We Were Soldiers

We Were Soldiers (2002)

20 corrected entries

Corrected entry: Right before the NVA try to overrun the Command Post CSM Plummley slaps a magazine into his 1911 (pistol) and says, "Gentlemen, prepare to defend yourselves." The mistake is that the hammer on his pistol is down, on a M1911A1 this indicates an empty chamber. Had he inserted a new magazine before the pistol was totally empty the hammer should have been in the cocked position. Had he emptied the pistol before reloading the slide should have been locked to the rear.

Correction: The command post group was not generally in direct contact with the enemy. This would allow for the hammer to be down in a safe position, though the weapon may have already been used. Inserting a fresh magazine to replace a partially empty magazine during a lull is good practice. Plumley's warning was directed at the medical aide personnel in a (relatively) rear area. In addition to this, Plumley later calls attention to a chambered and cocked 1911 of another trooper, indicating that it should be made safe. This is in accordance with common military practice.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Col. Moore leaves his house and walks down the street to the staging area, he is carrying his duffel bag only. When he arrives at the staging area, he also has an M-16 slung over his right shoulder.

Steve Beckle

Correction: Moore would not have left his quarters with his weapon. He would have left home with his personal gear, stopped at his HQs to draw his weapon, then proceeded to a designated rally point for departure. As noted in another correction, this unit travelled with their weapon.

Corrected entry: As the troops gather for the transport to Vietnam, they are all carrying weapons and full combat gear. This is incorrect, as weapons would have been issued on arrival in 'Nam. They would not even have worn combat fatigues, let alone the other gear during the flight over the ocean.

Airborne Ranger

Correction: When the 1st Cavalry Division initially deployed, they did travel with fatigues and weapons and went by ship, the USS Geiger. Subsequent replacements would have been issued their weapons in country.

Corrected entry: When the first batch of helicopters is lifting for Ia Drang you can see that one of them is a short version (UH-1A or B). But only UH-1 D were used at Ia Drang.

xx:xx:xx

ziner

Correction: The HU-1A (which was the original designation of the Bell Iroquois "jury's) and UH-1B had been in service in Vietnam since 1961. Therefore it is possible that even though it was not assigned to the former 11th Air Assault Company, it was still used in various roles with other units.

Corrected entry: When Galloway and an unidentified medic are clearing Jimmy Nakayama off of the field, Galloway tries to pick him up by the legs and peels them to the bone. Jimmy screams in anguish. Severe burns are merciful. With badly burned tissue (which would have had to be the case for the skin to peel off) the nerves have been destroyed. Jimmy would not have felt additional pain when the tissue tore.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: Is he screaming in anguish, or from horror at seeing his legs peeling off? I know I'd freak seeing my skin slough off like it's an overripe banana peel.

rswarrior

Corrected entry: Where are all the charred bodies? There should have been thousands of charred bodies littering the battle field after all the bombing (especially napalm). The trees and vegetation should have been burnt black and down to the dirt. Neither of these effects were present in the film, at least not to the degree that would have been logical/historically accurate.

Correction: Most of the heavy air attacks and artillery was not in the immediate area around the soldiers dug in so you dont see all the effects of it. There are plenty of dead bodies, and just because there isnt a up close shot of a charred body doesnt not mean there are not any in the movie. Many bodies look pretty messed up. Only an estimated 634 enemy were killed and an estimated 1215 killed or wounded by artillery and air attacks. Plenty of trees are blackened with leaves burnt off too. Artillery and napalm doesn't completely destroy everything.

Corrected entry: The rifles used in this movie, the Armalite AR15 / Colt M16. There are two models. The earlier (1965) model did NOT have the forward assist on it. This was a device on the right side of the rifle to ram the round up the chamber. This earlier model also had a 3 prong flash suppressor on the front end of the barrel. The later (1967) model did have the forward assist. It also had a flash hider which was caged in. This later model was not released and issued until 28 February 1967. The model used in the movie was this latest model (1967). The Battle of Ia Drang took place in November 1965.

Correction: The 1st Air Cav was sent to Vietnam with "expiremental" XM16-E1 assault rifles which had a tear drop forward assist. The version of the M16 the Air Force adopted in 1964 had no forward assist but that same year the US Army adopted the XM16-E1 as a limited standard rifle. However, because XM16-E1 replica rifles are almost non-existant, the rifles used in the movie were M16-A1 rifles (which were introduced in 1967) which had early 3-prong flash hiders and early non-trap-door stocks attached (instead of the M16A1s birdcage flash hider and trap-door stock). The reason you can tell the rifles used were originally M16A1s is because the lower reciever on M16A1s have "fencing" around the magazine release button. XM16-E1s did not have "fencing". In many scenes in the movie you can see the fencing.

Corrected entry: When the napalm canister is accidentally dropped on the US troops, it's dropped by a computer generated F-100 Super Sabre. Historically, the aircraft which actually dropped the errant napalm canister was an F-105 Thunder Chief. Since the aircraft was CG, they could have depicted the F-105.

Correction: According to Hal Moore's book, the two aircraft on the run to drop the napalm (including the one that did drop the errant cannister) were indeed F-100 Super Sabres. Sergeant Nye (at the battle) confirms this. Therefore, no mistake.

Zwn Annwn

Corrected entry: In the film, Hal Moore repeatedly fires his weapon at NVA soldiers near the command post. In actuality no NVA soldiers got into the command post area, and Hal Moore never fired his weapon.

Correction: Artistic license, not a mistake.

