Blackfive National Geographic Exclusive - Restrepo footage of SSG Sal Giunta

Wanted you to know that the television premiere of Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's acclaimed film, Restrepo, is on Monday, November 29 at 9pm ET/PT.

As you may know already, one of the prominently featured stories in Restrepo is that of Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, who, on Tuesday, November 16, will be receiving the Medal of Honor for his heroism and valor during Combat Operation Rock Avalanche in Afghanistan. In honor of SSG Giunta, and of all veterans and those serving the country on this important day, the filmmakers have made available an exclusive, 14-minute video clip of SSG Giunta recounting the combat operation during which he dragged his critically wounded best friend, Josh Brennan, out of the hands of 2 insurgents who had captured him.


The Sal Giunta Story from Ryan Blaind on Vimeo.

For more information about the TV premiere of Restrepo, please visit additional information about the film, please visit, and join them on Facebook and Twitter.


I was on vacation last week and I took along a copy of "War" by Sebastian Junger.  "War" is the book that is the (sort of) companion to the documentary "Restrepo" by Junger and Tim Hetherington.


As far as war books are concerned, I tend to not read them on vacation.  Also, as far as war books are concerned, I tend to find the ones written by embeds and journalists a bit wanting (a few exceptions, of course).

But, this was a book about paratroopers from 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd/503rd, 173rd AIRBORNE in the fight in the most dangerous place on this planet (20% of all combat in 2007-2008 occurred there).  And, Junger is a world class writer and had received accolades for one of his most famous efforts, "The Perfect Storm".  He embedded with 2nd Platoon - a unit well known for it's extreme combat effectiveness in war and *cough* in garrison - over their 15 month deployment, traveling in and out of Afghanistan five times.

A lot of the literary critics have called "War" breathlessly "exciting!" and "harrowing!".  It is that, I imagine, as Junger's descriptions of combat would hardly be called mundane except by combat vets.  And to some of us who have read the battle descriptions, mourned the Fallen, and knew the outcomes of the 2nd Platoon, "War" is a very valuable look into that tribe.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of "War" is Junger's description of what combat is like, how the men cope with it in various ways (which may shock readers with more delicate sensibilities), what keeps the unit functioning in the most harshest combat environment in the world and why paratroopers actually enjoy it.  And many of you will understand Junger's analysis of why, when you are home safe and sound, walking around campus or at a company meeting, that you dearly miss that hellish mess that you were in...where every task you did mattered and that you could count on the man next to you.

The book touches upon PTSD and other affects of serving long term in highly stressful situations, but does so with a look that is different and much less jaded than other journalists.  A lot of research and personal experience plays into the analysis.

I'm not a literary critic - I'm usually a fan so take my criticism with a grain of salt, but "War" jumps around in time a bit and that may confuse some readers.  Also, I would have liked to know more about the platoon after their return to Vicenza, Italy.

Last, some of the "combat humor" had me laughing so hard I had to put the book down after reading one paratrooper's quip about his comrade's problem with stuttering.  My wonderful wife was concerned as she thought I was having a difficult time with the book but it was quite the opposite effect.

I highly recommend "War".  Buy it today.  It goes on the shelf next to "One Bullet Away" and "House to House" with other the books that my son will some day read when he's old enough.  For me, that's the highest praise possible that I can give...


Over at Rhino Den, Nick from Ranger Up was able to preview the documentary "Chosin" (which I had heard was FANTASTIC).

Jimbo and I missed the GI Film Festival this year, unfortunately due to other business, and so the Army Rangers covered it.  Nick writes:

1 I stood there in a teary-eyed haze as my palms added to the thunderous applause resonating through the theatre. Pride, sadness, revulsion, and raw amazement ran through me in a maelstrom of emotion. I had just encountered a work of art that moved me in a way I had never expected, and every soul in this packed auditorium at the 2010 GI Film Festival felt the same way.

I had just experienced Chosin. Chosin, a documentary chronicling the Korean War Battle at the Chosin reservoir, is the production debut of Marine Captain Brian Iglesias and Marine Captain Anton Sattler and the directorial debut for Iglesias. The entire magnificent film is created using first person accounts from the living survivors of the battle.
Every aspect of the film was spectacular, but what truly set it apart was the raw and honest nature of the comments from the Chosin veterans. Thirty-three minutes into the film I stopped myself from sobbing as a man that could easily be any of our grandfathers teared up as he described his experience. His perimeter had been overrun with Chinese as his battle buddy died in his arms from multiple bullet wounds. The incoming fire was so heavy that he instinctively placed his dead friend in front of him as a sand bag. You could see the pain in his eyes. You could imagine yourself in that situation. For an instant, you were almost there with the Chosin Few, as they often refer to themselves. You almost understood. An instant later you realized you could never understand, and you thanked God for it...

Read the whole piece here.

Buy the movie here (and get a RU gift certificate).

Join the Facebook fan page here.

"The Pacific" - Two Views

First, the US Naval Institute has a series profiling each episode of "the Pacific" - the new HBO miniseries by Tom Hanks that features combat in the Pacific during WWII. Some have called it the Marine's "Band of Brothers".  Go here for Episode One - it is excellent and even has a dispatch from Marine Platoon Sergeant John Basilone who was awarded the CMoH.  Go here for Episode Two.

