Korengal (2014) Movie Script

Where I grew up, like,
in Oregon,
I was always up in Mount Hood,
snowboarding and skiing.
And when I was in Afghanistan,
whenever I looked
out at the mountains,
I didn't think, like,
Oh, there's Taliban
roaming up there,
like, going into
their little caves,
"and they're about
to shoot at me."
Whenever I looked up there,
for the most part,
tried to think of back home,
something peaceful, you know,
something nice.
For the last
Four and a half years,
the Korengal has been known as
Afghanistan's valley of death.
We're taking heavy fire from-
The valley was just too remote,
too difficult to resupply,
and too dangerous
like the isolated outpost
called Restrepo.
Fire in the hole!
Fire in the hole!
And from the bottom
of a mountain,
we watched Restrepo burn.
Is there anything
that you miss about Restrepo,
about the Korengal Valley?
Oh, yeah, I...
I'd rather be there than here.
I'd... I'd go back right now,
if I could.
I'd want to... I'd go back
the Korengal right now.
Get in the fucking window.
Korengal Valley...
I always wondered why
I was in the Korengal.
When you get told that
the bigger mission is that,
hey, you're not in the Korengal
to go and hunt the bad guys.
You're in the Korengal
so the bad guys come to you,
and you kill them.
It was just a valley.
It's a valley that is...
if you look from high above,
it looks like a quiet valley.
You look to your north,
your south, east and west,
it's just mountains,
it's rocks, you know,
and it was wooded.
Everybody thinks,
"you're over there?
Then you're in the desert."
If you went a little north
of us, it looked just like...
like Colorado Springs,
like, Denver.
It was gorgeous.
But the minute I got there,
the minute I got off
the helicopter I got shot at.
I saw it from a distance,
it was beautiful.
Bullets came in,
"Fuck this place.
I want to go...
I want to go home."
That day, when we took over,
our Command Sergeant
Major Vimoto, he was at the Kop.
And he asked,
"Hey, where's my son at?"
He said, "You don't have to...
just show me where he's at,"
and you know, and I go up
on this ledge and stuff,
and I point down.
"You tell him I said hello.
I came out here."
I know he's out there on patrols
and doing his thing,
"and stuff like that, but you
tell him your dad said hello."
As soon as it
came across the net
and said we had a K.I.A.
I looked at First Sergeant,
I was like, "it's Vimoto."
I just lost
the Sergeant Major's son,
the brigade Sergeant Major's son
in my company,
the very first day
that I go out there
and the very first thing
I told them to go do,
where I'm the only one
in charge,
and I get his son killed,
I was, like... at a loss.
I mean, what do I do from here?
You lose somebody
that quickly in a deployment,
it kind of hits home,
like, whoa.
When's my turn then?
If he got killed this quick,
how many people are we going to
lose by the end of this?
As bad as it may be,
we have to continue, you know?
We can't sit there, you know,
and just cry.
And the thing...
we'll do that, you know.
If you're gonna cry, you do it.
You know what I'm saying?
If you're going to go
in a corner
and do what you have to do,
you go do it, you know?
But when I need you back
to be part of the team...
because the bad guys
are still there.
Tomorrow we going to go
on a different patrol,
and someone else is going to
try to take another shot at you.
The Korengal was a major highway
for all sorts of Taliban
and enemy activity.
It's been that way for years.
It was in a deep part
of the mountains
where they were using
that area to traffic weapons
a lot, you know,
weapons and supplies.
And it was just finding
those trails and those guys,
you know, I think was, you know,
what we were supposed to do.
But honestly, like,
I don't know,
we just knew
that they were there
and that's where we're going,
and, you know,
it was a shithole and, you know,
we were there to deal with it.
Think about putting
into context...
somebody moves in and decides
to take your house over.
You're going to fight for it,
and that's exactly
what they did.
Hey, what you got?
Do you got it pided?
No, just from the southwest.
"TIC, " it, uh, stands
for "Troops in Contact."
And what it is is basically
anytime that we are engaged,
being the U.S. Forces,
are engaged by anybody
or we engage somebody else.
We were getting, you know,
anywhere from one
to ten to fourteen
sometimes a day.
Moreno, get the fuck
outta there!
An ungodly amount
of TICs, I think 220...