Twotall

Corrected entry: In the beginning, when the soldiers are attacked, a soldier is blowing a horn when it appears that he gets shot in the throat. In slow motion, the blood shoots up out of his uniform from a special pouch.

Correction: If you have to view it in slow motion, it's not a mistake.

Corrected entry: Both Snake and Too Tall are shown piloting their helicopters from the right seat, the pilot's seat is the left seat.

Correction: Most helicopters are piloted on the right side, unlike fixed wing aircraft. Regardless of model, pilots always fly with the cyclic in their right hand and collective in their left - if something has to be released to interact with the radio or other switch, it's far preferable to let go of the collective (for control/safety reasons), and centrally-mounted things like the radio, etc. are easier to access with your left hand if sitting in the right seat. That said depending on the model of helicopter it can be personal preference, or if carrying loads the pilot will occasionally sit in the left seat.

Ronnie Bischof

Corrected entry: When CSM Plumley hands Joe Galloway the M-16, Galloway takes off his camera and drops it on the ground, but after the battle when he gets it back it is hanging from the branch of a tree.

Correction: Plenty of time for him, or someone else, to hang the camera from the tree so as to keep it off the ground.

Zwn Annwn

Corrected entry: During the most intense fighting, Mel Gibson calls for "Broken Arrow" meaning that all available planes drop their ordinance. Several NVA soldiers are shown running across the ridge wearing bandanas completely across their faces due to allergies from the dust; they were supposed to remove them during the final shooting but obviously they didn't. These aren't seen at any other time.

Correction: The black and white checked bandanas that the viet cong (not NVA) soldiers were wearing, were part of the uniform of the people's army of Viet Nam (Viet Cong). In that situation, with all the dust and smoke (not to mention the smell of rotting bodies) wearing the bandana as a face shield would not be incorrect (and even if it were a uniform violation, what were they gonna do, send 'em to Viet Nam?). What most people call the NVA was actually the People's Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) The Viet Cong was actually the National Liberation Front (NLF).

Corrected entry: When the reporter finds Jimmy half-burned from napalm, Jimmy is writhing on the ground. The problem is that his clothes aren't burning, the ground around him isn't singed, and Jimmy obviously was not able to move himself in any way.

Correction: When Jimmy is napalmed, you can see him take a couple of steps back immediately after being hit. As he was on the edge of the blast, this took him out of the burned area.

Corrected entry: Colonel Moore calls in an air strike when his men have been overrun by NVA. The next scene shows Navy EA-6B's launching from an aircraft carrier deck. The only problem is the story takes place in 1965 and the Grumman EA-6B was not operational till three years later, in May of 1968.

Correction: They aren't EA-6B Prowlers being catapulted of the carrier - they're A-6 Intruders. Similar aircraft, but definitely not the same.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Lt. Herrington dies, he says that he was glad to die for his country. After he says this, he stops breathing and the medic checks for a pulse in his neck with his thumb. You never check a pulse with your thumb because it is big enough that you will feel your own pulse.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: The medic is actually using his index and middle fingers to check for a pulse. His thumb is on Lt. Herrington's collar. The camera angle makes it appear as if he is using his thumb.

Corrected entry: In the movie some of the North Vietnamese underground tunnels were huge. Some of them were almost 6 feet in diameter. According to an acquaintance who actually inspected many NVA tunnels in Vietnam, most of them were much, much smaller in diameter. In fact, one can only crawl through many of them. None of the tunnels he inspected was 6 feet in diameter. Imagine the tremendous amount of labor required to dig out a huge 6-foot diameter tunnel.

Correction: I was there in 1969 as an infantry platoon leader and saw first hand some tunnel complexes (medical to be precise) that were every bit as large as those depicted in the movie. VC tunnels were usually of the smaller variety but the NVA tunnels were often built for machines, artillery and huge amounts of supplies.

Corrected entry: This film is supposed to take place in Vietnam. It looks like it was shot in the same location as "Little House on the Prairie". Where's the jungle? It looked as though the battle took place in Northern California, not Northern Vietnam.

Correction: Buy the book and look at Joe Galloway's pictures. They look very much like the movie set.

Corrected entry: Isn't it odd that the telegrams were arriving even as the battle raged? How could they arrive so quickly?

Correction: If you read Moore's book, you will realize that the telegrams *were* arriving during the conflict in the Ia Drang. Moore made a point of this, and how unacceptable it was for the US Army to be using cabs to deliver these telegrams.

Corrected entry: As a former US ARMY helicopter pilot - I noticed from the opening frame that the helicopters they were using in the movie were late model HUEYs that were not available in 1965. The give-away is that all of the helicopters in the movie have 2 windows on the troop compartment door. The 2 windows reflect a change made in either the Delta ("D") or Hotel ("H") model Huey where the troop compartment was expanded for a larger payload.

Correction: They did use D-Model Hueys at LZ X-Ray. Go to www.lzxray.com for pictures taken at the time by Joe Galloway.

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Mistakes

Just after Lyndon Johnson announces that the air mobile units will be sent to Vietnam (1965), a dance/party scene has everybody dancing and singing 'Hold On I'm Comin' by Sam and Dave. It was a hit, but not in 1965. It was a mid/late 1966 hit, almost a year after that party. The Ia Drang Valley battle took place in November, 1965, before that song was recorded.

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Trivia

After Hal Moore calls "Broken Arrow" the shots of the A6 Intruders taking off from the aircraft carrier are taken from Flight Of The Intruder.

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