We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam

We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam


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Lt. Gen. Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway return to Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley more than four decades after the battle they recalled in their #1 New York Times bestseller We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young. Renewing their relationships with ten American veterans of the fabled conflict—and with former adversaries—the authors explore how the war changed them all, as well as their two countries.

We Are Soldiers Still is an emotional journey back to hallowed ground, putting a human face on warfare as the authors reflect on war's devastating cost.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061147777
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/28/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 173,914
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (USA Ret.) graduated from West Point, commanded two infantry companies in the Korean War, and was a battalion and brigade commander in Vietnam. After thirty-two years of service, he retired from the Army in 1977.

Recently retired senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers Joseph L. Galloway served as a special consultant to Gen. Colin Powell at the State Department in 2001 and 2002, and spent more than forty years as an editor and writer for UPI and U.S. News & World Report.

Read an Excerpt

We Are Soldiers Still
A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam


Back to Our Battlefields

For us it was an irresistible urge that gnawed at us for nearly three decades—a need to return and walk the blood-drenched soil of the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, where two great armies clashed head-on in the first major battle of a war that lasted ten years and consumed the lives of 58,256 Americans and perhaps as many as 2 million Vietnamese.

Joe and I had tried twice before, in 1991 and again in 1992, to reach the Ia Drang during our research trips to Vietnam. The Vietnamese government officials in Hanoi had flatly refused permission for such a journey, uncertain whether we had some hidden agenda among the restive Montagnard tribal people in the Central Highlands where our battlefields were located. Or perhaps because our battlefields were located just five miles from the Cambodian border and Khmer Rouge guerrillas had been raiding across the border in that area, creating havoc in the thinly scattered villages near that border.

When we suggested on our 1992 visit that we might simply hire a car and set off south to visit the Ia Drang, our Foreign Ministry minder pointedly said if we left Hanoi on such a mission we would be "followed by a car full of people; not very nice people; and we won't be able to help you then." Only with the publication of Joe's cover article on the Ia Drang in U.S. News & World Report and the release of our book—both translated into Vietnamese and very carefully read in Hanoi—did the roadblocks fall in the fall of 1993.

We had proved by our writings that our only desire wasto accurately report what had happened in the Ia Drang Valley, and we were just as interested in their version of this slice of history as we were in our own. Visit by visit, article by article, our hosts warmed to us personally and to our quest for the ground truth about battles that had deeply affected our lives and theirs.

There was another important factor: The world had changed. Communism had died in the Soviet Union and was being transformed in neighboring China. The rise of the Asian tigers—capitalist neighbors like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, whose economies were booming—had not gone unnoticed by Hanoi. They were maneuvering to gain initial diplomatic recognition by Washington and were seeking foreign investment and most-favored-nation trade terms. This would not come for another year. Communism was alive in Vietnam but it was busy putting on a new face.

Now, in October 1993, a chartered Soviet-made Hind helicopter was lifting off the runway at the old Camp Holloway airfield at Pleiku in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The two Vietnamese civilian pilots confessed up front that they had no idea where, in that rugged plateau that butted up against the Cambodian border, the football-field-sized clearing code-named Landing Zone X-Ray was located. So Bruce Crandall, one of the most experienced pilots in Army Aviation, and I knelt in the narrow space between them in the cockpit, unfolded my old and detailed Army battle map, and, using Joe Galloway's even more ancient Boy Scout compass, pointed the way to the place where our nightmares were born.

In the back of the rattling old helicopter was an assemblage of American and North Vietnamese military men, old soldiers all, who were journeying together to a place where we had all done our very best to kill each other in one month of ambush and assault and set-piece battles in November 1965. It was here that the men of America's 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and those of the 66th, 32nd, and 33rd regiments of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) had tested each other in the crucible of combat. An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 North Vietnamese regulars had been killed or wounded. A total of 305 Americans had died and another 400-plus had been wounded in that time of testing. No one who fought there, on either side, talked seriously about who won and who lost. In such a slaughterhouse there are no winners, only survivors.