And, Hot Air's AllahPundit has comments from Tom Hanks:

“Certainly, we wanted to honor U.S. bravery in The Pacific. But we also wanted to have people say, ‘We didn’t know our troops did that to Japanese people.’"

"...Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what’s going on today?”...


Be sure to read Basilone's AAR that he wrote before his last heroic act in WWII and compare it to what Mr. Hanks believes.  The Japanese were different - horribly different.  

Last, Ranger Up is going to march in the 2010 Bataan Death March to remember Americans who lost their lives on that dark forced march.  Now, THAT'S different.

"Green Zone" - Slanders America?

The New York Post rips into "Green Zone" as anti-American. 

..."Green Zone," opening Friday, is a $100 million slime job that conjures up a fantastically distorted leftist version of the war and wraps it around a frantic but preposterous action picture...


Such is this movie's eagerness to turn reality upside down that, although the Ryan character is obviously based on Judith Miller of The New York Times, the reporter is said to work for the Wall Street Journal. In full-on liberal daydream mode, Damon and his friends can pretend their favorite lefty paper is untainted by flawed reporting.

To cover his tracks from Chief Miller, the Pentagon official sends out a goon squad to assassinate the Sunni general -- who, according to the movie, is also the sole figure responsible for whether Iraq will erupt into an insurgency.

Even for Hollywood, "Green Zone" is dumbfoundingly brazen in its effort to rewrite the facts...

More at the NYPost.

Supposedly, "Green Zone" is based loosely on Imperial Life in the Emerald City by WashPo editor Rajiv Chandrasekhar.  I met Rajiv and spoke with him at a journalism conference that was also attended by Mike Yon and General Petreaus (then LTG Petraeus).  Most journalists agreed with Rajiv on the CPA's ineptness; however, GEN Petreaus mentioned that Rajiv was painting an absolutist picture and that there were more than a few good men leaving the wire and trying to help (GEN Petreaus was leading the 101st Airborne Division at the time and depended on some of the CPA folks in his sector).

Some of the authors here at B5 were there at the time and know Rajiv and have some issues with the book.  (Don't even get them started about the movie...)

The issue I have with the book is that the movie in not based on it.  It seems the studio optioned the book and then got Matt Damon and said "Holy crap, we have Matt Damon!  Let's make an action flick where US Soldiers are the bad guys."  So the book is not the movie but the movie has credibility because it's based upon a book by a credible editor and journalist...

Alas, I won't have much of a review of the movie since I won't be seeing it unless I'm paid to.  I'll take a pass.

You could ask some of the key members of IAVA about it since they star in it.

Update:  Even the SF Chronicle pans the movie.  Much better analysis at...

The BlackFive Farm Team (Lilyea's quote might be one of his best yet)


The Mudville Gazette

"Taking Chance" Earns Another Honor

I don't pay nearly as much attention to pop culture as someone in my current line of work should.  To be honest, I hit Agent Bedhead periodically to get updated.  This morning, however, something said I should check out the SAG awards write up, and I'm glad I did.

Congratulations Kevin Bacon, on a well-deserved honor for your outstanding portrayal in a movie that is not getting half the awards it should.  You have to read down a bit, but Kevin took best actor in a movie or mini-series for his tour-de-force as Lt. Col. Strobl.  For those that missed it, he also took home a Golden Globe about a week ago for it as well.  I still think the movie was robbed in not getting the Golden Globe for best mini-series or motion picture for television...

Congratulations Sir!  If you haven't seen this movie yet, you really need to. 


Brothers at War: DVD Release


Last spring, we covered the release of the movie Brothers at War in posts here, here, and here.  Today, we are going to cover the release of the DVD (with bonus features) and invite you to take part in a live video interview with Jake Rademacher. 

If this works, you should be able to watch via below:

(Window should appear here, worked in test)

If not, you can go here to join in and take part. The event starts at 1315 Eastern (1:15 pm) and it should be good.  Jake is rarely at a loss for words, and this is your chance to hear him in person, and maybe even to get a question or two answered. 


Who notes for the FTC the previous declarations on posts, and to you that he has received a screener copy of the DVD and may be involved in today's event if things work out...


There are few things as fun to watch as videos of The Greatest Generation.  Add to that one that has airplanes in it and the combat pilots who flew them.

Here, we have the P-51 and the Double Ace who commanded her, and a story you will treasure.  Your weekend will be a waste if you don't watch this video.

This was pure viewing pleasure.  Keep a few tissues handy, too.  Now, lets watch 'Gray Eagles'...

Oh, and make it FULL SCREEN, 'cause it's worth it.

Lots of Stuff Happening at Ranger Up

First, there is a "Fight for the Troops" video.  This movie will rock, but it needs some support to get in front of the right audience.  Check it out and let us know what you think.  Send the link around.
Next, if anyone out there has funny counseling statements (I know I've written some), they can win free shirts:
And last but not least is the latest Ranger Up creation - Boston Tea Party:


You'll want to see what the back says...check it out.