Are you a fan of the 2002 war drama We Were Soldiers or just a fan of war films in general? Regardless, the film has earned its place in the hearts of many moviegoers for its gripping and emotional story.
But what about its accuracy? Could this be yet another overly dramatized Hollywood production where liberties are taken to give us an entertaining plot?
What’s Fiction and What’s Real In ‘We Were Soldiers’
In the beginning of the film shows Group Mobile 100 being ambushed and wiped out.
In reality, they were not wiped out but rather they were ambushed multiple times and managed to escape with heavy losses each time.
One of the conversations between SGM Plumley and Joe Galloway portrayed in the film did not take place as shown.
This conversation occurred over a week earlier, between Joe Galloway and an Army Special Forces Officer named Major (later Colonel) Charles Beckwith.
Additionally, Joe Galloway’s arrival in the Ia Drang was also incorrectly depicted.
He arrived with an M-16 rifle and was wearing a helmet instead of noncombatant clothing.
These simple inaccuracies could have been avoided had better research been done before filming.
To find out more about the true facts visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF).
Or watch his own testimonial about the Ia Drang Valley on Youtube.
Thankfully, despite these small mistakes We Were Soldiers remains a touching war movie that accurately captures the courage of those who fought in Vietnam.
The portrayal of Harold Moore’s wife, Julie offering to deliver death telegrams. Check the movie clip HERE.
While it is true that The Yellow Cab Company was used to deliver death telegrams, it was never Julie who delivered them.
Instead, her involvement consisted of following the cabs and offering comfort to impacted families until the military eventually got their act together.
The two UH1D helicopters Major Bruce Crandall flew into LZ X-ray.
These helicopters were unarmed, but in the film, they are depicted as having guns mounted on their doors and miniguns.
Another detail that isn’t historically accurate is how the Vietnamese soldiers were portrayed in the film. The portrayal of them in We Was Soldiers doesn’t represent their skill and experience during this conflict which can lead to a false perception of what happened during this period.
Some French troops are depicted with a modern metropolitan infantry cap badge rather than their renowned winged arm holding a sword insignia. Additionally, in this scene involving officers, you can spot white kepis being worn.
Such headgear was not allowed to be worn on combat patrols and only was exclusively reserved for enlisted men when they were promoted to NCOs.
One of the most glaring examples is in the opening scene of the second day, which states it is 6:07 am but features shadows that are extremely short and indicate it is closer to noon instead.
During the scene where Lieutenant Colonel Moore and Sergeant Major Plumley enter the command bunker, the flag on the pole is North Vietnam (at the time) and also the current Socialist Republic of Vietnam flag.
South Vietnam had three parallel red stripes on the yellow background at the time.
Take the scene where Mel Gibson’s character Moore is briefed about an attack on Plei Mei – this event was not an attack but a siege that lasted for six days.
During this time, there were casualties on both sides, with approximately 33 Americans and South Vietnamese dead and at least 326 North Vietnamese soldiers lost in the conflict.