From the author of Da Nang Diary: A military history of the Battle of Hamburger Hill and other fights between the NVA and the US and its Vietnamese allies.
Throughout the Vietnam War, one focal point persisted where the Viet Cong guerrillas and Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) were not a major factor, but where the trained professionals of the North Vietnamese and US armies repeatedly fought head-to-head. A Shau Valor is a thorough study of nine years of American combat operations encompassing the crucial frontier valley and a fifteen-mile radius around it―the most deadly killing ground of the entire war.
Beginning in 1963, Special Forces A-teams established camps along the valley floor, followed by a number of top-secret Project Delta reconnaissance missions through 1967. Then, US Army and Marine Corps maneuver battalions engaged in a series of sometimes-controversial thrusts into the A Shau, designed to disrupt NVA infiltrations and to kill enemy soldiers, part of what came to be known as Westmoreland’s “war of attrition.”
The various campaigns included Operation Pirous (1967); Operations Delaware and Somerset Plain (1968); and Operations Dewey Canyon, Massachusetts Striker, and Apache Snow (1969)―which included the infamous battle for Hamburger Hill―culminating with Operation Texas Star and the vicious fight for and humiliating evacuation of Fire Support Base Ripcord in the summer of 1970, the last major US battle of the war.
By 1971, the fighting had once again shifted to the realm of small Special Forces reconnaissance teams assigned to the ultra-secret Studies and Observations Group (SOG). Other works have focused on individual battles or units, but A Shau Valor is the first to study the campaign―for all its courage and sacrifice―chronologically and within the context of other historical, political, and cultural events.
Yarborough (Da Nang Diary), a retired Air Force colonel who served as a forward air controller in the Vietnam War, ably covers eight years of military action in chronological, episodic fashion in this detailed military history. The A Shau Valley, located about 25 miles south of the Vietnamese city of Hue and near the border with Laos, was a main entry route into South Vietnam for North Vietnamese forces on the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the war. Widely known among U.S. troops as the "Valley of Death," this area was the site of many vicious engagements between the North Vietnamese Army and the U.S. military, the latter backed by its South Vietnamese allies. Yarborough takes a close look at a series of these vigorously contested fights, including the infamous 1969 battle for Hamburger Hill. Stressing the valor of the American fighting men throughout the book, Yarborough has harsh words for the "tone-deaf senior U.S. leaders and planners," including Gen. William Westmoreland, who devised the strategy of attrition that was akin to "poking a finger in a hole in the dike." While much of this ground has been covered before, Yarborough's volume is the first that looks solely at fighting in the A Shau during virtually the entire conflict.