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Battle of Ia Drang information

Battle of Ia Drang Valley
Part of the Vietnam War
(Operation Silver Bayonet I, Pleiku Campaign 1965)

U.S. Army soldiers air-lifted into LZ X-Ray.
DateNovember 14–18, 1965
(5 days)
13°35′N 107°43′E / 13.583°N 107.717°E / 13.583; 107.717 Chu Pong-Ia Drang complex,[2] Central Highlands, South Vietnam
Result Inconclusive
Battle of Ia Drang United States
Supported by:
Battle of Ia Drang South Vietnam[1]
Vietnam North Vietnam
Commanders and leaders
Richard T. Knowles 1st Air Cavalry Division Fwd CP[3]: 210 
Tim Brown 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade[3]: 202 
Harold G. Moore, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry
Robert McDade, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry
Robert B. Tully, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry
Nguyễn Hữu An B3 Field Front Fwd CP[4]
Phạm Công Cửu 66th Regiment Deputy Cmdr
Lã Ngọc Châu 7/66
Lê Xuân Phôi 8/66 
Nguyễn Văn Định 9/66
Units involved

United States 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)

  • 3rd Brigade:[5]
    • 1st Bn, 7th Cavalry
    • 2nd Bn, 7th Cavalry
  • 2nd Brigade:[5]
    • 2nd Bn, 5th Cavalry

1st Battalion, 21st Artillery

  • Two batteries of artillery (included 24 M2 howitzers)[6]
3AC Fleet/SAC[7]

Vietnam 33rd Regiment:

  • 1st Battalion
  • 3rd Battalion

Vietnam 66th Regiment:

  • 7th Battalion
  • 8th Battalion
  • 9th Battalion
Total: ~1,000 U.S. cavalry troops[8] and ~900 ARVN troops[9]
Two batteries of artillery[6]
Elements of multiple aircraft and helicopter support units flew 740 CAS sorties, along with 5 B-52 missions with 96 sorties[6]

Total: ~2,500 troops[10]

Separate 12.7 mm anti-aircraft gun and mortar units[6]
Casualties and losses
Battle of Ia Drang United States: 237 killed, 258 wounded, and 4 missing (~50% of troop strength)
Battle of Ia Drang South Vietnam 132 killed, 248 wounded, and 18 missing[11]
U.S. claimed: 1,037–1,745 killed
PAVN report: 554 killed and 669 wounded (~49% of troop strength)[12]
See Casualties section
Battle of Ia Drang is located in Vietnam
Battle of Ia Drang
Location within Vietnam

The Battle of Ia Drang (Vietnamese: Trận Ia Đrăng; Chữ Hán: 戰河德浪, [iə̯ ɗrăŋ]; in English /ˈə dræŋ/) was the first major battle between the United States Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), as part of the Pleiku Campaign conducted early in the Vietnam War, at the eastern foot of the Chu Pong Massif in the central highlands of Vietnam, in 1965. It is notable for being the first large scale helicopter air assault and also the first use of Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers in a tactical support role. Ia Drang set the blueprint for the Vietnam War with the Americans relying on air mobility, artillery fire and close air support, while the PAVN neutralized that firepower by quickly engaging American forces at very close range.

Ia Drang comprised two main engagements, centered on two helicopter landing zones (LZs), the first known as LZ X-Ray, followed by LZ Albany, farther north in the Ia Drang Valley.

LZ X-Ray involved the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and supporting units under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore, and took place November 14–16, at LZ X-Ray. Surrounded and under heavy fire from a numerically superior force, the American forces were able to drive back the North Vietnamese forces over three days, largely through the support of air power and heavy artillery bombardment, which the North Vietnamese lacked. The Americans claimed LZ X-Ray as a tactical victory, citing a 10:1 kill ratio.

The second engagement involved the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment plus supporting units under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Robert McDade, and took place on November 17 at LZ Albany. When an American battalion was ambushed in close quarters, who were unable to use air and artillery support due to the close engagement of the North Vietnamese, the Americans suffered an over-50% casualty rate before being extricated. Both sides claimed victory.

The battle at LZ X-Ray was documented in the CBS special report Battle of Ia Drang Valley by Morley Safer and the critically acclaimed book We Were Soldiers Once... And Young by Hal Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. In 1994, Moore, Galloway and men who fought on both the American and North Vietnamese sides, traveled back to the remote jungle clearings where the battle took place. At the time the U.S. did not have diplomatic relations with Vietnam. The risky trip which took a year to arrange was part of an award-winning ABC News documentary, They Were Young and Brave produced by Terence Wrong. Randall Wallace depicted the battle at LZ X-Ray in the 2002 movie We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson and Barry Pepper as Moore and Galloway, respectively.

Galloway later described Ia Drang as "the battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win".

  1. ^ Vinh Loc, page 119.
  2. ^ Vinh Loc, page 78
  3. ^ a b Moore, Harold; Galloway, Joseph (1992). We Were Soldiers Once... and Young. Harper Torch. ISBN 0-679-41158-5.
  4. ^ Nguyễn Hữu An, page 34
  5. ^ a b Stanton, Vietnam Order of Battle, page 73
  6. ^ a b c d "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2009-11-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Kinnard, page i
  8. ^ Kennedy Hickman. "Vietnam War – Battle of Ia Drang (1965)". Education. Archived from the original on 2015-09-16. Retrieved 2014-10-03.
  9. ^ Vinh Loc, page 129.
  10. ^ Vinh Loc, page 112
  11. ^ ARVN report, G3 Journal, I First Field Force, Oct 19-Nov 27, 1965.
  12. ^ "Công tác hậu cần trong Chiến dịch Plâyme năm 1965".

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