Lz Xray Day 1 | We Were Soldiers Once,,, and Young

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

Source: Lz Xray Day 1 | We Were Soldiers Once,,, and Young

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.

7 thoughts on “Lz Xray Day 1 | We Were Soldiers Once,,, and Young”

  1. “It would be years before the NVA would attempt such a large scale engagement again.”

    Depends on your definition of “large scale engagement”. Only a day or two later the 2/7 cav. took even heavier casualties a couple of miles away. As the late Jack Smith, one of the survivors, said; ” It was, I think, the only time during the war that a U.S. battalion was ever overrun. The U.S. casualties for this fourth day of battle: 155 killed, 121 wounded. More dead than wounded. The North Vietnamese suffered a couple of hundred casualties.”
    He also noted “Interestingly, both drew the same conclusion: that each could win using the tactics of attrition.” . Sound familiar?

    http://www.mishalov.com/death_ia_drang_valley.html

    http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/issues/2014/Apr-Jun/Henry.html

  2. “It would be years before the NVA would attempt such a large scale engagement again.”

    Maybe so, but it was only a couple of days later and a couple of miles away that the 2/7 cav. took even heavier casualties. In the words of the late Jack Smith, a survivor; “It was, I think, the only time during the war that a U.S. battalion was ever overrun. The U.S. casualties for this fourth day of battle: 155 killed, 121 wounded. More dead than wounded. The North Vietnamese suffered a couple of hundred casualties.”

    He also noted; “Interestingly, both drew the same conclusion: that each could win using the tactics of attrition.” Another quote, Shakespeare this time; “What’s past is prologue”.

    http://www.mishalov.com/death_ia_drang_valley.html

    http://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/issues/2014/Apr-Jun/Henry.html

    1. While I didn’t discuss that particular (horrible) engagement, it is generally considered part of the same battle, and LTG Moore covered it just as extensively in his book as the actual battle at LZ X-Ray. It doesn’t get the press that X-Ray does, because let’s face it, we don’t come off looking too hot there.

  3. Sorry about the double posting. Something seems to be wrong with my computer today. Probably Chinese or Russian hackers.

    That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

    “…we don’t come off looking too hot there.”

    Yep. It’s one of the battles that makes me doubt the accuracy of that old boast that we never lost a battle.

    1. No bigge, Tim. Askimet didn’t like your link, so flagged it for approval. That often leads to a double post, and I approved both, since I was on my phone and couldn’t really tell it was a double. If that’s the worst thing that happens on the blog, I’m OK with it.

    2. Thanks for the explanation. It’s happened to me before and I was curious. And, after googling Askimet, I have actually learned something. a good day.

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