Skip to comments.Brothers of Vietnam's first battle meet
Posted on 07/30/2007 8:59:42 PM PDT by real saxophonist
Brothers of Vietnam's first battle meet
Mike Peters, (Bio) email@example.com July 30, 2007
Every year or so they meet, not as many of them now, because the years take a toll.
But the brothers of the battle still meet, sometimes back east, or out west, and this past weekend, in Milliken, at Frank Knowski's house.
These are the men of the Seventh Cavalry, the men of Vietnam, the survivors of the battle in the Ia Drang Valley, South Vietnam, 1965.
It was early in that war, before some Americans back home began to hate the soldiers, before the protests and boycotts and demonstrations.
The battle in Ia Drang Valley was one of the first -- and worst -- battles of the war. Four hundred fifty men went into the valley, not knowing the strength of the enemy, and found 2,000 Vietcong soldiers.
The battle lasted four days. When they went in, they were young kids. When they came out, they were battle-hardened soldiers.
For Frank Knowski, who grew up in Dacono, and David "Purp" Lavender of Murphysboro, Ill., their military careers began when they both got drafted in 1963, and regulations said they had to serve two years. They went to boot camp and were trained for battle, even though there was no war yet.
Then, just months before the two friends were finished with their military duty, "LBJ went on national television," Knowski said, "and told America he was sending the Fifth Cavalry to Vietnam."
And so they went. "There wasn't any discussion," Lavender said. "No complaining. Just our duty." They didn't know the war would last 10 years and kill 53,000 Americans and almost split their home country.
They won't talk much about those days in the valley, about the battle, the wounded, the dead. Both Knowski and Lavender carry deep, jagged scars from the battle and Purple Hearts and memories that sometimes they wish they could outlive.
A book was written about that battle in Ia Drang Valley, "We were Soldiers Then -- And Young." At would be made into a movie, "We Were Soldiers," with Mel Gibson. "The movie was about 75 percent right," Lavender said.
They both were wounded toward the end of the battle, when they volunteered to rescue a group of their brothers who were surrounded and being killed. Both men went down with wounds, and both were saved when gunship helicopters hit the enemy.
So for the weekend, 42 years later, they got together, about 15 of those men who were in the valley in 1965. And they told stories again -- "Not about the battle," Knowski cautioned, "but mostly about the parties and the good times."
They've visited The Wall, in Washington, to see the names of the brothers they lost. Soldiers' names from Ia Drang Valley are found etched into the center section, Panel Three East. Among the first lost in the war.
"(We) fought the first major battle of a conflict that would drag on for ten long years and come as near to destroying America is it did to destroying Vietnam."
From "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young,"
By Lt. Gen. (Ret) Harold G. Moore and Joseph Galloway
Staff writer Mike Peters' column about Weld County people appears Mondays in the Tribune. His humor column, the Gnarly Trombone, appears Saturdays.
Veterans of one of the first and worst battles of the Vietnam War, Fred Kluge, left, Frank Knowski, front right, and Dave "Purp" Lavender stand at a pool table covered with photos and documents from the solders of the U.S. Army's 1st Air Cavalry. On Saturday approximately 20 members of the original group met at Knowski's home north of Milliken.
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MEL’s -PASSION- sparked by -WE WERE SOLDIERS-
This story provides another opportunity to salute you and your brothers in arms. Thank you all!
Thank you and the entire 7th Cav.
RONNIE GUYER PHOTO COLLECTION
Sp/4 RONNIE GUYER
1st Battalion, U.S. 7th Cavalry,
IA DRANG-1965 S-1 Personnel Clerk,
Landing Zone Falcon
Radioman/Driver/Orderly to Lt. Col. HAL G. MOORE in Vietnam
..A Freeper Vet goes to the Vietnam Wall..
‘WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE...& YOUNG’...4 FREEDOM
“They didn’t know the war would last 10 years and kill 53,000 Americans and almost split their home country.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the official tally of those killed in action is closer to 58,000.
Thank you guys.The friendships that you have made are the best.Thank you again.
They may not have realized it then, but they ultimately helped us to win the Cold War, by showing the Soviets that we would not let expand their influence without paying a heavy price.
If we had not fought in Vietnam, I doubt the Soviets would have ultimately come to that conclusion.
IMO, you are absolutely correct.
And all those who stand up and fight for the freedoms we take too much for granted, my salute!!!
from the Ninth Cav
When addressing us U.S. 7th Cavalry SkyTroopers after we returned to our An Khe base camp from the Battle of IA DRANG-1965 Lt. Col. HAL G. MOORE addressed us informally.
He told us that it may take us 10 years to win in Vietnam, but it will be worth it.
It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician, Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN, who salutes the Flag, who serves under the Flag,
ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD, AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.
Vietnams President Protested in Orange County
(Fox 11 News TV Video - 6/22/07)
Making their voices heard