The Bitter Triumph of Ia Drang

Summers Jr., Harry G.
February 1984
American Heritage;Feb/Mar84, Vol. 35 Issue 2, p51
The first major engagement of the U.S. Army in Vietnam was a decisive U.S. victory at the Battle of Ia Drang, fought in November 1965. The battlefield was in South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese had established a series of outposts in the highlands beginning in the 1960s to protect South Vietnam from the North Vietnamese. It was rugged country that was inhabited by small bands of Montagnards of the Jarai tribe. North Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap began his campaign to conquer South Vietnam along the valley of the Ia Dran River. Americans faced terrible odds in their first battle. U.S. forces were led by Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson award the 1st Cavalry Division the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest battlefield honor that a unit can receive. The U.S. won every battle it fought with the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army but that is irrelevant because of what happened off the battlefield.


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