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Basil L. Plumley was drafted into the U.S. Army as a Private (Pvt) and went on Active Duty (AD) 31 March 1942.[1]  Pvt Plumley Army Serial Number (ASN) was 35425274 and he joined Battery B 320th Field Artillery Battalion (Btry B 320th FA Bn), 82nd Infantry Division (82nd Inf Div) 5 April 1942.[2] 

Plumley went through basic training for 8 weeks at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana.[3] [4]  Upon graduation was promoted to Private First Class (Pfc) 19 June 1942 with his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 345 listed as Truck Driver.[5]  Pfc Plumley was promoted on 25 July 1942 to Technician 5th Grade (T5) with the same MOS.[6] 

15 August 1942 the 82nd Inf Div was converted to the 82nd Airborne Division (82nd Abn Div).  The 320th FA Bn converted that day as well to the 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion (320th Gli FA Bn).[7] 

Pfc Plumley was promoted once again 1 April 1943 to the rank of Corporal (Cpl) and his MOS had changed as well to 761 Scout.[8]

The 320th Gli FA Bn set sail on 29 April 1943 to Casablanca, Morocco arriving 10 May 1943.[9]  The 320th Gli FA Bn then moved to Kairouan, Tunisia 9 July 1943.[10]  Operation Husky commenced 9 July 1943 with the entire 82nd Abn Div committed minus the 320th Gli FA Bn, 325 Gli Inf and Company A (Co A) 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion (Combat) (307th Abn Engr Bn (C)) which stayed at Kairouan, held back as reserves.[11]

Btry B 320th Gli FA Bn arrived by Ship 23 September 1943 landing at Paestum, Italy.[12]  The 320th Gli FA Bn entered into combat for the first time in WWII at 1108 hours 17 October 1943 during the Naples-Foggia campaign.  The 320th Gli FA Bn was attached to the 3rd Inf Div Artillery (Arty) north of Volturno River in Italy.[13]  The 320th Gli FA Bn reverted back to the 82nd Abn Div 1 November 1944 and returned to Naples.

The 320th Gli FA Bn left Naples, Italy 18 November 1943 sailing to Belfast, Northern Ireland and arriving 9 December 1943.[14]  Cpl Plumley went on furlough for 5 days starting 3 February 1944 while the Battalion was in Camp Monrush, Cookstown, Northern Ireland.[15]  The 320th Gli FA Bn moved to Husbands, Bosworth England preparing for Operation Neptune (Normandy).[16]  Cpl Plumley's MOS 761 remained the same going into Normandy.  Scouts would search out locations for emplacements for the 105mm Guns.[17]  

While researching Plumley the following narrative was created;

The Life and Death of 2nd Lt Jesse Elmo Stewart, 29 May 1944 to 6 July 1944.

The short life of Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt) Stewart is a perfect example of the differences between Paratroop, Artillery and Airborne.  Using the 82nd Abn Div as the example everyone is Airborne, but not all are Paratroop and yet not all Paratroopers are entitled to receive the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB).[18] 

2nd Lt Stewart was promoted from Assistant Executive Officer to Executive Officer.[19]  His MOS was changed to 1512 (Airborne Infantry Unit Commander).[20]  The difference is the Arm of Service on the Morning Reports.[21]  All 82nd Abn Div Soldiers were Airborne, not all were Infantry nor were all Paratroopers Infantry either.  Some of the Paratroopers were Artillery and some were Corps of Engineers (CE) which means they didn’t meet the criteria for the Combat Infantry Badge (another criteria is the General Order (GO) for the Combat Infantry Badge).[22]    

Only the Infantry would be eligible to receive the Combat Infantry Badge.  That also means the Infantry including Infantry Paratroopers would be given, in 1962, the Bronze Star Medal as well.[23]  The Paratrooper (Field Artillery and Corps of Engineers) did not meet the criteria for the Combat Infantry Badge which also means they were not eligible for the 1962 Bronze Star Medal. 

In 1944 the MOS was not part of the Combat Infantry Badge criteria.  This changed in 1961 to include the MOS along with the Arm of Service.  The third criteria was at the end of hostilities a Soldier is not eligible to receive the CIB.  Even if transferred to an Infantry Unit but after 8 May 1945 they no longer met the criteria for the CIB.[24]   

2nd Lt Stewart’s and Private Streicher (spelled Striker on the 507th Prcht Inf Morning Report) [25] both jumped into Normandy with the 507th Prcht Inf on 6 June 1944.[26]  Both of their Arm of Service and MOS were still Field Artillery not Infantry which means they were not eligible to receive the Combat Infantry Badge but they were eligible to wear the Jump Wings as they had graduated from Parachute School either back in 1942 at Ft. Benning or in England in 1944.  They would have also worn one star with their Jump Wings after jumping into Normandy.[27]

