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Based on a True Incident, 17 April 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode is by far one of the best in the series and was what kept me coming back for more. This story is based on a true case involving the disappearance of a 4 year old boy from his front yard in Sylmar in February 1966. In one of the largest missing persons search in Los Angeles history, hundreds of people spend 10 days searching for the little boy who vanished while riding his tricycle in front of his house. And just like in this episode, the little boy was found drowned in the swimming pool in his own back yard. After the search was suspended, the father was looking out his back window drinking coffee one rainy Saturday morning when he spotted the body of his son floating in the swimming pool.

The pool had not been cleaned nor drained since the previous fall, and it was murky, dirty and covered with leaves. Two teams of deputies had searched the pool on the second and third day of the search without results. Though the county coroner determined the little boy drowned, the father never accepted the verdict and believed his son had been abducted and killed and later placed in the pool. He claimed the gates leading from the front yard to the pool area were locked and could not be opened by a 4 year old boy.

It is a curious coincidence that the child serial killer Mack Ray Edwards lived only blocks from the young boy's house. His forte was kidnapping, sexually molesting and killing young boys 4 years and older.

The Battle for Firebase Ladybird, 31 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In my opinion, "Under Siege" ranks as one of the top five episodes of this series if not the best. It is as good a depiction of close combat in Vietnam as any other movie can show. The platoon is assigned to Firebase Ladybird at the beginning of the 1968 Tet Offensive. As they come under attack by NVA regulars, the company is assigned a new commander, CPT Larry Heath (Kristoffer Tabori), to replace CPT "Rusty" Wallace (Kevin Conroy). Coming from a staff job at headquarters, the new commander is a mixed blessing. He initially shows his competence and connections with higher command. But he soon shows that he is driven by ambition to be the "best company commander" in Vietnam when it comes to body counts and combat effectiveness. Those ambitions soon develop into conflict with LT Goldman (Stephen Caffrey) and SFC "Zeke" Anderson (Terence Knox) whose only ambitions at this point of the war is to survive and to bring as many of their men home alive.

Some key points that I like about the episode includes a disagreement between CPT Heath and LT Goldman over the enemy's intentions. While CPT Heath believes the enemy will bypass the firebase as they drive on Da Nang, LT Goldman disagrees stating the enemy will not leave an active firebase in their rear. One of the most difficult things for combat leaders in wartime is to discern the enemy's intentions. I cannot tell you how many times we had this argument during my combat tour. Everyone has an opinion of what the enemy may do, and intel sometimes helps to discern this. But the enemy does not always do what you expect. In this case, to me the opinions of both characters in this scene could have been correct which makes this episode that more realistic.

The other good point about this episode is that it showed the unrelenting determination of the NVA soldier. The relentless attack by the NVA on the firebase is realistic and shows that nothing seems to be able to stop their determination to take the firebase at all costs. This episode more than any other shows what a relentless and determined foe we faced during that war. Even our heroes barricading themselves in the command bunker does not stop the NVA. The NVA start digging into the bunker pulling out sandbags to get at them. It is only when "Zeke" pulls a surprise on them that they finally withdraw.

The soldier behavior and interaction is what always got me to watch this series. When I see the characters in this series, I see the soldiers that served under me with all the camaraderie, the rivalries, the unlikely friendships, the schemes and scams to get out of duty or to get their way, the fear and worries.

Some great scenes include when African-American Taylor (Miguel A. Nunez Jr.) gives Nisei American "Doc" Matsuda (Steve Akahoshi) his mama's religious good luck charms because if he wanted anyone to get out this alive, it would be the doc. Doc, who aspires to be a real doctor, gives a good scene when he explains why his father valued education after they lost everything when they were interned during WWII. He tells Taylor, "One thing they can't take away from you is your education." The naive FNG Caldwell (Ched Parrott) with the GI issue glasses from a previous episode, is seriously wounded in this episode. The NVA taunting the soldiers with loudspeakers and the ARVN interpreter insulting the enemy in back is great.

