Covering soldiers by Pat Dooris
I don't know how you feel about military folks, but I hold them in high regard.
Maybe its because my brother is a Captain in the Navy.
It takes a special man or woman to be willing to risk their lives for an idea in a country far from home. In my experience, most military members have a higher degree of self discipline and focus than the average joe and I just like the way they walk and talk. The folks who have it going on are a pleasure to meet.
The documentary, This is War, gives us all the chance to meet 8 men and one woman from the Oregon National Guard who definitely have it going on.
Its an amazing piece of work for two reasons---
First---almost all the footage is shot by the soldiers themselves using home video cameras. This is probably the first war where electronics like that are widely available and cheap enough that anyone can carry a camera.
The video gives us an incredible look behind the scenes at their lives in combat. The scenes are raw and unfiltered.
When I was embedded on the USS Abraham Lincoln at the beginning of the war, some of the F-18 fighter pilots wore helmet cams they brought from home. I have seen very little of that footage, but I'm sure its out there somewhere. I was told an Admiral threatened court martial for anyone who released their footage during the war.
I suspect we'll see more video like this in the future.
The second reason the documentary is incredible is because they've brought the camera along and talk to it as a friend.
It would have taken months and months for the soldiers to get as comfortable with a TV crew---as they did with a buddy holding out a handy cam.
Some of the scenes may be disturbing---you see an enemy fighter gunned down in the street as he prepares to fire an rpg at the Oregon troops.
The language is more like you expect---well in war----than in church. If it was rated, it would probably be pg-13 if not R for violence---so beware of what you show your children.
But overall---its an amazing glimpse at war and the bonds shared by soldiers who fight and die side by side.
Its heartbreaking to hear the soldiers talk about buddies who did not make it home--8 died from the 2nd of 162nd during their deployment.
But its also inspiring to see the way they shrug off danger with a sort of gallows humor and move on to get the job done no matter what.
I've had the privilege to meet and get to know a few of the soldiers, like SSgt. Vinni Jacques. Vinni got blown up by an ied, but survived and now helps other soldiers return to civilian life once they return home.
I feel proud to call him a friend.
If you want to know what Oregon soldiers really went through in Iraq---"This is War" is a must see.