The tale of Landing Zone Albany
| May 17, 2023 1:00 AM
This military tale takes place in the Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam, fall of 1965.
Clinton Poley was an assistant machine gun operator. Initially, after he survived Landing Zone X-ray, they were marching to Landing Zone Albany, in a column.
Officers were called to the front of the column, leaving troops without leading officers. Then the North Vietnamese attacked the unsuspecting, unprotected column. They didn’t have people out on the flanks as normal. The column was being attacked as close as only 20 feet away and then they were overrun; most of the soldiers in the platoon were killed.
Poley and a few others lay still, pretending they were dead. He had a dead soldier on top of him that the North Vietnamese were using as a sand bag. Hot shell casings were coming down on him and into his shirt, burning him, but he didn’t move or create a sound as the NVA were going around shooting and killing the wounded.
The enemy left and then mortar rounds started coming in on top of them. Poley was wounded in the leg. But he thought, “I am alive.” Then another wounded platoon leader called in napalm, very close to their position, which caused the NVA to retreat. Foley said that is what saved them or they would have all been killed.
After the NVA retreated, the American soldiers were going around shooting and killing NVA wounded. Foley cried out, “don’t do that to the wounded;" the reply he got, was “why not, they did it to us.”
A total of 154 Americans were killed in just a couple of hours. This occurred when I was in Vietnam in the 1st Infantry Division, although we didn’t hear much about it, other than it was so bad, they called for napalm to be dropped almost on top of them.
Roger Gregory is a Vietnam veteran, serving in the 1st Infantry Division, and is a business owner in Priest River.