Basil Plumley, Army veteran of 3 wars, dies at 92
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley, left, and retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore help lead the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam.
October 11th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Basil Plumley, Army veteran of 3 wars, dies at 92

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley, who fought in some of the U.S. Army's bloodiest battles in three wars, died Wednesday in Columbus, Georgia. He was 92.

Plumley saw action in some of the largest battles of World War II, including the Battle of Normandy, the Battle of Salerno in Italy and Operation Market Garden.

He then fought in the Korean War, but it was his role in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam that brought him the most fame. The battle was chronicled in the book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," which was later a 2002 movie starring Mel Gibson. Sam Elliott played Plumley.

The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia, tweeted a picture of Elliot and Plumley in noting the veteran's death.

Plumley, along with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, led the Army's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment in the November 1965 battle that saw 450 U.S. forces face off against 2,000 troops from the North Vietnamese army in the first major engagement between the two armies. More than 230 U.S. troops were killed.

Plumley was at Landing Zone X-Ray, where 79 U.S. troops died.

"That was a long day. I was the second one in and next to the last to leave," Plumley was quoted as saying by The Bayonet in 2010 when he donated a large print of himself and Moore in Vietnam to the National Infantry Museum.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Plumley was a true American hero who spent much of his life placing his nation and its greatest ideals ahead of his own well-being," Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, said in a statement Wednesday. "He served with great valor and distinction in three wars and continued to mentor soldiers and leaders well after his retirement from active duty. The command sergeant major touched countless lives in his more than 30 years in the Army."

Plumley joined the Army on March 31, 1942, and retired on December 31, 1974.

His Army awards included the Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster and the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster.

At a reunion of Ia Drang veterans this year in Columbus, Plumley talked about the troops he helped lead, according to a report on the U.S. Army's website.

"That battalion was the best trained, in good physical shape and most disciplined that I've ever seen," he said. "We did real hard training at Fort Benning before we went into X-Ray. … But that battalion was made up of hard, disciplined, well-trained and well-commanded soldiers who didn't give a damn how rough their training is as long as you're fair about it. I was glad to have been a member of it."

Plumley was a larger-than-life figure, who had the respect of those on the battlefield, according to Joe Galloway, a reporter who was at Ia Drang and later wrote "We Were Soldiers" along with Moore. At the May reunion, he told of the scene when Plumley showed up at another Ia Drang vets reunion years earlier.

"It was up in the hospitality room, and everybody's had a few pops. All of a sudden, Sgt. Maj. Plumley arrives, steps in the door," Galloway said. "And I saw guys who had served a two-year draftee tour in the Army and had been out for 25 or 30 years, turn white, backs against the wall. As the sergeant major made his way into the room, they made their way along the wall and out the door. They were afraid he still had their name and number."

Plumley died of colon cancer, the Army statement said.

See local coverage from CNN affiliate WRBL-TV in Columbus

Post by:
Filed under: Military • Obituary • U.S. Army
soundoff (433 Responses)
  1. Alex

    Democrats support racial affirmative action programs in employment and college programs. Is this fair? Think before you vote.

    October 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharp

      Wrong thread. There is now a special all purpose thread for Obama Hating. Just Google, "I Hate Obama."

      October 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vietvet

      This "Alex" person is spamming this thread and needs to be blocked.

      October 13, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Imminent

      Reported again, you waste of a human.

      October 13, 2012 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. cashmeremafia

    Wow, what an amazing person!! RIP sir, you've lived an extraordinary life!! And thank you for your sacrifice so that we can sit here today and freely make comments, from a grateful nation 🙂

    October 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D Brown

    A True Hero. Not many men wear the Combat Infantry Badge with two (2) Stars, Good Luck on the rest of your Journey Sir.

    October 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alex

    Attention! Democrats support racial affirmative action programs in employment and college programs. Think before you vote.

    October 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharp

      Wrong thread buddy. There is now a special all purpose thread for Obama Hating. Just Google, "I Hate Obama."

      October 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imminent

      Reported abuse, you piece of useless sh1t, Alex.

      October 13, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. M@x

    The Army just got a little less green.

    October 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bills Cat

    It took a lot to walk in and enlist back in 1942 - guys knew they were going off to battle and might never come home. This guy and men like him are part of The Heart of America.

    October 12, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    The Democrats support racial affirmative action programs in employment and college programs. Think before you vote.

    October 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. forreal89

    All respect RIP

    October 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matt Svensson

    RIP CSM

    October 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. scranton

    Rest in peace soldier.

    October 12, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. xfiler93

    Carry on Soldier, carry on.

    October 13, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. usarmycpt

    CSM Plumley was a great American hero. At Fort Campbell, we have the Kinnard Mission Training Center which was named after another great Soldier that had survived Pearl Harbor, Battle of the Buldge, and Ia Drang. I never had the pleasure of meeting CSM Plumley but I did live on FOB Garryowen over in Iraq. I have some decent photos and stories of that place and of Iraq.

    http://usarmycpt.blogspot.com/

    October 13, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. Imminent

    God bless you and your family Sgt. Major Plumley. Thank you Sir! Thank you very much!

    October 13, 2012 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. joeytoetoes

    RIP.......CSM

    October 13, 2012 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. government cheese

    Liberals are cheering.

    October 13, 2012 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Wellywellup

      Typical repub, always trying to devide our great nation.

      October 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19