MoorePlumley-300x192 Command Sargent Major Basil L. Plumley passed away this past week and to those that served in the U.S. Army he was a legend, a soldier’s soldier, a man’s man. He was portrayed by Sam Elliott in the movie, “We Were Soldiers” starring Mel Gibson, which was based on the book, We Were Soldiers Once… And Young, by General Hal Moore and Joe Galloway, who was covering the Vietnam War for United Press International.

Moore led the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry in the first major engagement of U.S. Forces in Vietnam, known as “The Battle of Ia Drang,” Plumley, Lt. Col Moore and Galloway, along with 395 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry were in a 3 day battle against 4000 Vietnamese soldiers. During the battle the North Vietnamese had 1,800 men killed and the U.S. lost 72 soldiers. The men that fought in that battle had been trained by Moore and Plumley to overcome all odds.

In the 2002 film version, Mel Gibson played Moore and Sam Elliott played Plumley. Galloway said several of Elliott’s gruff one-liners in the movie were things Plumley actually said, such as the scene in which a soldier tells the sergeant major good morning and is told: “Who made you the (expletive) weather man?”

“Sam Elliott underplayed him. He was actually tougher than that,” Galloway said. “He was gruff, monosyllabic, an absolute terror when it came to enforcing standards of training. That’s Plumly-and-Elliott-300x300not to say he was mean or inhuman. This was a man above all else who had a very big, warm heart that he concealed very well.”

Galloway also relates one of his personal stories from the actual battle, he says, “The sergeant major bent at the waist and shouted over the incredible din of battle—-‘You can’t take no pictures laying down there on the ground, Sonny.’ I thought to myself he’s right. I also thought fleetingly that we might all die here in this place—and if I am going to die I would just as soon take mine standing up beside a man like this. Like a fool, I got up. I followed the sergeant major over to the makeshift aid station where Doc Carrera and Sgt. Tommie Keeton were tending the wounded. Plumley hollered at them: Gentlemen, prepare to defend yourselves! As he pulled out his .45 pistol and jacked a round into the chamber.”

Basil Plumley enlisted in the Army in 1942 and ended up serving 32 years in uniform. In World War II, he fought in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno and the D-Day invasion at Normandy. He later fought with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment in Korea. In Vietnam, Plumley served as sergeant major — the highest enlisted rank — in the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.

PlumleyMoore-283x300“That puts him in the rarest of clubs,” said Galloway, “To be combat infantry in those three wars, in the battles he participated in, and to have survived — that is miraculous.” According to, Basil Plumley operated in more than twenty different military operations.

So, why am I writing this, I’m writing this because it’s almost impossible to teach the love, passion, and courage that Basil Plumley had for this country. Today there are many men and women, like Basil, who serve in uniform and go and fight where ever the President and Congress send them. They deserve smart and caring politicians who do not use them for political purposes or gain. Our soldiers are an extension of our foreign policy, which in my view has been a disaster since World War II.

We have Presidents and now a Secretary of State, in regards to Libya, who waste American lives based on their political agenda and their incredibly stupid misunderstanding of what U.S. Foreign policy should be. As Basil Plumley would say, it’s time we throw the current administration under the bus, and then back over them just to be sure. It’s time for us, as citizens, to demand of our elected officials, that they treat those in uniform with respect, and that means giving them what they need to do the job they are asked to do, and never ask them to do a job for the ego or political needs of the President.

More Quotes:
Joe Galloway: In Saigon, Hal Moore’s superiors congratulated him for killing over 1,800 enemy soldiers. Then ordered him to lead the Seventh Cavalry back into the valley of death. He led them and fought beside them for 235 more days. Some had families waiting. For others, their only family would be the men they bled beside. There were no bands, no flags, no Honor Guards to welcome them home. They went to war because their country ordered them to. But in the end, they fought not for their country or their flag, the fought for each other.

plumley-300x168Lt. Colonel Hal Moore: They attack us; no casualties. They run and hide in the mountains. Naturally we chase them, of course. Smell like an ambush to you?
Sergeant Major Basil Plumley: If they’re trying to get us close enough to kill, I rekon we’ll be close enough to kill them.

Lt. Colonel Hal Moore: I wonder what was going through Custer’s mind when he realized that he’d led his men into a slaughter?
 Sergeant Major Basil Plumley: Sir, Custer was a pussy. You ain’t.

After the battle, referring to the North Vietnamese Commander:
 Sergeant Major Basil Plumley: You want to know how Custer felt? Why don’t you ask him?

Sergeant Major Basil Plumley: You can’t take any pictures from down there, sonny.
[Galloway gets up and is handed a rifle]
Joseph Galloway: I’m a non-combatant.
Sergeant Major Basil Plumley: Ain’t no such thing today.

Rest In Peace Sergeant Major

  • Nam 68-71 4th Infantry and Dam Proud
    Just Diagnosed with cancer?
    Thank Dow and Ortho for Agent Oange Blue and White??

    • Asian Orange,
      It won’t hurt you. It’s Safe to use. It turns everything a Burnt Orange. What a Beautiful Sunset, B. S.
      R. Littler. Pleiku Nov. 67- Nov. 68
      First Field Forces Vietnam
      6th. Bn. — 14th Arty. 175’s & 8 in.
      ‘’Sin Loy’’

  • RIP SGT MAJOR Plumley, God speed. I served with the 173rd Airborne BDE in VIETNAM May 1966–May 1967 returned to Vietnam in November 1967 with the 3rd BDE of the 82nd Airborne Div

    • My thanks to all you brave men and women that serve. Thomas Jefferson stated “evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” At no time in our history does this quote resonate – where are the good men in DC. Sure not many. Most selling our country out. I was in college when Vietnam was going on and the treatment you all received coming back from vietnam, the government and many people was a disgrace. I lost my hubby of 47 years and am now engaged to a retired officer that served in Vietnam as a medivac helicopter pilot. Proud of him and proud of all of you. Now we have woke and idiotic stupid generals that are going along with it. God bless all who served.

  • It leaves a dark place in my heart each time I think about that place. I’m not
    Proud but I’m satisfied to have participated. I was nineteen. I went because I had no choice. God bless all
    That went. I was with the 11th act the
    Black horse.

  • I’ve never been to war.
    My dad was in WWII flying in B17s
    As the radio operator/mid gunner.
    In Vietnam my Brother In Law was there through 68 and 69. He was a changed man on returning.
    They’re both gone now. My dad at 83 and Paul Edwared Austen at 65.
    I’m honored to have known two great men. And have met plenty of others along my path.
    God Bless our Soldiers
    God Bless America

    In the name of The Father
    The Son and The Holy Spirit.

    My our Freedom continue to ring
    Loud and Clear.

    Thank you ALL for you Services and the Sacrifices you made and continue to make as time travels into the unknown.

  • I was 199th LIB then B Troop, 3 Squadron
    17th Air Cav Regiment ( B 3/17 ), flew Scouts, then Slicks.
    R.I.P., Sgt Major, and we will meet on Fiddlers Green.

  • Rest in Peace Sgt Major, you have left a legacy you should be proud of. Those who served with or under you will always tell your story of how you lived and trained the next generations warriors.

    God Speed Sir.

    Bob Lohr
    2/503rd 173rd Airborne Bgde
    Viet Nam 68-69

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