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Table of Contents Acknowledgments ix Preface 1 Prologue 5 1. The Road to War 7 2. 173d Airborne Brigade 30 3. 5–7 November 1965 39 4. 8 November 1965 0800–1200 46 5. 8 November 1965 1200–2400 73 6. 9–12 November 1965 86 7. The Ia Drang Valley 104 8. Afterthought 113 9. Back to ’Nam 117 10. Back in ’Nam 125 11. Lessons Learned 129 12. Big & Rich 134 13. PTSD 137 Appendix 1. The Medal of Honor 155 Appendix 2. Where Are They Now? 157 Appendix 3. Key Personnel 160 Appendix 4. Combat After Action Report 161 vii.
Acknowledgments I began this project more than 20 years ago, but the journey actually began November 5, 1965, the ﬁrst day of Operation HUMP. Either way, it has been a long process. In that time I have encountered many people who have helped in their own way: some with advice, some who kicked me in the butt for motivation, some for their stories, and some by just being there. I wish to acknowledge them all, but time has removed many names and faces from my mind. So let me begin with those I do remem- ber.
2 173d Airborne Brigade On Okinawa a lady remarked that I commanded the most con- ceited unit she had ever encountered. She was told, “Oh no! last year we were conceited. This year we are perfect.” —MG Ellis Williamson (Ret.) The 173d was activated on June 25, 1963, and assigned to the Ryukyan Islands with an authorized strength of 3530 officers and men.1 Its organic units were the 1st and 2nd Battalions (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment; Company D, 16th Armor; 3rd Battalion, 319th Artillery; 173d Engineer Company; 173d Support Battalion; and Troop E, 17th Cavalry.2 Brigadier General Ellis W. Williamson was Brigade Commander.