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Here comes the calvary

'Soldiers' preem honors real war heroes

HOLLYWOOD — Paramount mixed patriotism with its Monday premiere of drama “We Were Soldiers” at the Mann Village and Bruin theaters in Westwood.

The mood was set before pic’s unspooling with a special ceremony honoring the soldiers of the 1st Batallioin of the 7th Cavalry who fought in the first major battle of the Vietnam War. Helmer-scribe-producer Randall Wallace said pic would not be possible without the soldiers’ input. “This was a story that caused us to open our hearts because the people this story is about opened their hearts to us,” he said.

Joseph L. Galloway, co-author of the book “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,” praised Wallace. “Randy really brought us into the process from the beginning and trusted us,” he said. Galloway, who served four tours in Vietnam after reporting on the battle in the Ia Drang Valley, said he had been skeptical of Hollywood’s previous depictions of the war. “They weren’t Vietnam stories. They were stories grafted onto the Vietnam framework.”

Par prexy Sherry Lansing and pic’s stars Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott, Keri Russell and Barry Pepper joined guests Tom Selleck, Jennifer Grey, Gary Sinise and Neve Campbell at the tented after-party nearby.

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