CSM Basil L. Plumley Diagnosed With Terminal Cancer And Moved To Hospice

For those of you that have not heard, CSM Plumley has been diagnosed with Terminal Cancer and moved to hospice care. CSM Plumley is the epitome of a Soldier, no questions asked! For those of you who may not know who he is, he was portrayed in the movie “We Are Soldiers” by Sam Elliott.

Brief History

Basil L. Plumley (January 1, 1920) was born in Shady Spring, West Virginia, the second son and fifth child of coal miner Clay Plumley and his wife Georgia, both of West Virginian stock. He is most famous for his actions as a Sergeant-Major of the US Army’s 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at the Battle of Ia Drang (1965). General Hal Moore praised Plumley as an outstanding NCO and leader in the book We Were Soldiers Once…And Young. The Sergeant Major was known affectionately by his soldiers as “Old Iron Jaw”.

He enlisted in the US Army on 31 March 1942 as a private. His education on enlistment was 2 years of high school. His civil occupation at the time was listed as semi skilled chauffeur/driver of bus, taxi, truck or tractor. Height and weight is given as 70/154. Plumley is a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Despite popular belief, Plumley was not a member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment during WWII and there is no evidence to suggest this is the case. He was in fact a member of the 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, with which he made 4 combat jumps and was awarded the medals to prove it, see medal list below, and confirms this himself during interviews conducted with author Phil Nordyke who has written 4 books relating to the 82nd Airborne Division in WWII. Plumley is also visible on Battalion rosters of the 320th and is mentioned in morning reports from the Battalions records. It is believed the story of Plumley being a 4 combat jump experienced member of a Parachute Regiment in WWII was fictitious and generated by the writers of the film. He did go on to make one combat jump in Korea with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment. He retired as a Command Sergeant Major on 31 December 1974. After his retirement he worked 15 more years for the Army at Martin Army hospital as a civilian and retired again in 1990.

Plumley in Vietnam

CSM Plumley is what all Soldiers should strive to be, he commands respect just being in his presence. To this day, there are veterans of the 1/7 CAV who are convinced that God may look like CSM Plumley, but HE is not nearly as tough as the Sergeant Major on sins small or large.

Here is a list of awards earned by CSM Plumley:


  • Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Air Medal and 8 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Presidential Unit Citation
  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead device and 1 silver and 3 bronze campaign stars (to signify 8 campaigns)
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Army of Occupation Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal with one Gold Star
  • Korean Service Medal with one Arrowhead Device and three campaign stars
  • Vietnam Service Medal with eight campaign stars
  • Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
  • Republic of Vietnam Presidential Citation
  • Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm 3 Awards
  • United Nations Service Medal for Korea
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Award Honor Medal
  • Republic of Korea War Service Medal
  • Order of Saint Maurice
  • Combat Infantryman Badge (3rd Award)
  • Master Parachutist Badge with 5 Combat Jump Stars
  • French Croix de Guerre 82nd Airborne
  • Belgian Groix de Guerre 82nd Airborne
  • Dutch Order of the Orange 82nd Airborne
  • Doughboy Award 1999

This is one prestigious list, 5 combat jumps, CIB with 2 stars, more than 8 campaigns, 2 Silver Stars and 4 Purple Hearts. POSERS EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT!!!!


 Combat and Operations History

1941-1945 World War II

1943-1943 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Sicily Campaign 9 July  to 17 August 1943

1943-1943 OPERATION HUSKY (1943)

1943-1943 World War II/Invasion of Italy

1943-1943 World War II/Italian Campaign

1944-1944 World War II/D-Day (June 6, 1944)

1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Northern France Campaign 25 July to 14 September 1944

1944-1944 World War II/Operation Market Garden

1944-1944 World War II/Mission Albany

1944-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Ardennes Alsace Campaign 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945/Battle of the Bulge

1944-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign 15 September 1944 to 21 March 1945

1945-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Central Europe Campaign 22 March to 11 May 1945

1950-1953 Korean War

1951-1951 Korean War/Operation Tomahawk

1953-1953 Korean War/Battle of Porkchop Hill

1957-1989 Cold War

1961-1961 Cold War/Germany – Berlin Crisis (1961)

1962-1975 Vietnam War (1962 – 1975)

1965-1965 Vietnam War/Battle of La Drang (1965)

Units Of Assignment

1943-1946, 745, US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM)/Famous 82nd Airborne Division

1950-1953, 1745, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (Korea)

1963-1965, 11Z, Infantry Divisions/11th Air Assault Division

1965-1967, 00Z, 7th Cavalry Regiment/1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment

1967-1968, 00Z, 7th Cavalry Regiment


We can only hope that CSM Plumley will remain comfortable in this time. His friends and family are by his side, including LTG Hal. Moore. The facebook page for Hal Moore is keeping everyone update on his status LTG Hal Moore



If you’d like to send a card or a letter, here is the address:
CSM Plumley c/o Columbus Hospice
7020 Moon Rd.
Columbus, GA 31909



What are your thoughts?
8 comments on “CSM Basil L. Plumley Diagnosed With Terminal Cancer And Moved To Hospice
  1. Sir,
    I will be praying for you and your family. You are the epitome of a selfless servant to your country. Thank you for all that you have done for me and my family.
    Anna Marie Warren
    Proud wife of SFC(r) James Charles Warren, 38 years of service.
    Proud mother of SSG Anthony J Stangle 19D and SPC Emily M Strangle 68R

  2. Thank you for your sacrifice CSM. You inspire more people than you ever got to meet. My prayers are with your family I hope you RIP you have more than earned your keep.

  3. Well done CSM, excellently done! You have more than earned your rest. A great example for the rest of us to try to emulate. May you hear the Lord say “well done my child”

  4. Plumley was a great soldier.. but I don’t trust the sources for their research.. Nordyke specifically.. Plumley was a Glider Rider in WW2, and Artillery, so he didn’t make 4 combat jumps.. Which one has to wonder how he earned a CIB for WW2 as Redleg. And when it was awarded.. he was not on the 3 CIB list until recently.. very recently.. so was it retroactively awarded to match a book bio.

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