What was the "Message" I was supposed to get from "Courage Under Fire"? (Spoiler)

Dear Fans:

This movie is complete bullshit.
If one approaches this movie “the way they want us to POV”, we get another “feel-good” happy ending Meg Ryan and Justice for All movie.

But the problem is that Meg Ryan never earns the Medal of Honor that she is awarded. To wit:

#1 Meg never displays ANY act that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Neither Damon’s or Phillips’ versions of said events include any remarkable action displayed by Ryan. She died in combat, big deal it comes with the job.

#2 The two eyewitness versions of events sharply contradict eachother. Damon’s account comes from someone who lied on the first statement,(she did not cry, lies about sending the letter), goes AWOL and is a heroin addict. This is the testimony that earns Ryan her medal. Lou’s account to the contrary stays on record after the train incident. He never admits the SAW-gun-to-the-gut treatment he gives Ryan.

#3 The Blackhawk crew’s testimonty is not eyewitness.

#4 Ryan’s leadership is HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE during the events at night, especially evident when she relieves the SAW gun from the gunner(shows pride, personal agrondisment). She is neither qualified with the weapon or in a position to man said weapon because of her injury. This decision puts the entire group in extreme risk. She relinquishes the weapon only after receiving an apology(shows pride, personal agrondisment) and getting the last word in (“there will be a day of reckoning” or some stuipid shit like that), while said enemy has closed within 50 meters of the group. Her need to be right overweighed the safety of her subordinates. Sound like a leader to you? How many whom earned the Medal of Honor had to point a loaded weapon at a subordinate to accomplish a direct order?

The main problem becomes that even the final “truth” scene is still from Damon’s POV, not a “universal omnisceince” granted to the observer, meaning that the final scene showing Ryan dusting a shitload of Iraqis, holding the M16 with one hand, and a twenty-round clip that never went empty, is still Damon’s version. After they left her, nothing is for sure.

Now, when Denzel puts his Silver Star, (awarded to him for killing his buddy), on her headstone, does that mean that both medals are unearned, and the whole thing is another attempt at a second term for the Presidency?

So the message of the movie is that the MoH for Ryan is just as ludicrisp as the silver star denzel got for killing his own men, right?

I hate that bitch. You got Mail, and it’s a fuckin’ pipe-bomb.



Battles are a mess and you rarely have a reliable source for how everything went down. The best you can do is interview those who survived and try to reconstruct what happened as best you can. Sometimes we need ‘heroes’ more than we need to dig up the ugly truth, and shit.

Best new word: ludicrisp - deserving of burning scorn?

Gotta be careful with the agrondisment, though. It can get out of hand.

I think you missed the entire point of the movie.

The issue is not whether Denzel or Ryan deserved their medals. Denzel probably did because his quick thinking probably ended up saving lives. Ryan, probably not. In fact dropping makeshift napalm bombs from a medivac helicopter might even be a war crime.

What was important to Denzel was that people knew the truth, for good or ill, so they could make their own decisions. Who the politicians pin their medals on is theri own business. That’s why he tells the family of the man he accidently killed. It’s also why he tells Lou Diamond that he’s going to find out the truth regardless if he’s even in the Army anymore.

I agree. I thought it was a fairly effective bit of drama, with a few problems. The improvised napalm bomb was a bit absurd, struck me as a misguided attempt to make Ryan’s character more heroic.

I was thinking Norwegian potato chips.

You are misremembering the scene. She doesn’t ‘relieve him’. He wants to run away against direct orders. She knows she cannot physically stop him from doing it, but she is adamant that he will not take the weapon with him.

But the point of the movie is not whether she deserves the medal. You get the idea that it is political from the get-go.

This is a detective story. One man’s search for what ‘really’ happened.

I just saw this again. I wonder why the enemy didn’t just lob grenades at them or something like that.

Also, I noticed that Serling’s character had a Ranger tab. I got confused, thinking that he’s supposed to be part of an armored unit. I looked it up and found out that personnel from various units can wear that tab if they complete Ranger training. Is that correct?

Yes. If you are Ranger qualified, you are authorized to wear the tab, regardless of current unit assignment.

It’s a common cinematic costuming short-hand for “this character is a bad-ass”, with some real-world basis. Ranger School is worth significant promotion points, and the Ranger tab carries some real respect in the Army, so it’s not uncommon for careerists to apply to Ranger school, and there are a lot more Soldiers authorized to wear the Ranger tab than there are in actual Ranger units. I met quite a few “Rangers” when I was in the Army, but only one who was actually a member of a designated Ranger unit (ironically, he was a rear-echelon clerk who hadn’t attended Ranger School, so he wasn’t authorized to wear the tab when he came to my unit - so I’ve met “Rangers” who weren’t part of a Ranger unit, and a former member of a Ranger unit who wasn’t a Ranger).

BTW, as to the scene discussed above where they drop an improvised incendiary bomb on an enemy tank - if I recall the scene correctly, that was absolutely a war crime. The helicopter has prominent Red Cross markings, which means they were declaring themselves non-combatants, and it is a war crime to fire on them, or for them to fire on others except in self-defense. IIRC, they they dropped the bomb on a tank that was menacing other U.S. personnel. That’s a war crime. If the tank was firing on them and preventing them from landing to evacuate wounded personnel, it’s borderline.

There are so many things in that movie that push my military pedant button. A pilot wearing nurses branch insignia instead of aviation. Using a medevac helicopter as a weapons platform (not just the makeshift bombs but having a door gunner). The president awarding the medal to a little kid.

Mostly the entire premise is flawed from a military point of view. The burden of proof for the Medal of Honor is beyond any possible doubt. Any sort of conflicting reports would destroy any possibility of it happening. It sure as hell wouldn’t be up to one LTC.

To expand upon that, having a Ranger tab (or being “Ranger-qualified”) means that the tab-holder has attended Ranger school, which is a survival, tactics, and leadership school that is actually open to anyone in the Armed Forces. An “Army Ranger” is someone who has successfully completed the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) and serves in one of the operational battalions (not HQ support staff like the “rear-echelon clerk” mentioned above). Rangers in the 75th are expected to attend Ranger School at some point but not necessarily before they complete selection. Anyone who is ‘tabbed’ has completed Ranger School, but only soldiers serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment can wear the tan beret or be inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.

As for the film, I avoided seeing it when it came out in theaters at the recommendation of several veterans I knew, and only tried to watch it a few years ago. The movie makes absolutely no sense; as others have pointed out, a medivac helicopter should not be engaging in any attacks on enemy forces even if said forces are engaged in battle with other US units. I also can’t really imagine why it was equipped with ferry tanks while in an active medivac role, as you’d want as much deck space as possible to carry patients. I pretty much stopped watching after that scene but I understand that it takes a turn toward conspiracy-thriller genre with someone committing suicide rather than bear witness and a twist ending, because it’s an Edward Zwick movie and he pretty much hacked his way through melodramatic Oscar-bait films after Glory. There is a good film to be made that questions the politics behind such awards and the vicissitudes of war, but this wasn’t it.