Basil L. Plumley

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Basil L. Plumley
CSM(R) Basil L. Plumley at West Point 10 May 2010.JPG
CSM(R) Basil Plumley at West Point, May 10, 2010
Born (1920-01-01)January 1, 1920
Died October 10, 2012(2012-10-10) (aged 92)[1]
Spouse(s) Deurice Plumley (c. 1949 – d. 2012)[3]
Children Debbie Kimble
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army United States Army seal
Years of service 1942–1974
Rank Army-USA-OR-09b.svg Command Sergeant Major
Unit 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division
Battles/wars World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War

Other work Administrative worker at Martin Army Community Hospital (1975–1990)

Basil L. Plumley (January 1, 1920 – October 10, 2012[1]) was a career soldier and airborne combat infantryman in the United States Army who rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major. A veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, he is most famous for his actions during the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam.

Military career

Plumley enlisted in the United States Army as a private on March 31, 1942. He was a gliderman of the 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division. He saw action during the Invasion of Normandy, and Operation Market Garden.

Plumley participated in two glider assaults in the European Theater. His first was on June 6, 1944, during the Invasion of Normandy, and his second was for Operation Market Garden on Sept. 18, 1944. Plumley was shot in the hand the same day for which he received the Purple Heart and was awarded multiple decorations for his service in World War II.

Basil Plumley was stationed between 1951 through February 26, 1953 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky then he went to serve in Germany. He then fought in Korea during the final months of the Korean War, where he served at The Battle of Old Baldy, as well as the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. For serving in Korea, Plumley received his 2nd Combat Infantryman Badge in 1953.

He fought in Vietnam with the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. He participated in the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam in 1965, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore, who praised Plumley as an outstanding NCO and leader in the 1992 book about this battle, We Were Soldiers Once… and Young. The book was the basis for the 2002 film We Were Soldiers, in which Plumley was played by actor Sam Elliott. Plumley was known affectionately by his soldiers as "Old Iron Jaw". Command Sergeant Major Basil Plumley served in the Republic of Korea between 1972 and 1973.

He retired as a command sergeant major on December 31, 1974, having been awarded 28 different personal, unit, campaign and service awards and decorations in almost 33 years of military service, spanning World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. After his retirement, he worked 15 more years for the army as a civilian in administration at Martin Army Community Hospital and at various medical clinics around Fort Benning, Georgia, retiring again in 1990.[4]

Personal life

Plumley was born on January 1, 1920, in Shady Spring, West Virginia, the second son and fifth child of coal miner Clay H. Plumley (September 19, 1879[5]-26 February 1952[6]) and his wife Georgia B. Morton (January 19, 1895[7]-February 16, 1962[6]), both of whom were natives of West Virginia. After two years of high-school, he worked as a chauffeur/driver before enlisting in the US Army on March 31, 1942. In 1948/49, Plumley married Deurice Dillon, who died on May 28, 2012, after 63 years of marriage. Plumley died of cancer after nine days in Columbus Hospice (Columbus, Georgia), on October 10, 2012. He is survived by his daughter, Debbie Kimble, a granddaughter, and two great-grandchildren.[3]

In popular culture

Plumley was a prominent and central figure in the 1992 book We Were Soldiers Once… and Young by Lt. Gen Hal Moore and Joseph L. Galloway about the Battle of Ia Drang and was portrayed by actor Sam Elliott in the 2002 film adaption.

Awards and decorations

There have been disputes about the medals and decorations Plumley was entitled to wear and allegations by Brian Siddall in 2015 that Plumley wore unauthorized combat and valor awards that exaggerated his wartime achievements.[8][9][10] The resolving of the dispute is hampered by the death of Plumley three years prior to the allegations and the personnel records of the army, that are not uncommon to be in error, especially during war times and prior to electronic files.

