Skip to comments." We Were Soldiers" IA DRANG Battle in Viet Nam
Posted on 09/07/2001 12:51:59 AM PDT by Snow Bunny
With Mel Gibson as Lt. Col. Hal Moore
PRODUCERS ; Mel Gibson , Bruce Davey , Randall Wallace
Director : Randall Wallace
Screenplay : Randall Wallace
Release Date: Summer 2002 or earlier
Australian Release: Early 2002 (source: THR, 8/16/01)
Distributor: Paramount Pictures (picked up out of turnaround from Revolution Studios)
Production Companies: Icon Productions (Mel Gibson), The Wheelhouse (Randall Wallace)
Mel Gibson .... Lt. Col. Hal Moore
Greg Kinnear .... Maj. Bruce 'Snakeshit' Crandall
Madeleine Stowe .... Julie Moore
Sam Elliott .... Sgt-Maj. Basil Plumley
Chris Klein .... Lt. Jack Geoghegan
Josh Daugherty .... Ouelette
Barry Pepper .... Joe Galloway
Keri Russell .... Barbara Geoghegan
Joshua McLaurin .... Greg Moore
Edwin Morrow .... Godboldt
Mike White (IV) .... SFC Haffner
Mark McCracken .... Ed "Too Tall" Freeman
Jsu Garcia .... Capt. Nadal
Tim Abell .... Army Intel Officer
Vincent Angell .... Doc Carrara
Robert Bagnell .... Charlie Hastings
Dan Beene .... Cab Driver
Luke Benward .... David Moore
Marc Blucas .... Lt. Herrick
Sean Bunch .... Trooper #4
Brian Carpenter (I) .... Robert McNamara
Doug C. Cook .... Capt. Ray Lefebvre
Alan Dale (III) .... Westmoreland
Don Duong .... Ahn
Cliff Fleming .... Mills
Brendan Ford .... Jump Coordinator
Michael Giordani .... French Lt.
Clark Gregg .... Capt. Metsker
Jim Grimshaw .... Gen. Kinnard
Jon Hamm .... Capt. Dillon
Desmond Harrington .... Beck
Blake Heron .... Bungum
Joseph Hieu .... NVA Major
Vien Hong .... Mr. Nik
Nicholas Hosking .... French Captain
Ryan Hurst .... Sgt. Savage
Jonathan Parks Jordan .... White Pvt.
Derrell Keith Lester .... Black Pvt.
Simbi Khali .... Alma Givens
Shepard Koster .... Reporter #1
Matthew Lang .... Lt. John Arrington
Maia Lien .... Army Wife
Kate Lombardi .... Reporter #2
Erik MacArthur .... Adams
Sloane Momsen .... Cecile Moore
Taylor Momsen .... Little Julie Moore
Steven Nelson .... Charlie Lose Randy Oglesby .... Lt. Col. List Jay Powell .... Sergeant
Lee Reynolds (III) .... Chopper Crew
John Paul Rice .... Pvt. John Perry
Daniel Roebuck .... Medivac C.O.
Forry Smith .... Sgt. Palmer
Patrick St. Esprit .... General #2
Keith Szarabajka .... Diplomatic Spook
Brian Tee .... Nakayama
Keni Thomas .... Sergeant
Michael Tomlinson (IV) .... Col. Brown
Billinjer C. Tran .... Viet Minh St.
Joseph Tran .... NVA Prisoner
Dylan Walsh .... Capt. Edwards
Devon Werkheiser .... Steve Moore
Bellamy Young .... Cathy Metsker
Based upon: The book, We Were Soldiers Once.. and Young: Ia Drang: The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam,
by Lt. General Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway, about the battle of Ia Drang, which lasted over a month, from October 23rd to November 26th, 1965.
Title Notes: When this was first announced, it was with the title, Lost Patrol, but it's since changed to match the title of the book upon which it's based. (5/21/01) The Wall Street Journal mentioned this last week as just We Were Soldiers, but that hasn't been confirmed by Paramount yet. (6/4/01) Variety reports today that this project is currently untitled altogether. (7/13/01) The title has been confirmed as We Were Soldiers.