The end of the episode is unforgettable. With the firebase devastated with heavy loses (to include Doc), the relief force commander, LTC Dalby (played with chilling realism by Bruce Gray), congratulates the survivors for their "terrific victory". "The kill ratio must be 11 to 1," he exclaims and hopes there are more days like this. In the closing scene, as helicopters evacuate the dead and wounded, a torn, tattered and burnt American flag continues to wave in the wind.

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Savage and Intense Close Combat, 20 October 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was by far one of the best episodes if not the best of the series. The savagery of the attack on Alexandria and the intensity of the Alexandrians defending themselves made me feel like I hadn't felt since I was in combat 25 years ago. Though I like watching the Talking Dead afterwards, I had to turn off the TV and calm down a bit. Then I turned it back on to watch the encore to see it again!

The "Wolves" thought taking down Alexandria would be like slaughtering sheep. But as Rick stated so eloquently in Season 5, the surviving Wolves probably felt pretty stupid when they found they messed with the wrong people. They should have figured that out when Spencer (Austin Nichols) stopped them at the beginning from breaching the walls by riddling the cab of the semi with automatic weapons fire.

Carol (Melissa McBride) shines in this episode as never before. Just like in the days after the prison and at Terminus, she has shown herself to be a stalwart, resourceful and dependable woman who will stop at nothing to survive and defend those she loves. One of the show's pleasures is to see how she has evolved from a insecure, battered woman to a Ms. Rambo.

It was also a nice touch how Carol disguised herself in the "burqa of death" to fool and gun down the Wolves. Equally compelling roles were by Morgan (Lenny James), Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt).

The episode demonstrated what people will do when confronted with death or worse. A perfect example was homemaker Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) who fought back desperately to protect her children by ruthlessly killing her attacker with a pair of sewing scissors.

This is a rare episode that did not feature the core characters such as Rick, Daryl or Glen. This gave the secondary characters a chance to shine. I believe this episode will go down in TV history as one of the most action packed ever produced.

She Was Truly an Angel, 19 October 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story is based on the service of CPT Lillian Kinkella Keil, USAF, who flew casualty evacuation flights during WWII and Korea. Back in those days servicewomen were not allowed to remain on active duty if they became pregnant and had a child, even if married. So she was discharged from the USAF. She went on to work for Pam Am Airlines although I'm not sure if it was before or after the Korean War.

She became a fixture at the local VFW and American Legion events many times sharing beers with the same men she cared for as a nurse. When she died in 2005, her son called my dad to arrange for a military ceremony at her funeral. The USAF had told the family they do not provide this service anymore to servicemen unless they are retired or on active duty. So it is up to former servicemen like my dad to arrange for and provide the honor guards and firing squads at such funerals.

So my dad called the state director of the VFW for California and advised him of the significance of CPT Keil's service and the USAF's refusal to participate. He was told to standby for a phone call. Several hours later, the USAF called my dad and told him to stand down, that they would handle everything from here on. CPT Keil had a full honor guard, firing squad and bugler to sound taps for her ceremony.

She was truly an angel.

The Korean War at its Worse, 30 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are really good movies made about the Korean War that I would highly recommend such as, "Porkchop Hill", "Fixed Bayonets", "Retreat, Hell", "The Hunters", "Men In War" and the more recently Korean produced movie, "Brotherhood of War". If you can push past the distracting romance scenes in this movie it would be highly recommended if for the skillful way that actual battle scenes are integrated into the story line. Though some reviewers have dismissed this movie for its clichéd scenes, this movie was somewhat more realistic and graphic for its time. Leave it to Howard Hughes to leave no stone unturned while striving for authenticity in his movies.

