We Were Soldiers

  • Directors: Randall Wallace
  • Producers: Arne L Schmidt, Jim Lemley, Randall Wallace
  • Writers: Hal Moore, Joseph L Galloway, Randall Wallace
  • Genres: Action, History, War
  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Don Duong, Chris Klein, Jon Hamm, Keri Russell, Barry Pepper, Dylan Walsh

A French Army unit in Vietnam in July 1954 during the First Indochina War is ambushed by soldiers of the Viet Minh. The French fiercly resist and kill many Viet Minh, but most French soldiers are killed and the unit eventually overrun by the Viet Minh. The Viet Minh Senior Lieutenant Nguyễn Hữu An (Don Duong), believing that France will eventually stop sending troops if there are many casualties, orders the execution of all surviving French soldiers.

Eleven years later, Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore (Mel Gibson), a dedicated United States Army officer, is deeply committed to training his troops, who are preparing to be sent to Vietnam. The night before their departure, the unit’s officers hold a party to celebrate. Moore learns from a superior officer that his unit will be known as the 1st Battalion / 7th Cavalry regiment.

He is disquieted because the 7th Cavalry regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, who were slaughtered at the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn. Moore is also dismayed because President Lyndon B. Johnson has decreed that the war would be fought “on the cheap,” without declaring it a national emergency. As a result, Moore believes he will be deprived of his oldest, best-trained soldiers (a formal declaration of war would have meant mobilization and extension of the terms of enlistment for volunteer soldiers) – about 25% of his battalion – just prior to shipping out for Vietnam. Before leaving for Vietnam, Moore delivers a poignant speech to his unit:

At the end of the movie it is revealed that Moore (having been promoted to Colonel) returned home safely after 235 more days of fighting.

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