SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Nov. 10 -- the 230th Anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps. Nov. 11th -- Veterans' Day. Lance Corporal Aaron Mankin, U.S.M.C., observed both celebrations from Brooke Army Medical Center here in San Antonio. He's been here for months -- recovering from burns and wounds he received earlier this year near Al Qaim, Iraq. I was there, covering his unit for FOX News when the Assault Amphibious Vehicle he was in was blown apart by an improvised explosive device. This week, I was privileged to spend part of this year's Marine Corps anniversary with him here in San Antonio. It would have been nice to have introduced him to some of the fools in Hollywood.
It's pretty clear that those making movies in Tinsel Town don't know any real men like Aaron Mankin. They apparently prefer cowardice over courage; witless whiners to real patriots; gutless wimps and hollow phonies to men who know the meaning of self-sacrifice and integrity. That's the only conclusion one can draw after seeing Hollywood's latest anti-military travesty -- "Jarhead."
The newly-released film is loosely based on an anti-Marine screed crafted by Anthony Swofford, who purports to be a "veteran" of Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. Mr. Swofford maintains it is an accurate depiction of his military experience, from boot camp -- where he claims to have been abused and belittled by a maniacal drill instructor -- to his mutinous "tour of duty" in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War.
"A witty, profane, down-in-the-sand account of the war many only know from CNN, this former sniper's debut is a worthy addition to the battlefield memoir genre," says a book review by Publisher's Weekly. But this is no "Battle Cry" -- by Leon Uris -- a real battle memoir by a real Marine. The plug for CNN could easily have read, "ABC," "CBS" or "NBC" -- for all the so-called mainstream media have covered war and warriors with equal disdain. And just in case the reader is dense enough to misunderstand what the work is really about, the reviewer helpfully notes that Mr. Swofford "questions whether the men are as prepared as their commanders, the American public and the men themselves think they are."
One might conclude from the book and movie reviews that this is simply another anti-war epic. But this isn't "Red Badge of Courage," or "All Quiet on the Western Front" -- two great books and films that accurately depict the horror and carnage of war. Nor does "Jarhead" contain any of the cutting, satirical humor of "M.A.S.H." or "Catch-22" -- both of which portray war's futility.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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