The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973

By Shelby L. Stanton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4.
AN ARMY GOES TO WAR

1. The Rock Regiment

Brigadier General Ellis W. Williamson's 173d Airborne Brigade on Okinawa was the Army's own compact, two-fisted response force for the western Pacific, designed to drop in under canopies of silk and seize immediate objectives until something bigger could reinforce the situation. Its two fists were the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 503d Infantry (Airborne), which was the first parachute infantry regiment into the Pacific during World War II. There it had pulled off a dramatic parachute assault on top of fortified Corregidor Island, known as The Rock. This service gave the 503d Infantry a Pacific legacy and the appellation "The Rock Regiment."1. The 173d Airborne Brigade enjoyed a close camaraderie, and in Vietnam would always be known to the troops as "The Herd," while its high percentage of blacks and racial cooperation would add another shibboleth, Two Shades of Soul.

General Westmoreland wanted the elite 173d Airborne Brigade in Vietnam as part of his enclave concept at once and got the green light on April 14, 1965. There was one proviso. The

____________________
1.
The 503d Parachute Infantry was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia, on February 24, 1942, and arrived in Australia that November. It fought in New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, and the southern Philippines. Its dashing airborne assault onto the small but well defended Japanese fortress island of Corregidor on February 16, 1945, was one of the most daring paratrooper assaults of history. The battalions were assigned to the separate 173d Airborne Brigade when it was formed on March 26, 1963. In Vietnam the brigade was later expanded to contain all four battalions of the 503d Infantry (Airborne).

-45-

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The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Foreword x
  • Introduction xv
  • Part 1 1965 1
  • Chapter 1. Advisors and Special Forces 3
  • Chapter 2. an Army Girds for Battle 18
  • Chapter 3. Marines at War 29
  • Chapter 4. an Army Goes to War 45
  • Part 2 1966 63
  • Chapter 5. the Build-Up 65
  • Chapter 6. the Area War 81
  • Chapter 7. the Central Front 97
  • Chapter 8. the Northern Front 117
  • Part3 1967 131
  • Chapter 9. the Year of the Big Battles 142
  • Chapter 11. Battle for the Highlands 157
  • Chapter 12. Holding the Line 179
  • Chapter 13. Battle for the Coast 191
  • Part 4 1968 203
  • Chapter 14. Year of Crises 205
  • Chapter 15. the Battles of Tet-68 219
  • Chapter 16. Siege and Breakthrough 247
  • Chapter 17. Counteroffensive 260
  • Part 5 1969 281
  • Chapter 18. One War 283
  • Chapter 19. One War in the Northern Provinces 295
  • Chapter 20. One War in the Southern Provinces 308
  • Part 6 333
  • Chapter 21 335
  • Chapter 22. an Army Departs the War 350
  • Guide to Unit Organization and Terms 369
  • Sources and Bibliography 371
  • Index 395
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