Ambush At LZ Albany, Walk In The Sun
November 17, 1965, the day started at LZ X-Ray with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, Commanded by LTC Bob Tully and the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, Commanded by LTC Robert McDade, minus B Company who had been lifted out the previous day. Everyone had been on 100% alert overnight. We had already been two days and two nights without any sleep, so this was the start of our third sleepless day and it was going to be another hot day .
The 3rd Brigade Commander, Colonel Tim Brown, had alerted the battalion commanders still at LZ X-Ray, that they were to leave the LZ on the morning of November 17th, as air strikes were scheduled by B-52's from Guam, on the suspected camp area's of the NVA on the Chu Pong Massif. With no helicopters available, the move from X-Ray would be on foot.
At 9 AM the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, began the march towards LZ Columbus where they would be picked up by helicopters. The artillery would be dropping rounds several hundred yards in front of the moving troopers. Any NVA in those area's would be a little shaken up at the least. In addition, it would give the guys in the FDC at artillery, plot points already registered, in case any fire was needed in a hurry.
The 3rd Brigade commander was on the ground in LZ X-Ray as the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry began its march, following the 5th Cavalry. The weather was already getting hot. Alpha Company was in the lead in a "V" formation. Next was Delta Company then Charlie Company and Headquarters Company. Bringing up the rear was Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cav, which had been attached because the 2nd Battalions Bravo Company had been taken out with LTC Moore's 1st Battalion.
About 3/4 of the way to LZ Columbus, the 5th Cav continued on while the 7th Cav made a left turn, headed towards LZ Albany which was on the way to where they would be picked up by helicopters. The 5th Cav moving towards LZ Columbus, had the artillery leading the way but there was no such fire leading the way for the 7th Cav as it was said that it would show the NVA where we were. So when we found some grass huts, some bright person ordered them burnt. Now artillery or not, the enemy could see from the smoke where we were at. So much for stealth.
Soon, two NVA soldiers were captured but a third escaped. That escaped NVA was the one that alerted the enemy commander that we were approaching. Unknown to us, their base camp was only a few hundred yards ahead. After questioning the prisoners, LTC McDade called all company commanders forward. Some of the units deployed in defensive formations, but many just plopped down, bone tired and not very alert.
About an hour passed since the two NVA were taken prisoner and the head of the column was just at the LZ Albany clearing, when the firing started. The two NVA prisoners tried to escape and were shot. The attacking force was the fresh troops of the 8th Battalion, 66th Regiment of the NVA B3 Front (Division) and the battle depleted 1st Battalion, 33rd Regiment. Every NVA including the cooks were coming, probably in excess of 700 men.