We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young: IA Drang - the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam

( 17 )

Overview

Each year, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps selects one book that he believes is both relevant and timeless for reading by all Marines. The Commandant's choice for 1993 was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young.
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days ...
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We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young: Ia Drang?The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam

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Overview

Each year, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps selects one book that he believes is both relevant and timeless for reading by all Marines. The Commandant's choice for 1993 was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young.
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War.
How these men persevered--sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up--makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating. General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This devastating account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man's most heroic and horrendous endeavor.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In November 1965, America's involvement in the Vietnam War was just beginning. When 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, commanded by Lt. General Harold "Hal" Moore, were dropped into a clearing in the Ia Drang Valley, they were immediately surrounded by more than 2,000 North Vietnamese troops. Another battalion was to take part in an intense battle less than two and a half miles away. The fighting would become some of the fiercest of the entire war. General Moore and journalist Joseph Galloway (the only journalist at the scene) recount the bravery displayed at Ia Drang.
From the Publisher
“A GUT-WRENCHING ACCOUNT OF WHAT WAR IS REALLY ALL ABOUT, which should be ‘must’ reading for all Americans, especially those who have been led to believe that war is some kind of Nintendo game.”
–GENERAL H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF

“Hal Moore and Joe Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war.”
–NEIL SHEEHAN, author of A Bright Shining Lie

“A powerful and epic story . . . This is the best account of infantry combat I have ever read, and the most significant book to come out of the Vietnam War.”
–COLONEL DAVID HACKWORTH, author of the bestseller About Face

From the Trade Paperback edition.

David Halberstam
A stunning achievement, a book that is not merely a book,but rather a monument to all the young men who were in thela Drang in those fateful November days—paper and words withthe permanence of marble. I read it and thought of The Red Badge of Courage, the highest compliment I can think of.
David Hackworth
A powerful and epic story . . . raw, gutty, and eye-stinging. This is the best account of infantry combat I have ever read, and the most significant book to come out of the Vietnam War.
New York Times Book Review
There are stories here that freeze the blood....The men who fought at Ia Drang could have no finer memorial than this one.
Wall Street Journal
Between experiencing combat and reading about it lies a vast chasm. But this book makes you almost smell it.
H. Norman Schwarzkopf
We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young is a great book of militaryhistory, written the way military history should be written. It is agut-wrenching account of what war is really about, which shouldbe 'must' reading for all Americans, especially those who havebeen led to believe that war is some kind of Nintendo game.
Wall Street Journal
Between experiencing combat and reading about it lies a vast chasm. But this book makes you almost smell it.
New York Times Book Review
There are stories here that freeze the blood....The men who fought at Ia Drang could have no finer memorial than this one.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On Nov. 14, 1965, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Moore and accompanied by UPI reporter Galloway, helicoptered into Vietnam's remote Ia Drang Valley and found itself surrounded by a numerically superior force of North Vietnamese regulars. Moore and Galloway here offer a detailed account, based on interviews with participants and on their own recollections, of what happened during the four-day battle. Much more than a conventional battle study, the book is a frank record of the emotional reactions of the GIs to the terror and horror of this violent and bloody encounter. Both sides claimed victory, the U.S. calling it a validation of the newly developed doctrine of airmobile warfare. Supplemented with maps, the memoir is a vivid re-creation of the first major ground battle of the Vietnam War.
Library Journal
Ia Drang, in November 1965, was the first major battle fought by U.S. troops in Vietnam. It was also one of the fiercest. As a lieutenant colonel, Moore commanded the battalion that initiated the fighting. War correspondent Galloway accompanied Moore's troopers from start to finish. We Were Soldiers Once movingly depicts Ia Drang through the eyes of junior officers and enlisted men of the 1st Cavalry Division and their North Vietnamese opponents. The authors convincingly present Ia Drang as an archetype of a self-defeating U.S. strategy that emphasized wearing down a determined and skillful enemy on the battlefield. The result was an unacceptably high level of American losses for the results achieved. One of this book's most telling episodes is its depiction of an army so unprepared to deal with casualties that some telegrams notifying families of a son or husband killed at Ia Drang were delivered by Yellow Cab! Recommended for all collections.-- D.E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Acad., Colorado Springs
Roland Green
This extraordinary account of the two major engagements in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965 is one of the year's best books about the Vietnam War. Written by one of the battalion commanders in the battle and a journalist who witnessed it, the book draws comprehensively on both published sources and survivors' accounts. The result provides a portrait of the U.S. Army at the opening of the Vietnam War as well as gripping accounts of infantry combat that exceed in emotional impact the majority of war novels. Additional dimension is added through the contributions of the widows and orphans of some of the battle's dead. It is impossible to imagine any significant Vietnam collection's being without this book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345472649
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/29/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 465,129
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold G. Moore was born in Kentucky and is a West Point graduate, a master parachutist, and an Army aviator. He commanded two infantry companies in the Korean War and was a battalion and brigade commander in Vietnam. He retired from the Army in 1977 with thirty-two years' service and then was executive vice president of a Colorado ski resort for four years before founding a computer software company. An avid outdoorsman, Moore and his wife, Julie, divide their time between homes in Auburn, Alabama, and Crested Butte, Colorado.
Joseph L. Galloway is a native Texan. At seventeen he was a reporter on a daily newspaper, at nineteen a bureau chief for United Press International. He spent fifteen years as a foreign and war correspondent based in Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Singapore, and the Soviet Union. Now a senior writer with U.S. News & World Report, he covered the Gulf War and coauthored Triumph Without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War. Galloway lives with his wife, Theresa, and sons, Lee and Joshua, on a farm in northern Virginia.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watch'd
And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars...
-Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One, Act II, Scene 3

