Military history


The authors owe so large a debt to so many friends who have provided so much help during the last ten years of research that there can be no easy beginning or ending to this list of thank-you’s.

First and foremost, to our wives, Julie Moore and Theresa Galloway, whose patience and endurance were tested to the extreme by our obsession with and pursuit of a long-ago and faraway story that kept circling back to interfere with all the things they had planned. They answered a thousand ringing telephones and played hostess to a hundred surprise guests. They typed and took notes and delivered messages and kept things running while we traveled to Vietnam and crisscrossed America and camped out in each other’s homes. Julie and Theresa, this one’s for you.

Our children came in for their share of alternately being neglected and dragooned into service, and put up with it all more or less cheerfully. So our gratitude to Steve Moore, Greg Moore, David Moore, Cecile Moore Jacobs, and Julie Moore Thompson; and to Lee Galloway and Joshua Galloway.

This project could never have been undertaken, or completed, without the encouragement, support, cooperation, and love of our comrades in arms who stood beside us in the Ia Drang Valley and stand with us today. Our questionnaires, telephone calls, interviews, and meetings took many of them back to a time and place they had tried hard to forget. They shared everything they had: their memories; their boxes of old treasures; the half-remembered hometowns of friends they hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. Every man we found helped us find one or two other veterans of the valley. They read our notes and transcripts, and then our draft chapters, and lost almost as much sleep over them as we did. And in the end they thanked us for having helped restore a sense of pride and accomplishment in what they had endured. No one has ever had better or more constant friends. The glory of this book is theirs; the mistakes and omissions are ours.

To the strong and remarkable people who loved some of the men who died in the Ia Drang—Barbara Geoghegan Johns, Catherine Metsker McCray, Karen Metsker Rudel, Betty Jivens Mapson, and Edward D. Monsewicz—the authors are forever indebted. Theirs is a dimension always present but too seldom explored in the telling of the history of a battle, a campaign, or a war. Each readily agreed to write his or her story of a life and a death, in the belief that these words would comfort others who have endured the same pain, if only by assuring them that they are not alone. To the list of medals for valor, bravery, and sacrifice that are awarded to soldiers on America’s battlefields, the authors propose adding one for courage, to be bestowed on those citizens who have lost a son, a husband, a father, a brother—or, in these days, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother—in the service of a nation that too easily forgets the true cost of war.

We are most grateful to Brigadier General Douglas Kinnard (U.S. Army, ret.), former Army chief of military history. In May 1984, General Kinnard provided us with complete access to the Army historians and their files on the Vietnam War. That access, and the enthusiastic assistance of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Cochran, Jr., put our hands on a treasure trove of documents, letters, photographs, military reports, and interview records on the Ia Drang battles that were amassed in the late 1960s by then-Major John Cash for his section of the book Seven Firefights in Vietnam. Colonel Cash, an Ia Drang veteran who remained on active duty until 1992, did everything in his power to assist in this project.

We have been equally blessed in our other associations. The editors at U.S. News & World Report—Michael Ruby, Merrill McLoughlin, and John Walcott—gambled on a long shot when they first sent us back to Vietnam to pursue an old story. Then they had the courage to put that story of a forgotten twenty-five-year-old battle on the cover of a weekly newsmagazine. They and every staff member at U.S. News involved in putting together that October 29, 1990, Ia Drang cover came to share our obsession. Harold Evans, president and publisher of Random House, read the story andknew there was a book hidden in it. Harry gave us the gift of Robert Loomis as the editor of this book. At the right times, Bob was patient, encouraging, helpful, and demanding—and at all times a true gentleman. Our agent, Robert Barnett of the law firm of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., is of the same school. Graphic artist Matt Zang created the area maps and battle maps that contribute so much to understanding two difficult battles. A special thanks to our copy editor, Jolanta Benal, and production editor, Carsten Fries, who helped us make this a better book.

A monumental research chore was made easier by the willing assistance of David C. Humphrey and Regina Greenwell, archivists at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library; Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Coleman (U.S. Army, ret.), historian and author; Colonel Clinton L. Williams, another Ia Drang scholar; Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cook (ret.) late of the Army Staff; Colonel Paul Patton Winkel (U.S. Army, ret.) of Springfield, Virginia; U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Worden, fighter pilot, scholar, and historian, who delved into Air Force archives on our behalf and took time away from his own doctoral research to read our manuscript; Michael (M-60) Kelley, Vietnam War artist, historian, and veterans’ networker; Lieutenant Colonel Richard S. Johnson (U.S. Army, ret.), author of How to Find Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military; David W. Schill, who is building the definitive computer data base on Vietnam War casualties; and Douglas Pike, curator of the Indochina Archives at the University of California-Berkeley.

Others who lent invaluable assistance and encouragement include Robert S. McNamara; General William C. Westmoreland (ret.); General H. Norman Schwarzkopf (ret.); Lieutenant General Harry W. O. Kinnard (ret.); Lieutenant General Stanley R. Larsen (ret.); Will Bundy; and General Gordon R. Sullivan, Army Chief of Staff.

On two research trips to Hanoi we were taken in hand by photographer Tim Page, an old friend, an old Indochina hand, and a Zen master at the art of not only surviving but enjoying modern-day Vietnam. Our gracious official host in Vietnam was Nguyen Cong Quang, director of the Foreign Press Service in Hanoi, who worked hard to break down the walls for us. Mr. Quang believed that old enemies could become friends, and he was right. He also provided us the best and brightest of guide-interpreters: Duong Quang Thang and Tran Le Tien. They arranged our interviews with Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap, Senior General Chu Huy Man, Lieutenant General Nguyen Huu An, and Major General Hoang Phuong. Special thanks go to General Phuong, chief of the Hanoi Institute of Military History, who is so dedicated a professional historian that he left a hospital bed for our first meeting. Our base of operations for the Vietnam trips was Bangkok, and we would be remiss if we did not thank Nguyen Quang Dy, first secretary of the Embassy of Vietnam, for his help with visas and travel arrangements; Raymond Eaton, chairman of the Export Development Trading Corporation, for sharing his considerable knowledge of wind directions in Vietnam; Alan Dawson, another expert on the political meteorology of Indochina; and Jack Corman, genial host and message center for exhausted passersby.

We could not have done it without all of them, and to all of them we are deeply grateful.



February 4, 1992

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