We Were Soldiers - Preface

We Were Soldiers (Illustration) Biographies Famous People Geography Civil Wars Famous Historical Events Film Social Studies Cold War American History

U.S. Army photo of Ia Drang River Valley during the Battle for Ia Drang (November, 1965).  Online, courtesy Department of Defense.  UH-1 Huey (chopper) flown by Bruce Crandall.


They were determined to kill us all.

Joseph L. Galloway
On the battle of Ia Drang
November, 1965 

Joe Galloway was a reporter for United Press International during November, 1965. He was the only member of the media accompanying 450 U.S. troops sent into the dense jungle of Plateau Kontum, South Vietnam. Their mission? Penetrate deep into Viet Cong territory and engage the enemy.

Going where elephant grass grew and no flag standard stood, soldiers were transported by helicopter. It was a time when chopper-mobile troops was a new concept. But as the Americans landed in the Ia Drang valley, they had no idea what was waiting for them behind the elephant grass.

In a later video interview, Joe Galloway recalled those harrowing days of battle:

We were in a struggle for survival...and they were determined to kill us all. In a situation like that, where people are falling over dead beside you, shot through the head, you have some obligation to be of use beyond taking pictures and writing down your notes of what’s going on...

In the middle of this battle an Air Force jet unloaded two cans of napalm right over our heads, right in the middle of our perimeter...I’d been talking to four or five demolition team guys...I look over and they’re dancing in the fire. They’re burning up. A medic and I jumped to our feet and ran toward them and the medic was shot through the head and killed by a sniper and I went in there and helped drag a man out...

You come out of something like that alive and you feel that every day after that is a bonus.

This is a story about the first ground battle of the Vietnam War - the battle of Ia Drang.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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