Cover: Seven FIrefights in Vietnam

John A. Cash
John Albright
Allan W. Sandstrum

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Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 71-605212
First Printed 1970-CMH Pub 70-4
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328


The Center of Military History is again pleased to reprint Seven Firefights in Vietnam, the first of any kind of publication under the Center's imprint to appear on this conflict.

The events described in this small book are illustrative of much that took place in Vietnam after American troops were first committed in force in 1965: of heroic achievement and sacrifice, of human error, of experimentation and innovation, of a wily and elusive enemy, and of a new dimension in warfare afforded by the helicopter.

These accounts serve as a preliminary record of the achievements of men who served their nation well, a preface to a full military history of the war that is in preparation. The narratives also serve as valuable lessons to soldiers pursuing lessons of small unit actions.

Washington, D.C.
11 October 1984

Brigadier General, USA (Ret.)
Chief of Military History


The Authors

John Albright served in Vietnam as a captain in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and participated in the action, "Convoy Ambush on Highway 1." He received the B.A. degree from Oklahoma State University and is engaged in graduate study at The American University. He has served two short terms in Vietnam as a civilian historian while employed in the Office of the Chief of Military History.

John A. Cash, Major, Infantry, an experienced officer, served in Vietnam as a company commander and as a member of a brigade operations staff in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), in the latter capacity participating in the action, "Fight at Ia Drang." He also served two short tours in Vietnam as a historian on special missions for the Office of the Chief of Military History, to which he was assigned from 1966 through 1968. On the second short tour he was involved in the action, "Gunship Mission." Major Cash holds the B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from Rutgers University and the M.A. from the University of Wisconsin.

Allan W. Sandstrum, Lieutenant Colonel, Field Artillery, served on the G-3 staff of I Field Force, Vietnam. He received the B.A. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and the M.A. degree in history from the University of Texas at E1 Paso. Colonel Sandstrum is currently assigned to the Office of the Chief of Military History.



These accounts of fighting in Vietnam are based upon official U.S. Army records-daily journals, journal files, and after action reports; upon interviews conducted soon after the events by historical officers in Vietnam; and upon interviews and correspondence conducted later by the authors themselves. Although no documentation is included in the published work, a fully annotated copy of the manuscript is on file in the Office of the Chief of Military History.

The editor for the volume was Loretto C. Stevens; the copy editor, Barbara J. Harris. Photographs were selected, with the assistance of the authors, by Ruth A. Phillips. Maps were prepared in the office of The Adjutant General. The painting on the front cover is the work of Spec. 4 Paul Rickert; on the back cover, the work of Pfc. Alexander A. Bogdonovich. The undersigned exercised general supervision over the preparation of the studies.

Washington, D.C.
25 March 1970

Deputy Chief Historian for Southeast Asia


Number Page
1. FIGHT AT IA DRANG, 14-16 NOVEMBER 1965 by John A. Cash 3
2. CONVOY AMBUSH ON HIGHWAY 1, 21 NOVEMBER 1966 by John Albright 41
3. AMBUSH AT PHUOC AN, 18 JUNE 1967 by John A Cash 59
4. FIGHT ALONG THE RACH BA RAI, 15 SEPTEMBER 1967 by John Albright 67
5. THREE COMPANIES AT DAK TO, 6 NOBEMBER 1967 by Alllan W. Sandstrum 85
6. BATTLE OF LANG VEI, 7 FEBRUARY 1968 by John A. Cash 109
7. GUNSHIP MISSION, 5 MAY 1968 by John A. Cash 139

1. South Vietnam 2
2. Reconnaissance Flight Route, 14 November 1965 8
3. X-RAY Perimeter, Night, 14 Nobember 1965 29
4. Movement, 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 15 November 1965 35
5. Enemy Ambush, 1025, 21 November 1966 45
6. 1st Squadron Maneuvers, 1050-1700, 21 November 1966 50
7. Phuoc An Ambush, 18 January 1967 64
8. Rach Ba Rai Area 66
9. Rach Ba Rai Ambush, 15-16 September 1967 72
10. II Corps Tactical Zone 86
11. Movements of Companies B and D, 6 Nobember 1967 93
12. Enemy Attacks on Company D, 6 November 1967 96
13. Enemy Attacks on Company B, 6 November 1967 99
14. Lang Vei Special Forces Camp, 7 February 1968 114
15. Gunship Target and Landing Area, 5 May 1968 144


Transport Helicopters Landing Infantrymen 10
Chinook Retrieving Downed Helicopter 21
Infantry Advancing at X-RAY 25
Company B Sweeping Forward of the Battalion Perimeter 38
Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore, Jr., and Enemy Casualty 40
Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle 42
Hoisting CONEX Container for Convoy Loading 46
Burning Truck With Trailer, Opposite Banana Grove 51
Aerial View of Convoy Ambush After First Air Strike 53
Infantryman Loading an M79 Grenade Launcher 60
USS Colleton 68
Armored Troop Carrier 69
Monitor 70
Aerial View of Rach Ba Rai Battle Area 79
Navy Machine Gunner of the Riverine Force 81
Helicopter Landing Deck Medical Aid Boat 82
Command and Communications Boat 83
Laden Soldiers Pushing Through Elephant Grass Near Dak To 89
Montagnard Irregulars 90
Soldiers Laying Down Covering Fire With M60 95
173d Airborne Brigade Soldiers Under Fire at Hill 823 100
Spooky Making a Firing Pass Over Kontum Jungles 105
Hill 823 After the Battle 107
4.2-Inch Mortar 116
Light Assault Weapon Carried on a Soldier's Back 118
Rockets From Maj. Chadwick C. Payne's Gunship Hit Enemy Positions 148
Maj. James P. Hunt's Gunship Burns After Landing 150
Downed Crew Leaves Popular Force Compound for Rescue Helicopter 152


All illustrations are from Department of Defense files except following: the pictures on pages 21, 25, 38, 40, which are reproduced with the permission of the Associated Press; the pictures on pages 51 and 53, furnished by Capt. George E. Kinback; and the picture on page 107, furnished by Lt. Col. James H. Johnson.

page created 4 May 2001

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