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

4.4 42 5 1
by Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679411581
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/1992
Edition description: 1st ed
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 232,918
Product dimensions: 6.41(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.41(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt


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.

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We Were Soldiers Once ....and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
HomeriusMark More than 1 year ago
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.
BillCA More than 1 year ago
I read extensively and primarily military history. We Were Soldiers Once… And Young, is one of the best. Well researched and well written. It is truly a story every American should read. Hal Moore describes each battle with clarity and emotion, describing the extreme valor and dedication of the American soldier. He also addresses the failings of American policy in Viet Nam and the mistakes of senior leadership, civilian and military. Truly a must read book.
TheCollinParsonsProject More than 1 year ago
   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.
goosegaurd35 More than 1 year ago
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.
jessearias More than 1 year ago
I read this in conjunction with a Vietnam history course I was taking in college. This book explains so much more than could ever be taught in college. It also gives an honest assessment of war and its results. A must read for any military buff or historian.
KerrProp More than 1 year ago
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.
OMOCAM More than 1 year ago
Poignant, brutally honest, and heartbreaking recollections of our heroes in Vietnam. H Help honor these men and their loved ones by reading this book.  
Anonymous 7 months ago
Fiction We Were Soldiers Once and Young X-Ray part. page references are from the hardback. FICTION: Fabarication applies particulary to a false but carefully invented statement or a series of statements, in which some truth is sometimes interwoven, the whole usually intended to deceive. "The Greatest Hero" from "Sergio Aragon's GROO the wanderer. Marvel GROO 70 October 1990 "People everywhere are smitten- With a tale that is written. Once a hero's deeds are known- They're as good as etched in stone. Every word, folks take to heart- And think this makes them very smart. Amazing how the very wise- Never stop to realize- That what they read may not be true- It's but one person's point- of -view . Now, though he may be quite a terror- GROO will never make this error. Not one lie will e'ar he read- And find its way into his head. All false writeings are deferred- From he who canot read one word. Groo Moral: Even when the words are true the may not speak the truth Groo. Can you make Col. Klink ( Moore ) and Rambo the Reporter (Galloway ) into hero's? Pages from the hardback. We Were Soldiers Once And Young. Lt. Col. Moore was the Col. Klink of the war. He knew nothing, nothing. Page 17 Moore's new concepts & techniques were written in the 1950's FM 57-35 Army Transport Avation- Combat Operations, 1963 FM 57-35 Airmobile Operations. by Officers he worked with? in 1957. Moore in 1957 "I was in on the concept of Airmobility with Gavin, Norton, Seneff Williams". With 2 1/2 years writing, 1 1/2 years training in Airmobile tatics in the 11Air Assault Division Test, for a total of 4 years and yet he retained nothing about Airmobile tatics. Moore was in the Airborne Branch, Not AirAssault. Page 37 Crandall "Moore wanted Aviation present, to be part of his Staff". Moore, Crandall or his ALO had to coordinate the flight time from Plei Me to X-Ray, flight routes, fire support, resuppy, Medevac Huey. Moore couldnt plan the operation with out Crandall ( aviation ) present. Page 60 As Crandall flared the huey to land at Landing Zone X-Ray Moore & his troops starts firing their weapons. FM 57-35 There is no firing from the helicopter during flight, landing or any other time. Pity the troop to their right a face full of hot brass, left ear drums ringing, brass on floor or getting caught in the Huey's controls Moore who had been listening to the battle of Landing Zone Albany on the radio voluntered for the 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry to go to Columbus to guard the artillary. So the 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry could go and reinforce ALBANY. MYTHS of The Ia Drang Valley Some Officers even Kinnard stated that Moore voluntered to go into ALBANY but he didn’t. And from Persons in the book, That Moore and Galloway write good about give in return and adds to the MYTHS about the 1/7 and Moore. One Reporter Bob Poos of Soldier of Fortune writes, that Moore and the 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry was the ones who relived the Plie me camp. Soldier of Fortune March 83 page 29-30 ARVN AMBUSH 3rd column last 2 paragraphs. Plie Me did get relief- with a vengeance- from the 1st Cavalry Division. Through a strange coincidance, the camp commander, Capt Harold Moore, Learned later that much of the relief force was commanded by a name sake, Lt. Col. Harold Moore commander of the 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry. When in fact it was my old unit the 2nd Battalion 8th Cavalry. Capt George Forrest when he spoke to the Old Guard said Lt. Col. Moor
RollyJJ More than 1 year ago
I gave this book five stars simply because it is so well written and interesting. No wonder the USMC recommends it as a read.