This story is about time and memories. The time was 1965, a different kind of year, a watershed year when one era was ending in America and another was beginning. We felt it then, in the many ways our lives changed so suddenly, so dramatically, and looking back on it from a quarter-century gone we are left in no doubt. It was the year America decided to directly intervene in the Byzantine affairs of obscure and distant Vietnam. It was the year we went to war. In the broad, traditional sense, that "we" who went to war was all of us, all Americans, though in truth at that time the larger majority had little knowledge of, less interest in, and no great concern with what was beginning so far away.

So this story is about the smaller, more tightly focused "we" of that sentence: the first American combat troops, who boarded World War II-era troopships, sailed to that little-known place, and fought the first major battle of a conflict that would drag on for ten long years and come as near to destroying America as it did to destroying Vietnam.

The Ia Drang campaign was to the Vietnam War what the terrible Spanish Civil War of the 1930s was to World War II: a dress rehearsal; the place where new tactics, techniques, and weapons were tested, perfected, and validated. In the Ia Drang, both sides claimed victory and both sides drew lessons, some of them dangerously deceptive, which echoed and resonated throughout the decade of bloody fighting and bitter sacrifice that was to come.

This is about what we did, what we saw, what we suffered in a thirty-four-day campaign in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands of South Vietnam in November 1965, when we were young and confident and patriotic and our countrymen knew little and cared less about our sacrifices.

Another war story, you say? Not exactly, for on the more important levels this is a love story, told in our own words and by our own actions. We were the children of the 1950s and we went where we were sent because we loved our country. We were draftees, most of us, but we were proud of the opportunity to serve that country just as our fathers had served in World War II and our older brothers in Korea. We were members of an elite, experimental combat division trained in the new art of airmobile warfare at the behest of President John F. Kennedy.

