We Were Soldiers - Summary

Harold (“Hal”) Moore was a Lt. Colonel with the 1st Cavalry (Air Mobile) when the division came to South Vietnam in September of 1965. Neither he, nor his men, knew that North Vietnam was willing to accept catastrophic losses in its war against the South.

Thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers were in the Ia Drang Valley, near the Chu Pong Massif, when helicopters transported Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson in the film) and his troops to Landing Zones (LZs) in the area. Embedded with the troops was Joe Galloway (Barry Pepper), a journalist working for United Press International (UPI).

In November of 1965, Moore's orders were to “find the enemy and go after him,” although he did not have good intelligence on which he could rely. He had no idea, for example, that North Vietnamese soldiers were regrouping and resting at Chu Pong Mountain. But “the enemy” also had a mission: Draw the Americans into battle, learn how they fight, and figure out how to kill them.

Moore and his troops were put in harm’s way without knowing the enemy was within easy striking distance. Within an hour after arriving at LZ X-Ray, 450 American and 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers were fiercely engaged in battle. Fighting in sweltering heat, and greatly outnumbered, U.S. troops on the ground fought back, managing to defend the landing zones.

Men in the mostly unarmed helicopters, including pilots like Major Bruce “Snake” Crandall (Greg Kinnear) were also at great risk. Wives back in the States, like Julie Moore (Madeleine Stowe) dreaded the sight of visitors delivering bad-news telegrams.

On the second day of battle, November 15th, C Company's forward air controller issued a “Broken Arrow” message, requesting all available air support to aid “an American unit in grave danger of being overrun.” Things got much worse, for both sides, before the first ground battle of the Vietnam War was finally over.

In this story behind the film, meet Hal Moore and Joe Galloway. Virtually witness the actual Ia Drang battle through on-scene pictures. Get the perspective from both sides by reading comments from opposing commanders. Watch a video in which Galloway describes what it was like to be in a napalm strike. And ... see, and hear, the "Hueys" - the helicopters which ferried troops to, and from, the landing zones.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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"We Were Soldiers" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2002. Jan 19, 2020.
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