Dec 9, 1965
Army Of North
Suffers Heavy Losses At Hands Of 1st Cavalry
NOTE: Enquirer military writer Charles Black was with elements of the
Cavalry Division Thanksgiving Day when the troops ended on of the
campaigns of the war. The following is an account of the mission.
KHE, Viet Nam – On Thanksgiving
Day the 1st Cavalry Division completed a 30-day campaign which had
the 32nd, 66th and 101st Regiments of the Peoples Army of North Viet
and cleared the woods and hills from Plei Me to the Cambodian border of
campaign had made history.
was the first time in the
Vietnamese war when regular Communist troops found themselves pursued,
and defeated after playing their old game of “hitting the outpost and
outpost was hit on Oct. 19 when
two battalions of the 101st Regiment crept into position around Plei Me
opened a fierce attack on the U.S. Special Forces Team and 360
troops holding that isolated fortified camp.
relief was ambushed Oct. 24 when
a tank, armored personnel carrier and truck column ran into two
the 32nd Regiment in a furious battle on a dirt road south of Plei Me,
helicopter force of Rangers had already effected a relief of the camp.
the past history of this war, the
fighting would have been done. The Communists would have withdrawn to
rendezvous points, their officers would have harangued them on the
they had just won and reorganized them and moved the combat-trained
on into other such pre-planned fights.
1st Cavalry Division’s First Brigade, commanded by Lt.
Col. Harlowe Clark, upset this script, however, when on Oct.27 the PAVN
made a last attack on Plei Me.
Oct.28 the Second Battalion 12th Infantry overran hidden arms caches in
woods west of Plei Me. On Oct 29 the First Squadron Ninth Cavalry,
by Company A of the Second Battalion 12th Infantry, Company
First Battalion (Airborne) Eighth Infantry and the reconnaisance
First Battalion (Airborne) 12th Infantry, overran a fie1d hospital
a fanatical battalion from the 101st Regiment and captured weapons,
worth of elaborate medical and surgical supplies and equipment, and
hundreds of casualties -- as well as capturing more prisoners than any
action in Viet Nam has produced.
toll of PAVN defeats kept mounting.
Second Battalion (Airborne) Eighth Infantry smashed the reserve
the 101st Regiment, and First Squadron Ninth Cavalry ambushed a
PAVN in the Ia Drang River Valley the night of Nov. 3. The First
ruined PAVN forces lingering in the Plei Me area when it came in from
on Nov. 8, turning over the campaign to Co1. Thomas W. Brown’s Third
First Battalion Seventh Cavalry drew heavy blood
from the 66th and the few remaining survivors of the 101st in the
battle at the foot of Chu Pong Mountain near the Ia Drang River and the
Battalion Seventh Infantry fought the most bitter engagement any
has been involved in near the river two days later, smashing the final
battalions available to the 66th and 101st Regiments and piling up
on the 32nd Regiment during the two days and nights of fray.
it was done, a PAVN division had been beaten by
out-numbered Sky Soldiers fighting in an area no other force could have
penetrated. Helicopter-lifted infantrymen and helicopter-lifted
single battalion, First Battalion 19th Artillery. (Airborne) commanded
Col. Joe Bush had moved 39 times from one wilderness location to
helicopter during two weeks of action) coordinated by air strikes from
planes, Skyraider bombers and B52 bombers, had won a campaign. The
been studded with American successes. It proved helicopters could take
battle where no other means would do. It proved that man for man, gun
the young soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division could outfight the
infantry. It proved that Hanoi could not win its coveted victory in the
Highlands which would split Viet Nam.
Americans had killed fanatical soldiers by the
thousands -- at least 2,000 bodies were counted after fights in the
and air and artillery, gunships and far-ranging cavalry patrols, had
fleeing PAVN soldiers in untold numbers. Hundreds of weapons were
recoilless artillery, machine guns, mortars and a host of new,
weapons for infantrymen were piled up in front of 1st Cavalry Division
Headquarters as the campaign went ahead. The final push, which killed
additional hundreds of Communists, came when Col. William Lynch took
Brigade into the area and supported a sweep by Vietnamese Airborne
which combed the woods along the Cambodian border. The remaining
prisoner from one battalion of the 66th said that when the regiment
to regroup, less than 100 soldiers could be counted) fled over into the
of Cambodia and the area was cleared of living enemy by Thanksgiving
first campaign of the 1st Cavalry Division had become the first major
victory in Viet Nam and one which is expected to shape the destiny of
in this country. It was a victory which can be repeated as often as the
Communist planners in Hanoi care to risk defeat, officers in the
It should be the handwriting on the wall for Communist aspirations in
South-east Asia. The stubborness of the Communist planners is expected
more North Vietnamese troops down the long trail to misery and death
they accede to its message -- but the message was sent loud and clear
former Fort Benning soldiers and its contents will finally be