The Hump

The 1st Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry, in the First Major Battle of the Vietnam War


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About the Book

Operation Hump, the first major battle between the U.S. Army and the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces, took place November 5–9, 1965, in South Vietnam’s War Zone D. Known as “The Hump,” it would change the nature of the war, escalating it from a hit-and-run guerrilla conflict to a bloody contest between Communist main force units and American commands of battalion size or larger.

This memoir of an Operation Hump survivor begins with the sequence of events leading up to the battle, from the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Drawing on official Army documents and the recollections of fellow combatants, the author not only describes the battle in detail but explains the war’s basis in fabrications at the highest levels of the U.S. government. His experiences with PTSD after the war and his eventual return to Vietnam in the 1990s are included.

About the Author(s)

Al Conetto spent more than five years on active duty including 17 months in Vietnam. He left the Army as a captain and is now retired and lives in Walla Walla, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Al Conetto

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, appendices, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9925-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2205-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Prologue 5
1. The Road to War 7
2. 173d Airborne Brigade 30
3. 5–7 November 1965 39
4. 8 November 1965 0800–1200 46
5. 8 November 1965 1200–2400 73
6. 9–12 November 1965 86
7. The Ia Drang Valley 104
8. Afterthought 113
9. Back to ’Nam 117
10. Back in ’Nam 125
11. Lessons Learned 129
12. Big & Rich 134
13. PTSD 137
Appendix 1. The Medal of Honor 155
Appendix 2. Where Are They Now? 157
Appendix 3. Key Personnel 160
Appendix 4. Combat After Action Report 161
Appendix 5. Presidential Unit Citation 180
Appendix 6. Glossary 182
Chapter Notes 187
Bibliography 195
Author’s Service Record 201
Index 203

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Fifty years after the first major battle of the Vietnam war, an extraordinary account of the operation finally appears in print by one of the offices engaged in the fight. Rarely does any rendering of battle weave such a detailed picture as seen through the eyes of a large array of the participants….vivid accounts…Conetto has elegantly achieved his purpose of paying ‘tribute to the hundreds of young paratroopers’…a compelling story…an exceptional view of the battle as it unfolded…[Conetto’s] research, diligence in tracking down participants, and relentless scholarship are all worthy of great praise”—Infantry
  • “An interesting and important work on an otherwise obscure battle during the Vietnam War. Conetto’s prose is fluid and engrossing”—H-Net Reviews