You can graduate from Parachute School and still not be in a Paratroop/Infantry Unit.  The 377th Prcht Field Artillery Battalion (377th Prcht FA Bn) was Paratroop but once again wasn't eligible for the Combat Infantry Badge.  Back in 1942 some of the men from the 320th Gli FA Bn went though Parachute School.  2nd Lt Stewart’s and Private Streicher were the only members of the 320th FA Bn Soldiers to Jump into Normandy.[28]  The rest of the 320th Gli FA Bn came in by Glider on 6 June 1944.[29]  The advance party came in 0405 and the main body came in 19 hours later by Glider.[30] 

2nd Lt Stewart was wounded on 4 July 1944 while a Spotter for the 325th Gli Inf 1st Bn.[31]  He was hit by artillery fire in the head and died 2 days later.[32]  2nd Lt Stewart was promoted on 8 July 1944 to 1st Lt.[33]  Because of his death on 4 July 1944 it was later rescinded.  On 2nd Lt Jesse E. Stewart’s Hospital Admission Card it has him in the Hospital for 1 days and 1 day in an Aid Station before his death yet on the Headstone it has his death as 4 July 1944 the day he was wounded not 6 July 1944 his actual date of death.[34]

Back to the Plumley article;

The next Morning Report in July of 1944 shows Cpl Plumley going on furlough again for 5 days after Normandy.[35]  The next campaign was Market Garden for Btry B of the 320th Gli FA Bn.[36]  They landed 18 September 1944 and Cpl Plumley was wounded the same day.[37]  The Hospital Card shows the length and type of wound from Market Garden.[38]

Plumley was in Btry B 320th Gli FA Bn 82nd Abn Div from 4 April 1942 to 23 June 1945 as it shows him promoted to Sgt 6 weeks after the end of hostilities in Europe and transferring out of Btry B.[39]

Plumley and the 320th Gli FA Bn were entitled to the following Campaign Battle Stars;[40]

Sicily

Napes-Foggia

Normandy

Rhineland

Ardennes

Central Europe

(The 320th Gli FA Bn, 325th Gli Inf and Co A 307th Abn Engr Bn (C) received credit for Sicily even though they didn’t participate in that campaign since they were in reserve.

Below are the awards Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Plumley are entitled.[41] [42]
(Awards worn by CSM Plumey in picture taken 10 May 2010 at West Point, NY Left Chest then Right Chest.

Left Chest

Badge - COMBAT INFANTRYMAN BADGE (Vietnam) (It shows three, St. Louis and the Army says two CIBs, but Plumley wasn't in Korea during the war years, and didn't meet the criteria for a WWII CIB so what is the second one for?)

Row 1 -    (A) The LEGION OF MERIT (Between August 1973 to December 1974) (Ft. Benning, GA)
               (B) SILVER STAR Medal W/BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTER (Vietnam) (The Silver Star Medal should be in front of The Legion of Merit)

Row 2 -    (A) BRONZE STAR MEDAL W/BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTER & LETTER “V” DEVICE (Shows two, meets the criteria for 2 Bronze Star Medal and that is based on the 1962 criteria for Meritorious, not Valor and the 1966 Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service.) (None for Valor)
               (B) AIR MEDAL W/l SILVER & 3 BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTERS (WWII & Vietnam)

Row 3 -   (A) ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL W/3 BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTERS (Clusters not shown on 2010 rack)
              (B) PURPLE HEART W/BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTER (WWII & Vietnam )
              (C) GOOD CONDUCT MEDALS (8) (Career)            

Row 4 -   (A) American Defense Service Medal (1939-1941) (didn't join until 1942, doesn't meet the criteria)
              (B) AMERICAN THEATER RIBBON (WWII) (NARA Award wrong, should say American Campaign Medal)
              (C) EUROPEAN-AFRICAN-MIDDLE EASTERN CAMPAIGN MEDALW/l  SILVER & 1 BRONZE  (BATTLE STARS) (WWII) (Shows 2 Bronze Battle Star, should only be one or does Africa Campaign count?) (Award of Bronze service arrowhead shown on Ribbon but not on Awards Listing.  Plumley is entitled to both the Normandy and Holland Arrowheads, but could only wear one on Ribbon)
   
          (D) WORLD WAR II VICTORY MEDAL

Row 5 -   (A) ARMY OCCUPATION MEDAL W/GERMANY CLASP
              (B) NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL W/BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTER (Korea & Vietnam) (Active Duty Personal stationed anywhere in the world)  (once for Korea and once for Vietnam)
              (C) VIETNAM SERVICE MEDAL W/l SILVER & 3 BRONZE SERVICE STARS (Vietnam) (Missing Silver Battle Star on Ribbon)
              (D) ARMED FORCES EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL (Vietnam)

