BAMF of Forever – CSM Basil Plumley
By RU Contributor Mad Medic
It is with sadness that I bring you this news: at 0400 this morning, Command Sergeant Major Basil Plumley, veteran of three wars, and one of the biggest bad asses that ever lived, passed away. For the unenlightened or unknowing, CSM Plumley survived all four combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne (Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and, Holland) as well as one more combat jump with the 187th regimental combat team in Korea. This is all before he became the Sergeant Major for 1st squadron 7th Cavalry, and helicoptered into LZ X-ray armed with nothing but a .45.
Just listing his awards is a litany of awesomeness. 3rd award for a Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge with 5 combat jump stars, Vietnam Parachutist Badge, 2 Silver Stars, a Legion of Merit, Bronze star with V and three oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart with three oak leafs, Air Medal with one silver three bronze oak leafs, ARCOM, 11 Good Conduct Medals, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (8 campaigns and an arrowhead) Korean Service Medal (5 campaigns and an arrowhead), Vietnam Service Medal (8 campaigns) Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, French Croix de Guerre, Belgian Croix de Guerre, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. This is saying nothing of his unit awards, and all the accolades thrown upon him.
He was so much of a bad ass that they had to hire one of the biggest bad asses in Hollywood, Sam Elliot, to play him, and if you actually read the book “We Were Soldiers Once. . . And Young” you’ll know that even Sam freaking Elliot just couldn’t do Sergeant Major Plumley justice. This man lived, ate and, breathed the NCO creed before it ever even existed. He was the perfect Sergeant Major for LTC (later LTG) Hal Moore, and the two men forged from scratch a battalion that held its own against overwhelming odds. He motivated his troopers to keep on fighting long after most military scholars agree they should have capitulated.
Where was this bad assery formed? Was it being the son of a coal miner? Was it growing up in the wilds of West Virginia? Or was it joining the 82nd Airborne? It doesn’t really matter where it came from, when his men needed him; he was there, at times holding the line himself. CSM Plumley survived more than his fair share of Hell, and come out with the iron determination to get his men home. One man saw some of the worst that the 20th century had to offer and survived; that in and of itself should guarantee his admission in the Bad Ass Hall of Fame.
The world has lost one of its greatest BAMFs. The Army has lost one if its icons and role models. I would like to think that there is a shit-ton more out there that is as bad ass as this West Virginian. The Army has seen some great leaders come and go. We should all aspire to be like the Sergeant Major. Holding the line, and taking care of your men do not make you a great Officer or NCO, but you can’t be a good one if you don’t.
Thank you for your service Sergeant Major, we all stand in your shadow, and are grateful such men came before us. Ladies and Gentlemen, bow your head and raise a glass in remembrance of a great man. Rest easy Sergeant Major. Report to Fiddlers Green. You’ve earned a little peace.
Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers’ Green