Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gritty History

Saving Private Ryan
(DreamWorks Pictures)
Early November of 1998 was an extremely emotional time for me. I had a little over six months left in my Air Force career and was facing having to start another career. One as a civilian. Seems I'd spent my entire life preparing to be in the military and then actually being in the military. Now that phase of my life was coming to an end.

Not only was my Air Force career coming to an end, we would be moving from Germany back to the United States. Not to a new base but back to civvy street. Oh yeah, I didn't have a job yet. Not a big deal, I had some marketable skills, it was just a case of finding the right company.

Still, having no job to look forward to was a bit daunting.

Also, one of our beloved cats was having some serious medical issues. From which he would be dead in less than a week. I was all at sea.

The Missus Herself suggested I go to the movies. So I did.

Some two hours later I realized, even with some of the technical inaccuracies therein, that I had just experienced something profound. Something moving and never to be forgotten.

From the opening scene to the very end, I was riveted to that screen.

Saving Private Ryan has to be one of the best movies I have ever seen. Nothing could ever top this I thought. I am a child of The Greatest Generation, these are the stories I grew up with. This was a once in a lifetime experience.

So I thought back then.

(Columbia Pictures)

Fast forward to another November, 16 years later. I'm comfortably settled into civilian life. All the kids have grown up, moved on, have families of their own and have careers of their own. Not only that but The Missus Herself is out in California, visiting the grandkids. So it's another dark, dreary November day. So of course, I go to the movies.

I don't care what you may think of Brad Pitt, his beliefs, his personal life, whatever, the man can act. Though he's never been a soldier, he knows how to portray one. I know soldiers. If I had no idea who Brad Pitt was and he'd come up to me, in character, I would have assumed that he'd once been a soldier.

The entire cast of the movie was damn good. The men who played the crew of the eponymous tank of the movie's title all did a superb job. There is no other word for it than "superb." Hell, I've served with guys just like these. These actors did a fine job and give great honor to the men they portray, the men of the U.S. Army armored divisions of World War Two.

Fury does for the tank crews what Saving Private Ryan did for the infantry.

I cannot recommend this movie enough.

But I caution you, it is a very dark film. It portrays war in all its grim nastiness. Be prepared for an emotional ride.

But if you have any interest in history or the men who make history...

See this movie.


  1. Even though I'm not a fan of Brad Pitt, I agree with you, he can be very good actor. I've been waiting for this movie and I'm glad to know that it's worth the wait.

  2. With your endorsement, I'll go check out 'Fury'. I have to admit, when I saw the previews, I assumed it was nothing more than a glorified Hollywood shoot 'em up---with tanks. I do like Brad Pitt, though; and you're right---the man can act.

  3. I agree with you on "Saving Private Ryan," wholeheartedly. Saw it twice. Second time with my wife. (Went solo the first time so I wouldn't be bothered by numerous questions.) Am not a Brad Pitt fan. I've seen only two of his movies . . . so, I can't comment on his acting skills. I'm looking forward to this new film, "Fury."
    Thanks for the heads-up.

  4. I'll wait for the video. No sense contributing any more than necessary to the Hollywood cultural morass. I realize they still get paid, but the film will already have its fate determined.

    1. I'm with Juvat, if I even see the movie at all. I'm just not a movie kinda guy, gimmee a good book and let me play my own movie in my head.

    2. Juvat - The Hollywood cultural morass. Heh, I may use that someday.

    3. Buck - I figured you for a non-movie going kind of guy.

  5. Thanks Sarge - going to see it right after I vote

    1. Let me know what you think Bill.

    2. Saw it and I thought it depicted combat pretty accurately - the last scene might have been a bit over the top but I would highly recommend it.

  6. And remember it IS a movie, not based on specific actual events. But it does capture the tone and grit of the men that fought and died in those Shermans.

  7. One thing they just brushed on - towards the end of the war some of the most fanatical fighters were mere children of the Hitler Youth - with Panzerfausts - an anti tank weapon far more deadly than our bazooka. They had grown up their short lives knowing nothing but Nazism and Hitler. And the GIs had to kill them or be killed.

    And facing down a Tiger with a Sherman? I would think - terrifying. But Sarge I think you are right in that it portrayed the armored unit as accurately as Saving Private Ryan did for the infantry.

    1. No argument here Bill.

      One thing I will note though, the Panzerfaust was very much a short range (< 100 yards) weapon. You had to be close for it to be effective. It was also "one and done" - couldn't reload it. Our bazooka wasn't a bad idea, just too small at first. It was also re-loadable.

  8. OK Sarge, it's on the list.
    As for Private Ryan, it's great when a producer takes time to find out just what a high velocity round sounds like as it passes over your head. Having been shot at in training, with ammo, in single shot and full auto, up to .50cal, I did experience a little (a lot) of the `where's my shovel I'm not deep enough below ground` factor and that was brilliantly re-created by Spielberg. It's important that it should


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