What had now brought this little group of survivors together to travel back to a painful shared history? It was, of all things, a book published a year earlier that opened long-closed doors and allowed us to make this needed journey. The book was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young, written by Joe and myself.

We were bound, in this thirty-five-mile flight, for the jungled mountain plateau near the Cambodian border where I had led my beloved troopers of the 1st Battalion 7th U.S. Cavalry in a helicopter air assault into a battle where we would be vastly outnumbered at times. That any of us survived is testimony to the fighting spirit of the great young Americans—the majority of them draftees—who, when their backs were to the wall, fought like lions and died bravely.

Had I commanded the men on the other side I would have said much the same thing of the North Vietnamese peasant boys drafted into their own army and sent south down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to intervene in the war raging in the southern half of the country. They, too, fought bravely and were not afraid to die in the storm of napalm, bombs, artillery shells, and machine-gun and rifle fire we brought down on them. Now their commander, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huu An, and I were in the air, returning together to that ground hallowed by the sacrifices of our men. This time we came in peace, old enemies in the process of becoming new friends—something that would have been inconceivable just two years before.

These seminal battles that opened the waltz in Vietnam—which would stand as the bloodiest of the entire Vietnam War—had been largely forgotten in the long years of combat that followed before helicopters lifted the last Americans off the roofs in downtown Saigon in April 1975.

Joe, a war correspondent who had stood and fought beside us in Landing Zone X-Ray, and I had made two trips to Vietnam in search of the story of those who fought against us. These trips resulted first in a cover article Joe wrote in U.S. News & World Report on October 29, 1990, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of our battles, and then in a contract to write our history of the battles. It was not lost on our former enemy commanders that we had dealt honestly with them and quoted them accurately in both the article and the book.

When ABC television and the Day One program offered to take us back to Vietnam to make a documentary film, the Vietnamese authorities in Hanoi agreed to all that we proposed, including the long-denied trip back to the battlefields in the Central Highlands.

Why this obsession with a remote clearing so far from anywhere? What had happened here years before that indelibly seared the experience into the minds and hearts of men who had fought in other battles and other wars? Those dark November days of 1965 still powerfully grip the imagination of those of us who survived the battles of the Ia Drang on both sides.

Late on Saturday, November 13 of that year, my undersized battalion of only 450 men—most of them draftees led by a hard corps of career Army sergeants who had fought as Infantrymen in Korea and World War II—was ordered to make an air assault by Huey helicopters deep into enemy-controlled territory just five miles from the Cambodian border.

The orders to me were simple: We believe there is a regiment (about 1,500 troops) of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldiers in the area of the Chu Pong Massif, a craggy spine of tumbled peaks over 2,300 feet high that ended at a clearing not far from the Drang River but reached back over ten miles into Cambodia. Take your battalion in there and find and kill them.

We Are Soldiers Still
A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam
. Copyright © by Harold G. Moore. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Foreword Gen. H. Norman Schwartzkopf xi

