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We Were Soldiers (2002) Poster

Trivia

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One of the real-life officers, who survived the battle, was Lieutenant Rick Rescorla, who is the main figure on the cover of General 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 of the company's employees had gotten out of the World Trade Center (they had).
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 whom resembled the actual soldiers themselves.
Keni Thomas, who acted as a Military Advisor, Technical Advisor, and an extra in this film, fought in Mogadishu with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in 1993, the battle depicted in Black Hawk Down (2001).
According to American Sniper Chris Kyle, this film is shown to U.S. Navy special forces recruits, to inspire them before they begin the "Hell Week" stage of their S E.A.L. training.
Some Vietnamese actors in the movie, had actually been in the North Vietnamese Army.
Eight hundred seventy-five thousand feet of film was shot - roughly one hundred fifty hours. It took the editing team six days - day and night - to watch it all.
The closing music, "Mansions of The Lord", has become the unofficial Army funeral hymn. It was used as the recessional at former President Ronald Reagan's funeral.
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, Ed Freeman on July 16, 2001, and Bruce P. Crandall on February 26, 2007.
Joseph Galloway (Barry Pepper) was awarded a Bronze Star for carrying wounded men to safety at the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965.
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.
The real Joseph D. Galloway stepped out of the movie theater during a scene. "That was my nightmare for 36 years. I don't want to see it again."
The first scenes in Vietnam show a Battalion sign that says "Garry Owen". This was the famous marching song of the 7th Cavalry and is actually one word, "Garryowen".
The movie's six Huey helicopters were rented from private donors, not the military.
According to the real Joseph D. Galloway, when he visited the set, he couldn't even shake the hand of the actor playing Jimmy Nakayama.
Retired Lieutenant General Hal Moore died on February 10, 2017.
Machine gunner Specialist Bill Beck returned home, and became a greeting card artist with Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri. Approximately forty years later, he was awarded the Silver Star for his service in Vietnam.
Most of the rifles used in the film are actually the M16A1, identifiable by the forward assist on the left side of the rifle. The M16A1 was not introduced until 1967, but was likely used in place of the historically accurate M16 in the film, because the latter would have been nearly impossible for the films' armorers to acquire, in the numbers necessary, for the film.
Hal Moore was a retired Lieutenant General (3-star).
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 barracks, out of which the soldiers file, before loading the buses, belong to A co 1/507 Parachute Infantry Regiment (Airborne School), and are just across the street from the scene where they load the buses.
Many of the women in the film are soldiers' wives in real-life too.
The photos are production stills from the movie. The real Galloway says he wishes they'd used his actual photos from the battle.
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Most movies don't film in chronological order, but this one was filmed in sequence, so, when the soldiers leave for battle, so do the actors.
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Mel Gibson calls the real Moore an "old knight in shining armor."
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During the last year of 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 website, and forwarded to Bartkowicz.
The French bugler shot in the beginning is portrayed by Writer and Director Randall Wallace's real-life son.
The ammunition pouches, used by many of the actors in the movie, were the "short" version, designed to accommodate the twenty round M-16 magazines. These pouches, however, were not issued until 1968, three 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.
A good amount of the musical score is based around the song "Sgt. McKensie", which plays during the closing credits of the film.
Before filming, the actors went to a two-week boot camp. Mel Gibson said it was the "celebrity-wimp version" but he "thought it was hard anyway."
Mel Gibson calls his character's relationship with Basil Plumley "good cop, bad cop."
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A theatrical re-release on September 20, 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.
Mel Gibson, who portrayed Colonel Moore in this film, is also famous for his role as Detective Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon film franchise. In Lethal Weapon (1987), 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.
Jon Hamm later said, in tribute to Sam Elliott, that the fifty-eight year old actor participated in the boot camp training of the cast, without exemption.
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According to Greg Kinnear, the real Bruce "Snake" Crandall is "larger-than-life. But he told me he was petrified."
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(At about forty minutes) When the buses show up to pick up the deploying soldiers, the "road" they are driving on is the 1/507th PIR (airborne school) running track.
The entire film was digitally color corrected at full 2K resolution.
The production tried to make most of the effects practical, which means the explosions were real, not computer generated.
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Was originally scheduled for a 2001 release, but was pushed back, so Chris Klein could work on American Pie 2 (2001).
Madeleine Stowe spent time with the real Julie Moore to learn "what it was to be a service wife."
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The bugle call for "Halt", used by the French outfit in the opening scene, was the call for "Forward March" in the U.S Army during the Civil War.
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Make-up Artists made the soldiers look dirty, by covering their faces in clay and wiping it off.
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According to Sound Designer Lon Bender, the movie has around ten thousand gunshots.
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Taylor Momsen, who was in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), and the band The Pretty Reckless, plays one of Hal's kids, as does her sister Sloane.
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The wives are watching television, which is airing the famous "Why we are in Vietnam" speech, by President Johnson, from July 28, 1965.
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Mel Gibson has a big family, so he was completely comfortable around all the kids.
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Randall Wallace wanted to cast Chris Klein, because of his warmth and authenticity.
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Denis Leary was considered for the role of Bruce Crandall.
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Ryan Hurst improvised the scene where he trips.
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Some of the helicopters were added to the screen digitally in post-production.
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According to Randall Wallace, the excitement was "tangible".
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Patrick St. Esprit and Ryan Hurst both appeared on Sons of Anarchy (2008). However, they share no scenes together.
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Jon Hamm set a goal that he would give himself until age 30 to land a role in a feature film before he gave up on being a working actor. He turned 30 during the filming of this picture.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The photographer, Joseph Galloway, married the daughter of Captain Thomas C. Metsker, who gave up his seat on a chopper to a soldier who was more severely wounded. Metsker was subsequently shot.
When Second Lieutenant 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.
Both sides claimed victory.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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