We Were Soldiers

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We Were Soldiers is a 2002 film about the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam in November, 1965 — the first clash between a force of US troops and the People's Army of Vietnam and the start of America's commitment to the Vietnam War.

Directed and written by Randall Wallace, based on the book We Were Soldiers Once... and Young by Harold G. "Hal" Moore and Joseph L. Galloway.
Fathers, Brothers, Husbands & Sons.taglines

Lt. Col. Hal Moore[edit]

  • [addressing his troops on the parade ground.] Look around you. In the Seventh Cavalry, we got a captain from the Ukraine. Another from Puerto Rico. We've got Japanese, Chinese, blacks, Hispanics, Cherokee Indians, Jews and gentiles — all Americans. Now, here in the States, some men in this unit may experience discrimination because of race or creed. But for you and me now, all that is gone. We're moving into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where you will watch the back of the man next to you, as he will watch yours. And you won't care what color he is or by what name he calls God. They say we're leaving home. We're going to what home was always supposed to be. I can't promise that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear before you and before Almighty God: that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off. And I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me God.
  • Neither the new technology nor your status as officers will keep you above the danger. Sergeant Major Plumley and I come from the paratroopers, where the officer is always the first man out of the plane. Because to follow your instincts and inspire your men by your example, you have to be with them — where the metal meets the meat...Now, I hope you men like training, 'cause me and the Sergeant Major... we love it!

Joe Galloway[edit]

  • [voice-over] These are the true events of November, 1965. The Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam, a place our country does not remember in a war it does not understand. This story is a testament to the young Americans who died in the Valley of Death, and a tribute to the young men of the People's Army of Vietnam who died by our hand in that place.

Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An[edit]

  • Such a tragedy. They will think this was their victory. So this will become an American war. And the end will be the same... except for the numbers who will die before we get there.


[In a flashback sequence: after ambushing a French column, Viet Minh troops stand over the wounded survivors.]
Viet Minh soldier: [in subtitles] Do we take prisoners?
Lt. Nguyen Huu An: [in subtitles] No. Kill all they send, and they will stop coming.
[The Viet Minh troops proceed to execute the surviving French soldiers.]

Hal: When Crazy Horse was a baby, he nursed at the breast of every woman in the tribe. The Sioux raised their children that way. Every warrior called every woman in the tribe "Mother". Every older warrior, they called him "Grandfather". Now, the point here is that they fought as a family. Take care of your men. Teach them to take care of each other. 'Cause when this starts... each other is all we're gonna have. [Moore goes aside with new radio operator]
Plumley: Any of you sons-of-bitches calls me "Grandpa"... I'll kill ya.

[Julie Moore is hosting a meeting of officers' wives.]
Catherine: The laundromat in town's okay, but they won't let you wash your colored things in their machines.
Barbara: At a public laundromat?
Catherine: Didn't make any sense to me either, but I'm telling you — they have a big sign right in the window, says "Whites Only". [an awkward silence]) What?
Alma: Honey, they mean white people only.
Catherine: That's awful. Your husband is wearing the uniform of a country that allows a place to... to say that his laundry's not good enough, when he could die for... I'm sorry, I just —
Alma: That's all right, honey. I know what my husband's fighting for, and that's why I can smile. My husband will never ask for respect, and he'll give respect to no man who hasn't earned it. The rest of his family's the same way. And anybody who doesn't respect that can keep his goddamn washing machine, 'cause my baby's clothes are gonna be clean anyway!
Julie: [amid general laughter] Well, I guess that takes care of item number two!

Hal: [praying] Our Father in Heaven, before we go into battle every soldier among us will approach You, each in his own way. Our enemies too, according to their own understanding, will ask for protection and for victory. And so we bow before Your infinite wisdom. We offer our prayers as best we can. I pray that You watch over the young men like Jack Geoghegan that I lead into battle; You use me as Your instrument in this awful hell of war, to watch over them. Especially if they are men like this one beside me deserving of a future in Your blessing and good will. Amen.
Jack: Amen.
Hal: Oh, yes, and one more thing, dear Lord — about our enemies? Ignore their heathen prayers and help us blow those little bastards straight to hell. Amen again.
Jack: Uh... Amen.

[Lt. Herrick's men, isolated from the rest of the unit, are under heavy fire.]
Lt. Herrick: Grab the wounded! Break contact! Fall back, get to high ground! Cover fire! Get to high ground, come on! Come on, get up here! Bring the wounded up to the middle! Cover fire, cover fire! (more enemy troops open fire from the rear) Everybody down! DOWN! (after a heavy exchange of gunfire, Herrick jumps to his feet) Come on! I'll get us out of here! AH! (shot, he falls)
Platoon Sergeant: Grab the wounded! We'll make a run — (shot, he falls)
Senior Sergeant: We gotta get out of here — (shot, he falls)
Sgt. Savage: STAY DOWN! Don't anybody move — Bungum, stay down! Form a perimeter, conserve your ammo, and stay down!

[Taxicabs have been delivering death-notice telegrams to military families; when a cab arrives at her house, Julie Moore reluctantly answers the door.]
Driver: [removes his hat] Mrs. Moore? Colonel Moore's wife?
Julie Moore: Yes.
Driver: I need help finding an address. I'm looking for —
Julie: You JACKASS! Do you know what this is?! Do you know what you just did to me?!
[The driver sheepishly walks toward his cab, but stops at the curb.]
Driver: I-I don't like this job, Ma'am. I'm just trying to do it. [continues toward cab]
Julie: Wait. Wait! [runs to the cab] I'll take it to her. [she takes the telegram] And tell the cab company if there are any others, just bring them to me.

Maj. Crandall: It's the last flight for the night, Colonel — but you need us, you call us.
[Later, after Crandall lands, one of the Medevac pilots from earlier in the day finds him]
Medevac Pilot: Crandall! You led my men into a hot LZ!
Maj. Crandall: Yeah, somebody had to fly out the wounded...
Medevac Pilot: No, no, don't you play hotshot with me! Now, you know the rules. You suckered us in there. You ever do it again, I'm gonna have you busted! [shoves Crandall]
Maj. Crandall: [pulls out his revolver] You've got the BALLS to face me but not enough balls to face the enemy?!
Capt. Freeman: Hey! Hey, hey, hey! Whoa! [separates the two and maintains the distance]
Maj. Crandall: If I ever see you again, I'll kill you. [The Medevac pilot looks at him, then walks away] That's right.
Capt. Freeman: Hey... what a day, huh?
Maj. Crandall: Tomorrow will get worse. If they make it to tomorrow.

[Face-down on the ground under a storm of enemy fire, photographer Joe Galloway gets a combat boot in the stomach.]
Sgt.Maj. Plumley: Can't take no pictures lyin' down there, Sonny!
[Plumley hands Galloway an M-16 and several magazines.]
Galloway: Uh, sir? I-I'm a noncombatant, sir.
Plumley: Ain't no such thing today, boy.
[Vietnamese troops are advancing on the termite mound where casualties have been collected.]
Plumley: [chambering a round in his .45] Gentlemen — prepare to defend yourselves!

Hal: I'll never forgive myself.
Galloway: For what, sir?
Hal: For the fact that... my men died... and I didn't.


  • Fathers, Brothers, Husbands & Sons.
  • We were... young, brave, husbands, wives, sons, mothers, daughters, soldiers.
  • 400 U.S paratroopers. 4000 Vietnamese soldiers. 12 000 miles away from home. 1 man led them into battle.


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