Our movie starts out from the view of two veteran senior KMAAG officers, Army Colonel Janowski (Robert Mitchem) and Air Force Colonel Parker (William Talman) in their attempts to train the South Korean military. These two probably thought that the worse they ever experienced in WWII was behind them until one Sunday morning in June 1950 when they are awakened to the dropping of bombs by the North Korean Air Force. Colonel Parker quips, "isn't this where we came in? Its even Sunday!" At first we see how the war progresses through their eyes, but then the movie transitions to the view point of American infantrymen desperately trying to stop the North Korean Army.

This movie does a good job showing what the early days of the war was like depicting the haplessness of the poorly trained and unmotivated Americans hindered by the loss of their leaders and lack of air support. One soldier suggests "bugging out", but bristles when accused of cowardice. There are no heroics here, just a bunch of scared soldiers. Colonel Janowski arrives to provide leadership and organization after their commander is killed by mortar fire.

Establishing contact with the Air Force, a series of air strikes is directed on the approaching enemy. Tanks are bombed and strafed by USAF F-80s in a scene that combined special effects with real film footage. Later, Royal Australian Air Force F-51s napalm North Korean soldiers on a hillside leaving them to die in a sea of fire. The North Koreans were skillful infiltrators and there is a realistic scene where they sneak in behind the frontlines to attack the valuable airstrip and command post until they are outgunned in a counter-attack led by a ring mounted .50 cal machine gun on a 2 1/2 truck.

Soldiers die horrible deaths in this movie. North Korean soldiers die screaming in a sea of napalm while American soldiers are shot, strangled or bayonetted by North Korean infiltrators. In a graphic scene, a Hispanic soldier (Lalo Rios) foolishly attempts to take out a North Korean tank with only a hand grenade, and is killed by a flame thrower. The sergeant (Charles McGraw) calls him a fool, but Colonel Janowski corrects him by calling him a "magnificant fool". This is not Hollywood heroics. Things like this really happen in war. After a touching scene of leaving his family without saying goodbye, Colonel Parker is shot down while personally leading an aerial resupply mission and falls to his death when his parachute is set afire by AA fire. The scene reminds me of when I was a kid and used to wake up at 5:00 in the morning to see my dad in uniform preparing to leave for duty at the base.

In another scene, an Air Force forward controller is seen taking photos of the devastation and is later killed by mortar fire with his camera shown lying next to his body. My dad who is a veteran of the early days of the Korean War warned me that that I have no business acting like a tourist if I ever went to war, that it would get me killed.

In a memorable and controversial scene, the North Koreans attempt to use refugees to infiltrate the UN lines. A tactic of the enemy in any war is to generate waves of refugees that will require the use of critical resources to feed, house and care for them. That is what the communist forces in Korea did and there are breathtaking aerial scenes of miles of refugees clogging the roads. Colonel Janowski orders American artillerymen to fire on the refugee columns to turn them back. The US Army objected to this scene and threatened to withdraw support for this movie. But the military underestimated the political influence of Howard Hughes and the scene was left in the movie. As we know, these incidents actually happened, but unlike what some writers in the 1990s have asserted, these actions were not covered up. The first volume of the US Army's history of the Korean War published in 1962 devotes five pages discussing the problems of refugees and the various methods US commanders used to control them in the early days of the war to include shooting at them. Its amazing that someone actually received a Pulitzer Prize for doing a story on old news.

Though filmed in the U.S. at Fort Carson, CO and at RKO's backlot studios using Korean War vets, the movie looks and feels like Korea of 1950, especially with the actual combat footage weaved into the various scenes. The equipment and uniforms for the North Koreans look authentic and their tactics in the movie are realistically portrayed.

In an emotional scene, the movie ends with Anne Blythe's character praying for her soldier's safe return as the UN forces head north in pursuit of the defeated North Korean Army. My mother always liked the end because before she met and married my dad, she lived with the mother of a soldier who was MIA in Korea in 1950. She used to accompany her to church everyday where she prayed for the safe return of not only her son, but others who were serving in Korea. Anne Blythe's prayer reminds her of those dark days early in the war.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Remember, 29 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No other TV program has affected me more than this series. Before watching this program the only thing I knew about World War II was from the adventurous and funny war stories that my uncles or my dad's army buddies would tell over beers. To this kid the war was all adventure and excitement that anyone would love to live through. Watching this program as a young man shaped my views about life and war. War was something I had no illusions about and when I finally did go to war, it was every bit as bad as I expected it would be.

