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The Ia Drang (Film: "We Were Soldiers Once...", starring Mel Gibson) was the first large battle with US conventional troops (US regulars). Remember; that Vietnam was fought with US Leadership that were VETERANS OF WWII (GEN's Curtis Lemay (adviser), Maxwell Taylor, Westmoreland, Abrams (Veteran of the Battle of the Bulge), COL Robin Olds, veteran of aerial combat over Germany, etc.). The attitude of these men was "fight to win!" When confronted with a "limited war"; no atomic weapons allowed, no invading of the north allowed, etc. Confusion & frustration set in.

The US, during it's whole military history up until possibly the Korean War (but definitely during the Vietnam War), had used the measurement of "holding the ground" (the Vietnam war would replace that with "BODY-COUNT") as the indicator of victory or defeat. As an example: During the Mexican War 1846-1848, in which California, Nevada, Arizona, became US territory, the Battle of San Pasqual was fought near San Diego, California. In that battle, involving GEN Kearny, Kit Carson, LT. Edward F. Beale (USN), against the California Lancers (an element of the Mexican Army during the war), the US Army lost approximately 22 men dead. The Californian's losses were mostly wounded, and they rode away (they were on swift horses, Kearny's men were on MULES), leaving the field to Kearny's men (he himself had been wounded by a lance). Because the Californian's "left the field" to the US Army...US Army records that battle as an "official United States victory", at San Pasqual. In reality, Kearny's Dragoons were burying their dead, most had been wounded, all were starving and cold; Kit Carson & Beale had to crawl (through enemy lines) to San Diego, and get reinforcements from ADM Stockton, which was sent, to "relieve" (rescue) the Dragoons.

At the Ia Drang, which lasted 3 days, the US Army lost approximately 300 men dead. The movie "We Were Soldiers...", only shows Moore's (Mel Gibson) battalion, with less than a hundred dead US servicemen. NOT in the film is the second battalion that was cut to pieces as they walked in single file to another LZ. Because we held the field, (The US Army "held the ground", Ia Drang is officially a US Victory).

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12y ago
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16y ago

The FIRST BIG US battle was at the Ia Drang (1965); See: "We Were Soldiers..." Be advised, that film (movie) only shows HALF of the three day battle. The part that's NOT shown is LTC Moore's (played by Mel Gibson) sister battalion being cut to pieces.

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16y ago

The greatest land battles were probably "Hamburger Hill", fought by the 101st Airborne Division; "The Battle for Dak To", fought by the 173rd Airborne Division (Brigade); the "Ia Drang", fought by the 1st Air Cav Division; and the "Battle of Khe Sanh", fought by the US Marine Corps. Hollywood's already made films (movies) about "Hamburger Hill", and the "Ia Drang", (We Were Soldiers..., starring Mel Gibson). But "Dak To" may have been a bloodier fight. The "Battle of Khe Sanh" might be the greatest because it directly involved the President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson. When LBJ found out that the North Viet General Giap who was laying siege to the US Marine base at Khe Sanh, was the very same General that defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, President Johnson became directly involved, to ensure that the base would NOT FALL to General Giap. If General Giap had taken Khe Sanh, President Johnson (Commander in Chief) would have lost a battle to the North's greatest General, and the whole world was watching! President Johnson sent a special detachment from the US to reinforce Khe Sanh and then let "the dog's loose" with B-52's. The reinforcements didn't save the day; the B-52's did. Khe Sanh survived. Note: Probably some of the best American outings were the air battles over North Vietnam. This is when jet-to-jet dog fighting took place. See the Dog Fight series on the History Channel.

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15y ago

Most people say Vietnam won because after many years of fighting the united states pulled out of war. So the answer would be the Vietnam won the war. It was actually a war between the communist North Vietnamese and the democratic South Vietnamese. The US decided to fight for the South Vietnamese but eventually pulled out of the war and South Vietnam was overrun.

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15y ago

Major victories were accomplished by the NVA (North Vietnamese Army), the VC were a supplemental force; largely used up during the TET offensive of '68. For some important victories by the NVA while US ground troops were present, see: INTO LAO's (1971-the story of Operation LAM SON 719), by K. W. Nolan, the US Army's last major offensive of the war, and the first clash between NVA & ARVN tanks (armor).

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11y ago

Ia Drang-film: We Were Soldiers...The first major combat operations of the Vietnam War took place several months before the 1st Cavalry Division even arrived in Vietnam In August for example the USMC initiated Operation Starlight and followed that with Piranha.

In addition, the 173rd Abn. Bde. had been operating in III CTZ for several months prior to the arrival of the 1st Cav. As a point of information, the operation during which the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley or LZ X-Ray occurred was named SILVER BAYONET. Those interested should look up what happened next at Albany when the NVA ambushed other units of the Cav.

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