225 TICs that Restrepo
was involved in
in some way, shape, or form.
We just fucking got
fucking rocked.
I mean, that's basically
365 days
that they could have shot
at them.
They shot at them
nine months straight.
We're getting fire from,
from one of these draws.
They think they're getting fire
from down there.
We're in the middle
of this valley
in sandbag huts that we built,
no running water.
No life.
Chinooks would come in,
helicopters would come in,
deliver our supplies
of food, water.
You know, think about
being alone for days on end,
you know, in an isolated area.
Even though you're
with people out there...
We had nothing.
That was as ghetto as it comes.
The hardest thing
was you just never knew
if you were going to start
getting shot at.
It's like,
I'd be laying there on my cot,
and all of a sudden you'd just
hear the cracks flying by
and RPGs going by, blowing up,
right on the Hescos,
on the other side of where
you're sleeping, you know?
You have to accept that fact,
that you could die
at any second.
This is the place to be.
There's a little secret
about second platoon...
everyone can play
the guitar almost.
You know what
I'm learning, dude?
Pass that up, man.
Came in here with no...
no cover, nothing.
And then we built this place up
into a resort,
and, uh, you know.
Oh, yeah. This is a real resort.
Yeah, resort.
This is Resort Restrepo.
I mean, in summertime,
we put a pool up here.
But in the winter,
we'll make it a ski lodge.
Base people right out of here.
Sergeant Simon was joking
he was going to get some skis
and, uh, ski down, you know,
get the whole...
uh, the Army feeling
into it, you know?
We'll have some bullet holes
in some walls and stuff.
Maybe, you know, a few rounds
come in once in a while.
I'm telling you,
you look out the door,
this place could be sports
heaven if they just...
if they just
stop shooting at us, you know.
This is nine-November,
roger, copy. Fire...
He's in the draw.
Shot two two zero six bullets.
The first thing
you hear when you get ambushed
or you get in a firefight,
or whatever it is,
the first thing you hear is just
a loud crack.
The bullets passing
by your head, the snaps.
You hear that snap
and your first...
exactly how were trained,
the snap is...
the first instinct is to,
you know, get behind something.
That's exactly what you do,
you know, you get cover.
Then you find out,
by sound and distance,
you know,
where is this coming from?
- Someone give me a direction!
- That way.
One of the things
we're all would learn about
is that you may not see it,
but you can hear it.
And that's
our tactical awareness.
We're able to pick up
the different sounds.
We got a general vicinity
of where he's at.
You had to name
your terrain features
you have around you.
You just can't say,
"that green hill over there."
Is it coming from Honcho Hill?
Is it coming from 1705?
Is it coming off
the Spartan Spur?
On Nipple Rock!
Hey, I got eyes on him!
Everybody'd just started
shooting at that direction.
As a team leader,
my second instinct
is to find out
where everyone else is.
I return fire
and then immediately
start checking my guys.
- Hey, is everyone alright?
- Yeah, yeah.
Do they have enough water?
Are they running low on bullets?
Are they shooting
in the right direction?
Everybody good?
I probably scan
my guys 100 times
during a 3-minute firefight,
that's what I do.
We're taking contact from
the east side of the valley...
I was the RTO,
so as soon as I heard a crack,
I'd just hop on the radio
and be calling, like,
"Troops in Contact,
we're taking fire from the east.
There's probably about
five of them out there."
Then you got the squad leaders
bouncing around
from each position where
their soldiers are firing from
trying to give me
a situation report,
give me a status.
Is the guy still there?
Has he picked up and moved?
I'm trying to paint a picture
through the company commander,
'cause he's talking to highers
trying to gather
all these other assets.
Yeah, yeah, you get scared.
I'm not going to lie.
There was times, like,
I was pinned down,
and I was like... you know,
rounds, cracking overhead.
You know, I'd hunker down,
you know, catch my breath,
you know, pick up and move.
'Cause you can't...
you can't really...
You can't take that long
of a pause in the firefight.
Sometimes you get
pinned down real bad,
and they just come
way too close for comfort,
and you have no cover.
That's when you get
a little bit scared.
Yeah, it's frightening.
I think if anybody told you
they weren't scared,
they're kind of
bullshitting you,
but it's scared... you know
that that fear is there,
but you just put it away.
