Robert McDade

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Robert Alexander McDade
Mcdade photo.jpg
Lt. Colonel Robert McDade
Born August 11, 1922
New York City, New York
Died October 14, 2009 (2009-10-15) (aged 87)
Sag Harbor, New York
Place of burial Oakland Cemetery, Sag Harbor, NY
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1942-1975
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Commands held 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment

World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War

Awards Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (3) with "V" Device
Purple Heart (4)
Relations Elinor Van Ingen

Robert Alexander McDade (August 11, 1922 - October 14, 2009) was a United States Army colonel. He is best known as the Lieutenant colonel in command of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of la Drang in 1965, during the Vietnam War.

Military career[edit]

McDade was one of relatively few officers to serve with an infantry unit in three wars — the South Pacific in World War II where he commanded a rifle platoon, the Korean War where he commanded a rifle company, and the Vietnam War where he commanded an infantry battalion. He was wounded in action (WIA) four times. Besides his combat assignments, Mcdade held military posts in Washington, D.C., New York City, Germany and Panama.[1]

Battle of Ia Drang[edit]

The Battle of la Drang was the first major battle between the United States Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), referred to by U.S. fighting units as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), during the Vietnam War. The two-part battle began on November 14, 1965 and was focused on landing zone (LZ) X-Ray. This part of the battle was fought primarily by the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment (1/7) of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), led by Lt. Colonel Hal Moore, although elements of Alpha and Bravo Companies of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry (2/7) participated. The rest of the 2/7 arrived by the morning of November 16.[2]

Only three weeks before the battle, Lt. Col. McDade had been the 1st Cavalry Division's personnel officer, and had not commanded troops in ten years. His orders were to march 2/7 to another landing zone, LZ Albany, 4 kilometers to the north-northeast. On the march, through high grass and thick vegetation, McDade declined an offer of artillery assistance from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment (2/5), and allowed the middle ranks of soldiers to march single file with little regard for security. On breaks, exhausted soldiers sprawled on the grass [3]

At midday, two NVA soldiers were captured. Lt. Col. McDade moved forward to interrogate the prisoners himself, and called his company commanders forward for a conference. Most were accompanied by their radio operators. The American column was halted in unprepared, open terrain, and strung out in 550-yard (500 m) line of march. Meanwhile, The NVA troops were organizing an assault.[2]

The NVA opened fire, and Charlie Company took the worst of it, losing 20 killed and many more wounded in the first minute. The lead unit, Alpha Company, lost two platoons, 50 men, in the first minutes. The North Vietnamese were in among the Americans and up in the trees, so American artillery fire killed men from both sides. The commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, General Harry W.O. Kinnard and his second-in-command, Brig. Gen. Richard Knowles, later said the brigade commander, Colonel Brown, had not alerted them. Brown said he could get no coherent report from McDade. "We had ample resources at hand to reinforce Albany–Hal Moore's men would have gone in a minute–but no one asked," says General Kinnard.[3]

Reinforcements arrived in the late afternoon and evening, and wounded were evacuated late in the evening, and the battle was over. The casualty toll for the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was 155 killed, 125 wounded and at least four men missing in action.[3] The battle lasted 16 hours.[2] McDade would continue to lead the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry until March 1966.


McDade met his wife, Elinor Van Ingen, in Saigon, where she was working for the State Department. They married in 1974.[4] The McDades owned and managed The Goat Alley Gallery in Sag Harbor for twenty three years.[5]

Military awards[edit]

McDade's decorations and awards include:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Combat Infantryman Badge with two Stars
1st Row Silver Star w/ Oak Leaf Cluster Legion of Merit Bronze Star w/ two Oak Leaf Clusters and "V" Device Air Medal
2nd Row Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Purple Heart w/ three Oak Leaf Clusters American Campaign Medal Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal w/ two 316" bronze stars
3rd Row World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 316" bronze star Korean Service Medal w/ three 316" bronze stars Vietnam Service Medal w/ two 316" bronze stars
4th Row Armed Forces Reserve Medal Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm United Nations Korea Medal Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ 1960- device


  1. ^ Sag Harbor Express, Robert Alexander McDade obituary, October 23, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Moore, Harold G. & Joseph L. Galloway (1992). We Were Soldiers Once... and Young. HarperTorch. pp. 277, 278. ISBN 0-679-41158-5.
  3. ^ a b c Galloway, Joseph L. (October 29, 1990). "Vietnam story: The word was the la Drang would be a walk. The word was wrong.". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  4. ^ East Hampton Star, Robert Alexanxer McDade obituary, October 22, 2009.
  5. ^ New York Times, Robert Alexander McDade death notice, October 18, 2009.

External links[edit]