9780345475817

We Were Soldiers Once...and Young

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780345475817

  • ISBN10:

    034547581X

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2004-11-23
  • Publisher: Presidio Press

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Summary

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.

Author Biography

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. <br>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 <i>U.S. News & World Report,</i> he covered the Gulf War and coauthored <b>Triumph Without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War</b><i>.</i> Galloway lives with his wife, Theresa, and sons, Lee and Joshua, on a farm in northern Virginia. <br><br><br><i>From the Hardcover edition.</i>

Table of Contents

Maps
xvii
Prologue xxi
GOING TO WAR
Heat of Battle
3(6)
The Roots of Conflict
9(24)
Boots and Saddles
33(12)
The Land and the Enemy
45(14)
X-RAY
Into the Valley
59(11)
The Battle Begins
70(13)
Closing with the Enemy
83(17)
The Storm of Battle
100(15)
Brave Aviators
115(14)
Fix Bayonets!
129(15)
Night Falls
144(12)
A Dawn Attack
156(15)
Friendly Fire
171(13)
Rescuing the Lost Platoon
184(12)
Night Fighters
196(12)
Policing the Battlefield
208(11)
It Ain't Over Till It's Over
219(14)
ALBANY
A Walk in the Sun
233(16)
Hell in a Very Small Place
249(22)
Death in the Tall Grass
271(19)
Escape and Evade
290(10)
Night Without End
300(16)
The Sergeant and the Ghost
316(15)
AFTERMATH
Mentioned in Dispatches
331(19)
``The Secretary of the Army Regrets . . .''
350(17)
Reflections and Perceptions
367(8)
Epilogue 375(2)
Appendix: Where Have All the Young Men Gone? 377(24)
Acknowledgments 401(4)
Interviews and Statements 405(4)
Chapter Notes 409(26)
Selected Bibliography 435(6)
Index 441

Excerpts

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.

Excerpted from We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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