Winner of the Military Writers Society of America's 2017 Gold Medal for HistoryFinalist, 2016 Army Historical Society Distinguished Writing Award.Throughout the Vietnam War, one focal point persisted where the Viet Cong guerrillas and ARVN were not a major factor, but where the trained professionals of the North Vietnamese and U.S. armies repeatedly fought head-to-head. A Shau Valor is a thoroughly documented study of nine years of American combat operations encompassing the crucial frontier valley and a 15-mile radius around it—the most deadly killing ground of the entire Vietnam War. Beginning in 1963 Special Forces A-teams established camps along the valley floor, followed by a number of top-secret Project Delta reconnaissance missions through 1967. Then, U.S. Army and Marine Corps maneuver battalions engaged in a series of sometimes controversial thrusts into the A Shau designed to disrupt NVA infiltrations and to kill enemy soldiers, part of what came to be known as Westmoreland’s “war of attrition.”The various campaigns included Operation Pirous in 1967, 1968’s Operations Delaware and Somerset Plain, 1969’s Operations Dewey Canyon, Massachusetts Striker, and Apache Snow—which included the infamous battle for Hamburger Hill—culminating with Operation Texas Star and the vicious fight for and humiliating evacuation of Fire Support Base Ripcord in the summer of 1970, the last major U.S. battle of the war. By 1971 the fighting had once again shifted to the realm of small Special Forces reconnaissance teams assigned to the ultra-secret Studies and Observations Group—SOG. Other works have focused on individual battles or units, but A Shau Valor is the first to study the nine-year campaign—for all its courage and sacrifice—chronologically and within the context of other historical, political and cultural events.
Colonel Thomas R. Yarborough served as an Air Force pilot for 28 years and flew two combat tours in Vietnam as a forward air controller. His combat decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star. A former professor and department chair at Indiana University, he now lives in West Springfield, Virginia, where he maintains ties to the academic community by writing articles for various scholarly journals and periodicals. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Da Nang Diary.