Comanche Home     History Main     Reunions     Guest Book     Stories     Search

1965     1966     1967     1968     1969     1970     1971     1972

July 1965     August 1965     September 1965
October 1965     December 1965

Summary November 1965

November marked the first major battle between US forces and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), known to us as the NVA.  Officially labeled the Pleiku Campaign, it earned a Presidential Unit Citation for the entire 1st Cavalry Division.  There were many fire fights, but the two largest battles were at LZ X-Ray, and LZ Albany.  The 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry was moved from the 2nd Brigade to the 3rd Brigade and joined the campaign on November 12th.  

November - Early in the Month

Preparing to move out from 1st Cav's main camp at An Khe to the Ia Drang Valley.  This is C Company's area at the base camp.  (Webmaster note:  Notice the troops are still wearing state-side type fatigues.)  (Source: Ed Boyt)

Comanche_An_Khe_C_Company_Area_November_1965.jpg (50749 bytes)
Click on photo to see larger version.

Courtesy Ed Boyt

November 11

Since late October, other units of the 1st Cavalry Division had made contact and been in firefights with units of the People's Army of Viet Nam (PAVN), or what we called the NVA.  The Special Forces camp at Plie Mei had been attacked by NVA troops.  The attack failed, but helicopters of the 1/9th Cav had pursued the enemy, and ground troops of the 1/9th had captured an enemy hospital.  The 1st Cav was now looking for the main part of the NVA forces, and the 2/5th Cav was called in to help.

C Company, along with the rest of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, left An Khe on CV-2 Caribou and C-123 Provider Air Force transports early in the morning, and were taken to a staging area named "Stadium."  (It was on the edge of the edge of the sprawling Catecka Tea Plantation, about 15 kilometers south of Pleiku.).  The company, along with the rest of the battalion except B Company, was helilifted (sic) into a area designated as Area Red.  (Source: 2/5 Cav After Action Report of Silver Bayonet dtd 5 December 1965)

(Return to top of Page)

November 12

While the remainder of the battalion stayed in the landing area, C Company was helilifted to a new patrol base.  (Source: 2/5 Cav After Action Report of Silver Bayonet dtd 5 December 1965)

(Return to top of Page)

November 13

The entire battalion conducted an air assault into LZ Falcon.  C Company conducted a search and Destroy sweep out from the LZ.   (Source: 2/5 Cav After Action Report of Silver Bayonet dtd 5 December 1965)

(Return to top of Page)

November 14-15

Charlie Company, along with the rest of the 2/5 Cav,  combat assaulted into a new LZ named Victor, about 3.5 kilometers (clicks, in the vernacular) southwest of LZ X-Ray, where the 1/7 Cav was fighting to stay alive.  Their mission was to move overland from LZ Victor to LZ X-Ray and relieve the 1/7 Cav.

At 8:00 AM the morning November, the 2/5 Cav moved out from Victor with Company A and Company B abreast, and C echeloned to the left rear.  The march to LZ X-Ray took about four hours and was uneventful, though A Company had some light contact.

Below is a map carried by CPT Boyt during that battle.  The reader might wish to print out the map.  (Source: Ed Boyt and "Pleiku: The Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam" by J. D. Coleman.) 

  (Return to top of Page)

November 14-17

C 2/5 Cav is involved in the famous Ia Drang Valley fight.  This was the first major engagement between US Army troops and main force units of the People's Army of Vietnam (known to us as the NVA.)  On November 14, 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry air assaulted  into LZ X-Ray, adjacent to the Chu Pong Massif near the Cambodian border in II Corps.  It ran into the 32nd, 33rd, and 66th Regiments of the NVA.  LZ X-Ray became a killing ground, and the 1/7th was almost overrun.  During the morning hours of November 15th, C 2/5 Cav, along with the rest of the battalion, marched overland to their aid, closing on LZ X-Ray at noon.  Almost immediately , C  2/5 was involved in the rescue of 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1/7th Cav, which had been separated from the rest of the battalion.  C 2/5 Cav was commanded by CPT Edward A.  Boyt.  That night, they formed part of the perimeter around LZ X-Ray.  The following morning, they secured the LZ while the 1/7th was extracted.  During the morning of November 17th, the 2/5 Cav marched out of LZ X-Ray to clear the way for a B-52 strike on the Chu Pong Massif.  The move to LZ Columbus was made with C Company in the lead, and was uneventful.  (Sources:  "1st Cavalry Division After Action Report Pleiku Campaign", "Pleiku - The Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam" - J. D. Coleman, and "We Were Soldiers Once . .  .and Young" - Moore and Galloway)  Also 7th Cavalry on LZ X-Ray of the Ia Drang Valley

Charlie Company did some fighting.  SSG Jack Hembree recalls holding a "Mad Minute" at dawn of the 16th, and he shot an NVA sniper out of a nearby tree.  He also recalls SSG Juan Cruz being awarded the Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device for carrying mortar ammunition across an open field under heavy enemy fire.

