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VIETNAM 1965: STUMBLING INTO WAR

1965 was the year America took the gloves off in Vietnam, moving from “advising and assisting” the South Vietnamese military to an active combat role. The first U.S. ground combat troops arrived there in March. That same month, the United States began bombing North Vietnam in Operation Rolling Thunder. In November, troops would take on North Vietnamese regulars for the first time in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley.

Once again, America was at war.

Among the casualties: President Lyndon B. Johnson’s legacy and Americans' faith in their government.



 


 





 


 





 


 



 

 

By Joseph L. Galloway, Special to Stars and Stripes

It was Sunday, Nov. 14, 1965, just after dark when I climbed aboard a Huey helicopter filled with crates of ammunition and hand grenades and hitched a ride into the pages of history.

We were bound for a small clearing called Landing Zone X-Ray, where an understrength battalion of the 7th Cavalry was fighting for its life.

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Ia Drang Valley: Where the US truly went to war

On Nov. 14, 1965, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, loaded onto helicopters and flew to a remote patch of ground in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam’s central highlands. Within an hour, they came under attack for the first time by North Vietnamese regulars, launching a four-day battle that killed hundreds of Americans, perhaps more than 1,000 Vietnamese and changed the course of the Vietnam War.

 



 


 



 

 

 

Budding anti-war movement 'changed everything'

The self-immolations of 1965 were the most dramatic acts of a budding anti-war movement. The centralized and diverse effort intertwined with movements for civil rights and free speech and against war, nuclear weapons and communism — then overtook them all.

 

 



 


 



 

 

 

 

GALLERY | Red Beach, Da Nang: Then and now

Four U.S. ships of Amphibious Task Force 76 appeared off Da Nang, Vietnam, on March 8, 1965. Intermittent rain and up to 4-foot waves delayed the landing at Red Beach 2 for about an hour.

With the arrival of the Marines and the escalation of the air campaign, America’s military role in Vietnam crossed the line from advise and assist to offensive warfare.

Called Red Beach because of the colors reflected over the water at dawn and sunset, it is now considered a clean, peaceful tourist attraction, about 9 miles from Da Nang’s city center.


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Anthony V. Fasolo - Army

From December 1969 to December 1970, I was responsible for reporting the names of all dead and wounded Army personnel to the Pentagon. As a U.S. Army major, I had 10 soldiers assigned to my branch who actually typed the messages for transmission to the Pentagon. The codes we used for the various reports were: Friars, Loyals, Crowns, Punches and Ethers.

 

 

As Stars and Stripes looks at the monumental moments, actions and people from the Vietnam War on its 50th anniversary, we struggle to do justice to the life-changing war.

So we’re hoping our readers can make sense of it.

In six words.

It’s not a new concept. Two Army veterans launched the Six Word War project, a crowd-sourced memoir of Iraq and Afghanistan.

We want to do the same for Vietnam.

We’re looking for descriptions in six words of your Vietnam War experiences, at home or on the front lines. Whether you served, protested or lived the war through someone in your family.

We’ll publish the results as part of our Vietnam at 50 project. Please submit your six words using the form below, through Twitter with the tag #Vietnam6Words, or on our Facebook page



 


 



 

 

 

Medics never give up, despite the odds

The young Army doctor put his stethoscope on the form before him for perhaps the 10th time, listened closely to the faint pulse, then stood erect and shook his head. "I don't think he has a chance, but the only way we'll ever save him is to get him to Saigon. He might not even survive the trip, but he'll die for sure unless we get him out of here."