the trenches do not see the big picture because of their limited views. Rumors and myths thrive from this.

    The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was created in 1954 to stem further communist takeover of countries in the Pacific region. SEATO was created as part of the Truman Doctrine to create anti-communist bilateral and collective defense treaties. These treaties and agreements were intended to create alliances that would contain communist power. This is why the United States initially became involved in South Vietnam to fight the communist movement under Ho Chi Minh of North Vietnam.

    Representatives from Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States, under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, (from which SEATO was formed), pledged to defend against what it saw as an escalation of communist military aggression against democracy.

    The Democratic and Republican administrations along with Congress during those years prevented the US military to fight the war as it should have. Our troops had these ludicrous “rules of engagement” and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had none. Militarily, our men were severely restrained. However they still accomplished all objectives and forced North Vietnam to admit defeat and sign the peace agreement.

    At that time our government was afraid if we were too aggressive that China would send troops against us, as in Korea. A little research would have proven this was not going to occur. China admitted this to be true after the war. The memories of us decimating them in the Korean War were still fresh in their minds.

    North Vietnam knew they could not defeat the US. They developed one of the world’s largest propaganda organizations (Dich Van) to defeat us psychologically. They successfully divided us by pitting the US population (especially naive college students) against our politicians and soldiers. The news media played into their hands without researching facts or sources. The public was “suckered” by the repeated disinformation from North Vietnam along with Communist and other dubious sources from within our nation. For some reason our government was not able or prepared to adequately counter this form of warfare.

    The NVA was equally trained as well as the US army. They also were just as well equipped- supplied from China and Russia. They actually had better field artillery equipment (Russian). We had the advantage in air power. Records reveal the so-called “Viet Cong” actually were largely NVA trained, not always the poor farmer that was depicted in the news media. Due to our strategy and aggressive tactics we were always successful in battle despite being outnumbered and outgunned.

    By their own estimates we killed 1.2 million of their soldiers-far more than we estimated. Can you imagine the length of their war memorial wall? It became obvious that men were going to war and never returning and families not notified. It was later shown that the NVA had a tremendous desertion problem and men doing all possible not to be drafted. The young men had a saying, “Born in the North to die in the South”.

    There was increasing unrest within North Vietnam because they had no access to the factual progress of the war. As in all Communist governments, they had no freedom of speech or press and they still do not.

    CBS “60 Minutes” verified during and after the war, the North Vietnamese government secretly hid the badly wounded soldiers from their families and the public because of the enormous casualty rate. I do not know how long this disturbing policy was in effect.

    Throughout the war the North Vietnamese government had a detailed and systematic plan to execute and murder South Vietnamese citizens they deemed as threats. Also, Ho Chi Minh was absolutely vicious to the people in the North. R.J. Rummell estimates that from 1957 to 1975 the North Vietnamese government executed around 50,000 North Vietnamese civilians (most were executed by 1960). Source: R.J. Rummell (1997). "Vietnam Democide: Estimates, Sources & Calculations".

    North Vietnam’s brutality did not stop at the war’s end. An estimated 95,000 South Vietnamese civilians died in the communist “re-education” camps, another 500,000 were involved in forced labor projects, which killed 48,000 civilians. Another 100,000 were executed. Finally, 400,000 people died while trying to flee Vietnam. This does not include the unknown fate of thousands of indigent people enslaved for laborious work on the Ho Chi Minh trail throughout the war.

    I find it disturbing when everyone (seemingly) rips the USA apart because of the much publicized My Lai Massacre. Clearly this was committed by a few individuals and not US government and army policy. Some soldiers refused to participate and some simply walked away. This came to an end when other US troops protected the civilians and threatened to shoot their fellow soldiers. We that have never experienced the tremendous stress of war could never imagine committing such an act. This is not to be used as an excuse. What these few soldiers did was wrong. This terrible event amounts to nothing, compared to the planned and premeditated slaughter of civilians, throughout the war by the North Vietnamese government and NVA official policy.

    Americans always wanted to forget the war and most will never study what actually occurred. In 1972 Nixon finally gave permission to the air force to conduct military bombing their way. This should have been done years earlier.

    In a matter of days the effect was so devastating that there literally were no more targets left to destroy in NV. All SAM sites destroyed and their entire missile supply depleted. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) did not dare make any movements. The civilians in Hanoi believed they were defeated, began hanging and waving white flags at U.S. planes. The NV politicians were so frightened that they quickly contacted the U.S. and signed the peace treaty.

