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This years marks the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major land battle in the Vietnam War. 

One of the most significant battles of the Vietnam War, the 14–16 November 1965 battle in the Ia Drang Valley in South Vietnam’s central highlands between the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and the 33rd and 66th Regiments of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) marked a watershed change in the military strategies of both sides. For the NVA, it was a shift from reliance solely on Viet Cong guerrilla forces to the use of conventional military forces in order to achieve victory. For the United States, it marked the beginning of direct massive involvement in ground combat operations, as well as a test of the heliborne air mobility tactics that were to become the hallmark of the war.

Thwarting an NVA plan to cut South Vietnam in two by attacking eastward across the central highlands to the South China Sea, the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, made a heliborne combat assault directly into the enemy assembly area. Supported by massive air and artillery fires, including strikes by B‐52 bombers, the NVA were routed and forced to retreat back into their Cambodian sanctuaries. The victory was marred, however, by the ambush of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, by remnants of the NVA force as it withdrew from the battle area. Casualties totaled 234 killed in action during the landing zone X‐Ray and Albany actions.

Summers, Harry G. “Ia Drang Valley, Battle of the (1965).” The Oxford Companion to American Military History. : Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference. 2004.

Please join us for a talk and discussion with two Vietnam combat veterans and authors on Thursday, November 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Furman University Trone Student Center, Watkins Room.

J. L. Bud Alley, Furman class of 1964 and Jim Lawrence, a 1963 graduate of the Citadel, will discuss their books and experiences during the Battle of Ia Drang, one of the most violent clashes in America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

This event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Furman University Libraries and the Furman History Department.

Agony of Vietnam