The new National Geographic Channel documentary Brothers in War (premiering Wednesday, March 26th at 8pm ET) takes a look at the conflict through Charlie Company’s experiences during the men’s training and year-long tour in 1967.
Based on new interviews with the veterans, archival film footage from both training and field service (including a surprising amount of the troops’ own home movies) and even some recordings sent home as audio letters during the tour, the documentary’s narrow focus (the 160 men of Charlie Company instead of the 485,000 troops in Vietnam in 1967) gives an honor and weight to the men’s experiences that’s missing from most military documentaries that try to explain the conflict from a 10,000 ft. overview.
Based loosely on Andrew Wiest’s The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnamand mostly lets the men speak for themselves. There’s a minimal amount of narration from a raspy Charlie Sheen, trying to conjure up that Platoon spirit after a couple of decades of being Charlie in Hollywood.
In this clip, Charlie Company Commander Herb Lind talks about down time at the Dong Tam Base Camp and the amenities the men enjoyed. 1st Platoon Squad Leader talks about the Med Camp operations and the troops’ interaction with Vietnamese civilians.
The tour was brutal and Charlie Company suffered a casualty rate of over 80%, with 26 killed and 105 wounded. The film captures the camaraderie the men developed before going into explicit detail about their major engagements with the Viet Cong. Brothers in War follows the men through their return home in January 1968 and their company reunions that began in 1989.
The “war at home” stuff is there to provide context but none of the men featured in the film seem interested in focusing much on that conflict. Maybe it’s just the perspective of 45 years gone by or the fact that American civilians have since learned to respect men and women who serve even if they disagree with the military decisions made in Washington, but that standard hippies screaming about Vietnam footage doesn’t seem that crucial a part of this one.
Another striking thing about the film is just how much of the included footage is taken from network news reporting. Anyone too young to remember seeing the Vietnam War on the evening news might be shocked at how much access the media had to the day-to-day operation of the war. One small reservation: the music score sounds like instrumental outtakes from a 1993 alternative hard rock album. Faked Stones, Motown, Hendrix or Doors sounds would better fit the footage.
I’m not the only one who likes this documentary. Military historian Dr. Erik B. Villard saw the film at a screening last week and offered up the following quote:
Having spent the last two decades researching and writing about the Vietnam War, I must say ‘Brothers in War’ is one of the finest documentaries about that conflict ever produced, featuring razor-sharp editing, masterfully restored archival footage, and a powerful yet understated musical score. The narration by Charlie Sheen is first-rate, as are the interviews conducted with members of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, who offer compelling testimony about the harsh realities of combat and the bonds of brotherhood forged in war. A must-see.
Nat Geo TV will probably show this a few dozen times over the next year or so and it’s worth checking out, especially if you have a family member who served during this era.
It turns out that the Duke University undergraduate who decided to fund her over $50,000/year tuition by making pornographic movies is a military kid. Porn star “Belle Knox,” who attends Duke under her real name Miriam Weeks, has been a media sensation over the last week after one of her fellow Duke students outed her after he recognized his classmate as the same woman from one of his private browsing sessions.
Against the Odds is a new television documentary series that features incidents from Vietnam, Iraq, Korea and World War II where troops faced insurmountable opposition and managed to find a way to come out on top. The six-part series debuts Monday March 3rd at 10pm ET on the American Heroes Channel.
We talked to John Ligato, a Marine vet who’s featured in the premiere episode The Marines at Hue, which details their efforts to retake Hue City during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Ligato served in Alpha Company during the battle and later went on to have an incredible career that includes undercover work for the FBI.
(What is the American Heroes Channel? It’s a rebranding of the Military Channel that also launches on Monday. Obviously they’re not giving up on the military-themed programming but they say they want to “broaden the scope” of the channel. That probably means they’re going to make reality shows about first responders, but it’s early days. You can find the American Heroes Channel at the same number on your TV that you’ve been using for the Military Channel.) +Continue Reading
Jason lost his leg while the other was badly mangled after an attack on his humvee in Iraq. Jason’s parents later joined other caregivers and successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Caregiver Act, which allows Veterans Affairs to provide payment to a veteran’s caregiver, even if that person is a family member. +Continue Reading
Our favorite movie Marine (and real-life Vietnam vet) R. Lee Ermey returns to TV this April with Saving Private K-9 on the Sportsman Channel. The show will profile some of the 2,500 dogs that military and law enforcement.
Ermey joined the Sportsman Channel in Las Vegas for the SHOT Show (that’s the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show for our three readers who’ve never heard of it) to announce the show. (Ermey was also there as a spokesman for Glock to talk about the new Glock 42 .380 pistol. Check out all our SHOT Show coverage on Military.com’s Kit Up! blog.) +Continue Reading
The Wounded Warrior Project is marking its tenth anniversary with a new documentary series called Wounded: The Battle Back Home. Episode #3 is called “Bill ‘Big Sarge’ Hansen” and follows the Iraq War veteran as he recovers from injuries he sustained in February 2009 when his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) while patrolling in Iraq. +Continue Reading
Filmmaker Rory Kennedy premiered her new documentary Last Days in Vietnam this week at the Sundance Film Festival. The film recounts the chaos surrounding the final weeks of the Vietnam War as North Vietnamese forces closed in on Saigon. Kennedy focuses on the men and women who had to decide whether to follow White House orders to get the hell out or to attempt to save as many South Vietnamese as they could before leaving. +Continue Reading
Ultimate Survivor Alaska> ahs turned out to be one of the rare reality shows worth watching. The scenery is spectacular, the teams talk more about the task at hand than about what they’re feeling and the sense of danger is sometimes very real.
On this week’s episode titled “Hell Hole” (airing Sunday at 9pm on the National Geographic Channel), military team member and former Green Beret Grady Powell steps through the ice and falls into a crevasse as his team traverses the treacherous Hayes Glacier. In the above clip, we see that Grady only survives because his teammates hold tight and bail him out.
Enlisted, Fox’s comedy about the Rear Detachment set at a (fictional) Florida Army base called Fort McGee, premieres this Friday at 9:30PM ET/PT (after Raising Hope). We offered the producers some unsolicited advice a few months back and now the show is finally making its debut after a delay from its planned November debut. If you’ve been watching football games on Fox for the last few weeks, you’ve seen the commercials.
Fox sent us the first four episodes, so we’ve got an idea of where they’re going with this and what changes they’ve made since they shot the pilot last spring. +Continue Reading