WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE....AND YOUNG by Harold G. & Joseph L. Galloway Moore


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During mid-November 1965, Moore (then a lieutenant colonel) led 450 officers and men from the US Army's 1st Cavalry Division into the Ia Drang Valley, a trackless waste near Vietnam's border with Cambodia that served as a Communist sanctuary and infiltration route into Vietnam's Central Highlands. Almost as soon as they arrived, American forces were engaged in a series of constant-contact clashes with two full regiments of NVA regulars in what came to be known as the Pleiku campaign. A considerable, if costly, triumph for US arms, these bloody engagements (covered for UPI by Galloway) were also the first in which the US made a substantive commitment of troops. Drawing on their own experiences, interviews with other participants, after-action reports, captured documents, and allied sources, the authors recall the four hellish clays and nights of combat in or around helicopter landing zones that pitted elements of the 7th Cavalry (Custer's outfit) against a determined foe fighting on his home ground. Their harrowing account offers telling detail on the savage battles that raged in the ravines and hills below the Chu Pong massif. It pays heartfelt tribute as well to the brave men (on both sides) who fought and frequently died on the killing grounds. Moore (who retired in 1977 with the rank of lieutenant general) and Galloway (now a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report) also touch, without dwelling, on the lessons that should (or could) have been learned from the valor and sacrifices of vanguard units in what quickly became an unconventional war of attrition without rules or front lines. An authoritative briefing whose band-of-brothers perspectives make it a genuinely affecting addition to the growing record of America's involvement in Vietnam.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Random House