Plumley, Basil, CSM

 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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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
 Photo Album   (More...

Ardennes Alsace Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of the Bulge
From Month/Year
December / 1944
To Month/Year
January / 1945

The Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe. Hitler planned the offensive with the primary goal to recapture the important harbour of Antwerp. The surprise attack caught the Allied forces completely off guard. United States forces bore the brunt of the attack and incurred the highest casualties for any operation during the war. The battle also severely depleted Germany's war-making resources.

The battle was known by different names. The Germans referred to it as Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein ("Operation Watch on the Rhine"), while the French named it the Bataille des Ardennes ("Battle of the Ardennes"). The Allies called it the Ardennes Counteroffensive. The phrase "Battle of the Bulge" was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps and became the best known name for the battle.

The German offensive was supported by several subordinate operations known as Unternehmen Bodenplatte, Greif, and Währung. As well as stopping Allied transport over the channel to the harbor of Antwerp, Germany also hoped these operations would split the British and American Allied line in half, and then proceed to encircle and destroy four Allied armies, forcing the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis Powers' favor. Once that was accomplished, Hitler could fully concentrate on the eastern theatre of war.

The offensive was planned by the German forces with the utmost secrecy, minimizing radio traffic and moving troops and equipment under cover of darkness. Despite their efforts to keep it secret, the Third U.S. Army's intelligence staff predicted a major German offensive, and Ultra indicated that a "substantial and offensive" operation was expected or "in the wind", although a precise date or point of attack could not be given. Aircraft movement from the Russian Front and transport of forces by rail, both to the Ardennes, was noticed but not acted upon, according to a report later written by Peter Calvocoressi and F. L. Lucas at the codebreaking centre Bletchley Park.

Near-complete surprise was achieved by a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance. The Germans attacked a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions, which grounded the Allies' overwhelmingly superior air forces. Fierce resistance on the northern shoulder of the offensive around Elsenborn Ridge and in the south around Bastogne blocked German access to key roads to the northwest and west that they counted on for success; columns that were supposed to advance along parallel routes found themselves on the same roads. This and terrain that favored the defenders threw the German advance behind schedule and allowed the Allies to reinforce the thinly placed troops. Improved weather conditions permitted air attacks on German forces and supply lines, which sealed the failure of the offensive. In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment, as survivors retreated to the defenses of the Siegfried Line.

About 610,000 American forces were involved in the battle,[2] and 89,000 were casualties, including 19,000 killed. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States in World War II.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
December / 1944
To Month/Year
January / 1945
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  369 Also There at This Battle:
  • Accattato, Rocco, PFC, (1943-1945)
  • Adams, Herbert, Pvt, (1941-1945)
  • Arther, Edward, PFC, (1944-1945)
  • Bahlau, Frederick Arthur, 1LT, (1942-1945)
  • Beck, Carl, M/Sgt, (1942-1963)
  • Belan, Elmer, T/5, (1943-1948)
  • Berg, Cletus, Pvt, (1944-1945)
  • Bizefski, Joseph Paul, Pvt, (1943-1944)
  • Boehme, Karen
  • Bolio, Robert, Cpl, (1943-1945)
  • Bouck, Lyle Joseph, 1LT, (1940-1945)
  • Brenzel, Frank, T/4, (1944-1946)
  • Burch, Gilbert, T/5, (1944-1946)
  • Burford, Chris
  • Burns, Henry, PFC, (1941-1944)
  • Bush, William Douglas, 1LT, (1942-1951)
  • Carey, Aaron, PFC, (1942-1945)
  • Carlson, Martin, T/5, (1943-1944)
  • Carmer, Richard, T/Sgt, (1943-1946)
  • Chase, George, Sgt, (1943-1945)
  • Clemente, Frank, MAJ, (1942-1945)
  • Cole, Chauncey David, LTC, (1938-1960)
  • Consiglio, Vincent J., S/Sgt, (1941-1945)
  • Costanzo, Anthony, PFC, (1942-1945)
  • Dallas, Frank J., LTC, (1942-1970)
  • Davol, Rupert
  • Deitz, Wallace, MSG, (1944-1968)
  • Derasmo, Anthony, PFC, (1943-1946)
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