The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War, and the soldiers on both sides that fought it, while their wives wait nervously and anxiously at home for the good news or the bad news.
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A telling of the 1st Battalion, 7 Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division's battle against overwhelming odds in the La Drang valley of Vietnam in 1965. Seen through the eyes of the battalion's commander, Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson), we see him take command of the battalion and its preparations to go into Vietnam. We also see how the French had, years earlier, been defeated in the same area. The battle was to be the first major engagement between U.S. and N.V.A. forces in South Vietnam, and showed the use of helicopters as mobility providers and assault support aircraft. Written by
Joe Galloway's Nikon camera shown throughout the movie is a model "F Photomic FTN", first sold in Sept. 1968, but it was November 14, 1965 at 10:48 a.m., when Lt. Col. Hal Moore and his young troopers touched down at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang. See more »
These are the true events of November, 1965, the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, a place our country does not remember, in a war it does not understand. This story's a testament to the young Americans who died in the valley of death, and a tribute to the young men of the People's Army of Vietnam who died by our hand in that place. To tell this story, I must start at the beginning. But where does it begin? Maybe in June of 1954 when French Group Mobile 100 moved ...
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Powerful and moving, not a film for everyone however
I was privileged to see a preview of Mel Gibson's new film "We Were Soldiers" based upon the book written by his real life character, Lt. Col. Harold Moore, along with Joe Galloway. I attended a showing along with numerous other Viet Nam vets and it would seem that there were as many opinions about the movie as there were viewers. Like the war itself, each person in attendance probably had some personal experiences that the movie brought back from that deep, and sometimes distant, place we have put them.
The movie was almost overwhelmingly graphical, but afterwards I realized this was instrumental in the telling of the story. For the movie is truly about the leadership that Col. Moore brought to his men of the 1st of the 7th, and his determination that they would not suffer the fate of the French in Viet Nam, nor his own unit's most infamous battle, that of Custer's Stand at Little Big Horn.
It was his determination and commitment that his men be as highly trained, as strongly molded as a unit, and most importantly as well lead as possible that stands out. This determination is obviously rooted in his deeply abiding belief that military leaders shall never forget that when they lead men into war, many of those men will never come back alive, but that those who lead shall never abandon them, even in their shared darkest hours.
And while the movie highly succeeds in conveying the horror and tragedy that war is....has been...and always shall be, it was more difficult for me to realize that our War Department and Army could have been so callous as to have delegated the responsibility of notifying next-of-kin of the death of their loved ones to the local Yellow Cab company. Then I realized that in late 1965 it was all so new and no one knew that this war was going to grow and consume so many young American lives over the next nine years.
The two most significant scenes in the movie for me were firstly, the scene when the course of the battle teeters on the brink of either disaster or success and the most important communication that Col. Moore's superiors have to convey is that General Westmoreland would like for him to leave the battlefield and fly to Saigon so the general can have a briefing. This more than anything pointed out how tragically we were doomed to failure in Viet Nam due to the political will, not the military will, being in control. The second most significant scene was in the airport where one soldier is pushing his buddy through the concourse and the voice over says..."They did not fight for God.....country.....right. They fought for each other", a fact that every Viet Nam vet would attest to.
This a movie worth seeing. It is another testament, with a worthy cinematographic effort, to the futility and absurdity of war, and how that among madness can be greatness. It is a movie that will unlikely leave the viewer devoid of emotion. What those emotions may be are as likely to be as highly personal, as the strength of their feeling.
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