We were Soldiers

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Here’s my review and insights on the movie “We were soldiers”… It’s based on a true story of heroism and courage that took place in the Vietnam War. It started with narration on how does one tell a story? Which angle of the story? Where does the story begin? It’s also amazing that Colonel Hal Moore also linked many other parallel stories and connects to the kids, family and every one of his men to be more than just soldiers… to be a friend.

The inspiring speech, by Colonel Hal Moore of 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment of the Air Calvary who was sent deep into enemy’s territory with an untested strategy. The Colonel hold true to his words: “I can’t promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear… when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me, God.”

The training scene was as real as it could be… They actually hear the battle communications of Vietnam War over the radio as they were training. Many times, we think that our procedures and formulas will work in any scenarios, however, when it comes to real life, it is not just how good a skill or knowledge or talents you have as a soldier but it’s how prepared you are to be your brother’s keeper and to take the lead when the time comes.  They were taught to tend to each other’s wound and to lift up those that are down.

There was also a great scene where all the officers’ wives gathered together and end up debating who can and who cannot use the washing machine. Bottom line was that in the battlefront, it doesn’t matter as many would think it is a duty to their country or “Kingdom”(Ask what you can do for your country and NOT what your country can do for you). To me it is a noble cause, however it is a fallacy that doesn’t reflect the true love for one’s need to find the inner truth for the freedom we fight for. We give to our country… our family… our God… because we know that there is something good or better that can come out of it for our love ones.

Another theme within the story is that there is value in research and Intel. A team is lost because they did not know the terrain. Had poor Intel…  Underestimated the enemy… over confident… did not fight on home ground which resulted in a massacre. As such, research and knowing which battleground or tactics to fight is crucial.

In the 3 days battle at the landing zone, many who first died are the ones who charged bravely into battle. The ones that survived were the ones that worked together to keep each other alive. The ones that passed on many would say “I’m glad I did this for my country” or “Tell my wife or family I love her”… people would go through to the ends of the earth to die for something they believe in. The best moment for me was when a wounded captain gave up his place for another more injured friend and got shot and killed in the process. It goes back to the central theme that in the heat of battle, it’s no longer for the country but for the friend which is next to you. This was also true of that fateful real life story where Col Hal ordered a few wave of advances (to which many died) to save the isolated patrol group that was cut off. 

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I felt so connected to the movie as I was once a media person just as Joe Galloway the journalists whom experience everything first hand in the battlefront as he was documenting the events, it suddenly hit him that he was there for a great purpose to tell the story from within. Many others come in much later when the battle ended but they only knew the works but not the process.

In life our leaders may not always have the answers. They can only try to help the best way they know how. Just as in the show when there was a need to send the letters back to the wives and families of those who died in the battle, the US Government sent taxi-drivers. Only in times of fire, do we see the ones whom we really love rise up. Col. Hal’s wife Juliane Moore took it upon her responsibility to share the pain and to face the fear each day to each telegram to each family and their kids.

Colonel’s prayer for his young yet dead soldiers was a pivotal moment as the duty of a leader is to pull the moral of the people out of the mud and to start leading the people back to victory. Each death is a step to victory… but each man is not a number. Another great moment was when the Colonel heads out into darkness and danger just to find the 2 missing soldiers only to find them dead together in a position of one carrying another.

My favorite moment throughout the movie was one where Colonel and his right hand man – Sgt Major Plummel had. He ask what General Custer would have done or felt. The crucibles of the battle scars will always remain and you realized this in the moment where the at the end of the battle, it’s no longer what you can say or do because as a leader, you are responsible for leading your men into battle to whatever end and to come out alive is only by grace that one can continue being changed forever.  In any battle, there is no victory. There is only losses and how much each side has lost.

The ending commentary of Joe Galloway was surreal… In Saigon, Hal Moore’s superiors congratulated him for killing over 1,800 enemy soldiers. Then ordered him to lead the Seventh Cavalry back into the valley of death. He led them and fought beside them for 235 more days. Some had families waiting. For others, their only family would be the men they bled beside. There were no bands, no flags, no Honor Guards to welcome them home. They went to war because their country ordered them to. But in the end, they fought not for their country or their flag, the fought for each other.

 

 

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One Response to “We were Soldiers”

  1. This is one of my favorite war movies, the story it told and how it was told in the movie is memorable and pure greatness. Have you read Moore and Galloway’s book about the actual event? Its called “We Were Soldier’s Once…And Young.” It is a great recount of the events of what happened and excellently written.

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