Preface xv

Chapter 1 Back to Our Battlefields 1

Chapter 2 Conversations with the Enemy 19

Chapter 3 You Killed My Battalion! 41

Chapter 4 Traveling in Time 53

Chapter 5 The Backbone of the Army 71

Chapter 6 Back to the Ia Drang! 83

Chapter 7 A Night Alone on the Battlefield 101

Chapter 8 Back to the Hell That Was Albany 113

Chapter 9 Walking the Ground at Dien Bien Phu 129

Chapter 10 The Never-Ending Story 147

Chapter 11 Lessons on Leadership 157

Chapter 12 On War 187

Epilogue 199

Appendix: Two Heroes for America 203

Acknowledgments 227

An Appeal 231

Index 233

Photography Credits 247

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We Are Soldiers Still 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
PmGallo44 More than 1 year ago
This is a detailed account of the first major battle in the Vietnam War. I am a veteran who was there with Lt. Col Hal Moore and company. This is an accurate true story that brings back many haunting memories....
Blades More than 1 year ago
This book tells a story of a war that lasted 10,000 days. A war that was brought into many homes by television on a daily basis.. My father served in this war. A war that many sons and daughters were involved in, one that I was in... This book as with the first "WE WERE SOLDIERS...AND YOUNG" told, as did the movie with the same title. It's difficult for many to watch, BUT one that must be watched and read. For many it's painful, others just another war book or movie. For others it may start the path for healing. This was my generations war, my fathers was WWII, Korea and Vietnam. History repeats itself as now OUR sons and daughters are at war in the middle east. It's part of our history. A good book. Thank you to the authors for writing this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good follow up to "We Were Soldiers Once and Young".
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joe Galloway is a preeminent war correspondent, so if anyone is looking for a great book on the Vietnam War that tells it like it was, look no further. Joe and Lt. Gen Harold Moore, USA (Ret.), one of the ground commanders Galloway followed during the Vietnam War, tell a great story. This book should be in everyone¿s library.
Hiromatsuo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Billed as a sequel, but more like a "where are they now" book. Overall, an excellent follow-up to their classic war memoir "We Were Soldiers Once...And Young". Hal Moore and Joe Galloway talked about several trips they took back to Vietnam and to the battlefields of Ia Drang (LZ X-Ray & Albany), along with side trips to Dien Bien Phu. They also discuss topics such as how Vietnam as rapidly changed over the past 30 years. It's somewhat different in style from the first book; having more of a reflective and introspective nature to it. Rather than give you details of the savage battles that took place, the authors offer reflection and reconciliation with their old enemies, and try to come to some closure on the events that changed their lives while serving in Vietnam. It's a bit easier and quicker to read than the first book, and has a more personal style. The chapters on leadership and war, while seemingly out of place, I found to be very enlightening in terms of learning about Hal Moore's personal values and character. I'm becoming more interested in leadership, and I think Lt. Gen. Hal Moore is definitely one of the best, and represents something all military officers should aspire to become.
sgtbigg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the follow up to Moore and Galloway¿s We Were Soldiers Once¿and Young. The original book, for those who have not read it, documents the battles of the Ia Drang valley in 1965, in which Moore commanded the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. The more recent book discusses Moore and Galloway¿s trips to Vietnam while researching the original book. Moore had the opportunity to meet the men who had commanded the North Vietnamese forces in the Ia Drang valley and found that they had much in common. Moore believes the U.S. ultimately failed in Vietnam because we did not understand the nationalist nature of the forces we were fighting; if we had focused on this rather then on their communism we probably would not have been involved in the war. I am not sure I entirely agree with Moore but he does make good points. The most important aspect of the book is that it provides a rare look at the North Vietnamese point of view. At a meeting between American and Vietnamese veterans of Ia Drang, an American who had been a machine gunner explained to a Vietnamese colonel where he was during the battle, upon hearing this the colonel replied, ¿You and your machine gun killed my battalion. Four hundred men. You killed my best friend.¿ Moore and Galloway put a face on the faceless enemy.If that¿s not enough to get you to read the book, throw in a couple of meetings with Vo Nguyen Giap, a visit to Dien Bien Phu, and an overwhelming tribute to Rick Rescorla who survived the Ia Drang but not the World Trade Center. One of the best books I¿ve read in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good finish to the mental aspect of we were soldiers once and young
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Jeffery Olsen More than 1 year ago
I agree with both the comments below me. The trials and pain these men went through may be forgotten by some, but they will be a model for the rest of my life. Likewise, I hope that the book before this becomes avalable to purchase soon. There is never a better time to find out what words like honor, brotherhood, friendship, loyalty, and sacrafice mean. This is one of those books that can do that.
BigRed56 More than 1 year ago
I hope they make the first book available for the Nook e reader. I watched the movie and it was great as well. My son is in the Marines and I hope he has a leader like Lt General Harold G. Moore.
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