Army Sergeant Major Basil Plumley, Whose Heroism Was Portrayed in ‘We Were Soldiers’ Movie, Dies at 92

From Fox News.

Basil L. Plumley, a renowned career Soldier whose exploits as an Army infantryman were portrayed in a book and the movie “We Were Soldiers,” has died at 92 — an age his friends are amazed that he lived to see.

Plumley fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam and was awarded a medal for making five parachute jumps into combat. The retired command sergeant major died Wednesday.

Friends said Plumley, who died in hospice care  in west Georgia, never told war stories and was known to hang up on people who called to interview him. Still, he was near-legendary in the Army and gained more widespread fame through a 1992 Vietnam War book that was the basis for the 2002 movie starring Mel Gibson.  Actor Sam Elliott played Plumley in the film.

Plumley didn’t need a Hollywood portrayal to be revered among soldiers, said Greg Camp, a retired Army Colonel and former chief of staff at neighboring Fort Benning who befriended Plumley in his later years.

“He’s iconic in military circles,” Camp said. “Among people who have been in the military, he’s beyond what a movie star would be. … His legend permeates three generations of Soldiers.”

Debbie Kimble, Plumley’s daughter, said her father died from cancer after spending about nine days at Columbus Hospice. Although the illness seemed to strike suddenly, Kimble said Plumley’s health had been declining since his wife of 63 years, Deurice Plumley, died last May on Memorial Day.

A native of Shady Spring, W.Va., 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.

……It was during Vietnam in November 1965 that Plumley served in the Battle of la Drang, the first major engagement between the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese forces. That battle was the basis for the book “We Were Soldiers Once … And Young,” written nearly three decades later by ( Joseph L.)  Galloway and retired Lt. Gen. Hal G. Moore, who had been Plumley’s battalion commander in Vietnam. In the 2002 film version, Mel Gibson played Moore and 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.”

In a March 19, 2009 photo, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley, right, and retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, left, who served together with the 1st Cavalry Division in the Ia Drang Valley, talk at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Ga. (AP/The Ledger-Enquirer)

By the way:
LTC, US ARMY (RET) Richard “Rick” Rescorla’s heroism inside the WTC:

He had focused on security at the World Trade Center for years.  After a company merger in 1997, Rescorla became director of security at Morgan Stanley, where he maintained vigilant attention to the firm’s — and the building’s — safety. Despite disruption at the busy brokerage firm, he insisted on holding twice-yearly evacuation drills by the stairwell for the firm’s 22 floors in the south tower.  He is credited with saving the lives of at least 2,500 Morgan Stanley employees. 13, including himself, perished.

A photo of him in battle was the cover of the 1992 book “‘We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,”‘ and Fort Benning, Georgia, displays a statue of himHe fought in a major battle in 1965 in Vietnam at Ia Drang, a Communist stronghold and a major supply route. He led his company in securing a defense perimeter, and after enduring waves of assault, kept his men’s spirits up by leading them in singing military songs through the night.

Rest in peace, Sergeant Major.  HOOAH.

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