Skip to comments.There Wasn't a Single Communist North Vietnamese Army Soldier inside a then Free South Vietnam
Posted on 11/12/2004 9:16:06 PM PST by Calpernia
Xray Day 1, 14 Nov 1965
Lead elements of the under strength 450 man 1st Bn, 7th Cavalry air assault into a small clearing in scrub jungle below the 2300 foot Chu Pong Massif. Within an hour, a fierce battle is underway between the American Air Cav troopers and the aggressive 9th Bn of the 66th Regiment of the Peoples Army of Vietnam - North Vietnamese Regulars. The American Commander, Lt. Col Moore, fighting on the ground with his men, is faced with three on-going tasks to be accomplished simultaneously:
* Shuttle in the rest of his men from 14 miles to the rear on 16 Huey helicopters
* Holding onto the clearing so that the Hueys can land and take off
* Carry the fight to the numerically superior force as far into the jungle as possible so as to control the edges of the clearing
It is quickly apparent that the enemy force is determined to overrun and kill every American on the field. The afternoon is consumed in a desperate fire-storm battle for survival in 100 degree heat for Moore and his men as the PAVN commander throws the 7th Bn of the 66th and a composite battalion of the 33rd Regt in a furious attack against the 7th Cavalry left flank and center. In the action, a 29 man Cavalry platoon is surrounded by 200 enemy. Employing massive air and artillery fire support, the disciplined Cavalrymen hold onto the landing zone clearing against 7-1 odds and cause the PAVN units to fall back and break contact by late afternoon. During the action, brave Huey pilots land their choppers under fire during the action to bring in ammo and water and carry out wounded. A reinforcing Cavalry company flies in just before dark.
During the fighting that day, the 1st Bn, 7th Cavalry is reduced to approximately 340 officers and men; none missing. PAVN casualties are much higher due to awesome American fire support; six enemy are captured and evacuated.
X-Ray Day 2
Before dawn, Moore orders his company commanders to meet him prior to an attack to rescue the still cut-off platoon. Before this meeting takes place, the PAVN launch a heavy attack which shatters the early-morning stillness like a huge explosion. The attack is carried out by the 7th Bn, 66th Regiment and the H-15 Main Force Viet Cong Bn.
C Company of the Cavalry Battalion bears the brunt of the assault and is soon involved in hand to hand combat. The right portion of D/1/7 is also struck. The code word "Broken Arrow" is sent out over the radio by the Battalion Forward Air Controller. Within minutes, all available fighter bombers in South Vietnam are headed for X-ray to render close air support to "an American unit in grave danger of being overrun". A 3 hour battle that features non-stop 105mm artillery (8" artillery also participated), aerial rockets, and determined American Infantrymen, results in Charlie Company holding it's ground in a stunning display of personal courage and unit discipline. But it pays a terrible price - no officers left and only 49 men unhurt. 42 officers and men killed; 20 wounded. Scores of slain North Vietnamese and their weapons litter the bloody battleground.
"An as their firin' dies away, the 'usky wisper runs, from lips that 'aven't drunk all day: The guns! Thank Gawd, the guns!"
- Rudyard Kipling
At noon, the 2nd Bn, 5th Cavalry marches into X-ray from a landing zone 2 miles east. Joining with the 7th Cavalry parent company of the cut-off platoon, it continues out unopposed, rescues it, and brings it back with all wounded and dead. Of the 29 man platoon, 9 killed and 13 wounded. When reached, the platoon, which had lost its Platoon leader, Platoon Sgt, and one Squad leader killed, had ammo left to fight with under the leadership of a 3 stripe "Buck Sergeant" Squad Leader (SGT Savage).
C Co 1/7 Cav survivors are replaced on line by the fresh B Co 2nd Bn, 7th Cavalry. The battalion now forms a strong perimeter and prepares for more action in the night. All American dead and wounded are evacuated.
Xray Day 3, 16 Nov 1965
The PAVN Commander, knows that he had severely weakened and damaged the defenders in the Charlie Co sector the previous morning. What he does not know is that a fresh company - B Co 2nd Bn 7th Cav, had taken over the position after that engagement. That company, unmolested the previous afternoon, had cut fields of fire, dug new foxholes, fired in artillery concentrations, carefully emplaced it's machine guns and piled up ammunition.
The PAVN assaults four separate times beginning at 4:22 AM. The last is at 6:27 AM. They are stopped cold, losing over 200 dead. B Co has 6 wounded. At 9:55 AM, a sweep outward is made which results in more enemy dead and the position secured.
At 10:40 AM, the 1st Bn, 7th Cavalry, having lost 79 men killed and 121 wounded is ordered back to the rear for reorganization. By 3:00 PM, 1/7 CAV had turned over X-ray to the 2nd Bn, 5th Cav and the 2nd Bn, 7th CAV and is flying back to the Camp Holloway airfield at Pleiku City.
