One of the real-life officers who survived the battle was LT Rick Rescorla, who is the main figure on the cover of Gen. Moore's book on which the movie was based. A biography of Mr. Rescorla's very interesting life was published in the mid 2000s called 'Heart of Lion'. He died in the 9/11 attacks while employed as head of security for Morgan Stanley, while making sure all the company's employees had gotten out of the WTC (they had).
A total of three soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for the battle represented in this film. Joseph Marm Jr. received his shortly after the battle, Bruce P. Crandall in 2007, and Ed Freeman on July 16, 2001.
Although many of the names are never really seen or said throughout the movie, very careful attention was paid to ensure every member of the company was represented properly in the film. For every person that was a member of the company in real life, there was an actor on screen, most of which resembled the actual soldiers themselves.
Keni Thomas, who acted as both a military/technical advisor for and an extra in this film, fought in Mogadishu with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in 1993, the battle depicted in the film Black Hawk Down (2001).
The A-6 Intruder footage was originally shot for Flight of the Intruder (1991). This was necessary because the A-6 had been retired several years before this film was made, and so none were available to use in the movie.
In the shot of the hospital nursery early in the movie one of the babies is named Papac, hand printed on a card attached to the bassinet. Michael Papac is the armorer for this film and given the massive scale of the arms and ammunition needed for filming, he played a central role in creating this movie. In fact, in the credits he is listed as Master Armorer and three assistants are credited as "weapons armorers." It is doubtful that any other movie has ever needed, and credited, four armorers. Naming the baby Papac so prominently was a well deserved tribute to his contributions.
The ammunition pouches used by many of the characters in the movie were the "short" version designed to accommodate the 20 round M-16 magazines. These pouches, however, were not issued until 1968, 3 years after the film is set. Before this film was made, the short style pouches were common and readily available. But because the props department bought so many for filming, they are now very rare collectibles on the surplus market.
During the last year of the production, sound engineer Steve Bartkowicz consulted the Frederick Military Academy Alumni Webmaster, Richard W. Abrams (uncredited), to determine which French bugle call would have been played during the opening massacre sequence. For historical accuracy, Abrams was also called upon to determine if the bugle call would have remained the same today as in the year of the massacre. The bugle call was found on a French military web site and forwarded to Bartkowicz.
A theatrical re-release on 20 September 2002 in Arizona saw the world premiere of Randall Wallace's "Sonic Whole Overhead Sound" format, in which the cinema's audio system features a new ceiling speaker channel to convey height information. The mix was created by Mark P. Stoeckinger, in association with Dolby Labs and Todd-AO/Soundelux.
The barracks that the soldiers file out of before loading the buses belong to A co 1/507 Parachute Infantry Regiment (Airborne School) and really are just across the street from the scene where they load the buses.
Mel Gibson, who portrayed Colonel Moore in this film, is also famous for his role as Detective Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series. In the first Lethal Weapon movie, the Battle of Ia Drang is mentioned. Riggs' partner, Roger Murtaugh, states that he escaped being seriously wounded or killed in action while serving there, only because his friend took a bayonet in the lungs for him.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
When 2nd Lt. Henry Herrick Marc Blucas is fatally wounded and giving his final orders his pupils are small as he is looking up into the bright sky. When he dies they can be seen to fully dilate over the course of a few seconds, as would happen in real life.