Abandoned in Hell: The Fight For Vietnam's Firebase Kate

Abandoned in Hell: The Fight For Vietnam's Firebase Kate


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An astonishing memoir of military courage at a remote outpost during the Vietnam War—includes a foreword by Joseph L. Galloway, New York Times bestselling coauthor of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young.
In October 1969, William Albracht, the youngest Green Beret captain in Vietnam, took command of a remote hilltop outpost called Firebase Kate held by only 27 American soldiers and 156 Montagnard militiamen. At dawn the next morning, three North Vietnamese Army regiments—some six thousand men—crossed the Cambodian border and attacked.
Outnumbered three dozen to one, Albracht’s men held off the assault but, after five days, Kate’s defenders were out of ammo and water. Refusing to die  or surrender, Albracht led his troops off the hill and on a daring night march through enemy lines.
Abandoned in Hell is an astonishing memoir of leadership, sacrifice, and brutal violence, a riveting journey into Vietnam’s heart of darkness, and a compelling reminder of the transformational power of individual heroism. Not since Lone Survivor and We Were Soldiers Once...and Young has there been such a gripping and authentic account of battlefield courage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451468093
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 381,024
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Albracht is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Secret Service agent whose twenty-five-year White House career included the protection details of four American presidents and numerous foreign dignitaries. Upon retirement, Albracht managed executive security operations at the Ford Motor Company before returning to his hometown to open a security consulting business.
Marvin J. Wolf is a decorated Vietnam veteran and the author or coauthor of many nonfiction books, including Where White Men Fear to Tread and Buddha’s Child.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Why read a book about a battle in a war everyone is trying to forget? Because you will learn an important secret. Are there other ways to learn it? Yes, but you do not want them. Abandoned in Hell is an epic tale of junior officers and NCOs salvaging a cluster f**k with minimum losses and maximum damage to the enemy. Nasty war. Great book.”  —Jim Morris, Author of War Story and Above and Beyond

“Surrounded, vastly outnumbered, pounded day and night by incoming fire and all but abandoned, tiny Firebase Kate should have fallen within twenty-four hours. That it did not is a testament to Captain Albracht and the fighting tenacity of those around him. This is an exceptional account, told in much detail. —Major John L. Plaster, U.S. Army Special Forces (ret) and Author of SOG and Secret Commandos

“The siege of Firebase Kate was a microcosm of the war in Vietnam, just as that conflict was emblematic of America’s wars-to-come through the 1990s and into the 21st century. Marvin Wolf and William Albrecht have produced in Abandoned in Hell a riveting, dead-true account in the tradition of Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young—that is, an in-detail narrative of events that could be studied by historians or by cadets in academies of war, but that also reads like a breathless, hair-raising novel. Gripping, relentless, and superbly-written, Abandoned in Hell is a testament to the courage of the Montagnard tribesmen and their U.S. Army Special Forces brothers, who endured the unendurable and survived.” —Steven Pressfield, National Bestselling Author of The Lion’s Gate

“A tale of heroism above and beyond the call of duty. Albracht’s gallantry defending Kate, and his actions in the days that followed, reached mythical proportions. A true story told as only a combat veteran can tell it, Abandoned in Hell is essential reading about the brave men who lived and died fighting an unpopular war.” —David Hume Kennerly, Winner of the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography

“Wolf and Albracht have interwoven the history, the tumult of battle and the spectrum of personalities that turn up on a forlorn red dirt hill on the Cambodian border in the crunch year of 1968. Firebase Kate becomes a microcosm of the turn of events, the disasters that were the death knell of the Vietnam war. It’s a story that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go.” —Tim Page, Photojournalist and Author of Another Vietnam

“This gripping, gritty and cinematic blow-by-blow account of outnumbered Americans locked in a desperate battle with the North Vietnamese Army is destined to become a classic of its genre. If you read only one book about Vietnam this year, this must be the one.” —Major General Paul Vallely, US Army (Ret.), Two-tour Vietnam Veteran, Fox News Senior Military Analyst, and Author of Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror

“This extraordinary narrative about leadership, loyalty and trust grabbed me from page one. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to know what really happened in Vietnam.” —Rocky Bleier, Decorated Vietnam Veteran and Four-Time Super Bowl Champion

“A riveting look at a little-known but compelling Vietnam War story.” —Publishers Weekly

“Albracht and Wolf present a vivid, often gripping account of the attack by 4,000 members of the People's Army of Vietnam...This fast-paced narrative encapsulates Vietnam War themes, significantly the bravery of grunts and company grade officers and their loyalty to one another...Readers of such excellent battlefield works as Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway's We Were Soldiers Once...And Young will delve into this one.” —Library Journal

