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, Lt. Col. 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 US and NVA forces in Vietnam and showed the use of helicopters as mobility providers and assault support aircraft. Written by
In the opening scene, French troops are shown with their beret insignia on the left side of their forehead. In reality, and contrary to most countries in the world, French soldiers have their insignia on the right side of their forehead. 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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I for one am someone who was inspired to read the book "We were Soldiers Once and Young" after seeing this movie. WWS is about a distinct event that actually happened. SGM Plumley was a soldier's soldier, with five combat jumps in three wars and an astounding three combat infantry badges. LTC Moore was the sort of leader who could keep his head and lead his troops through the worst of battle. People who complain of clichés in this movie might as well complain that people in 18th century movies wear three-cornered hats.
To those looking for an anti-war message, it is there. When Moore goes to Division headquarters and gets his mission, he asks about projected enemy in his area of operations. The staff officer standing next to the general says "a manageable number." To this Moore responds with words to the effect of "which means you have no idea." It turns out that Moore's battalion gets dropped on top of a vastly larger enemy force (if I remember correctly, they get dropped right next to an NVA brigade). Ordinarily, it order to assure success in attack, you want to have three times the numbers of your enemy. In this case, the ratio was 4:1 going the other way. Then the battle is about how artillery and air support makes up the difference in numbers.
The obvious criticism here is that the command was fumbling around in the dark. At the end of the movie, the names of the 70+ men who died are prominently displayed on the screen. A military mind is not treasonous and will not disrespect its superiors, but it will let facts speak for themselves.
The next comment is only tangentially related to this movie. However, many voices here have taken the opportunity to vent their views on Vietnam, so I feel compelled to put things in a broader historical context.
There was a war that did not take place between 1945 and the fall of the Berlin wall. It would have been called WWIII. The Soviet Union and the US stood eye-to-eye for 40+ years, but did not blink. It was an ideological conflict with an evil that meant death to 50+ million people in communist countries in this century. It was conflict with a system that vastly constrained freedom. Fortunately for the world, the US finally prevailed. The struggle fought between communism and the west was fought in a variety of ways: in public relations, in sports, in propaganda, and in a series of proxy wars. In Korea, Greece, Vietnam, Afghanistan and a variety of smaller stages, East contested with West. To the people caught up in these local conflicts, these wars were absolute tragedies. However, in the grand scheme of things, these conflicts pale to insignificance when compared to the 500,000,000 who would have died in WWIII.
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