Finalist, 2020 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Awards
When the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment came ashore at Vung Tau, South Vietnam, in September 1966, it faced a number of challenges. The enemy—Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA)—was, of course, the most critical challenge. But the terrain and weather were also factors that could adversely affect the employment of both armored vehicles and helicopters alike. The dearth of doctrine and tactics for the employment of armored cavalry in a counterinsurgency was equally challenging—especially during the pre-deployment training and initial combat operations.
But just as importantly, there was an institutional bias within the Army that an insurgency was an infantryman’s war. Despite the thick jungle and monsoonal rains, despite the lack of doctrinal guidance, Blackhorse leaders found a way to overcome the obstacles and accomplish the mission. Within a year of their arrival in Vietnam, Blackhorse troopers overcame ambushes that featured volleys of anti-tank weapons, multitudes of mines, and coordinated assaults by reinforced enemy regiments against troop-sized positions. They defeated an entire enemy division twice their size. Most importantly, the 11th Cavalry successfully demonstrated the ability to operate on and off the roads, in the jungle, and during both the wet and dry seasons. By the spring of 1967, Army leaders were beginning to realize the value of armored forces in Vietnam. With the Blackhorse Regiment leading the way, armor was considered an essential part of the combat team.
This is a history of the Blackhorse Regiment in the Vietnam War, and the stories of some of the 20,000 young Americans who served in its ranks during the war.
Chapter One: Preparing for War
Chapter Two: The Blackhorse Enters Combat
Chapter Three: The Fight Intensifies
Chapter Four: The Blackhorse Makes Its Reputation
Chapter Five: The Bloodiest Year
Chapter Six: Expanding the War
Chapter Seven: Mission Accomplished
Epilogue: Blackhorse Forever
Appendix 1:History and Patch of the Eleventh United States Cavalry Regiment
Appendix 2: Glossary
Appendix 3: Firepower Comparison
Appendix 4: Blackhorse Medal of Honor Recipients
"This is a well-written, extensively documented unit history of a regiment with an enviable combat record that will interest both military historians and Vietnam veterans, particularly those who served in the Blackhorse during the war and after." ~ARMY Magazine
"The subject is meticulously researched and will be of interest to historians and to anyone who served with the Blackhorse." ~The VVA Veteran
"...this is one of the better books on the Vietnam War to come out in many years. Its penetrating insights and revelations make it a must-have on any military history or national security bookshelf." ~DODReads
"...a well-researched work that draws on historical sources, unit after-action reports and first-person accounts." ~ARMOR Magazine
"...a wellwritten account of the 11th ACR 's tour in Southeast Asia. It will appeal to an audience interested in enhancing their appreciation for the effect of battlefield firepower and maneuver, but also understanding the tactical accomplishments of a superbly led unit." ~On Point: The Journal of Army History
“Snedeker’s excellent book bears witness to the courage, determination, and accomplishments of a great combat outfit in a war that nobody fully understood. That lack of understanding does not subtract from the valor displayed over six years of fighting. The regiment’s arrival in Vietnam doubled the number of armored vehicles in country with many of the ‘old timers’ in the military command questioning the ability of the new forces to operate in the jungle and rice paddies. Not only did the leaders and soldiers of the Blackhorse have to learn the tough lessons of real combat operations,
they also had to educate fellow leaders and soldiers of infantry units of their quick reactions and lethal capabilities. But the heart of the story is the combat operations and the day-to-day valor displayed by the cavalry troopers. Snedeker tells this history through interviews and soldiers’ letters as well as memoirs, histories and official records. His use of intelligence reports and enemy writings is particularly helpful in understanding what was going on ‘on the other side of the hill’ or, in this case, the other part of the jungle. The soldier’s viewpoint brings the story alive, exciting and, at times, sorrowful. Thanks to Don Snedeker, the reader will understand the uniqueness of being a ‘cavalry trooper.’" ~William L. Nash, Major General, U.S. Army, Retired, 1st