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IPFS News Link • WAR: About that War

We Were Soldiers … Who Supposedly Died for Our Country

•, by Jacob G. Hornberger

 It stars Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott, Keri Russell, and others.

The movie is based on a true story. It dramatizes the Battle of la Drang in Vietnam, which was the first major battle between U.S. military forces and North Vietnamese forces. The battle took place in November 1965, two years after President Kennedy was assassinated and a year after Lyndon Johnson was elected president in November 1964.

Gibson plays U.S. Army Lt. Col. Hal Moore, who was ordered to lead his 400-man battalion in an attack on a North Vietnamese force that had recently attacked an American military base in Vietnam. U.S. military intelligence had no idea how large the enemy force was. After Air Calvalry helicopters deposited Moore's troops into the la Drang Valley, a captured enemy scout informed them that they were facing a veteran North Vietnamese division of 4,000 men.

In the movie, the final words of a U.S. soldier who was shot and dying were something to the effect of, "I'm glad I am able to die for my country."

Of course, it was a nonsensical notion, but one that was inculcated not only in U.S. soldiers but also the vast majority of the American people, who, at that time, had a mindset of extreme and loyal deference to the U.S. national-security state.

The notion was that there was an international communist conspiracy to take over the world, including the United States. The conspiracy was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia — yes, the same Russia that U.S. officials are, once again, saying is hell-bent on coming to get us. 

The American people were told that the North Vietnamese attempt to unify their country under communist rule was part of this international communist conspiracy. If the U.S. did not prevent this takeover with military force, U.S. officials claimed, it would mean that America would be in greater danger of falling to the international Red conspiracy.