Just before we shipped out to Vietnam the Army handed us the colors of the historic 1st Cavalry Division and we all proudly sewed on the big yellow-and-black shoulder patches with the horsehead silhouette. We went to war because our country asked us to go, because our new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered us to go, but more importantly because we saw it as our duty to go. That is one kind of love.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
Going to War
1. Heat of Battle 9
2. The Roots of Conflict 16
3. Boots and Saddles 44
4. The Land and the Enemy 58
X-Ray
5. Into the Valley 73
6. The Battle Begins 86
7. Closing with the Enemy 101
8. The Storm of Battle 121
9. Brave Aviators 139
10. Fix Bayonets! 156
11. Night Falls 174
12. A Dawn Attack 188
13. Friendly Fire 205
14. Rescuing the Lost Platoon 221
15. Night Fighters 235
16. Policing the Battlefield 249
17. It Ain't Over Till It's Over 262
Albany
18. A Walk in the Sun 277
19. Hell in a Very Small Place 296
20. Death in the Tall Grass 321
21. Escape and Evade 344
22. Night without End 356
23. The Sergeant and the Ghost 375
Aftermath
24. Mentioned in Dispatches 391
25. "The Secretary of the Army Regrets..." 413
26. Reflections and Perceptions 434
Epilogue 444
Appendix Where Have All the Young Men Gone? 447
Acknowledgments 471
Interviews and Statements 476
Chapter Notes 480
Selected Bibliography 513
Index 519
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First Chapter

Prologue


In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watch'd
And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars...
-Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One, Act II, Scene 3

This story is about time and memories. The time was 1965, a different kind of year, a watershed year when one era was ending in America and another was beginning. We felt it then, in the many ways our lives changed so suddenly, so dramatically, and looking back on it from a quarter-century gone we are left in no doubt. It was the year America decided to directly intervene in the Byzantine affairs of obscure and distant Vietnam. It was the year we went to war. In the broad, traditional sense, that "we" who went to war was all of us, all Americans, though in truth at that time the larger majority had little knowledge of, less interest in, and no great concern with what was beginning so far away.

So this story is about the smaller, more tightly focused "we" of that sentence: the first American combat troops, who boarded World War II-era troopships, sailed to that little-known place, and fought the first major battle of a conflict that would drag on for ten long years and come as near to destroying America as it did to destroying Vietnam.

The Ia Drang campaign was to the Vietnam War what the terrible Spanish Civil War of the 1930s was to World War II: a dress rehearsal; the place where new tactics, techniques, and weapons were tested, perfected, and validated. In the Ia Drang, both sides claimed victory and both sides drew lessons, some of them dangerously deceptive, which echoed and resonated throughout the decade of bloody fighting and bitter sacrifice that was to come.

This is aboutwhat we did, what we saw, what we suffered in a thirty-four-day campaign in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands of South Vietnam in November 1965, when we were young and confident and patriotic and our countrymen knew little and cared less about our sacrifices.

Another war story, you say? Not exactly, for on the more important levels this is a love story, told in our own words and by our own actions. We were the children of the 1950s and we went where we were sent because we loved our country. We were draftees, most of us, but we were proud of the opportunity to serve that country just as our fathers had served in World War II and our older brothers in Korea. We were members of an elite, experimental combat division trained in the new art of airmobile warfare at the behest of President John F. Kennedy.

Just before we shipped out to Vietnam the Army handed us the colors of the historic 1st Cavalry Division and we all proudly sewed on the big yellow-and-black shoulder patches with the horsehead silhouette. We went to war because our country asked us to go, because our new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered us to go, but more importantly because we saw it as our duty to go. That is one kind of love.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    American Courage at its Most Poignant

