Dak to: America's Sky Soldiers in South Vietnam's Central Highlands

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9780671522681: Dak to: America's Sky Soldiers in South Vietnam's Central Highlands

For one of Vietnam's bloodiest battles, America brought out its best. Their officers and senior noncoms were drawn from the U.S. Army's elite. They were an all-volunteer paratrooper unit, General William Westmoreland's "fire brigade", dropped from the air wherever the fighting was heaviest. They were the "Sky Soldiers," men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. And during the five months from June to November, 1967, they fought many of the bloodiest battles of the entire, decade-long Vietnam War at the small mountain hamlet in the Central Highlands called Dak To. From their very first engagement with the North Vietnamese Army, when a whole company of paratroopers was nearly wiped out, to the savage, climactic battle for Hill 875, here is a riveting, hard-hitting account of how the Sky Soldiers plunged into some of Southeast Asia's most forbidding terrain, against a professional enemy who held no fear of the airborne. Denied food and water, cut off from support, facing annihilation, the beleaguered fighters finally faced down the North Vietnamese in a nightmarish Thanksgiving Day confrontation. As a result, three NVA regiments, crippled by the 173rd, were forced to sit out the crucial Tet Offensive of January, 1968. The most eloquent testimony to the courage of the Sky Soldiers came during the memorial service to their dead comrades, when pairs of jump boots were arranged in neat rows to represent each fallen paratrooper. It was a ceremony every survivor of the 173rd Airborne and the battle for Dak To remembers to this day.

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From Library Journal:

Instead of fighting Communist insurgents in Vietnam using their own guerrilla tactics, General Westmoreland chose to employ conventional means, hoping that attrition would wear down the enemy's will. In June 1967 he sent the 173d Airborne to a Central Highlands mountain hamlet named Dak To. At the outset, an entire U.S. company had over half its number killed in ambush, and fighting continued until many Americans died for ground that was soon abandoned. Military historian Murphy's workmanlike account of Dak To is well detailed, though not as gritty or compelling as Eric Hammel's oral histories (e.g., Lima-6 , LJ 11/15/89). And though the author provides an ample overview of where the battle fits in the greater scheme, the late Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall, for one, bettered him in books like West to Cambodia ( LJ 12/15/68), giving greater insight into the military mind. Nonetheless, this work is recommended for libraries with large Vietnam War collections.
- Richard Paul Snyder, Cty. of Los Angeles P. L., Huntington Park
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

One of the best recent accounts of the ground war in Vietnam, this profiles the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the first Army ground combat sent there. Initially assigned to guard airfields, it was soon launched against two Vietcong strongholds, War Zone D and the Iron Triangle. But the centerpiece of this fast-paced history is the extensive account of the battle for Hill 875, where the brigade went up against the North Vietnamese for the first time. They proved to be a much tougher adversary than the VC. The Hill 875 sequences have an impressive immediacy, with the gore and carnage presented in shockingly sharp focus. According to Murphy ( Vietnam Medal of Honor Heroes ), founder of the Medal of Honor Historical Society, many of the survivors considered the battle for 875 a futile effort. But he points out that in the context of General Westmoreland's strategy of attrition, the dusty hill in the Central Highlands was "just one more place where the enemy could be killed." Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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