It has been the most ambitious attempt ever made to document the war in its entirety and accomplished what no program has ever been able to do since. This show aired in the United States between September 1973 and May 1974. I always knew when the show was ready to start when I heard the memorable Thames Television theme. The show's introduction depicted photos of people being consumed by the bonfire of war to a sad and haunted score composed by Carl Davis. The series was narrated by Laurence Olivier, with a voice you will never forget.

The main draw to watching this show is that the producers were able to interview some of the most important participants of the war, such as American diplomat W. Averell Harriman, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks, Wynford Vaughan Thomas, General Hasso von Manteuffel, Major General Francis de Guingand, Albert Speer, General Mark Clark, General Curits Lemay, Admiral Karl Donitz, Marshal Sir Arthur Harris and Major General J. Lawton Collins among others. This is what makes this show unique because it was really the last chance to interview these personalities as no show will ever have a chance to do this again.

The show also interviewed every day soldiers, sailors and airmen from about every country from both sides about their experiences. The most memorable include actor James Stewart describing how he led bombing missions over Europe. The most ironic is the Japanese officer fondly reminiscing about how the "comfort" girls "sacrificed" themselves to give young Japanese soldiers their first and sometimes last sexual experiences before they were killed in battle. Others included my favorite author Richard Tregaskis and cartoonist Bill Mauldin.

My favorite episodes include, "Barbarossa", "Banzai", "On Our Way", "The Desert", "Stalingrad", "A Lovely Day Tomorrow", "Morning", "Pacific" and "Remember". The score and sound effects really enhance the story line of each episode like no other series I have ever seen except maybe Ken Burn's, "The Civil War".

The only flaw to this series is that it was released the same year that the story of Ultra was finally revealed. Ultra's impact on the war was such that its revelation rendered every history written or documentary produced before 1974 obsolete. Unfortunately, this show never got a chance to incorporate the Ultra story into its episodes.

A couple of points to consider: My generation was unique and maybe blessed to have grown up or be raised by the generation that fought this war. I hesitate to call them "The Greatest Generation" because many of them don't buy into that title. Every adult male I ever knew while growing up - relatives, my teachers, my coaches, my neighbors and later on, my Army leaders - were all veterans of this war (or the Korean War). Their outlook and philosophy was based on their experiences and this series explains why.

Another point to consider. A woman once asked me why we were so destructive during the Vietnam War, why did we devastate the country? I pointed out that many of the military leaders of the Vietnam War began their careers as young officers in WWII. These men were responsible for leveling the great cities of Europe and Japan - Berlin, Vienna, Dresden, Nuremberg, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Tokyo. They destroyed many of Western Europe's cultural and historical sites in order to free Europe from tyranny. So what did a no name, two bit Asian village mean to them? We dropped more bombs in SEA than WWI, WWII and the Korean War combined. But that is for another review.

I highly recommend this documentary to any historian, war gamer, military professional and everyday person who wants to learn more about this war. This show is as relevant today as when it first appeared over 40 years ago. There will never be another show like it about WWII. Even to this day, whenever I am channel surfing and run across an episode, I stop what I'm doing to watch....and remember.

"The War" (2007)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An Example of American Centric History, 29 September 2015

I am not going to join the gush of positive comments about this documentary for two reasons:

First, I come from a family with a strong military tradition. Members of my family have participated in every one of America's wars from WWI to the current War on Terror. We have a strong belief that it is honorable and right to serve in the defense of his great country of ours. Having said that you would probably be surprised that these words are written by a Mexican-American veteran. But American born Mexicans can be patriotic, too.