First time I got shot at,
I was pretty calm.
It was kind of surprising
for me 'cause I actually thought
I was going to panic,
or just freeze up.
But I actually didn't.
Unfortunately, there are
some people that,
they let it get
the best of them,
and I think that's kind
of the big distinguishing thing
with fear is how you tolerate
or deal with it.
Um, majority of people are able
to kind of push it aside
and they understand
what needs to be done.
They can, you know,
deal with it later.
Unfortunately, there are some
that it takes effect of them
immediately, and they basically
become useless for you.
Funny part was my mom always
wanted me to join the Army.
Since I was a little kid,
she wanted me to join, you know?
She always thought
I'd be good at it.
She was like,
"You're a natural leader.
You'll be great at it."
Nah, I ain't joining the Army,
no way, no way.
Sure as shit, here I am.
Here I am, unfortunately.
Unfortunately and fortunately,
all at the same time.
I don't know,
as black men, I mean,
I am the only one
in the platoon.
I'm one of...
one, two, three, four,
if you count the cook,
five, if you count
the two cooks...
black people in the company.
Oh no, Choikey.
There's me Choikey, Miller,
who are infantry guys,
and First Sergeant, that's it.
Like, black people
don't jump out of planes.
Black people don't want
to come out here
and get shot at.
Most infantry dudes
are going to be
your average "hooah"
Ranger white dude.
I mean, they're not...
you're not going to see
too many black dudes,
and, I mean...
And you see it, I get plenty
of shit around here,
being the only black dude,
but it's...
98% of the time,
it's all in good fun,
and you're going to run
across some guys out here,
they may not admit it
to my face,
they might not say it if
they think anybody's listening,
but they'll tell you
they don't like me.
I guaran-goddamn-tee it,
but, at the same time,
I bet there's not
a one of them would say
I wouldn't take them
in a firefight.
Get out there, I'm just like,
"Man, I did not picture it
like this."
I have never fought in that that
rough terrain before in my life,
walking up a mountain
with a combat load,
with the loose shale?
I think we broke something
like 15 ankles
while we were over there.
It's insane, you know,
you think you're getting
to the top of a ridge
or to the top of a mountain,
and you get to that point
that you've been looking at
for the past 500 meters,
and you get there,
and you think you're at the top
and you look up,
and it just doesn't seem to end.
Those mountains sucked,
you know?
And you're just like, wow,
like sucking.
We were in good shape, like,
we could run all day.
We could, you know,
pushups, sit-ups,
all that stuff,
but walking in that environment,
straight up mountains,
there was no preparing for that.
Korengal Valley
is right in the middle
of these two
major supply routes.
Very easy for the Taliban
to traffic weapons.
And that terrain...
it almost affords these guys
a ghost-like ability to move.
They know it.
We're playing in their backyard.
We wear our helmets.
We wear IBAs.
You know, we wear all our kit
normally averaging
probably 60 to 75 pounds.
They, on the other hand,
are out there
in basically a sheet.
That's what they're moving
around the mountains in.
But then they'll have
a Russian-made
heavy machine gun,
called a Dishka.
It's very similar
to our 50-Cal.
This weapon system,
with its tripod,
is roughly a 120 pounds.
They'll pick this up
and move it around quite easily.
Thorough the mountains,
through draws,
over these monster rocks,
and, like, we move, you know,
one of our 50-Cals
and the tripod,
you know, we move it 50 feet,
and we're like, "Oh, man,
that's a smoker."
Those Chechnyan
rebel guys, those hired guys,
they're ruthless, awesome.
Awesome fighters, trained.
They came equipped, like,
they went through
a basic training,
and knew how to fight.
You have to respect the enemy.
If you don't, you're sucking.
For the enemy assessment,
there are several reports
of higher-level leaders
leaving the valley
for a few days.
We are unsure where they are
going or why they are leaving...
We always listened
to what was called the Bub,
and it'd come over
the company radio.
Well, they would tell you
what ICOM traffic was,
and ICOM traffic
is HAJ talking to each other
back forth on these
little handheld radios.
Your spot reports.
"Hey, the enemy's brought in
so many mines into the valley.
They brought in
30 hand grenades."
