In the movie, We were Soldiers, you will never actually hear the Garryowen being played… the music in the movie is all very haunting… sober…. sombre… Garryowen would not fit… this little bit of history below should pretty much explain why… 🙂
“Garry Owen” is an old Irish quick-step that can be traced back to the 1800s. it is known to have been used by Irish regiments as a drinking song. So the story goes, one of the Irish “melting pot” members of the 7th was singing the song under the influence of spirits, and Custer happened by, liked the cadence, and soon began to hum the tune himself. Garryowen is derived from Gaelic meaning Owen’s garden, is a suburb of Limerick. The tune has a lively beat, that accentuates the cadence of marching horses, and for that reason was adopted as the regimental song soon after Custer arrived to take over the 7th Cavalry. It was the last song played by the band for Custer’s men as they left the Terry column at the Rosebud River and rode into history.”
On the other hand, Garryowen (by the time Vietnam rolled around), had moved along to be used more like…. semper-fi… ooh-rah… a battle cry…. an encouragement. We see that a couple times in the movie. After the Lieutenant (acting like Fetterman) charges up the ridge following the VietCong decoy (playing Crazy Horse) they are then totally surrounded by the enemy… cut off from all the others. A platoon is sent out later to rescue them… when they get to the base of the hill, this lieutenant then charges up the hill with the battle cry… “Garryowen”….
The other time it is used in the movie, is when the 2 survivors of the ridge, volunteer to rejoin the front line for what they all knew would be the final battle… the 2nd one is very young, buried under his helmet… Colonel Moore taps him on the shoulder… the young man looks up at Moore… and says quietly…. “garryowen, sir“….
Time for Philip to rejoin his unit on the line…. garryowen…. see you tomorrow…