And that is my problem with this documentary. All of my uncles served in WWII with the US Army, Navy and Marines. One of them, CPL Joseph Jose Soto US Army, was killed in action on 20 August 1943 during the Battle for Munda Field in the South Pacific. He was not even a citizen but immigrated to this country from Mexico, like many other Mexican Nationals did, to specifically join the US military in its time of need. My dad did not serve because he was too young, but he served in the Korean War. They and the family are proud to have served their country.

So, the fact that Ken Burns did not feel it important to include the sacrifice of Hispanic veterans is a personal insult to all those who have served honorably during that war. Their sacrifice is equal to, if not more than the white and black veterans he chose to profile in this series. What is reprehensible was that he promised to add additional features as a "supplement" rather than re-edit his documentary, features that no one has seen or heard of. And PBS, who prides itself as being "inclusive", decided not to force the issue on the basis of "artistic freedom", or whatever that means. I guess "inclusive" is a elective state of being for PBS. By the way, most native born Mexican-Americans could care less about the fact that the premiere date was Mexican Independence Day. WE DO NOT CELEBRATE THAT DAY! WE CELEBRATE THE FOURTH OF JULY!

And equally inexcusable is that he fails to mention the contributions of Native Americans to the war effort. Native Americans were recruited from their reservations, some of whom had never lived outside of, to provide invaluable service as code talkers. Their service was legendary and probably saved thousands of lives.

My second problem with the series is that it is a prime example of how American-centric this country has become about its history. We did not fight WWII by ourselves. It was fought by an alliance of free nations that started two years before we even got involved. Yet, the American public, and Ken Burns seems to not know this. The only thing the public knows about WWII is Pearl Harbor, D-Day and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. Maybe Iwo Jima. The public is not aware that the Russians killed more Germans than all of the Allies combined and lost more soldiers fighting in Poland in 1944 than the US lost in all of WWII.

We as a nation have become so self centered that we have forgotten that it takes a coalition of nations to defeat threats to world peace just like it did in WWII.

Compared to his excellent series about the the Civil War, this is a series I could not recommend based not only on his omissions, but the content and lack of context. I understand that he did not set out to produce a comprehensive history of WWII, but to produce a documentary of the war from the view of small town America. However, he failed to meet the low standards he set for himself by excluding a major contribution of some of its citizens. I guess in his eyes, Hispanics and Native Americans don't count.

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Shameless Leftist Propaganda, 28 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This documentary was a shameless and dishonest attempt to demonize American support for the Government of El Salvador in their fight against a communist insurgency through the eyes of a woman guerrilla fighter. Believe me when I say that despite what another reviewer states as well as what the media at that time portrayed, this was a communist led attempt to topple the government and enslave the people.

The clueless female American producers of this documentary attempt to portray Maria and her comrades as hardened peasant insurgents fighting social injustice, but their actions give them away as amateur play actors.

A perfect example comes when the group is filmed gathered around a camp fire on a hilltop at night. In the audio, you can hear in the distance the sounds of Salvadorian Army 4.2 inch mortar rounds leaving the tubes. When one of the American producers ask Maria what the sounds are, she smugly dismisses them as, "just the government". Moments later a large flash and explosion is heard and the camera goes dark. The next thing you see is the group running for their lives in the dark with the female producers sobbing in fear. Evidently, Maria and comrades were observed by the "government" who called in the mortar shoot. Brilliant! The only thing missing from the scene was that they weren't roasting marshmallows for the camera!

One other interesting scene involved film footage of Salvadorian Air Force Huey helicopters operating in a valley. It was interesting to see the government forces in operation from the enemy's perspective.

For a woman supposedly a survivor of the massacre of her village and traumatized by the event, she did not come off sincere when she describes a river full of dead bodies. Her attitude, emotions and expressions do not add up. And other than the two scenes involving Government forces, you really don't see her group do much of any fighting or contact with the government but just wondering around the countryside.

