The 50th anniversary of the battle of Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam

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This month marks 50 years since the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, the first major fight between the U.S. Army and elements of its air cavalry and the People’s Army of North Vietnam. Five soldiers from Maryland were killed on the same day (Nov. 17, 1965) during the height of the battle, and others were listed among the heavy casualties inflicted on both sides in fighting across South Vietnam’s central highlands. The story of part of the battle was told in the 1992 book, “We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young,” by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and war correspondent Joseph Galloway. The 2002 movie, “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson, was based on the Moore-Galloway book. According to Galloway, 305 Americans were killed in combat in the central highlands between Oct. 23 and Nov. 26, 1965; more than 500 others were wounded. The U.S. estimates of deaths among North Vietnamese regulars ranged from 1,000 to more than 1,700.

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