tacked from UH1B Huey gunships with aerial rockets and machine guns Operating

Tacked from uh1b huey gunships with aerial rockets

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tacked from UH–1B Huey gunships with aerial rockets and machine guns. Operating beyond the range of their ground artillery, Army units engaged the enemy in an intense firefight, killing ninety-nine, captur- ing the aid station, and seizing many documents. The search for the main body of the enemy continued for the next few days, with Army units concentrating their efforts in the vicinity of the Chu Pong Massif, a mountain range and likely enemy base near the Cambodian border. Communist forces were given little rest, as patrols harried and ambushed them. The heaviest fighting was yet to come. As the division began the second stage of its campaign, enemy forces began to move out of the Chu Pong base. Units of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division’s 3d Brigade, which took over from the 1st Brigade, advanced to establish artillery bases and landing zones at the base of the mountain. Landing Zone X-R AY was one of several U.S. positions vulnerable to attack by the enemy forces that occupied the surrounding high ground. Here on No- vember 14 began fighting that pitted three battalions against elements of two North Vietnamese regiments. Withstanding repeated mortar attacks and infantry assaults, the Americans used every means of fire- power available to them—the division’s own gunships, massive artillery bombardment, hundreds of strafing and bombing attacks by tactical aircraft, earth-shaking bombs dropped by B–52 bombers from Guam, and, perhaps most important, the individual soldier’s M16 rifle—to turn back a determined enemy. The Communists lost more than 600 dead, the Americans 79. Although badly hurt, the enemy did not leave the Ia Drang Valley. Elements of the 33d and 66th PAVN Regiments , moving east toward Plei Me, encountered the U.S. 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, a few miles north of X-R AY at Landing Zone A LBANY , on November 17. The fight that resulted was a bloody reminder of the North Vietnamese mastery of the ambush, as the Communists quickly snared four U.S. companies in their net. As the trapped units struggled for survival, nearly all sem- blance of organized combat disappeared in the confusion and mayhem. Neither reinforcements nor effective firepower could be brought in. At times combat was reduced to valiant efforts by individuals and small units to avert annihilation. When the fighting ended that night, almost 70 percent of the Americans were casualties and almost one of every three soldiers in the battalion had been killed. Despite the horrific casualties from the ambush near Landing Zone A LBANY , the Battle of the Ia Drang was lauded as the first major Ameri- can triumph of the Vietnam War. The airmobile division, committed to combat less than a month after it arrived in country, relentlessly pursued the enemy over difficult terrain and defeated crack North Vietnamese Army units. In part, its achievements underlined the flexibility that Army divisions had gained in the early 1960s under the Reorganiza-
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AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY 310 tion Objective Army Division (ROAD) concept. Replacing the flawed
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