Basil Plumley, a renowned career soldier whose exploits as an infantryman were portrayed in a book and a movie, has died aged 92 - an age his friends are amazed that he lived to see.
Plumley fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam and was awarded a medal for making five parachute jumps into combat. The retired command sergeant major died Wednesday.
It was during Vietnam in November 1965 that Plumley served in the Battle of la Drang, the first major engagement between the US Army and North Vietnamese forces. That battle was the basis for the book We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young, written nearly three decades later by Galloway and retired General Hal Moore, who had been Plumley's battalion commander in Vietnam.
In the 2002 film version, Gibson played Moore.
Galloway said several of Elliott's gruff one-liners in the movie were things Plumley actually said, such as the scene in which a soldier tells the sergeant major good morning and is told: "Who made you the (expletive) weather man?"
"Sam Elliott underplayed him. He was actually tougher than that," Galloway said. "He was gruff, monosyllabic, an absolute terror when it came to enforcing standards of training."
That's not to say he was mean or inhuman, Galloway said. "This was a man above all else who had a very big, warm heart that he concealed very well."