When you start hearing
that type of ammunition
coming into the valley
and the guys hear about it,
they start thinking
about the Ranch House,
because they know what...
they know the dramatics
of what happened up there.
Chosen company
was up at Ranch House.
That was the name of their...
their fire base.
And they got overran.
A few Taliban were going up
to one of the guard positions
in the Ranch House
saying they were workers.
And when one of the soldiers
went up there,
the enemy actually was...
As soon as they got within range
just opened up on them.
They were inside the wire
taking over guard positions.
Their P.L., Captain Ferrara,
had to call in gun runs
on that, uh...
on that compound and, you know,
separate the enemy
from the friendlies.
I definitely had concerns
that there would be
an attempt on Restrepo.
The Ranch House incident,
of course, reinforced that.
When I'd actually think of
we were about to get overrun,
would be at nighttime.
You have lots
of time on your hands.
You you start, kind of,
you know, mind-playing things.
I know it went through my mind,
not all the time,
but some nights
more than others.
There was one night
that I remember
that I was pretty
fucking petrified.
I was afraid to go out,
you know to piss.
There's a little bit of a walk
to the piss tubes...
and we had heard that they're
going to do an attack on us
and it's going to come
from the north.
Everybody pulls guard.
Everybody thinks
about things like that.
Well, what if they came
from this direction?
How would they come over,
how would we react?
You start, you know,
running those scenarios.
If you were telling
somebody else,
they could probably point
out flaws in your scenarios,
tell you why that would never
or could never happen.
But, uh... you know, you still
make them up in your head.
This place always this quiet?
- What's that?
- Is it always this quiet?
Every now and then,
a couple people come through.
So this is the Lumber Yard,
what's called the Lumber Yard?
The Lumber Yard bizarre.
I always call it
the Lumber Yard, 'cause...
Where are you from, Donoho?
- California.
- Where in California?
- Redding. Way north.
- Oh, wow.
It's like Oregon, practically.
You take it back.
Take it back.
How come the people
in Oregon don't like
the people in California?
'Cause we're better
than they are.
The only good thing that came
out of Oregon is the Gerber.
- The Gerber is from Oregon.
- And Pemble-Belkin?
I don't know about
Actually, uh,
we're supposed to party
when we get out of the Army.
Show each other the good side
of each state.
You guys are gonna
compare states?
You gonna visit him,
he's gonna visit you?
Yes. Sometime...
in the next ten years.
Probably when we get
out of the Army.
How come you joined?
I don't know.
No, uh, at first,
I wanted to become a sniper.
That was my main thing.
Then I wanted to jump out
of airplanes.
Uh... travel.
I wanted to travel.
That's about it.
What do you think of your
decision, you glad you're in?
Yes and no.
Did you count on
something like the Korengal?
Definitely not.
I mean, would I rethink
my decision at the time?
Nah, I made a lot
of really good friends.
Lots of good friends.
Definitely good experiences
to tell the grandchildren.
I was in the Korengal Valley.
"Oh, we heard about that
in school."
That's what I want to hear.
I want to hear that.
"I heard about that."
Yes, you did.
Today's mission,
going down to Loy Kalay
in the vicinity of the mosque.
I think that the greatest ally,
the greatest thing
that we had for us going on
was the fact that we forced
the boys to go out continuously
to keep the enemy off his feet.
He could never get
into a rhythm.
He could never really predict
that this is the time
that they're going to be there,
this is the time
that they're not.
You'd hear the enemy
just going crazy
trying to figure out
where we were.
They usually ended up
finding out where we were.
But that type of ability to move
started setting the tone
in the right direction,
'cause they felt like
we were hunting them.
I'm sure Captain Kearney's
probably not
going to appreciate this one,
but there were a lot of times
when we went out
into an environment
where we knew was more, uh...
exposing than necessary.
Pretty much, hey, let's put
the food on the table.
See if anybody
wants to come eat.
You're definitely out there
with our cheese in the wind.
We're definitely bait.
The most kinetic place
for us now, Sir,
is directly in front of us,
Hilltop 1705...
The boys thought
I went out too much sometimes.
They had that heart,
deep-down feeling like, hey,
you know, he's just
making us go out there
just because he wants badges
and glory and stuff like that.
I don't care about any of that.
I thought the best way to keep
them alive was the offense.
