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
I first read “We Were Soldiers Once, And Young” right about the time it was published. Some time later, while I was assigned to Fort Carson, LTG Moore and Mr. Galloway came on post to give a presentation on the battle. Every NCO on post was in attendance as professional development (and a great presentation it was).
The Battle of Ia Drang was, in addition to being an epic struggle, something of a laboratory for both sides. The US learned that isolated units needing multiple lifts to occupy an LZ were terribly vulnerable. The NVA learned that massing forces to attack a US unit would bring stupendous firepower down upon them.
It would be years before the NVA would attempt such a large scale engagement again.