    North Vietnam signed the peace treaty January 27, 1973. The last American troops left South Vietnam March 29, 1973. Two years later North Vietnam violated the peace treaty, invaded and defeated South Vietnam in 1975. This had nothing to do with us. The USA was long gone by then.

    Regarding the embassy evacuation; this occurred in 1975, more than two years after all of our troops were gone. The embassy scene was “the perception of defeat”. Perceptions do not make truth. The U.S. only had an embassy in South Vietnam (SV) after the war like any other country. It was staffed with the normal “handful” of Marines. The news media falsely connected this scene to the loss of the war. This event occurred more than two years after all of our military was gone and had nothing to do with the war that we had won.

    Yes, panicked South Vietnamese wanted to leave, knowing the fate that may await them. Actually, the NVA were under orders to halt all further advance into Saigon until the evacuation was complete. They had not forgotten the military might of the U.S. that nearly destroyed them during the war. They also knew our naval force was close and that the carrier alone had enough power to defeat them.

    Our mistake was that we left South Vietnam after we overwhelmingly defeated North Vietnam. We stayed in Germany, Japan and South Korea. We left South Vietnam because of public sentiment based upon pseudo information. Which of these countries are better off? Which of these governments and countries would you now choose to live in?

    There are a few books written well after the war, but I believe “Unheralded Victory” by Mark W. Woodruff is easiest to learn what really happened in Vietnam. This eye opening book was written in 1999. The book's data and sources come from American and Vietnamese well after the conflict to erase emotions and patriotism. Alibris.com has used ones available for very little cost.

    My guess is that once you read this book, you will be in awe of the veterans accomplishments, despite having to endure all the restrictions and ill-placed public negativity.

    In general, our nation and veterans have nothing to be ashamed of regarding our participation in the Vietnam War.

    • 20.1
      Ikramuddin Akbar says:

      Wonderful! that's the true picture anyone could show the world.Thanks, I'm a Pakistani,living in Karachi and have a passion of reading anything true about vietnam war, thanks again.

  21. 21
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    .

    NEVER FORGET

    In the year 2000, WALTER CRONKITE publically declared in his Keynote Speech at a London Y2K World Conference that…

    "It was now time for America's 11 Southern States to secede from the Union."

    This, a true reflection of his delilberate misreporting of the Vietnam War to the American People on the nightly 'CBS Evening News' television program.

    Bringing down on a once Free South Vietnamese People a most horrid:

    'Journey From The Fall'

    http://www.JourneyFromTheFall.com

    Pictures of a vietnamese Re-Education Camp

    http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1308949/posts

    NEVER FORGET

    .

  22. 22
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    .

    NEVER FORGET

    As a Radioman-Driver-Orderly to then Lt. Col. HAL G. MOORE, while in 1965's then Free South Vietnam's Central Highlands, I was stunned to witness first hand that there really is such a thing as HATE in this world. And people out there who hate the FREE for ..simply being FREE.

    http://www.lzxray.com/guyer_set1.htm

    I have since seen directly that LOVE is indeed the Only Reality and GOD is LOVE. And that the one thing The LOVE Itself needs more of in this world is ..more LOVE.

    And that only comes when people ..are FREE..!!!

    Making soldiers who so selflessly sacrifice to bring more FREEDOM, and thus more LOVE, to the world ..and their loved ones who wait for them to come home or not ..HOLY in GOD's Eyes.
    Bringing a broad smile to His Face in the process.

    FREE-ing up people to be all that they already are in GOD's Eyes and all that they can be while here on the Planet Earth.

    'It's WHO YOU ARE' is sung at the ending of Director RANDALL WALLACE's 2010 Motion Picture "SECRETARIAT." RANDALL wrote the song's words. He also wrote the stirring words to the 'MANSIONS of the LORD' hymn, which is sung at the ending of his 2002 Motion Picture "WE WERE SOLDIERS." For in life, it's not what you have that counts. 'It's WHO YOU ARE.'