At the conclusion of X-ray, the sister battalion of 1/7 CAV, 2/7 CAV, was ordered to march to Landing Zone Albany for extraction from the battle area and to get out of the beaten area for an impending B52 strike. The fight of 2/7 CAV at Albany is the next chapter of the Ia Drang Campaign.
Albany. Day 1, 17 Nov 65
A B-52 strike of 800 500 pound bombs (200 tons) is headed for the near slopes of Chu Pong Mountain above X-Ray early on 17 November scheduled to drop at 11:17 AM. To get out of the danger zone, both Cavalry Battalions are ordered out of X-Ray. 2/5 CAV leads enroute to the Artillery position at LZ Columbus. 2/7 CAV follows with orders to break off shy of Columbus and head for a small clearing 1.5 miles to the Northwest. 2/5 CAV reaches Columbus and goes into position without any problems. The head of the 2/7 CAV column captures two PAVN soldiers at 11:57 AM 100 yards east of Albany.
The battalion column stops while the prisoners are interrogated. The lead Company Commander, A/2/7, puts out observation posts. Weary troopers in the column, after over 50 hours without decent rest or sleep, sit down and take a break. Some light up cigarettes, some remove packs, radios, mortars, etc. Others lie down. Visibility in the 3-5 foot high grass is extremely limited.
Albany. Day 1, 17 Nov 1965
The 2/7 CAV Battalion Command Group and A Co 2/7 CAV reach Albany after interrogating the two PAVN prisoners. All Company Commanders are called forward and begin arriving at the clearing. The column is 550 yards long. C Company and A/1/5 put out flank security. PAVN soldiers of the fresh 8th Bn, 66th Regt (which had not seen action) deploy down the Northeast side of the column. Survivors of the 33rd PAVN Regiment deploy at the head of the 2/7 column.
Albany. Days 1-4, 17 - 20 Nov 1965
At 1:20 PM, PAVN mortar rounds explode in the clearing and down the length of the column of American companies followed by a violent assault which fragments the column into small groups.
When the firing begins, the Cavalrymen drop into the tall 3-5 foot high elephant grass where it is impossible for the soldiers of either side to identify friend or foe except at extremely close range. Within minutes, the situation becomes a wild melee, a shoot-out, with the gunfighters killing not only the enemy but sometimes their friends just a few feet away. When the firing begins, Captain George Forrest, commander of A Co 1/5 CAV (attached to 2/7 CAV), turns on his heels with his 2 radio operators, runs back 500 yards to his company and "circles the wagons". His two radio operators are killed beside him during that run.
For the next two hours, the battle roars. A-1E Skyraiders are brought in dropping napalm and 250 pound bombs which slow down the enemy actions, and the fire slackens. Artillery is brought in. By dark, B Co, 2/7 CAV had landed to reinforce Albany. There is now a small perimeter at Albany and one at the tail of the column. In between are American survivors being hounded and killed throughout the night. Also, in the night, a few isolated Americans escape and evade; trying to make it to the artillery position at Columbus.
When daylight breaks on the morning of 18 November, it is a quiet and tense battlefield. Survivors begin the grim task of recovering American dead from the intermingled bodies of both sides. One platoon leader describes the scene down the 2/7 column as "a long, bloody traffic accident in the jungle". Wounded and dead are evacuated.
By the 19th, evacuation of the wounded and dead is complete. On 20 Nov, after 3 days and nights on that bloody, hellish, haunted battleground, the survivors of 2/7 CAV are airlifted out. 403 PAVN dead are reported and an estimated 150 wounded. Total American casualties at Albany: 151 killed, 121 wounded and 4 missing in action. In April 1966, the remains of all 4 of the missing are recovered.
The first two Communist North Vietnamese Regular POW's of the Battle of IA DRANG fresh from LZ X-RAY are escorted from Helicopter to Helicopter at LZ FALCON by members of the HHC, 1/7 Cav. Associated Press Photographer is running to the right to get in front of them to take the picture that is in 'WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE....AND YOUNG.' Shadow of me taking this picture is at lower left. I consider this Picture one of the best. Notice M-16 POW wounded knee on one of the POW's in the middle of the picture.
Yet this photo of two such captured NVA Soldiers was taken on November 15, 1965...
Wow! What a great website! Can you tell us more about these pictures? Share some more stories? :)
I still rmeber waking up on my birthday in 1965 and going to breakfast in the frat-house, picking up a copy of the LA Times and reading about the battle.
A few years later, I had the honor of fighting in Garry Owen.
3rd Bde, HHC, 1stCavDiv.
Thank you for serving!
Can you share any stories?
