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Itís always interesting to see the difference between the actually General Order Citation and when a book comes out with a different version, especially when itís written by the same man, Lt Gen Moore (Ret).

Galloway wrote a piece for the UPI right after the battle.  He said Plumley was burned across his arms and hands and was being put in for the Medal of Honor.  A day later the local newspaper for Plumley's hometown took the story without attribution.   

The General Order in December of 1965 states this; 

The command-post was being savagely attacked by an unknown number of Viet Cong, Hostile small arms and automatic weapons fire was coursing steadily and relentlessly into the forward command post and aid station area which was approximately 150 meters from the line of contact.

At approximately 0500 hours at the height of the savage attack, a flare, still burning landed in an open box of fragmentation hand grenades in the pile of small, arms, mortar, and other ammunition less than ten meters-from the battalion command group.

Sergeant Major Plumley, voluntarily and unhesitatingly rose up in the face of intense small arms, and automatic weapons fire, dashed to the burning flare, lifting it with his bare hands out of the box of grenades and threw it.  He then extinguished the flare with his feet as well as other small fires which it had ignited around the ammo area.

In the book it they have it coming to earth with an unopened parachute.  They also have him then throwing it into an open field.  Instead of just using the citation they have to make it look much more interesting.  Saying that it was an unopened parachute couldnít have been true either.  If the parachute doesnít open the flare wouldnít light up then. 

If the flare was lit the temperature would be 4,000 degrees and would have burned his hands and feet to cinders.  A flare light would have been in the area of 4 million candle power.  It would have blinded Plumley as well.

Also in the We Were Soldiers Once book published in 1992 saw CSM Plumley stamped out the fire around the ammunition boxes when the napalm landed right by it.  You canít stomp out napalm; it would have melted his boots on the spot and his feet and legs.   

Officers often time inflate an award.  These three version are a perfect example of reality versus the fantasy.  Galloway's 1965 UPI article wasn't even close to reality.


Brian Siddall

June 26, 2016
(updated April 30, 2017)


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