Last Known Activity|
Hero of three wars dies in Columbus
Command Sgt. Major Basil Plumley was 92
By: Fort Benning, GA|Vis News Release
Published: October 10, 2012
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley has died at Columbus Hospice. He was 92. Plumley served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
During the Vietnam War, he was sergeant major of the 1st Battalion, 7th Calvary Regiment commanded by Lt. General (then Lt. Col.) Hal Moore. The actions of that unit in the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965 were the basis of Moore's book, "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young." The book was made in to a movie in 2002 starring Mel Gibson. Plumley was played by Sam Elliot.
The Battle of Ia Drang was the first major battle between the United State Army and regulars of the People's Army of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
CSM Plumley enlisted in the Army in March 1942 and retired with 32 years of service. He worked at Martin Army Community Hospital for fifteen years after retirement.
He was born in 1920 in Sandy Springs, West Virginia.
A news release from Fort Benning lists his awards and decorations: Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Presidential Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead device and one silver and three bronze campaign stars (eight campaigns), World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one Gold Star, Korean Service Medal with one Arrowhead Device and three campaign stars, Vietnam Service Medal with eight campaign stars, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Presidential Citation, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm three Awards, United Nations Service Medal for Korea, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Award Honor Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, Order of Saint Maurice, Combat Infantryman Badge (third award), Master Parachutist Badge with five Combat Jump Stars, French Croix de Guerre 82nd Airborne, Belgian Croix de Guerre 82nd Airborne, Dutch Order of the Orange 82nd Airborne, Doughboy Award 1999.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.
CSM Basil L. Plumley (born 1920 in West Virginia) is most famous for his actions as a Sergeant-Major of the US Army's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at the Battle of Ia Drang (1965). General Hal Moore praised Plumley as an outstanding NCO and leader in his book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young. The Sergeant Major was known affectionately by his soldiers as "Old Iron Jaw". Plumley is a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He made all 4 combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne Division in WWII (Sicily, Salerno, D-Day and Market Garden) and one in Korea with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment. He retired as a Command Sergeant Major. After his retirement, Plumley worked for many years at a hospital in Georgia.
Plumley was one of the senior Sergeants-Major in the Army. He and Moore served together as Sergeant-Major and Commander for over two years at Fort Benning and in Vietnam.
When the Department of the Army created the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the first promotion board reviewed the eligible population of Sergeants Major in three increments with a promotion list being published at the conclusion of each increment. CSM Plumley was on the promotion list published at the conclusion of the third increment and promoted 1968.
To this day, there are veterans of the 1/7 CAV who are convinced that God may look like CSM Plumley, but HE is not nearly as tough as the Sergeant Major on sins small or large.
He was portrayed by Sam Elliott in the film, We Were Soldiers.