Row 6 -   (A) FRENCH FOURRAGERE GUERRE W/PALM (WWII) (Plumley isn't allowed to wear the Ribbon as this is a Unit Award to be worn as a Lanyard)
              (B) BELGIUM FOURRAGERE (WWII) (Plumley isn't allowed to wear the Ribbon as this is a Unit Award to be worn as a Lanyard)
              (C) REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM GALLANTRY CROSS W/GOLD STAR (Star goes on Row 6 for Soldier and Palm goes on Right Chest as it is Unit Award)
              (D) REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM CAMPAIGN MEDAL W/l 960 DEVICE

Badge - SENIOR PARACHUTIST BADGE (Listed wrong Badge)

Right Chest

Badge - REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM PARACHUTIST BADGE (Vietnam)

Row 1 -   (A) REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM GALLANTRY CROSS (PALM) (Vietnam) 
              (B) PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION (Plumley has two Oak Leaf Cluster but none on Awards list.  This DISTINGUISHED UNIT BADGE became the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION first means that the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION was the first Oak Leaf cluster, second unknown checking with St. Louis, MO)  

Combat Ready Infantry Cord (Blue) on Right Shoulder

Sleeves

Right Sleeve - OVERSEAS SERVICE BARS (8) (Career) (Plumley didn't wear them in 2010 Picture)
Left Sleeve - SERVICE STRIPES (9) (Career) (Plumley was Service on both sides) (9 Total as he was just short of 30 years)

Not shown on Decorations and Awards in May of 2010 Picture;

U.S. Army Glider Badge (with two STars) (WWII)
EXPERT BADGE W/CARBINE BAR
FRENCH FOURRAGERE GUERRE W/PALM  (WWII)
NETHERLAND ORANGE LANYARD (WWII)
BELGIUM FOURRAGERE (WWII)
 

CSM Plumley is also entitled to the The Korea Defense Service Medal as he served their in 1972.  CSM Plumley's family just needs to request The Korea Defense Service Medal to receive that Award.

Military Abbreviations/Acronyms (in order of appearance)

Pvt (Private)

AD (Active Duty)

ASN (Army Serial Number)

Btry B (Battery B)

320th FA Bn (320th Field Artillery Battalion)

82nd Inf Div (82nd Infantry Division)

Pfc (Private First Class)

Military Occupational Specialty

T5 (Technician 5th Grade)

82nd Abn Div (82nd Airborne Division)

320th Gli FA Bn  (320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion)

Cpl (Corporal)

325 Gli Inf (325th Glider Infantry)

Co A (Company A)

307th Abn Engr Bn (C) (307th Airborne Engineer Battalion (Combat))

Arty (Artillery)

2nd Lt (Second Lieutenant)

CIB (Combat Infantry Badge)

CE (Corps of Engineers)

GO (General Order)

1st Lt (First Lieutenant)

1st Bn (First Battalion)

Sgt (Sergeant)

CSM (Command Sergeant Major)

What does all this mean?  It means Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Plumley had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army.  Up until the movie came out about his time in Vietnam he wasn’t know widely outside of the men who served with and under him.

The above records are from St. Louis, MO NARA[43] and from Morning Reports which both came from the Army.

When I spoke with him in July of 2011 he never claimed to have jumped out of an airplane in combat in WWII or any other wars.  He did talk briefly about that he jumped out of helicopters but never an airplane in wartime.

CSM Plumley was in Korea, in 1972-73 never before that time period and he never claimed to have been in Korea in the 1950's.[44]  When you look at his overseas assignments it speaks for itself.[45]  Look where Plumley was between 1951 through 26 February 1953, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky then he went to Germany.  He returned home three years later and then back again to Germany 2 years later for 2 ½ years.[46]

CSM Plumley has the NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL W/BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTER (once for Vietnam and once for Korea).  The Korean one was for any Soldier on Active Duty during the Korean War.  If you were in Germany, Alaska or anywhere else in the world that award was given out.  The other one was for Vietnam and he was in country twice[47] 

St. Louis NARA needs to correct the CIB and Bronze Star Medal issues and they have named some of the Awards wrong and CSM Plumley have Awards on his Rack that St. Louis and the Army don't have on Decorations and Awards.

There are people trying to defend both Galloway and Wikipedia and when confronted with the documentation they have no answer.  Wikipedia in this case is mostly wrong with whomever has CSM Plumley's Military Records including Awards & Decorations.  The movie We Were Soldiers Once... is a great movie but only a movie.  After Action Report for the Battle of la Drang
 

Galloway’s Obituary for Mr. Plumley on HistoryNet was in error on many points including that Plumley was entitled to one CIB, not three and he never jumped in WWII and wasn't in Korea until 1972.

http://www.historynet.com/farewell-to-csm-basil-plumley.htm


Brian N. Siddall

September 8, 2015


[17] Interview by Author Brian N. Siddall with Basil L. Plumley 7/20/2011 via phone number 706-682-****

 


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