(Return to top of Page)


A bomb run by U. S. Air Force fighters on the Chu Pong Massif west of X-Ray.  NVA troops were massed on this mountain, and  the NVA headquarters was located there as well..

Comanche_LZ_X-Ray_Bomb_Run_Chu_Pong_Massif_Ed_Boyt_Nov_1965.jpg (40563 bytes)


2LT Jim Mullen taking a break at LZ Columbus.

Comanche_LZ-X-Ray_Jim_Mullen_November_1965.jpg (47804 bytes)
Click on photos to see larger version.

Courtesy Ed Boyt

Comanche_Boyt_et_al_with_Damaged_M16s_LZ_XRay_Nov_65.jpg (61864 bytes)
Click on photo to see larger version.

Courtesy Ed Boyth

(Return to top of Page)


Hey Ed - you brought the artillery in a bit too close, eh? On the night of November 16th, C Company held part of the perimeter.  Artillery was called in so close that some M-16s were damaged.  It was miraculous no trooper was hit.  From left to right, 2LT James Mullen, 2LT Donald O'Keefe, CPT Ed Boyt, 1LT Don "Saint"  St. John, and the artillery forward observer, 2LT Wallace.  Note Wallace is holding up the shattered piece of the fore stock of his M-16.



Map_Ia_Drang_November_65.jpg (289516 bytes)
Click on map to see larger version.  Caution - this is a very large file.

Courtesy Ed Boyt

CPT Ed Boyt carried this map during the Battle of the Ia Drang.  The highlighted area on the map is where the battle was fought.  Ed's circle labeled "1st night" is LZ Victor, with the route overland taken by the 2/5 Cav.  Circled is LZ X-Ray itself labeled "2d & 3d Night", and finally, he marked the overland route taken by 2/5 Cav to LZ Columbus, labeled "4th night.".  The arc drawn in the upper right quadrant of LZ X-Ray represents C Company's portion of the perimeter.  The very small circle due west of X-Ray is the "Lost Platoon" of A 1/7 that C 2/5 Cav helped rescue.  The A-B-D etc, penciled on the map were battalion assigned reference points for quick transmittal of unit locations.  (Return to top of Page)

LZ Columbus - most of the artillery was fired from this LZ in support of X-Ray, and C 2/5 Cav marched to Columbus as they left X-Ray.  In this picture, a Chinook helicopter is bringing in supplies.

Comanche_LZ_Columbus_Nov_65_C_2_17_FA.jpg (58439 bytes)
Click on Photo to See Larger Verison

Courtesy John Picciolo

Webmaster Note:  C Company was involved on another LZ X-Ray in another important engagement - the Cambodian incursion of May 1, 1970

Ia Drang Valley
South Vietnam
14 - 17 November 1965

This is the map I carried as Company Commander of C Co, 2nd Bn 5th Cavalry in the Battle of the Ia Drang.  When the 1/7th Cav. landed at LZ X Ray they were attacked by a North Vietnamese regiment.  The 2/5th Cav. assembled at LZ Victor and the following morning, walked overland to reinforce the 7th Cav on X Ray.  We remained there for two nights and then moved overland to LZ Columbus. The 2/7th Cav, who followed us out of X Ray, turned north towards LZ Albany.  They were attacked by a North Vietnamese Battalion on the way and it became a fight for survival for the 2/7th Cav.


North Vietnamese:

Killed (body count) 1,519
Killed (estimated but couldn't be counted 2,042
Total 3,561
Wounded 1,178
Captured 157

1st Cavalry

Killed 304
Wounded 524
Captured 0

The entire campaign lasted 35 days.