I ahven't any stories to tell regarding X-ray/Albany, except to say by the time I came through Benning OCS these battles were enshrined in 1st Cav, and Army, history.
I read somewhere else that when LBJ and Strange McNamara heard about the combiuned casualties of X-ray/Albany, they lost the starch from their fatigues.
Airmobility was conceptualized with the Howze Board, put into practice with the early 1st Cav's exploits, and by the timme I got there, it was a well-oiled machine.
We owed much to the pioneers.
x1stcav, Thank you for contributing! But please, I don't understand what you just said. See, I'm a victim of NEA. I honestly did not know what Vietnam was until I JUST STARTED reading about it.
Vietnam is no longer mentioned in schools. This started years ago. I graduated from public school in 1986. I've been through college with a double major.
You want to really laugh? I never knew who the first world war was fought against until my husband told me just withing the past 2 years.
So please, what you said really sounds interesting. Can you expand?
Thank you for your interest, Freeper Calpernia.
Since I was Lt. Col. HAL G. MOORE's 1st Radioman / Driver / Orderly in Vietnam he gave closer access to me and my cameras than just about anybody else in the Battalion after he made me his 7th Cavalry S-1 Personnel Clerk just before the IA DRANG Campaign.
I carried 2 half frame slide cameras, one hanging down from each shoulder strap, and started taking photos after egressing from our Huey and Chinook Helicopters.
My personal Vietnam Story is shared in my Thread titled:
'WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE..& YOUNG'..4 FREEDOM
My resulting Perspectives are shared in our:
"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Forum
My being ..'A Witness to the Heroism of Many'.. Book Contribution can be found in:
'MODERN DAY HEROES: In Defense of America'
Hit: 'Rescource Center'
Hit: 'Aloha Ronnie'
Evening to you!
This is interesting!
'WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE...& YOUNG'...4 FEEEDOM
...Excerpt from the PROLOGUE to this 1992 New York Times Bestseller & 1993 Commandant of the Marine Corps - Book of the Year- ........"The Class of 1965 came out of the old America, a nation that disappeared forever in the smoke that billowed off the Jungle Battlegrounds where we faught and bled. The country that sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. -IT NO LONGER EXISTED-. We answered the call of one President who is now dead (LBJ); we followed the orders of one who would be hounded from office (Nixon), and haunted, by the war he mismanaged so badly. Many of our countrymen came to hate the war we faught. Those who hated it the most - the professionally sensitive - were not, in the end, sensitive enough to differentiate between the war and the soldiers who had been ordered to fight it. They hated us as well, and -WE WENT TO GROUND- in the crossfire as we had learned in the jungles. ...In Time our battles were forgotten, our sacrifices were discounted, and both our sanity and our suitablity for life in polite Amercan Society were publically questioned. Our young - Old Faces, chiseled and gaunt from the fever and the heat and the sleepless nights, now stare back at us, lost and damned strangers, frozen in yellowing snapshots packed away in cardboard boxes with our medals and ribbons. ...We built our lives, found jobs or professions, married, raised families, and -WAITED PATIENTLY FOR AMERICA TO COME TO ITS SENSES-. As the years past we searched each other out and found that the half-remembered pride of our service was shared by those who had shared everything else with us. With them, and only with them, could we talk about what had really happened over there --- what we had seen, what we had done, what we had survived. ...We knew what Vietnam had been like, and how we looked and acted and talked and smelled. No one in America did. Hollywood got it wrong every damned time, whetting twisted political knives on the bones of our dead brothers. ...So once, just this once: This is how it all began, what it was really like, what it meant to us, and what we meant to each other. It was no movie. When it was over the dead did not get up and dust themselves off and walk away. The wounded did not wash away the red and go on with life, unhurt. Those who were, miraculously, unscratched were by no means untouched. Not one of us left Vietnam the same young man he was when he arrived."
.."This story, then, is our testament, and our tribute to 234 young Americans who died beside us during four days in Landing Zone X-Ray and Landing Zone Albany in the Valley of Death, 1965. That is more Americans than were killed in any regiment, North or South, at the Battle of GETTYSBURG ...for we were soldiers once...and young." ...Signed:..ALOHA RONNIE, VET-HHC, 1/7th Cavalry-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 www.lzxray.com
We Were Soldiers, TNT, Friday 9pm EST, Saturday 8pm EST, Sunday 8pm EST
In a place soon to be known as The Valley of Death, in a small clearing called landing zone X-Ray, Lt. Colonel Hal Moore (Mel Gibson) and 400 young fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons, all troopers from an elite American combat division, were surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history. We Were Soldiers Once...And Young is a tribute to the nobility of those men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another.
Wow! Aloha, are you trying to tell me you influenced a movie?
You information was used? Please, no links without stories! Tell us more!