    I was not even alive during the Vietnam war and the only feelings I gather that were prevalent at the time are old news clips of anti-war protests and movies like "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket" that painted the war as disturbing; what war isn't disturbing? "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young" gave me a detailed, realistic account not of the politics of the war but of the essence of war itself.
    Too often we find ourselves so wrapped up in the politics of war that we forget the most important aspect of the discussion which is the valor, courage, and life of our soldiers. The book highlights these redeeming qualities of war time virtues and sets soldiers in the context of a battle with bullets, blood, and brutality. It allows us a glance and a vicarious interaction with the men of the Air Cav as well as the men in the tan uniforms on the other side.
    We are reminded what war is really about, for those of us who have not experienced it and who may not know, it is about the man next to you in battle. It is about the man or the men who have been cut off from the rest of the group whose lives are being held on a very thin and quickly deteriorating string. It is about the guy who operates the artillery pieces five miles away who does not see the carnage or the faces of death but who through his efforts saves countless lives and prevents more carnage and death.
    I fully agree with General H.Norman Schwarzkopf, that this "should be 'must' reading for all Americans, especially those who have been led to believe that war is some kind of Nintendo game." You become absorbed in the death as well as the brotherhood of battle. You learn such virtues as "heroism and sacrifice." If you want to know the raw essence of war, read this book. It is raw, realistic, and unscathed by the body of politics; an instant classic in the genre of military non-fiction and epic.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Amazing Story

    Written by the most important man in the battle and a reporter. This book goes great with the movie. Once you read the book, the movie makes much more sense. One of my favorites.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 7, 2013

    Poignant, brutally honest, and heartbreaking recollections of ou

    Poignant, brutally honest, and heartbreaking recollections of our heroes in Vietnam. H
    Help honor these men and their loved ones by reading this book.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 2, 2014

    Great Book!!!

    I now understand a little bit of what the Vietnam War means to the soldiers who were there and the families who lived through this war.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

       We Were Soldiers Once¿ And Young narrates the gripping story

       We Were Soldiers Once… And Young narrates the gripping story of the first major battles in the Vietnam War: LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany. This book masterfully recreates every element of both battles; it makes you feel like you were really there. You fly in with every soldier, fight with every soldier, and watch as your brothers in arms die beside you. The book leaves you with an incredible sense of loss at the numerous American soldiers dead before their time and with a strong feeling of thanks for those who continue to fight for the United States of America.
       Landing Zone X-Ray is the main focus of the book, as General (then Colonel) Hal Moore commands the battalion that landed here, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry. Nothing is left out; the entire harrowing account of the actions at LZ X-Ray is vividly recreated in the words of this book. Every moment of the battle is described, from the initial landing to the loss of Lt. Henry Herrick’s 2nd platoon, Bravo Company to the final policing of the battlefield. In addition to the heroic events that took place at LZ X-Ray, the book also describes the battle at Landing Zone Albany only some miles away where the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry was nearly destroyed. Unlike X-Ray, Gen. Hal Moore was not present at LZ Albany, but there is no loss of detail or story. The joy, suspense, and grief of the tale at LZ Albany is conveyed masterfully.
       This is not the type of book that spends half of its words setting up the scene; it throws you right into the action. However, this does not mean to say that there is no element of set-up to the story as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chapters provide significant background information. Although this background information is more than sufficient to provide background to the story, it was difficult to visualize the structure of the army (Platoon-Company-Battalion-Division) during the first chapters without previously knowing it. Additionally, in order to fully understand the story as well as the people and groups within the battle at X-Ray, you need to know the geography of LZ X-Ray and where each platoon was positioned as well as the dates they were positioned there (don’t worry, there are multiple maps in the front of the book that illustrate these subjects).
       We Were Soldiers Once… And Young led me on an emotional and philosophical rollercoaster. It made me question why the US went to Vietnam and what the results were. It made me laugh, bite my nails, smile, and cry (the last portion of the book describes the aftermath and the reception back in America), and I loved it. While the sometimes purely factual writing style may not appeal to some, the message of heroism, selflessness, loyalty, and sacrifice had me immersed in the story of the battle at Ia Drang from page one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2013

    Great

    Grear

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2011

    best book i ever read- and i read a lot

    on a pace scale from 1-10, 10 being maximum ride, this book is a 15. don't start it unless you have time because it is extreamly hard to put down. you have to know more than the average joe about war to read it though. i recomend reading it while listening to music

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  • Posted April 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Way better than the movie, with Mel Gibson & Barry Pepper

    good book

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