As their gift to the United States Army Command and General Staff College, members of Class 2015 pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor and commemorate the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely. Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest traditions of our Armed Forces.
Commissioned for this painting is renowned artist, James Dietz. His painting portrays the Battle of IA DRANG Valley, the first major battle between American and North Vietnamese forces. In 1965, the United States escalated their involvement in the Southeast Asia conflict, catapulting the country into one of its longest and deadliest wars. On this November morning, Lieutenant Colonel Harold G. "Hal" Moore's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry conducted an assault by helicopter into Landing Zone X-Ray in the IA DRANG Valley, known as the Valley of Death. Using 16 Huey Helicopters, Moore and his men landed in LZ X-Ray, north of Chu Pong Mountain. They would be reinforced by elements of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry and 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry. After an hour on the ground, the 7th Cavalry began taking enemy fire. Despite continued air support, artillery, and aerial rocket fire, the enemy continued their attempt to overpower them with sheer numbers into the thousands. However, Moore knew his life line was the Huey's which continued to resupply them with ammunition and reinforcements from 2-7 CAV and 1-5 CAV, while also evacuating casualties from the battlefield. The Huey Helicopter was vital in the Battle of IA DRANG Valley and solidified the concept of Air-Mobile Operations. LTC Moore's synchronized efforts of the men from 1-7 CAV, 2-7 CAV, and 1-5 CAV were successful in neutralizing the North Vietnamese Army after one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. In the first time since World War II, 3 Medal of Honors were received for actions in the IA DRANG Valley. COL(R) Walter J. "Joe" Marm Jr. received the Medal of Honor for his gallantry on the battlefield as a platoon leader in 1-7 CAV. A-229th Assault Helicopter Battalion Huey pilots, COL(R) Bruce "Ancient Serpent 6" Crandall and CPT Ed W. "Too Tall" Freeman both received the Medal of Honor for their actions while flying unarmed Huey Helicopters through gunfire numerous times, bringing supplies and evacuating casualties. The details of the Valley of Death were recorded by war correspondent Joseph L. "Joe" Galloway, who secured a Huey ride into LZ X-Ray the first night. He remained with the men of 7th Cavalry for the rest of the three day battle. Years later, LTG(R) Hal Moore and Joe Galloway wrote the book We Were Soldiers Once - And Young, which would later be adapted into a movie.
In recognition of a chapter in our Nation's history that must never be forgotten, we renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country's call in Vietnam and those who awaited their safe return. We have seen military family members and veterans who carry a pain that may never fade. May they find peace in knowing their loved ones endure, not only in medals and memories, but in the hearts of all Americans and Service Members, who are forever grateful for their service, valor, and sacrifice. WE LIVE TO HONOR THEM