Premise: This is the true story of 450 U.S. soldiers, early in the Vietnam War, who found themselves surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese regulars in the Ia Drang Valley, in what became the first major battle of the extended conflict. The story will focus on Lt. Colonel Harold Moore (Gibson), commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, and Joseph Galloway, a reporter.
Filming: Fort Benning, Georgia (where the soldiers were based). Filming of the Vietnam battle scenes was done at Camp Roberts and Fort Hunter Liggett in California. Filming wrapped by early July.
Official Photography Site: WeWereSoldiers.net
Official Cavalry Site: US7thCavlary.com
Official Director Site: TheWheelhouse.net
Official Book Site: LZXRay.com
Interview of Randall Wallace was done by John Chadwell who after attending USC's cinema school, John served with the U.S. Navy' elite Combat Camera Group, writing and producing documentaries and news stories, as well as top secret projects with Navy SEALS.
Cast Training Note: Director Randall Wallace
RW: My movie is based on the book "We Were Soldiers Once and Young." The title of the movie will be something else like "The Lost Patrol." It is an incredible book. Probably the greatest book on infantry combat ever written. It is a collection of personal experiences of the soldiers who fought [in Vietnam]. It is a story about incredible leadership and the men who went and fought knowing that they would probably never get out alive. Everyone of them went into battle because their leader would never have left them and they wouldn't leave him. In the end, they did not fight for the flag, the ideas of patriotism, mom and apple pie. They fought and died for each other. That's a story America needs to know about Vietnam. It's never been told in that way. I bought the movie rights to the book from the authors who are both absolute heroes. General Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway who is the only journalist in the actual battle. He flew into the battle when it was raging and ended up with a rifle in his hands, shooting and killing the enemy.
I've been to the Vietnam wall with survivors of the battle on the 30th anniversary of their fight. I've been to Ranger training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. I crawled through the mud and got my butt severely kicked and I'm going to ask a lot of the actors who play these roles to go through the training.
JC: Having served three tours, I'll certainly be looking forward to seeing this film. Thank you.
More than 600 California Army and Air Guardsmen will have supporting roles in the Vietnam era movie, We Were Soldiers Once and Young.
Produced by Icon Productions and Paramount Pictures, movie producers sought Department of Defense and California National Guard support for the movie. In addition to renting an assault vehicle land bridge, hueys, and trucks, producers are paying more than 600 soldiers and airmen to play extras.
The Guardsmen recreate a battle known as the Valley of Death in Vietnam. The producers filmed the scene at Ft. Hunter Liggett April 1-June 1, 2001.
Surrounded by more than 2000 North Vietnamese Army soldiers, the movie portrays a force led by Lt. Col. Hal Moore (played my Mel Gibson) that recreates one of the most savage battles in U.S. history. The extras reenacted the uncommon valor, loyalty, and love that the young men displayed that day while fighting in a small clearing near a landing zone.
Based on a novel written by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway, the movie is a tribute to the bravery and nobility of the men that fought at the battle. Casting Director Christopher Gray said that more than 600 soldiers rotated in at various times during the two-month filming scene. Gray said that producers also looked for people to play ground crews for the Army Aviation scene and for a motor platoon.
The Department of Defense sanctioned the movie and producers have contracted the services and equipment from the California National Guard for this film. Department of Defense Instruction 5410.16 allows military personnel in an off-duty, non-official status to accept jobs as actors, extras, etc., provided there is no conflict with any existing service regulation. Contractual arrangements are solely between those individuals and the production company; however, the military encourages the producers to ensure payment is consistent with current industry standards.
Entertainment Interview of Mel Gibson about the film .
"Many of them sacrificed themselves..."
April 05, 2001
ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT: You actually had to go through boot camp for this, right?
MEL GIBSON: Yeah, but it wasn't real boot camp, it was like celebrity sort of wimp boot camp. What the real Rangers go through is pretty heavy. They put them through sheer misery.
ET: What was the hardest part?
MEL: Oh, for an old 45-year-old like me, it was trying to keep up with the 24-year-olds.
ET: I would think the wisdom and experience would make a difference.
MEL: No, it doesn't do much for your lungs or limbs. But, it was fun. The effect that it had was that it bonded us a little, because we sort of hung out and accomplished a little something together.
ET: Which of the guys that you have with you in boot camp would you most want to go into battle with?
