We Were Soldiers

Factual error: 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.

Factual error: Towards the end of the movie, at the last fight scene, you see the 1st air cav charging the NVA. As they go over a hill, you see the NVA waiting for them and then a helicopter gunship hovers down and kills all of the enemy. The gunship was using mini-guns which fires 6,000 rounds a minute. These were not used in Vietnam until late 1967. and were not in-country in 1965. In 1965, the gunships had two Flex M-60 machineguns on each side.

Factual error: The helicopter pilots wear two-tone Nomex fireproof gloves - these were not in use yet in 1965. Black leather flying gloves were issued back then.

Factual error: As the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry lifts off from LZ X-Ray at the end of the battle, it can be seen that there are no more American troops left at the battlefield. However, by the time 1/7 CAV left LZ X-Ray, it had been relieved by two full battalions (2/7 CAV and 1/5 CAV). There were around 700 American soldiers occupying LZ X-Ray by the time 1/7 CAV lifted off.


Factual error: Throughout the battle, the artillery rounds impact far too soon after they have been called in. While the artillery supporting 1/7 CAV at Ia Drang did have some pre-planned targets, it is impossible for any gun crew to receive a fire mission, adjust the gun, and fire the round as quickly as depicted (i.e., in a matter of seconds).


Factual error: In the scene where the Chinook brings the reporters to the field at the end they use a CH-47D model. The 228th A.S.H.B, the Cav's Chinook unit, used CH-47A models with a tapered tail and no conical shrouding around the engine air intakes. Also the last round window in front of the engines in the A model was removed and not the bubble type on the D models. The D model was not used in the Vietnam war.

Factual error: When Mel Gibson is ordering the soldiers at the dried river shore to expect an all out attack, text on screen tells us we are at dawn. Sunlight and shadow positioning reveals that it is actually 12 PM. Why didn't they film this at dusk? At least the light would have been more believable.

Factual error: Some scenes in the movie pertaining to activities at Fort Benning, Georgia are incorrect for the time period (1964-65, I believe). Scenes around the parachute training area (jump school) show a static display of a C-47 transport aircraft. I went through jump school in 1967 and the aircraft was not on display then. It is there today and was obviously there when the movie was being filmed.

Factual error: When "Broken Arrow" is given over the air, there are shots of Navy A-6's being launched from carriers. The paint scheme on the aircraft is a modern blue-grey camouflage, not the white pattern used during Vietnam. More than the paint scheme, the Intruders depicted are the A-6E tram version which did not make their operational debut until 1979.

Factual error: When Joe Galloway arrives at LZ X-Ray, he and LTC Moore greet each other as if they're meeting for the first time. However, Galloway had been on multiple patrols with Moore before, and the two were well acquainted by the time of the Ia Drang battle. Galloway also arrived at LZ X-Ray with his own M16, which had been given to him by another officer some time before. Ia Drang was not his first time firing a weapon in combat, and he was actually fairly used to it by that time (per his own account).


Factual error: At the end of the movie, Maj. Crandall is depicted as flying a UH-1 gunship, and attacking the NVA positions. Maj. Bruce Crandall was the Company Commander of A Co., 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division at the time of the Ia Drang battle. A/229th was a "lift" company, flying UH-1D "slicks" (troop carriers). There were no gunships assigned to that company. The gunships (UH-1Bs) supporting the battle were from D Co., 229th AHB. It's highly unlikely that Maj. Crandall would have commandeered an aircraft from the gunship company to attack the NVA.


Factual error: The night before the final attack, the NVA commander looks up at the full moon. The battle took place between Nov 14 and Nov 18. In 1965, the November full moon occurred on the 9th.

Steve Beckle

Factual error: The French soldiers in the beginning of the movie have the insignia of the 1st Infantry Regiment (1er régiment d'infanterie de ligne) on their berets, the 1st Infantry Regiment never saw action in Vietnam, it was stationed in French occupied Germany between 1945-55 and then fought in Algeria. It might be a mix up with the 1er Régiment de Spahis Marocains, a cavalry unit which was deployed in Vietnam.

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