In 1965 there are some 23,000 American troops on the ground in South Vietnam to beat back the communists and prop up the South Vietnamese Government. But it isn't working. When regimental size units of the regular North Vietnamese Army are spotted in the South, President Lyndon Johnson orders a massive troop build up and doubles the size of the military draft.
November 1965, the first full scale battle of the Vietnam War takes place. The Ia Drang Valley is the first time American draftees faced the Army of North Vietnam. It was one of the bloodiest and chaotic battles of the war. It included pitched bayonet battles, napalm strikes and the first full scale helicopter assault of the war. Desperate American commanders even called in artillery strikes on themselves in a last ditch effort to stop the marauding enemy.
This program includes historical footage and interviews with the people who know this story the best, the soldiers who fought it.
Anchor: Jack Smith
Airdate: October 11, 1998
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