'Nine Days in May'
From May 18-26, 1967, the 4th Infantry Division's 1 st Brigade engaged in a series of five
continuous battles along the Cambodian border. Valor was evident all the way.
by Susan Katz Keating
he soldiers proceeded cautiously
through the jungle highlands west of
Pleiku, near the Cambodian border,
on the morning of May 18, 1967. The
men were part of Operation Francis Marion,
aimed at stopping the North Vietnamese Army
(NVA) from seizing the Ia Drang Valley. The
Americans belonged to B Co., 8th Inf., 1st Bde., 4th Inf. Div.
Most were young, and many were new to Vietnam. But they all
were about to become seasoned warriors, via a series of savage
battles known simply as "The Nine Days in May Border Battles:'
By the end of those nine days, some 2,000 GIs would go up
against 1,500-2,000 regulars of the NVA's 32nd and 66th regi-
ments. The enemy would attack in groupings that vastly out-
numbered the Americans. Three men from the 4th Infantry
Division would earn posthumous Medals of Honor. The 1st
Brigade would earn a coveted Presidential Unit
Citation for heroically disabling two full enemy
regiments and curtailing an entire season's
Ordeal of B Company
As outlined in the after-action report for May 18-
26, the five battles can be traced to 10:40 a.m. on the 18th,
when a lone NVA soldier appeared before B Company, and
then took off along a well-used trail. Additional enemy soldiers
popped in and out of view, until the acting company comman-
der, 1st Lt. Cary Allen, dispatched his men into action.
Two platoons quickly organized a perimeter as best they
could within the dense jungle, while two others-the 1st and
the 4th-set out to investigate. And the 4th Platoon soon
sighted another NVA. GIs gave chase.
34 . VFW . November/December 2004

"Reprinted with permission from the November 2004 issue of VFW Magazine"