We Were Soldiers Once and Young

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Almost everyone you ask will tell you that the Vietnam War was one of the most gruesome and hectic of the wars that the United States has fought. We Were Soldiers was a movie about the battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam, also known as the “Valley of Death” to US soldiers. Lt. Colonel Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson) is a hardened veteran from Korea who is given command of the 1st Battalion/ 7th Calvary regiment (almost 400 soldiers) in Vietnam. The day before, almost a fourth of the best in this company are taken from the unit to fight elsewhere.

Lt. Colonel Moore and his unit ships out and arrives in Vietnam the next morning, November 1965. The first thing he sees is an American fortification is being attacked by Vietcong and he orders his men to spread out among the Landing Zone to fight them off. Soon after one unit recklessly runs after an enemy scout, and gets pinned under heavy fire on the top of the ridge above the LZ. The Military Intelligence unit estimates the enemy force to be 4,000+ strong, and well equipped to fight.

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They use the cover of darkness to stay out of sight and artillery strikes to keep the Vietnamese ranks at bay, despite heavy losses. The soldiers capture an enemy scout, who reveals that the LZ is right below the Northern Vietnamese Headquarters. They charge up the hill to take the base where the enemy has set up machine gun posts to annihilate any enemy to reach the top of the hill. As Moore and his men do, the Colonel sees the line and assumes a massacre will ensue, when Major Crandall rides in with his helicopter and wipes out the entire force of enemies before they get a chance to shoot.

They regroup at the LZ after the battles are won and return home, dead or alive. At the end, Moore is sent out again before returning home for 235 more days in Vietnam, after which he returns safely to his family. This film is very gripping and fascinating, being that it is a war film, accurately portrays the brutality of the battlefield. The effects and the way it is filmed, almost puts you in the camera man’s shoes as he travels the area to capture some of the most intense fighting scenes the 2000’s could bring you.

The accuracy of the battle’s events and characters is unique to the director’s taste and style but at the same time is very precise to what is actually written about the battle here at Landing Zone X-Ray. In a summary of the battle, it states perfectly the events leading towards the victory of Moore and his soldiers. “Moore’s men successfully defended the creek bed as well as repelled assaults from the south while awaiting the arrival of the remainder of the battalion… Pushing out of the perimeter, Moore and Tully succeeded in rescuing the lost platoon that afternoon.

That night North Vietnamese forces harassed the American lines and then launched a major assault around 4:00 AM. With the aid of well-directed artillery, four assaults were repelled as the morning progressed. ” The film not only shows the events of the battle for Ia Drang with an intense style of movie action, it is incredibly precise with the commands Moore gives to his soldiers and how the fight actually went down. Later in the article it states “With the Americans on the field in strength and having taken massive losses, the North Vietnamese began withdrawing. In the film, it shows the NV Headquarters commander ordering his men to clear out the bunker and the surrounding maze of tunnels underground to post at another location to have a last-stand with the American Troops. In the end, this movie is very historically accurate with the events that took place, the timing, and of course the characters were all present and honored correctly. We Were Soldiers has a few connections to the first weeks of class and the material we have been discussing.

The first is the spirit and determination of the soldiers in the movie, with them being pinned down most of the time and not giving up, relates to the revolutionary soldiers in the first and second fights of the Revolutionary War. The revolutionaries were unwavering in their attempt to take the peninsula from the British Red Coats, causing them severe losses and leaving a print on the battlefield. The American troops in Vietnam were overwhelmed by the enemy troops many times as were the revolutionary soldiers in the Battle of Bunker hill and the surrounding areas.

The second link to the material we discuss in class is that the Revolutionary War was fought for their freedom and independence from the British because of the way they were being treated and the actions leading up to the start of the war. In the movie, the American soldiers were fighting for the freedom and de-oppression of South Vietnam from North Vietnam, for similar reasons leading up to the United States’ intervention there in Indo China.

Also, the revolutionaries were always running low on ammo, and various other supplies, because they didn’t have the revenue to keep their gear in check. The war in Vietnam was also fought on the cheap end of the Army’s resources, so Moore and his men were always rounding up ammo, weapons and supplies from deceased soldiers on the battlefield. Overall, the film and our class discussions relate although they are apart in the timeline of history because both have similar aspects of different elements within each one.

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We Were Soldiers Once and Young. (2016, Oct 25). Retrieved from


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