Right before the patrol,
everybody would
just started gearing up.
A lot of times we'd have music
playing off an iPod
or something like that to get
everybody kind of pumped up
or chilled out or
whatever you need
'cause usually,
we'd be getting a firefight.
So gotta have a little
adrenaline already going,
but you still have to be calm.
I don't let the nerves
get to me.
Like, I don't want
to get nervous.
I try not to get nervous
before I go out.
Prior to us going out on patrol,
the biggest thing is, you know,
briefing your guys,
focusing guys in on, hey,
we're probably going to get hit.
We're going to move
into this village.
Like, oh, man, this village,
every time we go there,
we get engaged.
When we left the wire,
most of the guys were scared.
And what was going
through their mind
was that hopefully
I don't get to die tonight.
You know, hopefully
I live to see another day.
we'd go down the east side
of Restrepo,
down behind this cliff side
or we'd go up on the west side
where you had to run
off the side of the road
right there,
because sometimes
they'd ambush us
before we could even
start the patrol.
We'd usually get
pretty spread out
so they can't just pinpoint
a small cluster of guys
and just take them all out
in one burst
if he can or something.
We'd search the road,
make sure nothings'
out of place,
scan the mountains,
scan the trees,
and as we're moving
we're actually thinking of, hey,
what can we run to next
in case we do get shot at?
Look for your next...
next spot you're going to go.
If they start shooting
right now, where you going?
Shit, I could tell you,
if somebody starts shooting
right now, where I'm going.
I'm going up over that desk.
No... no questions.
You're suspicious of everything.
You see a tiny hole in the
ground and you step on the hole,
you look around the hole,
you pick up rocks,
you wonder why there's
a rockslide
at the end of the ridge.
Do people walk up that a lot?
Is that why all the rocks
are down there?
Is it just erosion?
You don't know.
You'd be looking up
into the mountains.
That eerie feeling...
knowing that
they're looking at you.
Your heart's beating.
It raises and goes down
like a field mouse.
Your mind will wander
a little bit,
you'll wonder what part of the
village we'll be setting up in,
and you realize you have
to keep thinking about
where you are right now,
keep yourself in the now.
Right now
you're about half and half
between how much the walk sucks
or how much it's just gonna suck
to be in that village.
And depending on the day,
you either got shot at
right as you're walking in
or right as your walking out.
That's when we took contact.
You get in the village,
and you already
don't see anybody.
Random fucking goats
walking around.
You know they've taken off.
They ran up to their
little, tiny hiding spot,
which we can't see.
You round up anybody
you can talk to.
Here you go, kid.
You know anything about
the shooting a few days ago,
that I asked him about?
We haven't found
anybody else to talk to.
We're gonna start pushing
back to OP Restrepo, over.
Okay, Roger.
If we get hit,
where's it going to come from?
Initially, we'll probably take
a few from this hill right here,
majority of it's going
to come from back on the...
the southwest...
But let's hope
that doesn't happen.
On the way back, you're...
it's a split between,
how shitty the walk is
and how much you're sucking,
how much faster
you need to go so you don't
get your ass shot off.
A little faster,
harder, more cover.
Pick the shittier route...
it's going to suck more
because I'm going to stay alive.
That last stretch
to get up to Restrepo,
from our best cover
and concealed route, was a draw.
And the problem with the draw
was it didn't take us
all the way to Restrepo.
It only took us
to the very tip of it,
and you had to run the road
to get there.
And usually you'd bound,
and some guys would cover
at the back, some guys
would over-watch the front,
and you'd run.
Once, Kim and Lambert,
they're running on the road,
and RPGs, AK,
PKM fire just came,
came in full force,
and Kim tripped,
and he rolled,
and the bullets were hitting,
I don't know, a foot or two
in front of Kim's face.
Lambert was still out there
and he went out there
and was dragging...
And he helped Kim up,
dragging him back in.
OK, I'll put it this way, like,
pretty much every day,
we got in a firefight.
Every single day,
somebody was trying to kill us.
Our friends were getting shot
next to us.
People were... lost their arms,
lost their legs.
We had our friends get killed.
And then, you're thinking
in your head,
I still have another ten...
ten fucking months to go.
And, you're like...
you're like, pretty much,
I never thought
I was going to make it
out of the valley alive.
