COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — About a dozen soldiers who fought and survived in the Ia Drang valley 57 years ago gathered at National Infantry Museum today.
They are at the gates of Fort Benning for a reunion, the first one for the group since the Covid outbreak.
Friday morning a piece of the Army’s past mingled with its future.
And the young soldiers got to see lions in winter, about dozen men who fought and survived 57 years ago in the Vietnam battle at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang valley.
These soldiers and their story of death and survival from November 1965 in Vietnam inspired the 2002 movie We Were Soldiers Once – based on war correspondent Joe Galloway’s book by the same name.
“It was 70 percent accurate,” said Retired Army Col. Walter Joseph Marm. “They were making a Hollywood movie, not a documentary.”
Joe Marm should know.
He received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, for his actions on November 14, 1965, in the Ia Drang valley. He braved enemy fire to get to a platoon that was separated from the unit.
Friday, he talked to young privates at Fort Benning, who will graduate from Basic Training next week.
He told them anything is possible through their service.
“You can stay in, rise through the ranks and become a Command Sergeant Major, or you work the other side, too, get commissioned and work your way up and become a general,” Marm said.
The young soldiers listened carefully to Marm and his battle buddies.
Marm later said these young soldiers do have great opportunities.
“We could have a future president right there in that formation,” Marm said. “A future general or a future command sergeant major. They can get out or stay in. Whatever they want to do. We are the greatest country in the world because we have a great military force.”
And at the end, the colonel did what a good officer does. He offered a salute.
“It is special to come back and be at Fort Benning. So, God Bless You. And thank you for your service. Carry on.”