In the first major battle of the war that involved regular U.S. ground forces and North Vietnamese forces, Col. Tony Nadal and the soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) launched the first operation of a heliborne air assault against the North Vietnamese forces. The battle lasted for three days and thousands of lives were lost, as well as numerous casualties. This conflict led the cause to examine the limits of both armies’ expertise. The battle was later described in the book ‘We Were Soldiers Once… and Young’ and in the ensuing movie adaptation.
The Viet Cong attacked the US Special Forces camp at Plei Me in October 1965. The US ground forces launched three counterattacks to destroy them and to stop their retreat into Cambodia. The battle at Ia Drang was part of the second counterattack and lasted from November 14th to 18th. The Viet Cong strayed from their tactical guerilla warfare and launched a conventional attack on the US forces that were deployed by helicopter close to the VC main supply base and the Cambodian border. Instead of the typical guerilla maneuvers, the VC troops went head to head in battle trying to overrun the Americans.
The Viet Cong finally retreated and despite the high casualties, victory was declared by both sides. It taught the Americans to utilize more of their superior air power and taught ‘Charlie’ to stay with guerrilla warfare.
Tony Nadal tells his story in this amazing documentary. It is reinforced by original video footage from the battle at LZ X-Ray, which includes Nadal himself.