    'MANSIONS of the LORD' went on to become publically known as 'The REAGAN RECESSIONAL' as well. For it was stirringly sung by the Marine Corps Choir as President RONALD REAGAN's flag draped casket was being carried out from his Washington, D.C. funeral for flight back to his REAGAN Presidential Libary final resting place. This hymn was to be soon heard by tour guests as they leave the Library ..forever.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WDrbbtaO0E

    For President RONALD REAGAN was as much a soldier standing on the front line fighting for the FREEDOM of others, as we soldiers who were physically putting our own lives on the line out there.

    http://www.ReaganLibrary.com

    NEVER FORGET

    .

  23. 23
    "ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer says:

    NEVER FORGET

    'It's WHO YOU ARE' = "SECRETARIAT" Video, Song & Lyrics

    http://mommylife.net/archives/2010/10/secretariat_the.html

    NEVER FORGET

  24. 24
    kithmean says:

    HENRY KISSINGER , THE CRIMINAL DID NEED THE UN RESOLUTION NOR THE US
    CONGRESS APRROVAL TO ORDER THE PENTAGON
    TO EXECUTE A SECRET BOMBING OF CAMBODIA FOR 14 MONTHS 1969-1975 .

    CAMBODIA HAS 10 UN RESOLUTIONS 1979-1988 CALLING VIETNAM TO QUIT
    CAMBODIA , TODAY CAMBODIA REMAINS OCCUPIED BY VIETNAM
    SO WHAT'S THE BEEF HERE WITH THIS NON SENSE UN RESOLUTION VOTED TO
    AUTHORISE LIBYA AIR STRIKES?

    FOR CAMBODIA Strong Resolution on Cambodia Human Rights Abuses
    Feb. 27, 1982 : UN Commission on Human Rights meeting in Geneva
    adopted a resolution condemning Vietnam's occupation of Cambodia as a
    violation of Cambodian human rights. The vote was 28 in favor, 8
    against, and 5 abstentions.
    http://cambohistory.blogspot.com/2011/03/fwd-ambassador-susan-rice-at-un-not.html

  25. 25
    kithmean says:

    aMBASSADOR susan rice at THE UN not serving THE AMERICAN NATIONAL INTERESTS IT'S A SHAME

    HENRY KISSINGER , THE CRIMINAL DID NEED THE UN RESOLUTION NOR THE US
    CONGRESS APRROVAL TO ORDER THE PENTAGON
    TO EXECUTE A SECRET BOMBING OF CAMBODIA FOR 14 MONTHS 1969-1975 .

    CAMBODIA HAS 10 UN RESOLUTIONS 1979-1988 CALLING VIETNAM TO QUIT
    CAMBODIA , TODAY CAMBODIA REMAINS OCCUPIED BY VIETNAM
    SO WHAT'S THE BEEF HERE WITH THIS NON SENSE UN RESOLUTION VOTED TO
    AUTHORISE LIBYA AIR STRIKES?
    http://cambohistory.blogspot.com/2011/03/fwd-ambassador-susan-rice-at-un-not.html

  26. 26
    alan warwick says:

    freedom is not free

  27. 27
    Charles W. Raymond III says:

    The statement that ARVN had never gone into that area is absolutely incorrect. The 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 22nd Division conducted a four phase operatrion Binh Tri during the March-April 1964 period, nearly 18 months before the battle. The Battalion CO was Captain Au Van Ta. I was the the MAAG Team 22 Battalion Advisor.

  28. 28
    alan warwick says:

    there are worse things than dying, like being forgotten,let us never forget those brave men who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

  29. 29

    [...] The first encounter The first full scale battle between the U.S. and North Vietnam troops Ia Drang – The battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win The second encounter:  Battle of Bong Son Paul W. Brown, M.D. History of Fitzsimons Army [...]

  30. 30

    [...] The first encounter The first full scale battle between the U.S. and North Vietnam troops Ia Drang – The battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win The second encounter:  Battle of Bong Son Paul W. Brown, M.D. History of Fitzsimons Army [...]

  31. 31
    Jeff Daley says:

    My personal thanks to Joe Gallaway for bringing Vietnam to a certain light for this generation. I also think it helped remind our generation about the conflict we experienced when we came home. My time in Vietnam was not easiest of all my life experences. My time spent after I got home was more difficult than my time in Vietnam, including hospital time.

