ABC Day One Program

After reading the book in 1993, ABC officials decided to produce a television piece for the “Day One” Monday night show hosted by Forrest Sawyer (link to view the show). 


During the summer of 1993, ABC interviewed several veterans of the Ia Drang battles in New York. In October ’93, the Ia Drang Veterans, Forrest Sawyer, Terry Wrong (Producer), Quyen Thai (Asst. Producer), and two 2-person TV crews flew to Vietnam.


The veterans are listed below. Included are their military ranks, duty positions, and Ia Drang Battlefields they fought on:

  • PFC Jack Smith, Rifleman, C/2/7 CAV, X-Ray, Albany
  • 1LT Larry Gwin, XO, A/2/7 CAV, X-Ray, Albany
  • CPT George Forrest, CO, A/1/5 CAV, X-Ray, Albany
  • Joe Galloway, UPI Correspondent, X-Ray
  • SP4 Bill Beck, Machine Gunner, A/1/7 CAV, X-Ray
  • CSM Basil Plumley, Bn Sgt Maj, 1/7 CAV, X-Ray
  • CPT Tony Nadal, CO, A/1/7 CAV, X-Ray
  • CPT John Herren, CO, B/1/7 CAV, X-Ray
  • SGT Ernie Savage, Squad Leader, B/1/7 CAV, X-Ray
  • LTC Hal Moore, CO, 1/7 CAV, X-Ray
  • MAJ Bruce Crandall, CO, A/229th Huey Bn, X-Ray


In Hanoi, the veterans met for two hours with Lt. Gen Nguyen Hau An, PAVN Battlefield Commander, and five PAVN Colonels in the Ia Drang Battles as Lts or Captains. They are:

  • COL Lo Khac Tam, Platoon Leader, 7th Bn, 66th Regiment
  • COL Tran Manh Hao, Operations Officer, 66th Regiment
  • COL Vu Dinh Thuoc, Rifle Co Cdr, 7th Bn, 66th Regiment
  • COL Nguyen Khac Vien, Hvy Wpns Plt Ldr, 7th Bn, 66th Regiment
  • COL Vu Thai, Communications Officer, 66th Regiment

(General An died in 1995)


These discussions were all filmed by ABC.


The next day, the Americans, along with Lt. Gen An, Colonels Thuoc and Hao, Vu Binh (escort officer and interpreter, Foreign Press Office), and other Vietnamese officials, traveled by air south to Da Nang thence by vans to Qui Nhon. Fred Rohrbach, a 173rd Airborne Vietnam Veteran – with years of business experience in Vietnam, joined the group in Hanoi.


After overnight in Qui Nhon, travel by van to An Khe, the former base camp of the 1st Cavalry Division from 1965-1969, for a short visit; thence, over Mang Yang Pass on Route 19 to Pleiku City.

On Oct 17th, the group shuttled into LZ X-Ray (2 lifts) in a Soviet-built MI-8 helicopter piloted by two PAVN officers. Filming was conducted. In the late afternoon, the helicopter returned with the 1st lift back to Pleiku (37 miles). Clouds close in before it can return for the rest of the group. This, plus rapidly approaching dusk and heavy monsoon rains, shut down further flights. The group left in X-Ray for the night included:

  • Sawyer
  • Wong
  • the 2 ABC TV Teams*
  • Galloway
  • Beck
  • Forrest
  • Gwin
  • Moore
  • Vu Binh (Foreign Press Center, Hanoi)
  • Hguyen van Manh (Peoples Cte, Gai Lai Province)

* Minh Van Dong, Bruce Renwick, Bill McMillin, Tom Levy.


The next morning, the helicopter returned and carried the group – along with Jack Smith – to LZ Albany for filming. On the night of October 18th, the entire Vietnamese/American group ate dinner together. During the dinner, Col Hao read a poem about the Ia Drang trip.


The one-hour documentary entitled “They Were Young And Brave” aired on January 10, 1994, to favorable reviews. It aired again in June ’94.