Plumley, Basil, CSM

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Last Rank
Command Sergeant Major
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
00Z-Command Sergeant Major IN
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1965-1967, 00Z, HHC, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry (Airmobile)
Service Years
1942 - 1974

Command Sergeant Major

Ten Service Stripes

Fourteen Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

19 kb

Home State
West Virginia
West Virginia
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MAJ Mark E Cooper to remember Plumley, Basil ("Old Iron Jaw"), CSM.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Shady Spring, Raleigh County
Last Address
Columbus, GA

Date of Passing
Oct 10, 2012
Location of Interment
Fort Benning Post Cemetery - Fort Benning, Georgia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

101st Airbone Division 1st Cavalry Division 82nd Airbone Division Belgian Fourragere

Netherlands Orange Lanyard US Army Retired (Pre-2007) Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961 French Fourragere

 Unofficial Badges 

Air Assault Badge 11th AAD 1964 Order of the Dragon Order of Saint Maurice Order of The Spur

Cold War Veteran

 Additional Information
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.

Other Comments:
Enlisted on: 31-Mar-1942, PVT Two Years High School in Huntington, WV.
SN: RA35425274
  • Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Air Medal and 8 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Presidential Unit Citation
  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead device and 1 silver and 3 bronze campaign stars (to signify 8 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 3 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 (3rd Award)
  • Master Parachutist Badge with 5 Combat Jump Stars
  • French Croix de Guerre 82nd Airborne
  • Belgian Groix de Guerre 82nd Airborne
  • Dutch Order of the Orange 82nd Airborne
  • Doughboy Award 1999
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Sicily Campaign (1943)/Operation Husky
From Month/Year
July / 1943
To Month/Year
August / 1943

The decision to invade Sicily was agreed by the Western Allies at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. 'Operation Husky' was to be a combined amphibious and airborne attack scheduled for that summer under the supreme command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Allies began air attacks on targets in Sicily and Italy in the early summer of 1943. They also attacked the Italian island of Pantellaria, which surrendered to the British 1st Division who arrived there on 11 June.

The Allied convoys concentrated near Malta on the 9 July and headed for Sicily's southern beaches. The careful planning of the landings was slightly hindered by a storm, which slowed down the landing craft. The Italian defenders believed such weather conditions would deter any attempt of an invasion and were on a low state of alert.

The British 1st Airlanding Brigade mounted in 137 gliders, were the first to land. They were to seize the Ponte Grande Bridge south of Syracuse. These landings were, on the whole, unsuccessful. Of the 137 gliders, 69 came down in the sea, drowning some 200 men. A further 56 landed in the wrong area of Sicily and just 12 reached the target area and managed to take the bridge. The US paratroopers had difficulties too, the pilots were inexperienced and dust and anti-aircraft fire resulted in the 2,781 paratroopers being scattered over an area 80km radius.

The main amphibious landings involved three British divisions in the east and two US divisions in the west, all supported by heavy fire from off shore warships.

The British did not meet strong resistance from the Italian coastal troops and were able to bring tanks and artillery ashore ahead of schedule. By the end of the day 13th Corps had taken Syracuse and 30th Corps had secured Panchino.

The US divisions had a far more difficult landing, with stiff resistance from the Italians and German air attacks. Later in the day the Hermann Goering Panzer Division, with it's 56 ton Tiger tanks, joined the defence, but the US 2nd Armored Division and US 18 Regimental Combat Team landed in the evening and the Americans managed to stand firm against the fierce fighting. Eventually, naval supporting gunfire forced the tanks to disperse.
The sudden appearance of so many paratroopers gave the appearance of a much greater invasion and the Axis defenders called for reinforcements.
By 12 July, the British had captured Augusta and Montgomery decided to head northwards, to the east of Mount Etna, to take Messina. The Commander of the US 7th Army, Lieutenant-General George S Patton, unhappy with this change of plan, was to fight westwards, towards Palermo. The Americans advanced well. They captured 53,000 prisoners and also the port of Palermo on July 22. This enabled the US 9th Division to land there, instead of on the southern beaches, and was valuable for receiving Allied supplies. Alexander ordered Patton to advance to Messina.

Meanwhile the British Eighth Army was making slow progress. The German paratroopers, with 88mm anti-tank guns, were a formidable enemy and the mountainous Sicilian countryside was hard to negotiate. The Highlanders fought hard for Biancavilla and the XIII Corps eventually took Catania and then Paterno.

The Canadians of Lord Tweedsmuir's Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment managed to take the hill town of Assoro by scaling a cliff and taking their enemy completely by surprise and advanced to Leonforte, which fell to them on 22 July.

By August, the invasion of Sicily was almost complete. The race for Messina continued; the British were helped greatly by airborne forces landing ahead and saving bridges from destruction by the Axis troops. On 17 August, the US 3rd Division entered Messina at 10am, just 50 minutes before the arrival of the British Army. The Germans had been evacuated, but had left huge amounts of weapons, ammunition and fuel. The historic city of Messina had been ravaged by Allied bombs and after the invasion, by shells from the Italian mainland.

Operation Husky was a success. The Allies achieved their goal - the 'soft underbelly' of Europe had been exposed and the Mediterranean could be fully used as a sea route. The cost of casualties was high, though less than anticipated. The Allies lost more than 16,000 men and estimated that 164,000 Axis troops were either killed or taken prisoner.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
July / 1943
To Month/Year
August / 1943
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  44 Also There at This Battle:
  • Bald Eagle, David William, Sgt, (1936-1944)
  • Eatman, Harold Lee, 1st Sgt, (1942-1945)
  • Maxwell, Robert, Cpl, (1942-1945)
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