I’ve read a lot about Vietnam. It was the photography of this war/conflict that inspired me to be a photographer in the first place. I saw a Larry Burrow’s image and it made me feel unlike I’d ever felt before, and I wanted to make other people feel the same way. Ia Drang, and the battle that took place there, is the stuff of legends and also turned the tide of what the Vietnamese call “The American War.”
It was all I could do to keep it together reading this book. Seriously. What these men did, what they suffered through, on both sides, is simply unimaginable. This was a straight up battle. A relatively small group of Americans vs a very large group of North Vietnamese. First with small arms, then artillery and ultimately with white phosphorus, napalm and hand-to-hand combat. Men were found in piles of other men, locked in mortal moments. A LOT of men died.
If you have any interest in war, or even if you don’t, this is a good story to know. Anytime you find yourself casually talking of war this book is a good reminder of the real cost of our decisions. “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young,” by Lt. Gen. Harold Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway, is breathtaking and heartbreaking. Get it, read it.