I can tell you from personal experience that the only female guerrilla fighters in that war were camp followers - women and younger kids who followed the guerrilla columns to feed, support and provide first aid to the mostly male oriented movement. That is evident by the weapons they carried which were mostly American made M16s. Maria claims they took them from dead government soldiers. The reality is that the weapons were provided by their Vietnamese socialist friends from stocks we left behind when we evacuated South Vietnam in 1975. These hand-me-down weapons were issued to the supporting, non-combatant insurgents. The real insurgents were armed with the latest Soviet and East Bloc weapons supplied through the Sandinistas or Cuba.

By the end of the war the guerrilla columns were mostly made up of 14-15-16 year olds forced from their villages to face an increasingly effective, US trained Salvadorian Army. That was because the older, more experienced men were killed off or were smart enough to avoid the fighting. The war degenerated to the killing of child soldiers who were fighting on both sides.

You will find me making no excuses for the government. Their brutality and injustice is what caused this war to begin with. However, there were plenty of atrocities and war crimes committed by BOTH sides. But you do not force your communistic will on poor people at the point of an AK which is what the FMLN attempted to do, and what this documentary tries to justify.

We stopped them cold, and made them agree to a negotiated settlement of the war. Today, the FMLN's political party rules El Salvador having won elections fair and square. But they maintain a close and strong relationship with the United States and remain reliable allies.

Men in War (1957)
Men At War - I'll Remember Men I Knew, 27 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was standard fare on L.A. area TV when I was growing up and I once saw it with my dad who was a professional soldier and Korean War veteran. The unit depicted in this movie is the 24th Infantry Division, the same unit that my dad was a member of in the early days of the war. During the battle for Taejon the 24th Infantry Division lost over 4500 soldiers killed or missing in 3 days of fighting and my dad was lucky to get out alive. My dad was very quiet when we saw this movie and I have never had the nerve since to ask him what he thought about it.

In my personal opinion as a professional soldier and combat veteran, as far as movies about the Korean War go, this one is as good as it gets. There are others such as "Porkchop Hill", "Fixed Bayonets" or "One Minute to Zero" that I would recommend, but none accurately depicts the desperation of the early days of the war when American soldiers were outnumbered and overwhelmed. This gritty war drama follows an infantry platoon with a vague mission to seize a hill, led by a platoon leader who is determined to follow those orders.

In this movie, soldiers die horrible deaths, on both sides. A black soldier (James Edwards) left behind to cover the rear of the column is strangled by North Korean infiltrators. Three North Koreans disguised as Americans are mercilessly gunned down. When two of his soldiers are killed in a mortar barrage, the platoon sergeant (Nehemiah Persoff) loses it and cries, "they got them!" and runs toward them to be killed himself. A North Korean POW is gunned down by his comrades when he appeals to them to surrender. Death takes lives at every turn when you least expect it and the tension takes its toll.

The incidents depicted in this movie really happen in war. Does anyone ever wonder why soldiers in combat are edgy and always in a bad mood? The soldiers are exhausted by lack of sleep, weary of danger, out of contact with higher headquarters and understrength for the mission they are assigned. This tension brings out conflicts between the men. Between MSG "Montana" (Aldo Ray) and the lieutenant (Robert Ryan), between the soldiers themselves and they ruthlessly take it out on the enemy.

In a memorable performance, actor Robert Keith plays "the Colonel", a regimental commander who has a mental breakdown after the loss of so many of his soldiers. His portrayal is based on real incidents that happened early in the war when seasoned commanders, some who were WWII veterans, broke down when faced with the overwhelming loss of soldiers during the fighting. Darwinism plays a role in war by winnowing out the weak and incompetent. Throughout the whole movie the shell shocked Colonel has no dialogue until the very end. In the middle of the battle the "Colonel" regains his senses and competently joins his beloved soldiers in their last fight to the death. As he is dying he utters a single word to his faithful sergeant (Aldo Ray), calling him "son".

