Battle of Ia Drang, 1965

BATTLE OF IA DRANG – VIETNAM WAR

14 November – 18 November 1965

SUMMARY

In the first true battle of the Vietnam War, an estimated 2,500 North Vietnamese soldiers were met by about 1,000 United States Army cavalry troops being transported into battle for the first time by helicopter.  After a nearly week-long battle, both sides claimed victory.

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BACKGROUND

After a North Vietnamese assault on U.S. Special Forces camp at Plei Me, the 3rd Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army was given orders to conduct a search and destroy mission in the Ia Drang Valley near Chu Pong Mountain, near the Cambodian border.

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LOCATION

Ia Drang, Chư Prông District, Gia Lai, Vietnam

Ia Drang, US Army photo, Public Domain

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UNITED STATES ARMY

3rd BRIGADE/1st AIR CAVALRY DIVISION

Led by

Colonel Thomas W. Brown

Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore

Moore at Ia Drang, US Army photo, Public Domain

Lieutenant Colonel Walter B. Tully

Lieutenant Colonel Robert McDade

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NORTH VIETNAMESE PEOPLE’S ARMY OF VIETNAM

B3 FIELD FRONT COMMAND

Led by

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Huu An

Captain Vu Dinh Thuoc, Rifle Co Cdr, 7th Bn, 66th Regiment

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RESULT

Both sides claimed victory.

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CONSEQUENCE

United States reports American losses as 308 killed in action, 540 wounded, 4 missing, and NVA confirmed killed as 1,064, estimated as 1,718, and 8 captured.

North Vietnamese reports 559 killed, 669 wounded, and estimates 1,500-1,700 U.S. casualties.

This battle gave both sides their first glance at enemy battle tactics.  The North Vietnamese learned to bring the fighting closer to the American forces to avoid air and artillery fire while the U.S. learned the value of air assault using the helicopter.  The NVA were prevented from overrunning the base at Plei Me.

     Actual footage of the Battle Ia Drang and interviews with both American and North Vietnamese commanders by ABC News can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN41Bk8wXGI

 

 

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