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Blackhorse Riders: A Desperate Last Stand,…

Blackhorse Riders: A Desperate Last Stand, an Extraordinary Rescue…

by Philip Keith

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    A Hundred Miles of Bad Road: An Armored Cavalryman in Vietnam, 1967-68 by Dwight Birdwell (Shrike58)
    Shrike58: More tales of small-unit mechanized combat in the Vietnam War.

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This is a close examination of a battalion-sized action that occurred just before the invasion of Cambodia in 1970, where a troop of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment rode to the rescue of another American unit, and which ultimately resulted in the mechanized unit receiving the Presidential Unit Citation; the author being inspired to write this book after seeing the story of the presentation at the Rose Garden of the White House in 2009.

Besides being a narrative of the action (mostly from the perspective of the American survivors), Keith goes to some effort to give you the flavor of service in a mechanized unit in Vietnam (my main rationale for picking up this book), while using this as an opportunity to pay his respects to the Vietnam generation.

I have no major complaints about this book, though I do think an opportunity was missed to try and understand what was happening on the other side of the hill, as there is no doubt as to the identity of the unit (the NVA 272nd Regiment) that the American cavalrymen faced; but I get no sense that the author tried to research the Communist side of the story. Again, Keith is mostly concerned with salvaging a useable past from one of the more dubious periods of American history. It would be interesting to know what the staff officers of the current Vietnamese army make of histories such as these. ( )
1 vote Shrike58 | Apr 5, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312681925, Hardcover)

Finalist, 2013 Colby Award

Winner of the 2012 USA Best Book Award for Military History

Philip Keith's Blackhorse Riders is the incredible true story of a brave military unit in Vietnam that risked everything to rescue an outnumbered troop under heavy fire—and the thirty-nine-year odyssey to recognize their bravery.

Deep in the jungles of Vietnam, Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry, the famed Blackhorse Regiment, was a specialized cavalry outfit equipped with tanks and armored assault vehicles. On the morning of March 26, 1970, they began hearing radio calls from an infantry unit four kilometers away that had stumbled into a hidden North Vietnamese Army stronghold. Outnumbered at least six to one, the ninety-man American company was quickly surrounded, pinned down, and fighting for its existence. Helicopters could not penetrate the dense jungle, and artillery and air support could not be targeted effectively. The company was fated to be worn down and eventually all killed or captured.

Overhearing the calls for help on his radio, Captain John Poindexter, Alpha Troop’s twenty-five-year-old commander, realized that his outfit was the only hope for the trapped company. It just might be possible that they could “bust” enough jungle by nightfall to reach them. Not making the attempt was deemed unacceptable, so he ordered his men to “saddle up.” With the courage and determination that makes legends out of ordinary men, they effected a daring rescue and fought a pitched battle—at considerable cost. Many brave deeds were done that day and Captain Poindexter tried to make sure his men were recognized for their actions.

Thirty years later Poindexter was made aware that his award recommendations and even the records of the battle had somehow gone missing. Thus began the second phase of this remarkable story: a “battle” to ensure that his brave men’s accomplishments would never be forgotten again.

The full circle was completed when President Obama stepped to the podium on October 20, 2009, to award the Alpha Troop with the Presidential Unit Citation: the highest combat award that can be given to a military unit.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:28 -0400)

Documents the daring March 1970 campaign by the Blackhorse Regiment to rescue an infantry unit that was surrounded and outnumbered by Northern Vietnamese forces, and describes the thirty-year effort to formally commend their bravery.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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