"All gave some. Some gave all."
Something you guys do not know about me is that I am in the Air Force ROTC program in my University and today I went to a Veteran's Day Ceremony and it left me speechless. It was truly moving and beautiful. They had Veterans that had fought in every major war from WW2 to now and it was an honor to meet them. These are our real heroes. I would talk to them and say "Thank you for your service and all your sacrifices" and what they would tell me is that, "You are the future of the military" or "you are the future of the Air Force" and the most shocking thing a veteran told me was, "Thank you, for being part of the military's future." I wouldn't know what to say, a WW2 veteran thanked me. I don't think I deserve a thank you, I'm simply a cadet, as of now. I'm still training to become an Officer, they deserve all the respect and thanks because they do what few are willing to do. I hope that when I commission, I will be able to follow in their footsteps of greatness.
So this article is going to be about my Top 5 favorite war movies, as well as my top 5 favorite books, which i recommend you read.
Let's begin with the books:
5. Masters of the Air
Written by Donald L. Miller. Masters of the Air follows the story of the American Eighth Air Force. The story follows young men who piloted these planes even before D-Day and bombed Nazi Germany in 1942-1945. This is a wonderful read as it shows the history of the Air Force and how it slowly breaks away from the Army (Back in WW2 Air Force was part of the Army and was called Army Air Corps.) It also shows the struggles that pilots had in such high altitude because the planes were not the best. This is a great read and I highly recommend it. It is a long book but it is also going to be an HBO mini-series directed by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. I want to thank every Airmen in the Eight Air Force for their service.
4. Lone Survivor
I'm assuming most people saw the movie, which was great, but the book was far more detailed. When you read this story, you feel like you are there, getting shot at by the Taliban. I'm not saying you can feel his pain, but you can imagine the brutal hardship he went through. It is a tragic story and the book makes it even sadder. But nonetheless, it is a must read and I highly recommend to read. Marcus Luttrell is a great man who served his country proud, I thank him for his service.
3. Flags of our Father
Written by James Bradley. James Bradley father, John Bradley was a Navy Seaman who fought on the battle of Iwo Jima and was one of the Marines who hoisted the flag on top of Mount Suribachi. The story follows the lives of all 6 flag raisers from their birth to the end of their life. 3 of those flag raisers did not come out of Iwo Jima, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Michael Strank. The other 3 are John Bradley, Ira Hayes, and Rene Gagnon who went back home but carried something back from Iwo Jima. James Bradley does a magnificent job retelling the stories of these 6 men. These 6 bold men are heroes and deserve appreciation for their service.
2. The Things They Carried
Tim O'Brian has established himself to be one of the greatest authors on war. This New York Times Bestseller, tells the story of his time during Vietnam. He tells the tale of all the things he and his fellow men carried with them for the rest of their lives. He tells us that war is hell and to this very day he doesn't know what happened. One day he killed a person this way and another he killed that same person another. It's a story that deals with the mentality of the soldiers during the war. A great story and I thank Tim O'Brian for his service.
1. With The Old Breed
A memoir by Marine Corp Veteran Eugene Sledge, this tells the story of Sledge's days from basic training to killing Jap in the pacific. Too often, people forget about the war in the Pacific and they do not realize how brutal the Japanese were. They were savages, barbarians, their tactics, back then, are being used by terrorist today. And Eugene tells us his tail from fighting in the scorching hot island of Peleliu to the brutal battle in Okinawa. This one book that was just jaw dropping, almost everything he writes in this book, he wrote while he was on those islands. A true piece of history. And now his book and another great WW2 book called Helmet for my Pillow were adapted to HBO's mini-series The Pacific. This is a must read. Although he has passed away, I want to thank Eugene Sledge for his service.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of books that are great, each which if its own unique stories, but these are my personal favorite.
Now we are moving on to the wonderful films that tells us these stories.
5. Lone Survivor
Like the book, this is a must watch. This truly captures the emotion and heartbreak that Marcus felt. It is a sad story, but one that will never be forgotten.
A great film about Vietnam that focuses on the loss of morality through war. As it says above, "The first casualty of war is innocence." War is hell and most men are never the same after it and we see that through this film as our main character slowly losses his morality. Charlie Sheen is brilliant in this film and I highly recommend watching it.
3. Full Metal Jacket
This is a must watch for anyone who watches amazing movies. Instead of describing to you the story, I will describe what it meant. This film tells the story of a time of war when no one wanted to be at war. As seen on the poster, it says "Born to Kill" and next to it lies a peace sign. Now I may be wrong but i believe that it means that war and peace go hand in hand. There's a famous quote that I really like that goes, "If you want peace, prepare for war" and I think that what he means. We fight, to preserve peace.
2. Letters From Iwo Jima
They made a film about Flags of our Fathers but that film had a spinoff and we get, Letters From Iwo Jima. This tells the tale of our enemy in WW2, Japan. This is truly one of the most emotional war movies I have ever seen. It starts with a Japanese soldier who is basically drafted to fight, but is too scared. He eventually fights back and in it, slowly loses himself. The battle of Iwo Jima was a horrendous battle and only 4 Japanese soldiers survived. 2 were injured, the other 2 were in hiding and only surrendered several years after the war. This is a great emotional film, that really captures the history of the Pacific.
1. Saving Private Ryan
Was there any real doubt that this wouldn't be #1? This is probably the most accurate description of WW2 through the Americans point of view. From the Battle of Normandy, to rescuing one soldier who has lost his brothers, the team who are running the mission lose their men. And by the end only few make it. I mean I could talk about this film for hours but I'm sure you don't want to hear me talk about it for that long. This is a MUST watch film.
Now I know there are a bunch of other great war films but these are my top 5.
Now I know I'm forgetting about the 2 HBO mini-series Band of Brothers and The Pacific which is a must watch to anyone. These series truly capture the history and camaraderie between the men of WW2 and why it will forever be a series I will look up to. These are men I want to become when I officially become an Airmen.
To anyone who is a Veteran that is reading this, I want to say thank you.
To every single Veteran that has fought and or died for his or her country, thank you.
For the unknown Airmen I met on vacation who gave me advice on the Air Force, but I forgot to shake his hand, I am sorry and I want to thank you.
Hope you all enjoyed this post.