The A Shau Valley is a slit in the mountains 45 miles west of Hue, close to the Laotian border. Remote and usually hidden from air view by the
thick canopy of jungle and fog and or clouds. It was a major NVA base are and a primary way station of the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Operation Delaware changed all this. The Valley was bombed by B-52's for at least 5 days before the ground troops went into the Vally.
Just four short days after the end of Operation Pegasus, the "Jumping Mustangs" were on the move again. It was just enough time to replace
missing gear, replace torn clothes, and take a shower. Also replacements reported to the company and were assigned to their new platoons and
then to their squads. I joined the company, after being in the hospital for a month from shrapnel in my back from a grenade, as the company was
leaving L.Z.Sharon on trucks for the journey to Camp Evans.
The thing I remember the most about the truck ride, was the kids standing by the road waiting for the GI's to toss them a "C" ration meal. But if it
was Ham &Lima beans, they would throw it back. The grunts didn't like them and neither did the kids.
In the front gate of Camp Evans and out the back to a small hill where we stayed for 2-3 days, waiting for the fog to lift in the A Shau Valley and
the mountains to clear so that the choppers could fly us in. Here we re-zeroed our M-16's and repacked our gear. We also ran small patrols to
get us "cherries", new guys, broke-in to working with our squads and learning how to move in the bush.
We were not the first troops to be lifted into the valley, but we were the first on the valley floor. Our objective was to retake the A Luoi airstrip,
clear and secure the area so that the engineers could rebuild the airstrip. L.Z. Stallion was the base of operations for the Jumping Mustangs and
the rest of the 1st Brigade.
The first couple of days were spent building fighting positions in our area of responsibility along the airstrip and patrolling out to clear the area.
Our first air assault off the strip was towards the Laotian border to clear an area that had been firing at our choppers with 37mm antiaircraft guns.
No guns were found but we did find a well used trail with commo wire strung in the open. That was how secure the NVA were in the valley. They
thought it was THEIRS and that NOBODY would ever invade their base camp. Boy were they wrong!
We followed the trail for about 3 clicks. Then called for a smoke round to help us located our position, the maps were not the best. The Artillery
called back after plotting our position based on what had been called in and informed us to turn around NOW and get back into Viet Nam. They
plotted us about 1 1/2 clicks into Laos and could not support us because of the rules the U.S. Government had placed on all troops in Viet Nam.
No cross border patrols. We got the heck back into Viet Nam rather quickly.
Other patrols were ran off the strip and found a "Farm" where the NVA were raising pigs and chickens for food. Lots and lots of supplies were
being uncovered and taken back to the airstrip or destroyed in place.
Delta company was working off the north end of the airstrip and uncovered what was to be the largest find in the valley. For 2 days they had
been trying to get into an area, but the NVA were putting up a good fight, so they knew something was there. It was a weapons cache that
contained 315 Soviet K-44 rifles, a 60 mm mortar tube, 36 Soviet mine detectors, 60 flame-throwers, 200+ chicom protective masks, 225 pounds
of medical supplies, 600 122 mm rockets, 100 pounds of dynamite, 6 tons of rice, 60 cases of canned meat, 70 37 mm antiaircraft rounds and 3
B-40 rockets. Along with 5 Russian trucks and 2 tanks. The trucks came in handy to move the supplies back to the airstrip. There were enough
rifles that every trooper in the battalion was SUPPOSED to get one of them on his return to the WORLD.
As Delta company was pushing for the weapons cache, Charlie company was ordered to move to the top of the hill overlooking the cache and
provide a blocking force for any enemy trying to evade the battle. As we were moving up the hill, a chopper came over and dropped tear gas on
us, he must have thought we were NVA trying to escape. He even came back for a second run at us, but was called off at the last minute.
The remaining time in the valley was spent uncovering more caches and small fights. The NVA did not want to fight, but instead chose to hide
during the day and then probe L.Z. Stallion at night.
Around May 16 the Cav started to pull out of the valley, due to the weather starting to close off the valley and reduce flying time of the choppers.
Charlie company was the last company off the A Luoi strip and it was getting rather scary as the perimeter was getting smaller and smaller. The
2nd platoon (1/2 of us, 10-15 guys) was last on the ground. Word was received from the choppers that they could not find us because of the
dense fog starting to settle into the valley, but they would be back in the morning to get us.
A Loach chopper, who was circling our position, was in contact with us and telling the platoon leader (Lt Tom Nimmich) that the NVA were closing
on our position. He estimated 10 - 15 minutes before they would be in position to attack us. We were being shelled by NVA artillery too. As we
had given our extra ammo to a LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol) team, we were down to a basic load, not enough to fight all night. No support,
gun ships or artillery was available, it looked like lights out for us.
Our platoon leader told the chopper commander to bring body bags if they were not coming back for us that late afternoon, as we could hear the
NVA surrounding us and moving into position. Both the Platoon Leader and Platoon Sargent (Bill Jones) were on the radios calling for any
choppers in the area for help. They had to leave the Battalion radio net, which was against all regulations.
As this was a joint operation with the ARVN's, 101st Airborne and Special Forces, the platoon leader found 2 or 3 choppers that were leaving the
valley empty, not sure but we think they were from the 101st, they came and picked us up and took us back to Camp Evans. THANKS WHO
EVER YOU GUYS ARE.
The operation in the A Shau Valley cost the NVA 739 KIA and tons of lost supplies. One thing of note, the Cav took the Russian trucks back to
Camp Evans and L.Z. Sharon where they were put to good use by the GI's.
Loss of American GI's were 86 KIA, 47 MIA, 530 wounded. Two jet fighters were shot down along with a C-130 airplane (Cargo Plane) and 20+
For information on the C-130 shot down click here; C-130 Cargo Plane This link opens in a new window, close it to return here.
West to the A Shau Valley.
We stayed here 2-3 days
waiting for the fog to lift in the
valley and over the
mountains so we go into the
valley. Notice the fog rolling
over the mountains.
|A Shau Valley
To the left is a picture of the A Luoi
airstrip that the 1st Brigade of the Air
Cav took back and used as a base of
operations. Not sure which way is which,
but off of one end of the strip is where
Delta Company found the very large
cache of weapons and the trucks. I think
maybe towards the top of the picture,
because it was not far off the strip. If you
notice all the bomb craters, they were
filled in where they had damaged the Ho
Chi Minh trail by the time we got to the
valley floor, maybe 2 days after the
While searching the web for more information on the A Shau Valley and Operation
Delaware, I came across a story of a "Hotel" in the valley. Below is a picture of the
"Hotel" and the "bathing facilities"