“…All Hell Broke Loose.”
“As soon as the sun came up, all hell broke loose…. it seemed impossible for anyone to survive.”
This is how Specialist LaTeague described the beginning of the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam, where American soldiers of the the 1st Cavalry found themselves outnumbered five to one.
Sergeant Major Plumley calmly said, “Gentlemen, prepare to defend yourselves,” as he yanked out his .45 pistol and jacked a round into the chamber. Plumley was a grizzled veteran of WW II and Korea, including glider assaults in Europe with the 82nd Airborne, and plenty of action with the 101st Airborne, including Porkchop Hill.
By the time he retired, Plumley had over 3 dozen medals for gallantry in five different nations, including multiple Silver stars and Purple Hearts.
Courage was everywhere at Ia Drang. When 2nd Lieutenant Marm’s platoon came under fire from an entrenched machine gun, Marm assaulted the gun himself. He took it out, despite multiple wounds. Twelve enemy soldiers were found dead in the nest the next day.
Marm earned the Medal of Honor.
Charlie Company was taking fire from advances on three sides of their position. Specialist Parish used all of his ammo fighting back. More than 100 enemy troops were found dead around his foxhole after the battle.
Parish earned a Silver Star.
These stories were repeated again and again as the 7th Cavalry held out until reinforcements could arrive.