Plumley, Basil, CSM

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Command Sergeant Major
Last Service Branch
Infantry
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
1920
 
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
AWARDS and MEDALS:
  • 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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Vietnam War/Defense Campaign (1965)/Operation Silver Bayonet I - Battle of the Ia Drang
From Month/Year
October / 1965
To Month/Year
November / 1965

Description
Operation Silver Bayonet I (9 to 18 November) On 9 November, the 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade replaced the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade and conducted Operation Silver Bayonet I. Its mission was to set up targets for B-52 airstrikes.

The 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade was ordered to switch the operational direction from west to east as if it had lost track of the enemy positions. The B3 Field Front felt for the subterfuge and decided to commence staging for the second attack of the Pleime camp. On 11 November, its three Regiments were ordered to go in assembly areas for reorganization, re-equipment and rehearsals in preparation for the attack set for 16 November.(19) These troop concentrations in assembly areas became available for B-52 airstrike. The J3 Chief/MACV was notified to set the B-52 airstrike in motion. The first wave of bombs would be dropped at a location about 7 and a half kilometers west of LZ X-Ray and the time over target (TOT) was set for 16 hours of 15 November. On 12 November, the 1/7 Air Cavalry Battalion was ordered to get ready to be inserted at Chu Pong massif as a diversionary maneuver. On 13 November, as some recon elements and transportation units of the NVA B3 Field Front had already moved out of their assembly areas, the 1/7 Air Cavalry Battalion was ordered to be inserted at the eastern foot of Chu Pong massif and to conduct an operation to at least 15 November with the intention to lure the B3 Field Front to delay the movement of troops out of the assembly areas to a later date than the TOT.(23) On 14 November, some assault elements of the NVA B3 Field Front started moving out of their assembly areas. At 10:48 hours, the lead elements of the 1/7 Air Cavalry arrived at the LZ X-Ray following a 30 minute bombardment of artillery, aerial rockets, and air strikes. The insertion point was located about 200 meters from the position of the 9th Battalion belonging to the NVA 66th Regiment. The B3 Field Front took the bait and decided to attack the new threat with two battalions - the 7th and the 9th belonging to the 66th Regiment - while ordering the 32nd and the 33rd to hold their positions in their respective assembly areas. The 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade reacted by a sending in a reinforcement comprising the 2/7th and the 2/5th Air Cavalry Battalions, which closed in at 9:10 hours and at 12:05 hours on 15 November respectively. The safety of the 1/7th Air Cavalry Battalion was further beefed up by a "ring of steel" of artillery and by a round the clock air attacks on every route in and out of the landing zone to interdict the 32nd and 33rd Regiments from joining in the fight. The B-52 airstrike entered in action at 16:00 hours and carpet bombed the positions of the 33rd and 32nd Regiments for the 15 and 16 November. The 1/7th Air Calvary Battalion left LZ X-Ray at noon of 16 November, replaced by the 2/7th and the 2/5th. In the morning of 17 November, these two battalions abandoned LZ X-Ray by foot toward LZ Albany and LZ Columbus respectively in a tactical maneuver to "grab the tiger by its tail in another direction"(5) allowing to carpet bombing the positions of units of the 66th Regiment remaining in the vicinity of LZ X-Ray. The Air Cavalry troops suffered heavy casualties at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany because the enemy tactics had relied mostly on "human waves".


The B-52 airstrike continued for another two days all over the Chu Pong-Ia Drang complex from west to east rendering the heavy canopy area ineffective for concealment and cover. II Corps intelligence estimated the action of the B-52 airstrikes had rendered 2/3 of the enemy force ineffective. The remnants of the NVA forces' escape route to Cambodia was reduced to a narrow corridor along the Ia Drang
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
October / 1965
To Month/Year
November / 1965
 
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
   
Personal Memories
   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  139 Also There at This Battle:
  • Bayer, Lawrence, LTC, (1955-1989)
  • Cook, James, MSG, (1955-1976)
  • Gilreath, Larry, 1SG, (1951-1972)
  • Gonzalez Jr., Guadalupe, CPL, (1964-1966)
  • Marm, Walter Joseph, COL, (1964-1995)
  • Marshall, Patrick, SFC, (1962-1999)
  • Miller, Robert David, SSG, (1962-1982)
  • Moore, Harold, LTG, (1945-1977)
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