Gary Jacobson


We were soldiers enlisted to glory’s gang
Carried on silken wings to the dreaded Ia Drang
This prized generation of youthful princes
Modern cavalrymen dropped in on war by steel horses
Stirring, whirring helicopters rhythmical cadences
Staccato beat pounding whomp-whomp-whomp
Echoing in old cavalrymen’s ears like warhorse’s hooves

We were soldiers, ghosts on steel horses coursing
Blasting out of ethereal mists hammering
Filling fearsome air with bristling beats pulsing
Riding carnivorous birds of prey high in the sky
Predacious like raptorial eagles we fly
Hearts palpitating, throbbing, drumming
Out of the recesses of the sky to earth plummeting
In one fell swoop the very foundations of hell assaulting.

We were soldiers, inviolable hope of all creation
Future hope incarnate of our nation
America’s boys truly the cream of the crop
Told of bullies who made very valor stop
Roaming relentlessly war’s hating backdrop…
Our nerves by deadened war cauterized.

We were soldiers invincible, of royal ancestry
Come bearing gifts to set a noble people free
With every nerve, fiber, sinew of bountiful being
Even with body counts ever higher careening.
Into the maw of Hell just went… where we were sent
Baring predatory talons shown an eagle’s claw
To evil minions who bastions of freedom gnaw.

We were soldiers who in good faith believed
Lessons taught by goodly fathers received
Courageous spirits beyond glories conceived
Stalwart in duty these true-blue, real men
Princes sent in disciplined dignity to Vietnam
Truly the apple of our nation’s eye
Burned into our hearts duty’s resolute sigh…
Ours but to do or die.

We were soldiers led by battle tested warriors
Guided by spirits of valiant conquerors
Smiling in the face of war’s terrible oppressors
Believing God Himself inspired our leaders
Divinity stood behind every tactical decision
To weed out the cankers by righteous precision
Guided by the Almighty to make surgical incision.

We were soldiers from the land of milk and honey
Called by God to defend freedom’s democracy
With all glory to His name, to restore repressed liberty
To dispatch foul evils with boyish faith’s bright certainty
Fighting hand-to-hand this great calling to magnify
To the death in elephant grasses of Albany eye-high.

We were soldiers invited by an impoverished nation
To restore their rights of self determination.
Boys fresh as a new born whelp
Come because God, country, Vietnam wanted our help
Bearing unexcelled bravery
In war’s foofaraws, boys aged too quickly;
Men matured by the dying suddenly.

To the Ia Drang came men of the 1st Air Cavalry
Wearing black and yellow patches distinctively
With the black horse head silhouette
Destruction flying thick as dripping sweat
Dodging as in play, war’s blazing bullet ballet
Jumped into a hot LZ

We were soldiers of a great nation
Boys led by veterans who earned honors adulation
From the South Pacific to battlefields European
To Korea’s frozen Chosin
Now outnumbered 6-1 by fighting mad NVA
Life a fleeting thing tenuously at bay
Growing extinct in the jungle that day.

We were soldiers sent to the Ia Drang
Faith impregnable from which very freedom sprang
Rude death a constant familiar of serpent’s fang
Boys fought for their lives as heavenly chorus sang
Earning hard their monthly $99.37 bill of fare
Flying into the heart of the enemies lair
Beaucoup[•] fighting: more than bargained for there.

We were soldiers driven hard by enemy all around
Combatant blood brothers whom the enemies surround:
So I surmise, this profound thought to propound
“Dinky dau[•]” war stinks!
Indeed in battle the very word love… shrinks
Death’s common denominator, just us and the dinks
Dueling with enmity as knowing heaven winks.

We were soldiers, just surviving to get back to “the world”
Who, a “Xin Loi[•]” attitude to enemies unfurled,
Momentary peace only found by killing
Valiant foes that would end your life willing.
Yet transcendent love is ever abiding
Ties that eternally bind arise on the battlefields
Before this greater bond, all hatred yields.

We were war weary soldiers who truly loved one another
Loved our fellows as a brother
Watched the backs of each other
Killed for each other
Lived for each other
Died for each other
Wept for each other!

Soldiers focus only on the man on the left hand
Just surviving with the man on the right hand
There’s no one else Doing battle with brutal northern barbarian
War tested Peoples Army of Vietnam… PAVN
Soldiers gone to hell and back for ideals American.
Ia Drang memories forever burn indelibly in our soul
Too many brave men heard their final liberty bells toll
Three hundred five Ia Drang soldiers answered the call
Now find eternal peace on a hallowed wall.

We who were soldiers salute you, my brothers all!

Gary Jacobson: We Were Soldiers