Major Player in Notable Vietnam War Battle to Give Public Lecture at W&J

Created: November 10, 2015
Last Updated: July 16, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 10, 2015) — On the 50th anniversary of one of the most influential battles of the Vietnam War, one of the battle’s major players will present a public lecture to a new generation at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J).

Col. (ret) Ramon A. Nadal, who served twice in Vietnam between 1962 and 1965, will discuss LZ-Xray (“Landing Zone X-Ray”) – the Battle of Ia Drang, which occurred between Nov. 14-16, 1965 and was the first major battle between the United States Army and the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) during the Vietnam War.

The lecture will be held Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in Room 100 of the Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building. The event is a joint effort of W&J’s First Year Seminar Program and the History Department and is sponsored in part by the College’s grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is free and open to the public.

Nadal will focus on the battle at Landing Zone X-Ray, important because it became the model by which other battles were fought during the war.

“The use of the helicopters to move troops and artillery rapidly to the battle zone, and the ability to operate deep in the jungles of SVN became the paradigm for Army operations,” Nadal said. “The NVA learned something also. Among other things they learned they had sanctuaries across the border where we couldn’t go, so they could come and fight and then retreat to a safe spot.”

In 1962, Nadal, then a lieutenant, was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, NC. Upon promotion to Captain, he assumed command of an “A” Detachment and deployed to Vietnam, where he commanded Camp Nam Dong, a camp located in the jungles of Northwest South Vietnam. Leading a force of 400 South Vietnamese and Nung soldiers, he conducted patrols along the Laotian border and engaged in ambushes, reconnaissance and an intensive civic action program.

When he returned to the United States, Captain Nadal attended the Armor Officer Career Course and Pathfinder school and volunteered to return to Vietnam. Joining the 1st Cavalry Division prior to its departure from the U.S. in August of 1965, Col. Nadal served as Commanding Officer of A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry and as the S-3 (Operations Officer) of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry. During his Vietnam tour, Nadal was engaged in heavy infantry combat in the Ia Drang Valley, the Bong Son plain, and Kontum Province.

The Battle of Ia Drang, so named because of its proximity to the Drang River near Plei Me where the engagement took place, involved close-range engagement between the two forces, resulting in the PAVN retreat and a high number of casualties on both sides.

Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway documented the Battle of Ia Drang in their book We Were Soldiers Once … And Young. The book is the basis for the 2002 movie We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson and Barry Pepper.

Nadal said he hopes students who attend the lecture will take away an appreciation for the American people who fought in the Vietnam War, what they went through and how it affected them and their country.

“I would like the students to have an appreciation for the quality of the Americans who fought in this war, the heroism with which they fought, the difficulty and terrible nature of close infantry ground combat, and the consequences of that,” he said.

 

About Col. Ramon A. Nadal

Col. (ret) Ramon A. “Tony” Nadal was born at Fort Benning, GA in 1935, son of an Army officer. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1958 as an infantry lieutenant and was assigned to the 46th Infantry Battalion (Mechanized) in Munich, Germany, where he commanded mortar and reconnaissance platoons.

Following his service in the Vietnam War, Col. Nadal received a Master’s Degree in Organizational Behavior from Oklahoma State University. His subsequent assignments included teaching leadership and psychology courses at the United States Military Academy from 1967 to 1970; serving in the Office of the Chief of Staff, United States Army; and a reassignment to Germany, where he commanded the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry. Returning to the U.S., he became Director of Human Resources at Forces Command and also served on temporary duty as Director of the Army Chief of Staff’s Organizational Effectiveness Study Group, followed by assignment as a student and faculty member at the Army War College.

He retired from the U.S. Army in 1981 and served for 17 years as Vice-President of Human Resources in Carlisle Corporation and C&M Corporation. His decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit (1 OLC), Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star (1 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (3 OLC), Air Medal (3OLC), Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Unit Citation.

Col. Nadal has served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations, and organized a volunteer program in which retired Army officers mentor wounded soldiers. He lives in Williamsburg, Va.

 

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work.

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