The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 13, 2012

WWII veteran, Shady Spring native, dies

By Carra Higgins
Register-Herald Reporter

— A Shady Spring native and famous war veteran Basil L. Plumley, 92, died Wednesday at a hospice unit in Georgia.  

Plumley enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served 32 years in uniform. In World War II, he fought in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno and the D-Day invasion at Normandy. He later fought with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment in Korea. In Vietnam, Plumley served as sergeant major — the highest enlisted rank — in the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.

 The book “We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young” and movie “We Were Soldiers” was based on his military life during Vietnam in November 1965. It was then that Plumley served in the Battle of la Drang, the first major engagement between the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese forces. Journalist Joseph L. Galloway and retired Lt. Gen. Hal G. Moore wrote the book around 30 years after the battle. The movie starred Mel Gibson and Sam Elliott who portrayed Plumley.

The Associated Press reports that Debbie Kimble, Plumley’s daughter, said her father died from cancer after spending about nine days at Columbus Hospice in Georgia. He had been in declining health.

Plumley was not short of fans. When Galloway mentioned his condition on Facebook, Plumley received around 160 pieces of mail the day before he died.