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Battle of Ia Drang


IN NOVEMBER 1965, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, led by Lieutenant Colonel Harold G. "Hal" Moore, dropped into the Ia Drang Valley and soon engaged the enemy. The three-day battle pitted about 450 U.S. troops against some 2,000 North Vietnamese Army soldiers. Captain Ramon "Tony" Nadal, 29, commanded Alpha Company. One of his platoons was quickly cut off by the enemy.

Tony Nadal fought in the battle of Ia Drang while in the Vietnam war

Capt. Tony Nadal and his fellow soldiers in the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division launched the first heliborne assault of its kind against North Vietnamese forces. (Army photo courtesy Ramon Nadal)

I HEARD DEAFENING fire going off in the area of the first platoon when I got a call from Colonel Moore telling us to find that platoon and bring 'em back. I got my soldiers together in the creek bed — I thought they needed a little pepping up. They'd seen their buddies killed. "We've got a platoon out there, and we're going to go get 'em," I said. Their response was wonderful. We'd moved forward about 50 meters. Suddenly, in a grassy area, all hell broke loose. Unknown to us, the enemy had been crawling forward in that grass. In one respect, our launching the assault may have saved the battalion.

Battle I’ll never forget -  Vietnam  Ia Drang

An aerial rendering of the battlefield in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands in South Vietnam shows Nadal’s A Company position in relation to the cut-off B Company platoon that Nadal and his men went in to rescue under heavy fire. (AARP Studios)

It was brutal. One of my sergeants killed a North Vietnamese soldier with his bayonet; another of my men killed one with his .45. One of my lieutenants wore a compass — I saw it explode on his chest. I came in with 95 guys. Eighteen were killed, and another 26 were wounded in two days.

Battle I'll Never Forget

Lieutenant Colonel Harold G. "Hal" Moore, center, confers with Nadal. (Courtesy Ramon Nadal)

A full account of the battle can be found in 
We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young (1992). Nadal retired as a colonel in 1981 and later worked as a human resources executive.