Photos by CR Chambers
Retired Colonel Bill McPherson was heading off the gathering of warriors of the 1st Cavalry Division that served in Viet Nam last Saturday, February 2nd. A little about the first Cav is as follows: Within 90 days of becoming the Army’s first air mobile division, the First Team was back in combat as the first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. Their first real combat test came during the Pleiku campaign ; 35 days of continuous air mobile operations beginning October 29, 1965. The troopers destroyed two of the three regiments of a North Vietnamese Division, earning the first Presidential Unit Citation given to a division in Vietnam. The division began 1968 by terminating Operation Pershing, the longest of the 1st Cav’s Vietnam actions. For nearly a year the division scoured the Bong Son plain, An Lo valley and the hills of coastal II Corps, seeking out enemy units and their sanctuaries. When the operation ended on January 21, the enemy had lost 5,401 soldiers and 2,400 enemy soldiers had been detained. Some 1,300 individual and 137 crew served weapons had been captured or destroyed. Moving to I Corps, Vietnam’s northern most tactical zone, the division set up Camp Evans for their new base camp. In late January, the enemy launched the Tet Offensive, a major effort to overrun South Vietnam. Some 7,000 enemy, primarily well equipped, crack NVA regulars blasted their way into the imperial city of Hue and Quang Tri, the capital of Vietnam’s northern most province. The Cav went on the move and by February 1, Quang Tri was liberated followed by Hue. After shattering the enemy’s dreams of a Tet victory, the 1st Cavalry Division “Sky-troopers” moved to relieve the besieged Marine Base at Khe Sann. In May 1970, the First Team was “First into Cambodia,” hitting what was previously a Communist sanctuary. Troopers deprived the enemy of much needed supplies and ammunition, scattering the enemy forces. The division’s Vietnam service ended in 1972 when its last brigade began withdrawing. The 1st Cav had been the first division to go, and the last to leave. “Firsts” had become the trademark of the First Team. General Creighton Abrams, while commander of all U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia, said of the 1st Cav, “The big yellow patch does something to an individual that makes him a better soldier, a better team member, and a better American than he otherwise would have been.”
I couldn’t have been more honored to photograph these hero’s. Who in my opinion got a little short changed when they came home from battle. I thank all of you 1st Cavalry for your service.