    I wasn't able to talk about my service for decades accept for the men I kept in touch with that served in Vietnam. Because of people like Joe Gallaway I believe those like him helped make the change for our returning Vet's of today. It makes for a happy day and I am proud that Americans are recognizing our returning vets of today. Thanks Joe.

    Jeff Daley
    1st Cav – Vietnam 1965 – 1966

  32. 32
    alan warwick says:

    god bless you all who fought in that campaign

  33. 33
    C.H. Buzzard says:

    The question remains: why was Bob McDade's 2-7 Battalion ordered to proceed to LZ Albany? And who gave the order? Was it Col. Tim Brown? I'd be curious to know if he was ever held accountable for this massacre? What was the thinking, if any? (Yes, I did – USAFSS 1960-1964)

  34. 34
    alan warwick says:

    my father was in the special forces in burma during world war 2 he never talked about it.the men involved in the la drang must have suffered mental scars.only those who took part can only ever understand

  35. 35
    damned says:

    NVA may have been bombed into letting US troops leave in peace but
    it's hard to call that victory. That is because the definition of words must be agreed upon in advance of there use. The stated reason for US occupation of Vietnam was to stop communist take over. The US won it's battles but lost the war. This mistake seems to have been repeated
    in the middleeast war. The US military can win most fights, but the reason for engaging in that fight is lost.

  36. 36
    David Crosby says:

    Everything said and done..We should have left them alone..And told the French to take a hike….

    • 36.1
      Jeff Daley says:

      We all should be advocates of when our military is placed in harm’s way that;
      • The question of “Why” is answered prior to deployment.
      • The question of what is the goal for a winning situation is answered before deployment.
      • A commitment is made that our vets will have all that's necessary to protect themselves and the equipment needed for the fight.
      • An unwavering commitment to our returning vet’s that get them the treatment necessary to mainstream them back to civilian life.
      • No more Korea or Vietnam’s without a declaration of War.

      This includes a lower priority of Federal funding for Harry Reid’s Cowboy Poetry Festival in Nevada, over that of funding the VA for the treatment of our Vets. Of course this is just my opinion.

      Jeff Daley
      Vietnam Combat Vet

  37. 37
    Robert D Wiggins says:

    I served with F Troop 8th Cavalry as a Huey Cobra pilot in I Corps in 1969. I've read many articles and most books about the battle in the Ia Drang Valley. I'm not now nor ever been a "Hollywood" Hal Moore fan but have always been drawn to "the story" that was the battle of the Ia Drang… most intriguing !

  38. 38
    Tim Maynard says:

    You know whats sad we never hear about the Engagments on Nov-6-65. B4 Hal Moore and the 7th went in. My Grandfather gave his life in the ia drang he was on a search and destroy mission he was in ( C Co 2nd BT 8th Cav 1st Cav Div ABN) he was wounded in the leg when his platoon was caught in a ambush even though he was wounded him and another soilder found cover behind a tree and a enemy grenade fell between them with no regard for saving him selfe he shoved the soilder away from it and coverd the grenade with his body. he was killed 6 months b4 my Dad was born. For what my Grandpa did he was recomended for the medal of honor but idk why he did not recive it he gave his life upfor his country and for his friend i think he deserved to be honored with that award. im proud to be his Grandson. You all should read a book call " pleiku dawn of helecopter warfare in vietnam" By J.D Coleman

  39. 39

    [...] "Ia Drang: The battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win" [...]

  40. 40
    Gary Martin says:

    Good observation Bill. Gary Martin, former neighbor, S.E. 11th Street, Mineral Wells, TX

  41. 41

    [...] Ia Drang – The battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win [...]

  42. 42
    Larry says:

    THANKS!!!!!!! to all of you brave soldiers who fought in Vietnam. I was a kid when all this was happening. The draft ended before I was old enough and I never served in the military, but I had friends and family who did, and some of them were in Vietnam. I remember. You ALL deserve to be honored and should have received it then. In my household, you all were heroes!!!

  43. 43
    Dan Shepherd says:

    \But for his actions this night of November 3, John B. Stockton would be relieved of duty and sent to work a desk job in Saigon.\ Does anyone question why we lost the war?

  44. 44

    [...] casualties. Fred Heriaud, 21, was Kendall County’s first Vietnam casualty, getting killed in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley Dec. 17, 1965, a battle immortalized by Mel Gibson’s movie, “We Were Young.” Hans Brunner, [...]



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