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Abandoned in Hell: The Fight For Vietnam's Fire Base Kate 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Abandoned in Hell is a great history of our Viet Nam generation and how it responded. It will be a hand-me-down for my children and grandchildren. Powerful! A must read for all VN vets.I will soon read it a second time.
Kenn-at_Kate More than 1 year ago
Took me two days to read this book, it is much better than the Siege of LZ Kate since it interviewed the people involved. I should know because I was on LZ Kate. Anyone interested in learning what it is like to be under fire and how the individuals thought during their time under fire should read this book. William Albracht and Marvin J. Wolf went to great lengths to locate and get first-hand account from the people involved. A Great Read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ABANDONED IN HELL BY WILLIAM ALBRACHT AND MARVIN J. WOLF Vietnam. The word still evokes emotions from a generation faced with service there 50 years ago. Fact is, less than 10 percent of the “Draft Population” wore a military uniform in a war that began in 1960—there is no designation for the war’s end on the Vietnam Service Ribbon. For those that served, it seemed that the Vietnam War would never end. In some aspects, that war continues to this day. The Vietnam War was as much defined by time and place as the branch of service in which one served. A clear demarcation point occurred in 1969 when Richard M. Nixon declared a “Secret Plan” to end the war. “Vietnamization” became policy shortly after Nixon’s inauguration in January 1969. Unfortunately policy does not assure success. In war, success mandates that ground be taken and held by Infantry. In 1969, Captain William Albracht was a three-year veteran of the Green Berets. His first combat assignment was to assist in securing an artillery outpost manned by 27 artillerymen, Fire Support Base Kate. Initially Albracht thought that he would be “riding the bench” with this assignment. Less than 24 hours later, Captain Albracht realized that he would not “sit” again for five days. In a dynamic, first-person account of what occurred at Kate, the reader will receive some of the most revealing and enthralling expositions of that place and that time. The Artillerymen who fought and died on “Kate” were not trained in other than basic infantry tactics. The exigencies of war demand an essential instinct – survival. A fact of war is people die. Bolstered by 156 Rhade Montagnard soldiers / strikers from the Civilian Irregular Defense Group [CIDG], excellent air support and sometimes supply, Lady Luck and the Hand of God, the youngest commander of ground troops in the Vietnam War somehow managed to “hold on, hold out and fight for 5 days”. Captain Albracht commanded “Kate” against 40 – 1 odds with the 28th and the 66th PAVN [Peoples’ Army of North Vietnam]—the NVA. The 66th previously participated in the famous Ia Drang Valley battle, in the Tet ’68 Offensive, and re-grouped and replenished, for an “October Surprise.” Halloween became a week of hell—but Spooky 41, under USAF Major Al Dykes, was on Albracht’s side. It is rare to find a war memoir that is not driven by a single protagonist and rarer still to find a memoir that every person who has served, or did not serve, can identify with the participants. “Abandoned” does not shirk from pointing out neither truly heroic actions nor its cowards. So much of “Abandoned” credits other branches of service during the battle and its inevitable, tenuous, ultimately successful withdrawal from LZ Kate. “Abandoned” is dedicated to the “Yards” and rightly so. It acknowledges Ken Moffett for his devotion to task to make “Abandoned” a reality. Army Captain and Co-Author Marvin J. Wolf made “Abandoned” a cohesive, introspective but factual account. All are Vietnam Veterans and Members of Quad Cities VVA Chapter 299. Though “Abandoned” is specific to the Battle For Firebase Kate, I would compare its conciseness and relevance to the expansive A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan. The perceptive reader will find that not all casualties of war occur on the battlefield. —— JH
ReadersFavorite 5 months ago
Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite I have read a lot of books about war, from ancient battles to the present. I like them maybe because I am a veteran myself. But none has moved me, none has taken me there and made me as proud to be an American fighting man as Abandoned in Hell by William Albracht and Marvin J. Wolf. It is the story of the fight for Firebase Kate during the Vietnam War. I have never read anything quite like it. It reads like a cross between an official Army after-action report and a conversation with a veteran about said action. It is detailed, it is gripping, it is descriptive, and it is very colorful. I couldn’t stop reading. It was like meeting a veteran of that particular battle in a bar somewhere and he was telling me the story over a few beers. We spoke the same language, shared similar experiences, so I could appreciate his story and he could appreciate that he had an audience that understood. Everything about the way this story is told appealed to me. The writing was great, the people were great, the chain of events was very well laid out, and the setting was superb. I learned a lot about Vietnam. There are too many excellent things about Abandoned in Hell to mention in this review. Read the blurb. It is very accurate. I will say that I loved the way the story was told. I loved the tone of the tale. I loved the no-nonsense military jargon. I loved the way the people were described. But I think I loved the way the story unfolded most of all. This is a tale well told. The men on that hill deserve to be honored and remembered. I think this book accomplishes that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This read is gripping, compelling, stunning and accurate. Marvin Wolf, a decorated Vietnam Veteran himself, does a superb job of capturing the technical accuracy of the situation and evoking the emotion at the same time. I have heard this story in parts since Hawk came back from Vietnam. While I heard all or most of the stories, I never heard the entire saga from end to end. I was stunned to the point of goose bumps while reading the full accounting of the story all the way through. You are right there with Captain "Hawk" Albracht, Sgt Dan Pirelli and the rest of the American Artillerymen and Montagnard Soldiers getting pounded by NVA Artillery and fighting off superior forces and their ground assaults! Outnumbered 40 to 1, This young Green Beret Captain in his first taste of combat fought off one of the elite fighting forces of the North Vietnamese Army! Through his heroic leadership, 150 American and Montagnard lives were saved. The title implies and illustrates how this band of brothers was abandoned even if inadvertently by the politicization of the war in Vietnam. President Nixon's policy of "Vietnamization", that is turning the battle over to the ARVN Army, was a failure regarding Firebase Kate. With ample ARVN troops within striking distance to refortify, resupply and even rescue them, They were told NO by higher command.The Americans couldn't and the ARVN wouldn't! Escape or die trying was their only option. It is a truly compelling story of leadership under fire and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Kentucky_Colonel More than 1 year ago
An astonishing tour-de-force. This book glued my eyes to its pages with its non-stop pace and breathless action. In this microcosm of the entire war we meet infantrymen, artillerymen, Air Force and Army aviators, Green Berets of the Special Forces--even a ballsy generator operator--brave and mostly very young Americans battling for their lives and for their buddies. And we meet ticket-punching careerists, clueless commanders, luckless family men, staunch but doomed aboriginal fighters, and a relentless enemy. We meet these men, learn about what makes them fight, weep as they die, rejoice as they live to fight another day. The best book I've read on this controversial war.
MOS8654 More than 1 year ago
Very dry in his writing and he comes off very egotistical in his description of those under his command, as if he and only he could get the job done. Typical junior officer for that time period.