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X-Ray - Battle of Ia Drang - Netflix
The Battle of Ia Drang was the first major battle between the United States Army and the North Vietnamese Army-NVA (People's Army of Vietnam-PAVN), part of the Pleiku Campaign conducted early in the Vietnam War. It comprised two main engagements. The first involved the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and supporting units, and took place November 14–16, 1965 at LZ X-Ray, located at the eastern foot of the Chu Pong massif in the central highlands of Vietnam. The second engagement involved the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment plus supporting units, and took place on November 17 at LZ Albany, farther north in the Ia Drang Valley. It is notable for being the first large scale helicopter air assault and also the first use of B-52 strategic bombers in a tactical support role. The size of the clearing at LZ X-Ray meant that troops had to be shuttled in, the first lift landing at 10:48. The last troops of the battalion were landed at 15:20, by which time the troops on the ground were already heavily engaged, with one platoon cut off. Faced with heavy casualties and unexpected opposition, 1st Battalion was reinforced by B Company 2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry. Fighting continued the following day when the LZ was further reinforced by A Company 2/7 and also by 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry, and the lost platoon was rescued. The last Vietnamese assaults on the position were repulsed on the morning of 16th. As the Vietnamese forces melted away, the remainder of 2/7 and A Company of 1st Battalion 5th Cavalry arrived. By mid-afternoon 1/7 and B Company 2/7 had been airlifted to LZ Falcon, and on the 17th November 2/5 marched out towards LZ Columbus while the remaining 2/7 and 1/5 companies marched towards LZ Albany. The latter force became strung out and, in the early afternoon, were badly mauled in an ambush before they could be reinforced and extricated. The battle at LZ X-Ray was documented in the CBS special report Battle of Ia Drang Valley by Morley Safer and the critically acclaimed book We Were Soldiers Once... And Young by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. In 1994, Moore, Galloway and men who fought on both the American and North Vietnamese sides, traveled back to the remote jungle clearings where the battle took place. At the time the U.S. did not have diplomatic relations with Vietnam. The risky trip which took a year to arrange was part of an award-winning ABC News documentary, They Were Young and Brave produced by Terence Wrong. In 2002, Randall Wallace depicted the battle at LZ X-Ray in the movie We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson and Barry Pepper as Moore and Galloway, respectively. Galloway later described Ia Drang as “the battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win”.
X-Ray - Events leading to an ambush - Netflix
The first indication of enemy presence was observed by the reconnaissance platoon's point squad, leading the American column. SSgt. Donald J. Slovak, the squad leader, saw “Ho Chi Minh sandal foot markings, bamboo arrows on the ground pointing north, matted grass and grains of rice.” After marching about 2,000 meters, Alpha Company (1/7) leading 2/7, headed northwest, while 2/5 continued on to LZ Columbus. Alpha Company came upon some grass huts, which they were directed to burn. At 11:38, Lt. Col. Tully's men of 2/5, were logged into its objective, LZ Columbus. Communist troops in the area consisted of elements the 8th Battalion, 66th Regiment, 1st Battalion, 33rd Regiment NVA and the headquarters of the 3rd Battalion, 33rd Regiment. The 33rd Regiment's battalions were under strength from casualties incurred during the battle at the U.S. Army Special Forces Plei Me camp, the 8th Battalion was General Chu Huy Man's reserve battalion, fresh and rested. The elements of the two NVA battalions that were involved in the clash with the Air Cavalry troops were: 1st Company/1st Battalion/33rd Regiment, 2nd Company/1st Battalion/33rd Regiment, 6th Company/8th Battalion/66th Regiment, 7th Company/8th Battalion/66th Regiment and 8th Company/8th Battalion/66th Regiment. While the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was moving up northwest toward the position of 1st Battalion CP/33rd Regiment nested at the east side of Ia Drang river, the 8th Company/8th Battalion/66th Regiment marched down southeast along the Ia Drang river, and the 6th Company/8th Battalion/66th Regiment and 7th Company/8th Battalion/66th Regiment marched down on a collusion path toward the Air Cavalry unit. The 8th Battalion was led by Lê Xuân Phối. Alpha Company noticed the sudden absence of air cover and their commander, Capt. Joel Sugdinis, wondered where the aerial rocket artillery choppers were. He soon heard the sound of distant explosions to his rear; the B-52s were making their bombing runs on the Chu Pong massif. Lt. D. P. (Pat) Payne, the recon platoon leader, was walking around some termite hills when he suddenly came upon an NVA soldier resting on the ground. Payne jumped on the NVA trooper and took him prisoner. Simultaneously, about 10 yards away, his platoon sergeant captured a second NVA soldier. Other members of the NVA recon team may have escaped and reported to the headquarters of the 1st Battalion, 33rd Regiment. The NVA then began to organize an assault on the American column. As word of the capture reached him, Lt. Col. McDade ordered a halt as he went forward from the rear of the column to interrogate the prisoners personally. The two captured NVA soldiers were policed up about 100 yards from the southwestern edge of the clearing called Albany, the report of which reached division forward at Pleiku at 11:57. Lt. Col. McDade then called his company commanders of 2/7 forward for a conference; most of whom were accompanied by their radio operators. Alpha Company moved forward to LZ Albany; McDade and his command group were with them. Following orders, the other company commanders were moving forward to join Lt. Col. McDade. Delta Company, which was next in the column following Alpha Company, was holding in place; so was Charlie Company, which was next in line. Second Battalion Headquarters Company followed, and Alpha Company, 1/5, brought up the rear of the column. The American column was halted in unprepared, open terrain, and strung out in 550-yard (500 m) line of march. Most of the units had flank security posted but the men were worn out from almost 60 hours without sleep and four hours of marching. The elephant grass was chest-high so visibility was limited. The radios for air or artillery support were with the company commanders. An hour and 10 minutes after the NVA recon soldiers were captured, Alpha Company and Lt. Col. McDade's command group had reached the Albany clearing. McDade and his group walked across the clearing and into a clump of trees. Beyond that clump of trees was another clearing. The remainder of the battalion was in a dispersed column to the east of the LZ. Battalion SgtMaj. James Scott and Sgt. Charles Bass then attempted to question the prisoners again. While they were doing this, Bass heard Vietnamese voices and the interpreter confirmed that these were NVA talking. Alpha Company had been in the LZ about five minutes and about then, small arms fire began.
X-Ray - References - Netflix