“Brothers in War” premieresPublished 7:00am Thursday, March 27, 2014
Local Vietnam veteran John Young watched the story of his infantry combat company come to life on a 120-foot screen Tuesday night during the premiere of “Brothers in War” at the National World War II museum.
“Brothers in War,” features Young and his fellow company comrades as they tell the story of the Vietnam War through their eyes.
Instead of using historians and stock footage to paint a picture of the controversial war, Lou Reda Productions assembled home video footage, personal pictures, rare news footage and even audio letters members of Charlie Company recorded for their families to tell the story of 160 men who spent 1968 fighting in Vietnam.
Dr. Andrew Wiest, author of “The Boys of ‘67”, which served as inspiration for “Brothers in War,” described the story of Charlie Company as a “story that is eternal,” and “at the same time, uniquely Vietnam.”
The documentary discusses only two of the battles Charlie Company fought and it focused on the personal narrative of the battles instead of political or military strategy.
The movie focused on the good times and the bad.
It was obvious most of the battle footage was filmed by members of the company.
As the veterans described in vivid detail the events of May 15, 1967 and June 19, 1967, the audience could see cameras shaking as the videographer falls to the ground for cover. The angle then switches to shots of the men firing weapons with the voice of a veteran as an ever-present narrator.
The documentary also focused on the emotional and mental struggles the veterans continue to endure to this day. These men had to make tough choices and when they returned home, they were harassed and spit on for those decisions.
“Don’t be too sure about decisions you’ve made and don’t be smug about your morality until you’ve had it tested,” Young said in the documentary.
After watching the documentary, it’s easy to see how these 160 young men became like family. They were a group of young men from across the country who trained together, were sent to war together, fought together and suffered tremendous loss together.
“Brothers is the right word,” Young said at the end of the movie. “Those guys are everything, just everything to me. It’s just plain as that.”
After the documentary premiere, Wiest and Young answered questions from the audience ranging from political questions on the war to Young’s journeys back to Vietnam in recent years.
Young said the first spot the University of Southern Mississippi’s study abroad group visits in Vietnam is where the battle of June 19, 1967 took place.
Each time he stands on the exact spot where he fought and he shakes hands with three locals that fought against him that day.
“Thirty plus years ago, we were doing our level best to kill each other and neither one of us succeeded and here 30 something years later, we’re on their home ground shaking hands. I call that coming full circle. That’s pretty powerful stuff,” Young said.
When a high school history teacher asked how students should learn about the Vietnam War, Young said “by telling a story like this one.”
“It’s just a human story about young men their age that lived in an era of this county when the government could reach out and grab you and say I own you for two years,” said Young. “Just simply tell them that story.”
“Brothers in War” premiered on the National Geographic Channel on Wednesday at 7 p.m.