Comparison of Awards and Decorations of CSM Plumley
name of award listed on his DD 214 in 1974 [10] worn in 2010 at West Point [11] verifiable by memo of the Army 2015 [10] notes
Combat Infantryman Badge CIB2.png
(2nd award,
one star on top)
CIB3.gif
(3rd award,
two stars on top)
CombatInfantry.png
(1st award,
no star on top)
Legion of Merit matching
Silver Star Medal with bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(one oak leaf)
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(one oak leaf)

(no oak leaf)
Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device and bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
V
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

("V" Device, two oak leaf)
V
Bronze oak leaf cluster

("V" Device, one oak leaf)
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(no "V" Device, one oak leaf)
Air Medal with numeral device or Oak Leaf Cluster Award numeral 7.png
(with numeral "7")
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(eight oak leaf)
Award numeral 7.png
(with numeral "7")
Army Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(three oak leaf)

(no oak leaf)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(three oak leaf)
Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
matching
Army Good Conduct Medal with good conduct loops
(silver clasp and three loops = 8 awards)

(silver clasp and one loop = 6 awards)

(silver clasp and three loops = 8 awards)
American Defense Service Medal n/a n/a only available for service between September 8, 1939 and December 7, 1941
American Campaign Medal matching
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Arrowhead device, silver and bronze campaign stars
Arrowhead
Silver star
Bronze star

(arrowhead, 1 silver star, 1 bronze star)
Arrowhead
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star

(arrowhead, 1 silver star, 2 bronze stars)
Arrowhead
Silver star
Bronze star

(arrowhead, 1 silver star, 1 bronze star)
World War II Victory Medal matching
Army of Occupation Medal with "Germany" clasp matching
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star or bronze Oak Leave Cluster
Bronze star

(bronze star)
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(bronze oak leaf)
Bronze star

(bronze star)
Vietnam Service Medal with one silver and three bronze campaign stars
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

(1 silver star, 3 bronze stars)
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

(3 bronze stars)
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

(1 silver star, 3 bronze stars)
Korea Defense Service Medal not worn awarded since February 2004 (retroactive to July 28, 1954)
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal matching
French Croix de Guerre (for World War II service) unclear unclear noted in the memo is "French Fourragère"
Belgian Croix de Guerre (for World War II service) unclear BEL Croix de Guerre 1944 ribbon.svg unclear noted in the memo is "Belgian Fourragère"
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star 1 golden star.svg 1 golden star.svg 1 golden star.svg matching
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, second class not worn
Vietnam Campaign Medal with "60"-device matching
Master Parachutist Badge US Army Airborne master parachutist badge.gif US Army Airborne master parachutist badge.gif US Army Airborne master parachutist badge.gif matching
Glider Badge USAAF - Glider Pilot 4.png not worn USAAF - Glider Pilot 4.png
Netherlands Orange Lanyard no picture not worn no picture
Republic of Vietnam Parachutist Badge with palm device (= Republic of Vietnam Master Parachutist Badge) ViPaBa.jpgWikiProject Scouting BSA Eagle Bronze Palm.svg ViPaBa.jpgWikiProject Scouting BSA Eagle Bronze Palm.svg ViPaBa.jpgWikiProject Scouting BSA Eagle Bronze Palm.svg matching
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png matching
Army Presidential Unit Citation with bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(1 oak leaf)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(2 oak leaf)
Bronze oak leaf cluster

(1 oak leaf)
Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal unit citation first class Civil Action Unit Citation.png not worn Civil Action Unit Citation.png

References

  1. ^ a b Pitts, Fadell (October 10, 2012). "Retired CSM Basil Plumley dies, Fort Benning mourns loss". WTVM-TV. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  2. ^ Associated Press (October 10, 2012). "Basil Plumley, veteran of 3 wars, featured in 'We Were Soldiers' movie, dies in Georgia". FoxNews.com. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  3. ^ a b "Deurice Plumley Obituary". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (by Legacy.com). May 29, 2012.
  4. ^ Associated Press, "Plumley, veteran of 3 wars, dies at age 92", Military Times, 10 October 2012
  5. ^ United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.
  6. ^ a b "West Virginia Deaths, 1853–1970." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah. From originals housed in county courthouses throughout West Virginia. "Death Records."
  7. ^ "West Virginia Births, 1853–1930." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2008, 2009. From digital images of copies of originals housed in County Courthouses throughout West Virginia. Birth records.
  8. ^ Matthew Cox: Army Investigating 'We Were Soldiers' Legend for Inflating Awards, Military.com, 2018
  9. ^ Brian Siddall: The Original Plumley Article, Airborne In Normandy, 2015
  10. ^ a b c Army HR Memo about Awards and Decorations for CSM Plumley, Department of the Army, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Awards and Decorations Branch, 2015
  11. ^ [1]
  • 1920 and 1930 US census for Raleigh County, West Virginia
  • US Army enlistment records of World War II
  • 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment Association
  • Moore, Harold G.; Galloway, Joseph L. (1994). We were soldiers once – and young; Ia Drang: the battle that changed the war in Vietnam (First British ed.). Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1853105023.
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