MEL: The ones with the most jokes. No, they're all good kids. They're great.
ET: THIS IS SUCH AN INTENSE STORY.
MEL: ABSOLUTELY,IT HAS NEEDED TO BE TOLD FOR AWHILE.
. There's a paragraph in JOE GALLOWAY's book, where this story comes from. It says, "Hollywood got it wrong every time. They were sharpening their twisted political knives on the bones of our dead brothers." That's the aspect that's been overlooked. It's the truth. There's some truth in some of those other films, but they tended to focus on the negative, and not show the other side. Not that there's anything positive about war, I don't think there is, and whether you agree with that conflict or not, and I don't know that I do, it doesn't change the fact that men had to go and deal with it. Many of them sacrificed themselves.
ET: You've gotten to meet Hal Moore, the character you're playing.
MEL: Yeah, I've spent a fair amount of time with him -- a tremendous and extraordinary man. You read the book and you hear about his exploits, and it's phenomenal what he was able to achieve. He was undermanned and outnumbered and he prevailed. But, to meet him, he's more extraordinary than what you would imagine. But there's a simplicity and earnestness, and he's just an ordinary guy, you know. You think he's going to be some big warhorse, and he is a warrior, but he's just a regular family guy.
ET: Do you find that it's a greater responsibility playing a role when the person is standing right there while you're doing a scene?
MEL: Yeah, it doesn't make me edgy or nervous or anything. I kind of feel like I hooked up with him. I kind of know fundamentally what I need to know. I'm sure I don't know everything, and he wasn't going to reveal everything. He doesn't need to; I think I can sort of fill in the blanks a little bit. I think I'm a human being and capable of understanding. Whether I'd be capable of what he did, I have no idea, I will never know, I hope. But I can certainly imagine what that's like.
ET: Can you give us a 15-minute synopsis of what this movie is about?
MEL: There was a new kind of warfare. They had choppers; this was air cavalry which had never been tried before. It was revolutionary, and it was the first major battle of the Vietnam war, in the Ia Drang Valley. They went in, and the landing zone wasn't big enough to accommodate all the choppers. They were in the foot of the mountain in the Ia Drang Valley and they were vastly outnumbered by a big force. They were uniformed and weaponed up and AK-47ed out and they were just way outnumbered. They had just one agenda -- attack and take them out.
BATTLE PLAN FOR THE FILM .
LETTER FROM RANDALL WALLACE
7 February 2001
To all men who fought in the Ia Drang Valley, November 1965, and their families.
As many of you have already heard, we are preparing to make a film version of Hal Moore and Joe Galloway's book WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE...AND YOUNG.
I am the writer of the screenplay for the film, and also the director. Mel Gibson is set to play the lead role as Lt. Col. Moore, and Mel's company, Icon, and mine, The Wheelhouse, are producing the film, in association with Paramount Pictures.
As you can imagine, this is an enormously ambitious undertaking. As the prologue of Hal and Joe's landmark book states, "Hollywood has gotten the story of the Vietnam veteran wrong every damn time, whetting the knives of twisted politics on the bones of our dead brothers."
Well this time we mean to get it right.
Whether we achieve that goal will be judged by many people: a worldwide audience; a collection of film critics; our families and friends; but most of all we will be judged by you whose lives were so personally intertwined with the events of the Ia Drang Valley.
For whatever success we achieve, there will be many people to thank; but blame for however we fall short will rest on my shoulders since I'm the director of the film and the one who first asked Hal and Joe to let me make this movie. I accept this responsibility; I welcome it; I'm deeply proud of their trust, and I hope to earn yours.
Therefore, I want to be up front with all of you. This film is not a documentary. The story of what happened in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965 has been documented in many ways already. What we are making now is a dramatization that sets out to do what those other ways of telling your story could not: to capture the subjective experience of that war. It is not meant to tell the story of each individual, or to capture the same kind of truth a documentary would.
This is not to say that any of us making the film are unconcerned with accuracy. Some of the finest film making talents in the world are involved with this production, and we are going to great length to capture the real experiences of you and your buddies and loved ones. The main difference in our approach and that of other media is that in making feature films, we are out to communicate on an emotional level, to communicate emotional truth. Most stories of Vietnam emphasize tragic dimensions, dimensions which are true. But there is more truth than just the tragedy, and this story celebrates the truth of love, loyalty, and heroism.
