CSM (Ret.) Basil L. Plumley

January 1, 1920October 10, 2012
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CSM Basil L. Plumley (January 1, 1920 - October 10, 2012)

CSM Basil L. Plumley, 92, died Wednesday October 10, 2012 at the Columbus, Hospice House, Columbus, Georgia.

Funeral services with Military Honors will be held 1:00 p.m. Tuesday October 16, 2012 in the Infantry Center Chapel, Ft. Benning, Georgia with burial to follow in the Main Post Cemetery, Ft. Benning, Georgia. The family will receive friends Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

CSM Plumley was born in Blue Jay, West Virginia, the second son and fifth child of an electrician Clay Plumley and his wife Georgia, both of West Virginia stock. Plumley was also preceded in death by his wife, Deurice who died on May 28, 2012, his grandson, Kenneth Kimble, two brothers and three sisters.

He is well known for his actions as Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at the Battle of Ia Drang (1965). General Hal Moore praised Plumley as an outstanding NCO and leader in the book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young. The sergeant major was known affectionately by his Soldiers as "Old Iron Jaw.”

Plumley enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 31, 1942 as a private, having completed two years of high school. His civilian occupation was listed as semiskilled chauffeur/driver of bus, taxi, truck, or tractor. Plumley is a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. During World War Two, Plumley made four combat jumps with the 82ND Airborne Division: OPERATION HUSKY (Sicily), OPERATION AVALANCHE (Salerno), OPERATION NEPTUNE (Normandy), and OPERATION MARKET GARDEN (Holland). He also made one combat jump in Korea with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment in the Battle of Yongju.

He retired as a command sergeant major on December 31, 1974. After his retirement he worked 15 years for the Army at Martin Army Community Hospital as a civilian and retired again in 1990.

Plumley’s awards and decorations include the Silver Star (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (one Oak Leaf Cluster and Valor Device), Purple Heart (three Oak Leaf Clusters), Air Medal (one silver and three bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Presidential Unit Citation (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Word War II Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal (with Arrowhead device and three campaign stars), Vietnam Service Medal (with one silver and three bronze campaign stars), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal for Korea, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Master Combat Parachutist Badge (with gold star, indicating 5 combat jumps), Vietnam Army Basic Parachutist Badge, and the Order of St. Maurice. He is one of only 324 known recipients of the third award of the Combat Infantry Badge.

CSM Plumley received the “Doughboy Award” in 1999. The Doughboy Award is presented annually to recognize an individual for outstanding contributions to the United States Army Infantry. The award is presented on behalf of all Infantrymen past and present.

He was portrayed by Sam Elliott in the film We Were Soldiers.

Survivors include his daughter, Debbie Kimble, his granddaughter, Carrie Brown and her husband Jeff, his great grandchildren, Carson Brown, Jackson Brown, numerous nieces and nephews.

Flowers will be appreciated and donations may be made to National Infantry Foundation, 1775 Legacy Way, Suite 220, Columbus, Georgia 31903 or those wishing to donate online can do so at in honor of CSM (R) Basil Plumley or to the Columbus Hospice Inc. , 7020 Moon Road, Columbus, Georgia 31909 or those wishing to donate online can do so at in honor of CSM (R) Basil Plumley.


  • Visitation Monday, October 15, 2012
  • Funeral Service Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CSM (Ret.) Basil L. Plumley

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November 11, 2013

SARG, glad my wife and I stopped to see you and the wife at your house in Columbus, Ga. I miss you..
bill and eleanor svoboda, brooklyn ohio

Kenneth Smith

December 12, 2012

My deepest sympathy to the family of CSM Plumley. A soldier's soldier and and a great man. I wish I could have met him in person. May he rest in peace. KMS, 10th RRU 1st Air Cav Div. Aug 65 - Jul 66

Roger and Carole Martin

December 7, 2012

We extend our most profund sympathy to you and family. Ia Drang surivor 1965 1st Cav.

Andrea Thomas

November 15, 2012

Thank you so very much for your service to this country, may you R.I.P. CSM You will never be forgotten .... My sincere condolences goes out to the Plumley family..

Daniel Berney

November 1, 2012

I was an Honor for me to meet SGM Plumley at the Columbus VA Clinic. I am proud to have been the same service with Plumley. I saw the Movie when it came out and it made me so proud of my military comrades that sacrificed their lives for this Great Country. I was very fortunate to meet both Gen. Moore and SGM Plumley. I work at the VA Hospital in Montgomery, AL and I was in Columbus that day I met him. He was the nicest tough guy that I ever met. My condolences to the entire Plumley family.

October 22, 2012

My condolences to the Plumley family. My father, Charles E. DeSha served with your father, and he along with your father Loransia Bowen presented the following certificate to General Moore. Looks like they found a little bit of time to have some fun.
I corresponded with General Moore's son who said that out of his many awards, this was one his favorites.

October 22, 2012

I would like to express my condolences to the family of CSM. Plumley .
People of this generation need to learn more about people like him
He is a true example of what a soldier is and should be, he is also
an example for someone in Emergency Response (Fire dept,EMS,etc)
I feel honored to have worn the same uniform as he. His service to the
U.S. should be a pattern for all to follow.


Franklin Welfl

October 22, 2012

A role model for every future soldier, thanks for your service CSM!

October 21, 2012

Carrie & Debbie, I am so sorry for your loss. You can be at peace knowing the full life he lead, how many people's lives he has touched and that fact he is up in heaven with his wife now. He was a true American hero. Our pastor mentioned him during our church service this morning when giving a sermon on what character our leaders should have. Love and prayers for your family~

Amy Gallops

October 21, 2012

I am so sorry for your loss. Seeing your daddy's obituary brought back so many childhood memories. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Margie Kirkland Smith and
Salem, Al 36874