NY-Independent76 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A vivid retelling of the intense battle for the Ia Drang valley.
mr_rhumba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Painful tale of an early war shellac-ing.
lassiter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best books on the combat soldier in Vietnam. Told from two men that were at the first major battle of the war. Good job looking at the soul of the American combat soldier.
bespen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book made the war in Vietnam present again, 45 years later. The best account I have ever read of a battle from the point of view of the men who fought it, backed up with some of the larger details that give context. Moore didn't say as much as he could have, but if you know a bit about the history of the Vietnam War you can fill in the gaps with what he does say. Many of the things the military does today are based on lessons learned from this battle, and others like it.One of the blurbers described this book as eye-stinging. I can't think of a better word for my emotional reaction. The citizen soldiers who fought at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany displayed incredible courage and grit. I was struck by the difference between this book and books of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military that fights in the sandbox today is very different than that of the Vietnam War. Many of today's shooters are professionals, career military men who provide structure to an all-volunteer force that is increasingly disengaged with wider society.Moore's men were a combination of conscripts and volunteers, but they were the best of citizen soldiers, non-professionals who shouldered a tough job for a short time in solidarity with their countrymen. One of the best parts of the book is Moore and Galloway's homage "Where have all the young men gone?". They tracked down as many of the men who fought at Ia Drang as possible, and told their stories after the battle. These were men from every walk of life, so the impact of their lives and deaths was diffused throughout society. This was the last great hurrah of the citizen soldier, and he fought damn well.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't fault the intentions of the authors to honor the sacrifices on both sides of this battle, nor their evident dedication to get the facts right. There's a blurb in the back from General Norman Schwarzkopf recommending the book as a corrective to those who view warfare as a video game. If I were a military professional I'd certainly consider this invaluable. But despite the fact this was a bestseller, I don't see this as a book to interest a general reader not particularly fascinated by military stories or the Vietnam War. It doesn't have the intensity and feeling of immediacy of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down. To anyone considering joining the armed forces--or any citizen wanting to get a sense that warfare isn't a video game--well I'd recommend either the book or film of Black Hawk Down. I'm sure it helps that the Battle of Mogadishu it depicts happened in the age of video and audio recording, with media rolling the cameras and with Bowden able to get very fresh impressions of the encounter from all sides--the book came out only six years after the battle. We Were Soldiers Once which tells of the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam in 1965 was written in 1992--decades later. Nevertheless, Stephen Ambrose in his works about World War II (Bands of Brothers among others) manages to be engrossing, insightful and moving. So does Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels about the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War--written over a century later. Harold G. Moore actually commanded a battalion in the field in Ia Drang. His author Joseph L. Galloway, a war correspondent, was there too. But they simply aren't comparable as writers to Bowden, Ambrose or Shaara. Too dry, too technical--the kind of book that makes your eyes glaze over and is a slog to read.
Hiromatsuo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A vivid retelling of a savage series of battles that took place in the early years of the Vietnam War. Moore and Galloway tell things as they happened. The language is very matter-of-fact. That is to say, it's not eloquent, flashy, or super-embellished, they (along with the comments of various other veterans of those battles) just tell you how it was.It's a gripping read with a very realistic edge to it, and combined with the film "We Were Soldiers" (which only depicts the battle at LZ X-Ray, you come to an understanding of just how brutal and fierce these engagements were. There were a few points where I did get a bit confused as to who was talking and/or where things were in the chronology of events, but overall, it was easy to follow.Recommendation: Read this book, then see the film, then read "We Are Soldiers Still".
theancientreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Unlike some of my reviews, I plan to keep this one rather short. With the number of reviews here, most of what I would say would be rather redundant. Suffice to say that I have not read a book that touched me more in quite some time now. While I was not there, as I was serving in another area at this time, I did have friends who were; some made it out, others did not. I cannot imagine the horror they went through in the brief time this battle took place and I doubt very much if anyone who was not there could make that claim.This work is a very personal unit history of one battle during the Viet Nam War. It is a document which covers the first real use of our Air Assault Forces; the first time they were used on this scale against a very well trained and dedicated opponent. This battle took place during the month of November 1965 in the Ia Drang Valley. Between October 23 and November 26, 1965 305 American soldiers were killed in what is know as the Pleiku campaign. There were many, many wounded, both physically and emotionally. The total number of Vietnamese killed and wounded will never be known, but it is felt that it numbered in the thousands.The book itself is a rather personal book, and as one reviewer has pointed out, it is probably one of the best accounts of small unit combat since The Red Badge of Courage. I not that there has been some criticism that the book spent too much time detailing and naming individuals who participated in this engagement, naming names, home towns, backgrounds and ultimate fate on the battle field. Good grief people, many of these young men are either dead or quite old now. I personally feel that Lt. Gen Moore would have been less than honorable to not have noted as many of these men as he possibly could have. Their names need to be remembered. Moore should be applauded for this and his efforts to tell their stories.I also note that there is criticism from some of the arm chair soldiers as to tactics, etc. Again, good grief! Under the circumstances I doubt seriously if another group of officers and men could have done any better nor made a better account of themselves. As to those critical of Moore¿s and Galloway¿s writing style¿again, get real! To be quite frank and blunt, no one really cares about your literary pontifications; they simply are not relevant here, and are sort of pathetic. If you want smooth action, and a flowing story, go see a John Wayne movie or read one of those God Awful Mack Bolan books. The Viet Nam War was a war that almost split this nation apart. I certainly am not going near that debate in this review. I will say though, that no matter what side of the coin you were on, this is one that all should read. We have young men and women in harms way at this time, and Americans need to know just what some of these young people are going though. In a way, it does not matter who won this battle or who lost. The fact is that many brave men, on both sides, gave their all and they should be remembered and honored. This is by no means an endorsement of war or an attempt to glorify war as only a complete fool would do such, it is though an honorable attempt to honor those that deserve it. This was a wonderful work on so many levels and I do recommend it be read by all. Don BlankenshipThe Ozarks
foof2you on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This a story of a battle in Vietnam, the problem with American involvement and the tenacity of the enemy. A powerful story of the courage of soildiers in the heat of battle. This story is told with remarkable clarity by Moore.
bherner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was impressed by the respect shown by the authors to the enemy.
MacsTomes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I only read 193 pages. How do you rate a nonfiction book like this? I realize that there was incredible courage shown by these men, BUT for what? Incredibly overwhelming odds in favor of GIs yet the NVA put up a valiant, effective fight causing horrific casualities on both sides. I've read many accounts of war. For me it must be more personalized, such as the personal accounts of Farley Mowat, Paul Fussell, & Norman Mailer.
meegeekai on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book!! Harold Moore is a hero of mine. I use examples of his thought processes during the Battle of Ia Drang in sales and management training. The movie did not do the book justice unfortunately, and well Mel Gibson was probably mis-cast. This is a gripping book and a must read for those interested in the Vietnam War.
donttalktofreaks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully told story of Ia Drang as one of the most important battles during the Viet Nam War.
ngennaro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
4/2004 Excellent book and movie. Goes along well with any of Hackworth's books. Sad to read about the death and destruction but another example of men who fight for their country despite the odds, environment and pain they know they will endure if not immediately than for the rest of their lives. These men are true heroes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We Were Soldiers Once... And Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph Galloway is a remarkable story of an event that has shaped history. The things that these men have done for our country will never be forgotten. This book shows some first hand experiences from the eyes of those who lived it. It describes some intense and truly unreal incidents in the Ia Drang Valley. As U.S. forces are dramatically outnumbered, they fight bravely, and they fight hard against the North Vietnamese Army. They are some of the first soldiers to use the new Helicopter attack strategies used to quickly mobilize soldiers. Personally I really like this book because it shows the little things that the movie doesn't show. Yes, there is a movie, and its good, but as usual, the book is much better. If your into military related books, or if you just want to read a good book, then I'd highly recommend this one. If your the type of person that doesn't want to read some graphic material this book is not for you. Theres nothing about this book that I don't like. This book scores an easy 5/5 for me.
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