Ia Drang Valley, Battle of the (1965). One of the most significant battles of the Vietnam War, the 14–16 November 1965 battle in the Ia Drang Valley in South Vietnam's central highlands between the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and the 33rd and 66th Regiments of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) marked a watershed change in the military strategies of both sides. For the NVA, it was a shift from reliance solely on Viet Cong guerrilla forces to the use of conventional military forces in order to achieve victory. For the United States, it marked the beginning of direct massive involvement in ground combat operations, as well as a test of the heliborne air mobility tactics that were to become the hallmark of the war.
Thwarting an NVA plan to cut South Vietnam in two by attacking eastward across the central highlands to the South China Sea, the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, made a heliborne combat assault directly into the enemy assembly area. Supported by massive air and artillery fires, including strikes by B‐52 bombers, the NVA were routed and forced to retreat back into their Cambodian sanctuaries. The victory was marred, however, by the ambush of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, by remnants of the NVA force as it withdrew from the battle area. Casualties totaled 234 killed in action during the landing zone X‐Ray and Albany actions.
[See also Guerrilla Warfare; Helicopters; Vietnam War: Military and Diplomatic Course.]
Harry G. Summers, Jr. , The Bitter Triumph of the Ia Drang, American Heritage (February 1984).
Harold G. Moore and and Joseph L. Galloway , We Were Soldiers Once … And Young, 1992.
Harry G. Summers, Jr.