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Outnumbered three dozen to one, Albracht's men held off repeated ground assaults by communist forces with fierce hand-to-hand fighting, air support and a dangerously close B-52 strike. For days, the NVA blanketed Kate in a rain of rockets, mortars, artillery, machineguns, and small arms, blocking efforts to resupply, reinforce, or evacuate the outpost. Albracht continually exposed himself to enemy fire to direct air strikes, to guide re-supply helicopters, to distribute ammunition and water to his men, to retrieve the dead and to rescue the wounded, often shielding men with his own body. Wounded by rocket shrapnel, he refused medical attention or evacuation. Exhausted from days without sleep, he continued to rally his men to beat off each new enemy attack.
After five days, Kate's defenders were out of ammo and water. Aerial resupply was suicidal, and reinforcements were denied by military commanders who had written off Kate. Albracht refused to surrender or die in place. Refusing to allow his men to surrender, Albracht led his troops, including many wounded, off the hill and on a daring night march through enemy lines.
Abandoned in Hell is an astonishing memoir of leadership, sacrifice, and brutal violence, a riveting journey into Vietnam's heart of darkness, and a compelling reminder of the transformational power of individual heroism. Not since Lone Survivor and We Were Soldiers Once, And Young has there been such a gripping and authentic account of battlefield courage.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-12-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Former Army Special Forces Captain Albracht and prolific author and screenwriter Wolf (Buddha’s Child) present a riveting look at a little-known but compelling Vietnam War story. It centers on how, in October of 1969, Albracht, a young Green Beret officer, managed to lead his vastly outnumbered American troops and their Montagnard tribesmen allies on a desperate and daring escape from a remote hilltop outpost deep in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The authors mix a history of the American war in Vietnam through 1969 with Albracht’s first-person story and the thoughts of survivors interviewed for the book. At Firebase Kate, some 200 Americans and Montagnards—“positioned as bait, designed to lure the North Vietnamese across the border”—came under a withering five-day attack by three enemy regiments, some 6,000 men. Despite being wounded and near exhaustion—and with virtually no ammunition or water—Albracht brought off a minor miracle, leading “a hundred and fifty fighting men, many suffering from wounds or battle shock, through a gauntlet of fire” to safety. (Feb.)