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Command Sergeant Major (R) Basil Plumley

 He was a soldier combat infantryman once, er, twice, no, make that three times, and young.

CSM (R) Basil Plumley

No, he was just three times the soldier any of us was or is.  I would put the Auld Soldier in a class with LTG (R) Hal Moore, who was CSM Plumley's battalion commander in the Ia Drang, but Plumley towers over them.
Command Sgt. Maj. Plumley fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam and made five parachute jumps into combat. Friends said he never told war stories and was known to hang up on people who called to interview him. ... “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.” He was a native of Shady Spring, W.Va., and enlisted in the Army in 1942. He 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, he served as sergeant major with the 7th Cavalry Regiment. “That puts him in the rarest of clubs,” said journalist Joseph L. Galloway, who met Command Sgt. Maj. Plumley while covering the Vietnam War for United Press International and remained lifelong friends with him. “To be combat infantry in those three wars, in the battles he participated in, and to have survived — that is miraculous.” In November 1965, Command Sgt. Maj. Plumley served in the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam, the first major engagement between the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese forces.

The Sergeant Major would have been a legend among us soldiers, regardless.  But Hal Moore and Joe Galloway writing We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, and then Mel Gibson turning it into a movie made the Sergeant Major a proper legend outside the Army, too.

There were many brave men in the Ia Drang that day.  Majors Ed Freeman and Bruce Crandall, and a young Lieutenant Rick Rescorla.   When Moore and Galloway pass on, there's going to be a raucous party at the LZ X-Ray table at Fiddler's Green.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance - in memoriam of CSM Basil Plumley , an exemplar of what an infantryman should be.

4 Comments

Nicely done.  Beautiful summation of a passed giant.  Notice how humility seems to be a trait of these me.

Oh yeah, I saw a release on the CSMs passing written by someone in Ft. Benning's PAO that had him in the 1st of the 5th Cavalry in Ia Drang.  You really have to wonder about those people.  They should at least be able to properly identify ARMY units.
 
A couple years ago, Joe invited me and my daughters to a reunion of the Ia Drang veterans. When Moore got up to speak, there was such raucous cheering and whooping that it rocked the walls. Over the sound system, came the distinctive sound of.... yep... an approaching Huey, complete with light effects that mimicked the action of rotor blades. The other guests included Shinseki and McCaffrey, both of whom acted like star-struck kids. Speaking of which: the loudest whooper was my youngest, Courtney, who stood on a chair, put her hands to her mouth, and hollered for all she was worth.

One man was missing. Plumley. He never went to the D.C. reunions ("too many strap-hangers"). He hosted his own, just for the vets themselves. A purist to the end. Love that guy. May he rest in peace. I hope he has good weather.
 
Oops bad editing should be 'a trait of these men.'  above.
 
I did not know CSM Plumey, although I did know a number of soldiers from both the 1st and 2d Battalions, 7th Cavalry.  A soldier that I did know was of Plumey's ilk.  1SG Frank Leggio was my First Sergeant when I commanded a rifle company in Vietnam.  He, too, had a CIB with two stars and was a veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.  When he served as my First Sergeant, he was on his third tour in Vietnam.  He was old enough to be my father and had more combat experience than I could ever hope to have, but he knew exactly how to handle a young, but eager company commander.

We once had an argument about whether the sound that we both heard was a mortar round leaving the tube.  I insisted that it wasn't, he knew that it was.  He entertained my arguments until the time for argument had passed, when he knocked me over and jumped on top of me just before the incoming mortar round exploded way too close for comfort.  He never said, " I told you so."

Great soldiers, these men, great soldiers.