• United States
We Were Soldiers - We Were Soldiers is often regarded as one of the few films, along with John Wayne's The Green Berets (1968), to offer a positive representation of the American presence in Vietnam. However, the movie is somewhat ambivalent about the morality of the war, presenting the North Vietnamese army as a capable and brave opponent, and concluding with a statement that the U.S. soldiers did not fight for their country, but for each other. Some see the scenes toward the end of the movie as anti-war in their depiction of the horror of the fighting, as well as the graphic depiction of the loss of life, although other may see this as a realistic presentation of battle. The movie portrays Lieutenant Herrick's death, to the words 'I'm proud to die for my country,' as being caused by needless enthusiasm. The bereavement of the dead soldiers' families are also emphasized, particularly that of 2nd Lt. Jack Geoghegan's family, and also that of an un-named NVA soldier (actually a chinese advisor for the NVA, an incident that actually happened in the battle, but contrary to what is depicted in the movie, the body was not recovered in the aftermath of the battle -the NVA had probably taken great pains to recover it and carry it away before it could be recovered by US forces, as it was a matter of pride for them to officially have no foreign advisors in the field (while in reality they had both chinese advisors -in north and south, mostly for infantry training- and soviet advisors in the north -mostly for setting up SAM and AAA sites and train the vietnamese to man them)). The film also showed how political strife at home crept into the war. Moore detested this and even disregarded orders from his superiors when they were politically motivated. Certain aspects of the film are heavily dramatized and edited. The final bayonet charge by the American troops on the North Vietnamese base camp is completely fictitious and quite out of character with the rest of the film. Historically, the battle ended with the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces and subsequent extraction of 1/7 by helicopter after they were relieved by 2nd/7thCav which had marched overland from LZ Falcon to LZ X-Ray. The presence of this other 7th Cavalry battalion, 2nd Battalion (2/7) (as well as that of a platoon from the 2nd/5thCav which happened to be there 'on loan' to the 2nd/7th), is ignored during the movie, as well as the battle of LZ Albany which took place barely 2 miles from X-Ray, while the 2nd/7th left LZ X-Ray (B-52 strikes were planned on the Chu Pong slopes, and X-Ray was considered 'danger-close' to these strikes, so the LZ had to be cleared first) and marched overland to LZ Albany in what was to be the least airmobile operation in the war (raising much controversy, for the documents pertaining to the chain of command who issued this order were apparently lost or destroyed on purpose), only to stumble on the 66th NVA regiment which happened to be bivouacking in their path, resulting in a much bloodier battle than that of X-Ray (try imagining X-Ray with the US caught completely by surprise, in grass 2m tall, mostly without radios (HQ squad was destroyed first in the ambush), and with little air and artillery support -which claimed almost as much friendly as NVA lives). This, combined with the fictitious bayonet charge, lends the film an air of revisionism, or amateurism at the very least. Expert eyes may also recognize national guard uniforms in figurative roles instead of genuine Cavalry uniforms. The movie also hints that the first meeting between Moore and Galloway happened during the battle of LZ X-Ray, while in fact Galloway had been following the 7th Cav on operations (always staying with them where they were, even in mud and rain, while most other field reporters chose to hook a ride on a resupply chopper back to the base for a hot supper and shower) for the better part of a month before the battle actually took place. Aviation experts may also notice a big goof in the end of the movie (right at the time of the bayonet charge) : before Moore leads the bayonet charge, a Huey Gunship is seen mowing down the NVA base camp with twin-mounted M134 gatling guns ('miniguns'). This is an anachronism : while in late 1965 Hueys were already equipped with the 2.75' rockets shown in the movie, the XM134 minigun hadn't been issued to ARA (Aerial Rocket Artillery, name used by the GIs to differentiate them from the howitzer cannon-cockers, which they simply called 'tube artillery') helicopters yet. At this time they were still equipped with a twin M-60 'flex-gun' on each side (those were M-60s that could rotate in a 70° cone and aimed by the copilot via a suspended joystick in the cockpit). XM134 (7,62mm) guns were not fitted to Hueys until 1966 (they would later use 12.7mm gatlings, as well as 20mm gatlings on later Huey Cobra gunships in order to engage .50cal machine gun nests from a safe distance). Strangely, the Huey gunship appears to be flown by Crandall, who actually was assigned an AHC (assault helicopter company), while Huey gunships were commanded by ARA folks (in the case of X-Ray, they were under the command of the famous 'Black Bart', later killed in action in 1968), so Crandall couldn't have been flying that gunship. The movie also depicts the crash of one 'slick' (troop transport chopper) and his pilot/copilot killed, while in fact two helicopters were damaged during the battle and forced to stay grounded, but none actually crashed. The crewmen were evacuated on a troop transport Huey, and as the 1st/7th was being evacuated from X-Ray the crippled Hueys were airlifted back to Pleiku for repair. What the movie doesn't depict however, and which actually happened, is the loss of a US Navy A1 Skyraider 'Spad' which was downed -presumably by fragments of his own ordnance- killing its pilot (bombs and napalm have very different safe separation altitudes, the pilot probably meant to drop a napalm canister, flicked the wrong switch in the cockpit, dropped a 250-lb bomb instead and his aircraft, flying too close to the ground, was damaged by shrapnel).