The Battle of Ia Drang

and the Road from 1st Cavalry Patch Tragedy to Triumph

Before X-Ray
Ia Drang
Ia Drang's Influence

Ia Drang

November 14

At 10:17 a.m., two artillery batteries stationed at nearby LZ Falcon began their preparatory bombardment. Not only did they bombard LZ X-Ray, but other areas as well to deceive the enemy. Helicopters of the 229th Aviation Battalion then began lifting troops of A and B companies, 1/7 Cav. into the battlefield. A prisoner was captured at about 11:20 a.m., who told Lieutenant Colonel Moore that there were three full regiments of PAVN troops in the mountains waiting for an opportunity to attack. The first attack was at 1:30 p.m. A few North Vietnamese companies battered away at B company, which was stationed on the west side of the landing zone. While companies A and B were locked in furious combat, companies C and D arrived and took positions on the south side of the landing zone. During the fight, the 1st platoon B company was separated from the rest of the company. They were surrounded on all sides, and A and B companies made many attempts to rescue the Lost Platoon, but they were unable because of the large number of enemy troops in the way.

Once heavy combat started,  Lt. Col. Hal Moore closed the landing zone because it was too dangerous. Helicopter pilots Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Crandall, who was the commander of the 229th Aviation Battalion, and Captain Ed Freeman, however, realized that without more ammunition and supplies, all the soldiers would die. For 14-15 hours, Crandall and Freeman flew back and forth between X-Ray and the base taking ammunition and medicine to X-Ray and taking the wounded out. Capt. Freeman received the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his heroic actions during the battle and Lt. Col. Crandall received the Medal of Honor on Feb. 26th, 2007 for the same reasons.

Late in the afternoon, Hal Moore radioed the command center calling for reinforcements. The B company of 2nd Battalion 7th Regiment (B company 2/7 Cav.) arrived at X-Ray a few hours later to complete the perimeter around the landing zone. The PAVN troops then pulled back for the night, finally giving Moore and his troops a chance to recover their many wounded and dead away from the line so they could be ferried out of the landing zone.

Click the play button  to hear
a clip from an interview with
Capt. Ed Freeman
November 15

            During the night, masses of PAVN reinforcements had arrived and doubled their forces on the south side of our perimeter. At about 6:30 a.m., the enemy launched an incredible assault against our thin line of C company troops. This tragic attack broke through our line, triggering a “Broken Arrow” Alert. This was a U.S. code name for “U.S.unit in danger of being overrun.” The two artillery batteries at LZ Falcon and fighter bombers responded quickly with vast amounts of artillery rounds, rockets, and napalm. The PAVN troops then pulled back after more fire from the infantry at about 10:00 a.m. Many soldiers sacrificed their lives that day to ensure the suvival of the rest of the battalion.

            Meanwhile, at LZ Victor, a landing zone a few miles away, troops of the 2nd Battalion 5th regiment (2/5 Cav.) started a march toward X-Ray. They arrived at about noon in time for a screening of the area around the perimeter. Shortly after 3:00 p.m., the troops of the 2/5 Cav. rescued the Lost Platoon, which still had some ammunition left and good morale. Of the 29 men in the platoon, 9 were killed, 13 wounded, and 7 were unscathed when they were rescued.

Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore
at X-Ray
November 16

            The 16th wasn’t very eventful, but not completely calm. In the morning, U.S. troops lightly sprayed the trees and brush to flush out any remaining snipers. This triggered an attack of 30-40 PAVN troops. They were quickly subdued with the help of some bombs and napalm from the air support above X-Ray.

            In the early afternoon, Company A 2/7 Cav. arrived to secure the landing zone along with Company B 2/7 Cav. and the troops of the 2/5 Cav. Moore’s weary and battle scarred troops finally got to leave LZ X-Ray after two intense days of fighting.