We Were Soldiers Once… And Young

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We Were Soldiers Once… And Young
We Were Soldiers Once...and Young.jpg
First edition title page, featuring Lt. Rick Rescorla
Author Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway
Country United States
Language English
Subject Vietnam, War
Genre Historical Non-fiction
Publisher Random House
Publication date
October 20, 1992
Media type Hardcover and Trade Paperback
Pages 432
ISBN 0-679-41158-5
OCLC 25832046
959.704/342 20
LC Class DS557.8.I18 M66 1992

We Were Soldiers Once… And Young is a 1992 book by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and war journalist Joseph L. Galloway about the Vietnam War. It focuses on the role of the First and Second Battalions of the 7th Cavalry Regiment in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, the United States' first large-unit battle of the Vietnam War; previous engagements involved small units and patrols (squad, platoon, and company sized units).


The book was a New York Times best-seller. David Halberstam called it "A stunning achievement - paper and words with the permanence of marble. I read it and thought of The Red Badge of Courage, the highest compliment I can think of." General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young is a great book of military history, written the way military history should be written."[1]

Film adaptation[edit]

The book was adapted into the movie We Were Soldiers (2002), directed by Randall Wallace and starring Mel Gibson as Moore. In the book, Moore complains that "Every damn Hollywood movie got it wrong"; Wallace has said he was inspired by this comment and became "determined to get it right this time".

The film's final version, despite getting many of the facts of the book presented onto film, is not entirely an historically accurate portrayal of the battle, nor is it entirely faithful to the book. For instance, the film depicts an heroic charge under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore at the end of the battle that destroys the Vietnamese reserve, ending the battle in an American victory (a fact that director Randall Wallace noted in the DVD commentary[2]), when in fact, there was no heroic final charge in the book, nor were the forces of the North Vietnamese destroyed, though, it should be noted, 1800 out of 4000 Vietnamese soldiers were killed, and American fatalities numbered 72 out of 395.[citation needed] Lt. Col. Moreover, Nguyen Huu An, the Vietnamese commander, did not view the battle at LZ X-Ray as the end of fight, and the Battle of Ia Drang continued with combat action at LZ Albany where the 2/7th, with A Company 1/5th, found themselves in a fight for their lives against Lt Col Nguyen Huu An's reserve.

Finally, as the movie notes in a voice over by Joe Galloway (Barry Pepper), the battle continued for over 300 more days.

There are numerous additional historical differences between the book and the movie. Some differences not shown would have demonstrated how desperate the American situation at Ia Drang was. For example, the seriousness of the overrun of C Company under the command of Capt Robert Edwards and the repulse of the final major North Vietnamese push at LZ X-Ray on the former C Company line, which was then held by B Company 2/7th under the command of Capt Myron Diduryk. Also incorrect is the act of Capt. Ramon Nadal pushing forward and rescuing the stranded platoon of Lt. Henry Herrick, which according to the book was actually accomplished not by one company of the 1/7th, but rather by two companies of the 2/5th as well as B Company 1/7th.

Despite the aforementioned differences from the book and departures from historical accuracy, Gen. Moore states in a documentary included in the video versions that this film is the first one "to get it right". [3]

The Vietnamese government did not greet the film with approval. In fact, Don Duong, the Vietnamese actor who played the Vietnamese commander Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An, was officially condemned as a traitor and subjected to interrogations to force him to sign a "confession" to "crimes" he had supposedly committed. Duong refused to give in. After months of negotiations between the Bush administration and Hanoi, Duong and his family were allowed to emigrate to the United States in 2003.[4]


In We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam (2008) Moore and Galloway return to Vietnam and reflect on how the war changed them, 10 American veterans of the battle, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Hu An and two of his former company commanders, and both countries.[5]

See also[edit]


  • Moore, Harold G. & Galloway, Joseph L. Galloway (October 20, 1992). We Were Soldiers Once… And Young (Hardcover ed.). Random House Publishing Group. p. 432. ISBN 0679411585. 
  • Moore, Harold G. & Galloway, Joseph L. Galloway (April 15, 2002). We Were Soldiers Once… And Young (Trade Paperback ed.). Harper Perennial. p. 528. ISBN 0060013257. 
  • Moore, Harold G. & Galloway, Joseph L. Galloway (August 1, 2002). We Were Soldiers Once… And Young (Hardcover ed.). Thorndike Press. p. 688. ISBN 078624495X. 
  • Moore, Harold G. & Galloway, Joseph L. Galloway (June 29, 2004). We Were Soldiers Once… And Young (Mass Market Paperback ed.). Random House. p. 535. ISBN 0345472640. 
  • Moore, Harold G. & Galloway, Joseph L. Galloway (November 23, 2004). We Were Soldiers Once… And Young (Trade Paperback ed.). Presidio Press. p. 432. ISBN 034547581X. 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ LZ X-Ray.com
  2. ^ We Were Soldiers Once, director's commentary [1] accessed 6 September 2010
  3. ^ Getting it Right Behind the scenes of We Were Soldiers, Bonus Feature, Blu-Ray, [2] accessed 6 SEP 2010
  4. ^ Busche, Anita (April 8, 2002). "WE WERE SOLDIERS"... Vietnam Actor DON DUONG is FREE at Last...". Los Angeles Times, Calendar Section. 
  5. ^ Moore, Harold G. & Galloway, Joseph L. (2008). We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam. Harper. ISBN 9780061147760.