The Presidential Unit Citation was awarded the 1st Cav Division by President Johnson for its actions in the campaign

(Source: Ed Boyt)

(Return to top of Page)

November 18

While moving out of LZ Columbus, 2LT James Mullen is seriously wounded by a punji stake and evacuated to the 15th Medical Battalion.  He recalls "he stepped forward with his left leg, but then his right leg wouldn't move" and he found himself impaled.  The punji stake had punctured an artery, and he bled profusely. Needing to evacuate him quickly, the only open area was too small for a Medevac bird (a D Model Huey). Lacking any C-4 explosive to blow a bigger LZ, it looked dark for Jim.   But a nearby gunship pilot (a B Model Huey) heard the problem, went back to LZ Columbus where he dropped his door gunners and co-pilot), landed at the PZ  by descending straight down (a very difficult action), picking up Mullen, then going straight back up. 

Back at An Khe under the care of the 15th Medical Battalion, Jim recovered - but only after telling the nurse that he couldn't take the pain of the penicillin shots anymore.

Ed Boyt would love to know the name of this young pilot as he feels he deserves nothing less than a Distinguished Flying Cross.  (Source:  Morning Report DA Form 1 dtd 22 November 65 and a conversation with Ed Boyt, J. D. Coleman, Jim Mullen, and Don O'Keefe on April 28, 2001)

  (Return to top of Page)

November 18

2/5 Cav moved from LZ Columbus, then combat assaulted into an open field that became LZ Crooks, named for the 2/5th Cav Operations Officer, MAJ Ron Crooks.  The battalion's mission is to patrol the area and try to find elements of the NVA regiments fleeing the battlefield, as well as provide security for C Battery, 2/17th Artillery.  (Source:  1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) Pleiku Campaign Combat Operations After Action Report, Ed Boyt,  and John Picciolo.)


(Webmaster Note:  C 2/5 Cav veterans who served later in the war are probably a bit amazed to see an artillery unit firing missions from what is essentially an open field.  There were no fortifications, no sandbags, no gun pits.  Tactics during that time in the war were such that it was believed moving the firing batteries frequently greatly reduced their vulnerability to NVA attack because the enemy could not deploy rapidly.  While the 2/5 Cav was assigned to secure LZ Crooks, it did so by setting up an unfortified perimeter and aggressive patrolling.)


Comanche_LZ_Crooks_Nov_65_C_2_17_FA.jpg (44789 bytes)
Click on Photo to See Larger Version

Courtesy John Picciolo, formerly 2/17th Field Artillery. 

From one of John's emails:

We were the practice people for airmobile concept. Never saw Fire Bases and LZ's as they evolved into later. I don't think we knew what was around us besides our perimeter grunts. We lucked out a few times as I think both sides were feeling out each other. We did dig a few holes but bunkers were for base camp. I thought we had it made compared to our security grunts. I did not have enough contact with these soldiers.


(Return to top of Page)

November 20

PFC Richard Broda,  of 3rd Platoon, died from multiple fragment wounds from friendly artillery fire at 4:15 AM near LZ Crook in Kontum Province.    He was one of the original members of the company from Ft. Benning,  (Source: DA Form 1, Morning Report dtd 21 November 65)  and was only fours away from being sent back to An Khe for his DEROS back home.  (Source: Frank Leavens, 3rd Platoon Leader)  Artillery was being fired towards a target far away from Charlie Company - far enough so the impact of the rounds could not be heard.  PFC Broda was forward of the company perimeter and not in his foxhole when he was hit.  (Source:  Phone conversation with James McElwee on Jan 31, 2004))

(Return to top of Page)

October 23 - November 26 (The Pleiku Campaign)

The entire 1st Cavalry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for actions during the Pleiku Campaign.

Right:  Award for 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry

Far right:  Order and Citation for entire division

Documents_Presidential_Unit_Citation.jpg (35727 bytes)
Click on Document to See Larger Version

Documents_DA_Order_40_Presidential_Unit_for_Pleiku_dtd_21_Sept_67.jpg (404765 bytes)
Click on Document to See Larger Version (Very large file)

Courtesy Parnell Bethune

The Cavalair (the division newspaper) ran a photo and story of President Johnson awarding the Presidential Unit Citation in the September 27, 1967 edition.

Comanche_Cavalair_Sept_67_Award_of_PUC.jpg (73780 bytes)
Click on Photo to See Larger Version


Comanche Home     History Main     Reunions     Guest Book     Stories     Search

1965     1966     1967     1968     1969     1970     1971     1972

July 1965     August 1965     September 1965
October 1965     December 1965

Updated September 08, 2006