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

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

by Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway
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We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345475817
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/23/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 44,353
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(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.

Table of Contents

Going to War
1.Heat of Battle9
2.The Roots of Conflict16
3.Boots and Saddles44
4.The Land and the Enemy58
5.Into the Valley73
6.The Battle Begins86
7.Closing with the Enemy101
8.The Storm of Battle121
9.Brave Aviators139
10.Fix Bayonets!156
11.Night Falls174
12.A Dawn Attack188
13.Friendly Fire205
14.Rescuing the Lost Platoon221
15.Night Fighters235
16.Policing the Battlefield249
17.It Ain't Over Till It's Over262
18.A Walk in the Sun277
19.Hell in a Very Small Place296
20.Death in the Tall Grass321
21.Escape and Evade344
22.Night without End356
23.The Sergeant and the Ghost375
24.Mentioned in Dispatches391
25."The Secretary of the Army Regrets..."413
26.Reflections and Perceptions434
AppendixWhere Have All the Young Men Gone?447
Interviews and Statements476
Chapter Notes480
Selected Bibliography513

What People are Saying About This

David Halberstam

"A stunning achievement."

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

"A great book of military history."

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We Were Soldiers Once ....and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 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 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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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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Guest More than 1 year ago
Im only on page 130 and this book is amazing.
beyer More than 1 year ago
good book
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