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Plei Me - The Precursor to Ia Drang

The Plei Me Siege and Opening of the 1st CAV Pleiku Campaign In the late summer and fall of 1965, the PAVN B-3 Front is established in the Central Highlands of Vietnam under command of Brig Gen Chu Huy Man. Gen Man has tactical and administrative control over both People's Army (North Vietnamese) and Viet Cong units. The PAVN units are the 320th, 33rd, and 66th Regiments.

Gen Man is charged with the mission of bringing the new high tech 1st CAV Division to battle; learn how it fights with airmobile tactics and new modern gear; and put this into writing for dissemination to all PAVN and Viet Cong units. To record this information as it is gathered in battle, Lt Col Hoang Phuong, a historian, is to debrief PAVN commanders after the battles.

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Hal Moore Biography

Lt Gen Harold G. Moore (USA-Ret)

February 13, 1922 - February 10, 2017

Hal Moore retired from the Army as a 3 Star General in 1977 with over 32 years active service. Commissioned a 2nd Lt of Infantry in 1945, he served and commanded at all levels from Platoon through Division. Highlights of his career include:

Service in the Korean War as a Company Commander and Regimental S3 (7th Infantry Division)

Service in Vietnam as a Battalion and Brigade Commander (1st Cavalry Division)

Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Division in Korea

Commander of Ft Ord, CA

Service as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Department of the Army

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Pictures of Ia Drang Veterans

Ia Drang Veteran Pictures - Over the years, I have been given pictures of various veterans.To make the sacrifice depicted in the book come alive, it is helpful to see the faces of those who participated - check out the galleries above.  It will take some time to transition all the pictures I have into the galleries - please be patient.

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Jack Smith's first person account of LZ Albany

Jack Smith, the famous ABC reporter, was a Private First Class (PFC) in C Company 2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry and wrote his first person account of the action at LZ Albany.

It was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1967 and is a chilling account of the events.

Click here to read the article hosted on vietnamwall.org.

Thanks to ABC News for the following biography. 

An ABC News correspondent since 1976, and a Washington correspondent since 1980, Jack Smith contributes to World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Nightline and other ABC NEWS programs. He has won one Emmy and has been nominated for two others. 

For nine years, Smith was the principal correspondent for This Week with David Brinkley, filing background reports on the collapse of Communism, the Iran-Contra affair and two presidential elections. 

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Fantastic Memorial Song by Rick Henderson

Song - "A Mighty Chill"   Well worth listening to! Rick Henderson wrote and performs "A MIghty Chill (Return to the Ia Drang)."  Link to the song at the bottom.

The backstory of the song in Hal Moore's own words from a speech he gave. Long read, but worth it.

Finally in October ’93 we and eight other veterans of the battle made it back to landing zone X-ray in a Russian helicopter with Forrest Sawyer and his ABC television crew. Sawyer did a one-hour documentary on the battle. General An and two of his officers who’d fought against us, went along also. Together we walked that field and discussed the tactics.

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Overview

A Vietnamese military maxim states:

He who controls the Central Highlands controls South Vietnam

In late October '65, a large North Vietnamese force attacked the Plei Me Special Forces Camp. Troops of the 1st Brigade were sent into the battle. After the enemy was repulsed, the 3rd Brigade replaced the 1st Brigade in early November. After three days of patrolling without any contact, Hal Moore's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry was ordered to air assault into the Ia Drang Valley on Nov 14. his mission:

Find and kill the enemy

At 10:48 AM, Moore was the first man out of the lead chopper to hit the landing zone, firing his M16 rifle. Little did Moore and his men suspect that FATE had sent them into the first major battle of the Vietnam War between the American Army and the People's Army of Vietnam - Regulars - and into history.

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Actual Combat Camera

During the battle at Xray, a US Army Combat Camera crew flew in.  These videos are what they filmed. You can get a sense of the terrain, the smoke of the battle and the associated activity.  There is no sound.

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Moore Battlefield Interview 11/16/65

On the third day of the Xray fight, reporters and TV crews arrived as the troopers were being returned to base camp. You can see all of the coverage in the network news video dated November 18 (it took a while for the film to make it back for broadcast in 1965). Peter Jennings is clearly stunned by what he just heard at the end of the clip.

This segment is an extract capturing Hal Moore's emotion and tribute to his troopers. The movie, We Were Soldiers, had a similar scene based on this clip.

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Network News Coverage

In the early part of the Vietnam War (and maybe later), the Department of Defense put a movie camera in front of a TV tuned to each network news channel and filmed the broadcast.  This was back in the days long before VCRs! Thankfully, they did this because this footage has been lost or destroyed by the networks. When looking for this footage in 1991, we were told it had been melted down for the silver content of the film and was not in the network archives. 

Be aware that the anchors confuse the fights at Lz Xray and Lz Albany. The 1st Bn 7th Cavalry was the primary unit at Lz Xray.  Albany was the ambush and involved the 2nd Bn 7th Cavalry.

Please excuse the haze and fuzz in the clips - filming a TV is not the best way to get a clean, hiqh quality recording.

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Joe Galloway Biography

Joe Galloway Joe 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. After UPI service in Los Angeles, he spent several years as a feature and Senior Writer in Washington, DC with US News and World Report. For that magazine, he covered the Gulf War and co-authored Triumph Without Victory; The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War.

Joe talked his way into the X-Ray battle, and, sitting on a box of hand grenades, landed in a Huey at 9:30 PM the first night. He remained on the ground with the men of the 1/7 Cav for the rest of the 3 day battle.

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