To tell the story of all, I must leave out the details of some. The book documents the heroism of many; the movie will focus on a few particular characters, and even those characters will be combinations of traits and actions that existed among many characters.
An example of this is the fact that the movie will focus on LZ X-Ray. The events of LZ Albany, its heroism and its tragedy, are alluded to, but are not the focus of the narrative of this movie. And even within the telling of the events of LZ X-Ray, the heroic acts of so many of you cannot be specifically detailed.
This is not because any of us lack reverence for your courage, or have any desire whatsoever to celebrate some and ignore others. It is simply the only effective way, in my judgment, to make a film that will communicate clearly and most powerfully the greater message that those who fought in Vietnam, and those who fought the emotional wars at home by loving and longing and grieving for those who fought, were heroes.
So that is our goal. From you who have already given so much, I ask more: I ask for your understanding, your faith, and your prayers.
And if you feel over-looked or slighted because your name or your particular acts of heroism are not specifically portrayed in this film, I ask your forgiveness.
But I will take what comes. I am inspired by your example, by you who gave your fullest measure of courage and commitment and have lived by the light of your own example.
I salute you.
The photograph to the right pictures battalion group command just before the battle of X-Ray, the battle in which Captain Metsker lost his life. Pictured, standing from left to right are: Basil Plumley, Matt Dillon, Hal Moore (author of the book), and Tom Metsker. Kneeling from left to right are and unidentified trooper and radio operator Bob Ouellette.
Bruce Crandall (CO A/229th Assault Helicopter Company)
Lt. Col. Hal Moore
I adore Mel Gibson's "Patriot" and am anxiously looking forward to seeing this one. "We Were Soldiers Once, And Young" is something I think each Vet has at least thought of or said paraphrased at least once since they were there, even before the book was written. I know I've thought of that time of my life many times when I am alone, just reflecting on my life and quietly remembering.
The following is taken from a VHPA newsletter published later in the summer:
Remarks prepared for delivery Sunday July 2, 2000, at VHPA Memorial at The Wall:
Is there anyone here today who does not thrill to the sound of those Huey blades?? That familiar whop-whop-whop is the soundtrack of our war...the lullaby of our younger days. To someone who spent his time in Nam with the grunts I have got to tell you that that noise was always a great comfort. It meant someone was coming to help...someone was coming to get our wounded...someone was coming to bring us water and ammo...someone was coming to take our dead brothers home...someone was coming to give us a ride out of hell. Even today when I hear it I stop...catch my breath...and think back to those days.
I love you guys as only an Infantryman can love you. No matter how bad things were...if we called you came. Down through the green tracers and other visible signs of a real bad day off to a bad start. I would like to quote to you from a letter Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman wrote his friend Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the end of the Civil War: "I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come---if alive." That was always in our minds and that is how we thought of you. To us you seemed beyond brave and fearless...that you would come to us in the middle of battle in those flimsy thin-skinned crates...and in the storm of fire you would sit up there behind that plexiglass seeming so patient and so calm and so vulnerable...waiting for the off-loading and the on-loading. We thought you were God's own lunatics... and we loved you. Still do.
We are gathered here this morning to appreciate the lives and honor the memory of 2,209 helicopter pilots and 2.704 helicopter crewmen who were killed while doing their duty in the Republic of Vietnam between May 30, 1961, and May 15, 1975. Theirs are some of the names among the 58,220 on this precious Wall. So many good men...so many good friends.
Before I come here I always remind myself of what another good friend, Captain B.T. Collins..who is now gone..liked to say at gatherings like this:
No whining and no crying! We are the fortunate ones! We survived...when so many better men gave up their precious lives for us. We owe them a sacred debt...to live each day to its fullest...trying to make this world a better place for our having lived and their having died.
So we come here today to remember them...and to celebrate their lives and their deeds. I like to come here at dawn...or around midnight...when things are so quiet you can hear their voices. What they are saying...when you listen hard enough...is this: We are at peace; so should you be...so should you be.
I would like to close by reading you from something written by a World War I poet named Lawrence Binyon:
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them...nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them!
God Bless all our absent friends...and God bless you.
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