These are not Hollywood dramatics. My wartime commander once told me that he saw me as his "son" until he got me home safe to my real dad. War creates a "brotherhood" between men that cannot be described to those who have never been there and this movie brings those relationships out.

There are also leadership lessons to be learned in this movie. When the platoon leader expresses doubt to his radio operator (Philip Pine) that anyone else is alive in Korea, his radioman says he knows it, but to hear it from a commander he trusts shakes his faith. As a combat leader, you do not say anything that creates or confirms doubts in your soldiers. You lead the way despite your doubts or misgivings and inspire them to follow.

There are too many other scenes to mention that are memorable. Vic Morrow plays a soldier who can barely hold it together emotionally, especially after Edward's character is brutally killed. Philip Pine plays a conscientious NCO whose faith in his platoon leader is unshakable.

If anyone thinks this is war movie melodrama, then you've never seen real combat. America has forgotten what it is like to suffer mass numbers of casualties like we suffered during Korea or Vietnam. And just like before the Korean War when we thought "push button" warfare had replaced close infantry combat, we are in for a rude shock if we ever go to war against a determined and well equipped enemy like the North Koreans. This movie is a reminder of that.

As in the lyrics of the closing theme, my dad remembers men he knew - LTC Otho Winstead, Chaplain Herman G. Felhoelter, MSG Robert Morrison, PFC Jaime Corona, MSG Leonard Talley and many others who did not come home - and to this day, I know that my dad still grieves for those friends he lost in that war fought so long ago.

A Great Episode About a Forgotten Hero, 17 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode aired 20 years after his death in the Pacific during WWII and I believe is the only TV show to tell his tale. It was also the only episode of the series that was set in the 20th Century and the only episode involving WWII. James MacArthur plays Rodger Young in an episode that is as vivid in my memory today as when I saw it as a 10 year old.

Rodger Young is a keen athlete who tries out for the high school football team but is rejected as being too short. He tries out for the basketball team, but suffers a head injury when he was fouled during a game. The injury gradually affects both his eyesight and hearing. Nevertheless, he later successfully enlists in the Ohio National Guard as an infantryman.

Small in stature and wearing glasses, he is not seriously considered as infantry material during basic training. When the drill sergeant (played by George Kennedy) orders the trainees to conduct a unsupervised 12 mile road march, the platoon convinces a convoy of supply trucks to give them a ride to the base. Young is the only soldier who refuses to participate. The trainees are caught by the drill sergeant who makes them start the road march all over. As they leave, Young arrives having completed the march. Despite the fact that he had followed orders, the drill sergeant orders Young to start over as well because he should have stuck with his platoon. However, Young's integrity and leadership abilities is noticed and he is soon promoted to corporal.

I was watching this episode with my dad who was a career soldier at the time and I asked why Young was punished with the rest of the platoon. My dad told me something that I never forgot - that the Army values teamwork above all else and that Young should have stayed with his platoon no matter.

Young's unit is soon activated for WWII and shipped to the South Pacific. By now he is promoted to sergeant and is leading a squad of 12 men. However, his hearing deteriorates and in one skirmish, several of his soldiers are wounded because he could not hear. He requests a demotion to private which his commander reluctantly approves. It is an open secret about Young's disabilities, but he is allowed to stay with the unit.

Day's later his squad is pinned down by a Japanese machine gun and several of his buddies are killed and wounded. Young crawls forward to within grenade range of the machine gun, but is shot as he rises to throw the grenade. He is killed, but not before the grenade destroys the machine gun. Young's actions enabled his platoon to withdraw from the ambush without further casualties. The episode ends with his buddies gathered around the fallen Rodger Young, recognizing that they owed their lives to his bravery.

Private Rodger Young was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and sacrifice. A song was later written about Young that was recorded by Burl Ives and was very popular during and after the war. The lyrics start with the following words:

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry. No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung. But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry, Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

The high production values and superb acting in this episode was such that I only saw it once over 50 years ago, but it is still vivid and memorable to this day. My only wish is to see this episode one more time before I die.

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