Ask someone to name their favorite military movie, and you'll likely hear "Platoon," "Blackhawk Down" or "Saving Private Ryan" name checked.
The following films rarely enter those conversations, but they should. This Veteran’s Day, let’s remember how these military movies captured elements of a soldier’s life with dignity and detail.
- “Hamburger Hill” – This 1987 movie, directed by John Irvin, shows the futility of repeatedly attacking an enemy hill during the Vietnam War. “Hill” portrays the 101st Airborne soldiers as heroic, but the battle and war itself as senseless (the unit was ordered to leave the hill after taking it with many casualties).
- “When Trumpets Fade” – Another Irvin film, this time for HBO, the 1999 telemovie portrays an infantry company attacking German positions in the Hürtgen Forest during World War II. Soldiers became crazed after fighting for weeks for inches of ground in this largely forgotten battle.
- “Gardens of Stone” – This quality film is set around Arlington National Cemetery and its caretakers, the 3rd U.S. Infantry, or Old Guard. Director Francis Ford Coppola’s 1987 feature honors soldiers burying the men lost in Vietnam and preparing for their own tours of duty.
Kevin Dennehy is author of “The D-Day Assault, A 70th Anniversary Guide to the Normandy Landings” (www.dday70th.com). He is a retired Army National Guard colonel who served as a Special Forces officer in Afghanistan and Iraq.