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's Influence

The Battle of Ia Drang was one of the most important battles in the whole Vietnam War, and I believe it ranks up there with Yorktown and D-Day. There are many reasons why this is true.

First, it stopped the North Vietnamese in their tracks. Although it was tragic that we lost so many soldiers, the 1/7 Cav. stopped a campaign to split South Vietnam in half. If U.S. troops hadn’t met the PAVN troops and stopped them, literally thousands of civilians and soldiers would have been slaughtered in just a few months.

Next, the PAVN loss was ten times as great as ours, even though the under-strength 1/7 Cav. was battling three full regiments of determined North Vietnamese. This astounding triumph boosted morale of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam and raised hopes of winning the war. But these are not the only reasons the battle was important.

The most important triumph has affected warfare even today. November 14, 1965, was the beginning of helicopter warfare. It was the first time helicopters had been used in battle and proved that it is practical and beneficial. Because of the Battle of Ia Drang, the U.S. military is able to move troops quickly from one place to another at any time. They can also transport supplies and ammunition, make hit-and-run attacks on dangerous targets, and give infantry extra support.   

In conclusion, if the Battle of Ia Drang hadn’t been fought or had been lost, crucial advances in warfare never would have been made. But because of the triumph at X-Ray, hundreds or even thousands of lives were spared, and battlefield technology has been phenomenally improved.

Infantryman jumping from a Huey
(Vietnam Studies: Airmobility 1961-1971)

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