Out here in the Korengal,
we've lost dear, close friends,
and we've had wounded friends,
and it takes a toll on everybody
'cause when you go
out on a patrol
you don't know who's next,
so it messes with your head
in every way.
As an NCO, it's hard
to keep your morale up
and not let the...
your soldiers know
because I mean,
if they see that you're down,
they're gonna
start taking a toll.
It's going to impact them
as well.
So you got to keep yourself up
and constantly make sure
your soldiers are...
You know, like right now,
it's cold out.
Got to make sure they packed
right before we came out.
We check on them
throughout the night.
"Hey, you warm? You good?
You got enough food?
You got enough water?
Everything alright?"
You know, just make sure
they're constantly ready
because if one soldier's
not looking around enough,
not doing what he's supposed
to do, he's putting other lives
in jeopardy just by him
not paying attention.
If you fail your job,
you're failing
everyone in that patrol.
Making a mistake
and getting someone else killed,
that's the biggest fear,
that was my biggest fear.
I'm not doing this for
recognition from my country.
I'm not doing this
so that somebody goes, "Wow."
Those guys are really patriotic.
Those guys are really brave."
Truthfully, I could give
a shit what anybody thinks,
except for those guys
to my left and my right
cause' that's what it's about.
Those guys are what it's about.
And, that's why in a deployment,
you see people
run out under fire
to go pull their buddy back.
The brave thing,
it's guys coming together,
doing their job because they
know that the guy next to them
needs them to do their job,
so that they can all go home.
Bravery to me, as an example,
would be something
along the lines of someone
who goes out of their way,
despite the...
The very likely
potential of dying,
and risking his life to...
to, you know,
protect another one.
This ridge, all the way
through that hilltop up there.
- Two/fours up there.
- Two/fours up there? Okay.
We didn't talk about
that word very much
'cause we didn't feel what
we were doing was bravery.
We were there,
we signed up to do... to do this,
and all of our friends
and buddies and soldiers and,
you know, peers and superiors
were next to us doing it,
so you couldn't really,
you know, pick out bravery.
It's somebody
putting themselves... you know,
putting their life on the line,
putting themselves at risk
for somebody else,
and it's an everyday thing
down there.
Every single person
that got shot over there,
they didn't worry
about themselves one bit.
All they asked about was,
"How are my guys doing?"
Sergeant Rice, when he got hit,
he's like, "Where's my team at?"
Is Solo okay?
Is Jackson okay?
Is Vandenberg alright,"
you know?"
When Sergeant Padilla
lost his arm,
his arm was missing.
He had shrapnel in his face,
and he was just asking
if everybody was okay,
and that... that's bravery.
It's called a M145.
When you zero it,
you fucking zero at eight.
open the feed tray cover.
you're gonna fucking sweep.
Make sure these...
all things fucking work.
Everything pushes down,
fucking moves.
To fucking load it,
take it off safe,
put it back forward,
put the rounds in,
make sure
they're fucking seated.
And put your hand like this,
like you're fucking...
like a salute kind of thing,
hold them there, slam it shut.
Everybody's got
their favorite weapon.
Uh, I'd have to say...
in order of weapons,
I'd have to say 50...
240... the Mark...
And then 203
and then probably the Saw.
You learn to love your weapon.
Like, I know a lot of guys
like the 240 gunners,
even though that's
a shitty-ass weapon to carry
'cause it's so heavy...
To load the 240, all you do...
tilt it to the side.
Makes it a little bit easier.
Put the rounds in.
AT4's, small Ds,
those are fun too, LAWs.
Shooting a LAW...
I love shooting LAWs!
A LAW is
a light anti-tank weapon.
It's a bazooka?
One, pull the pin.
Step two,
remove rear cover and strap.
Three, it says "Pull open
until it locks here."
Four, release safety.
Five, you're going to aim it.
And then six,
you're going to squeeze that
right there to fire it.
When I started
out during the deployment,
I carried a 203...
that's a grenade launcher...
and I loved being a 203 gunner
just 'cause I like things
that go boom.
The louder the booms...
because, traditionally,
the enemy that we're fighting
is more afraid
of the booms than they are
the death.
The 50-Cal
is the biggest machine gun
we had up there.
Some guys are Mark guys,
some guys are 50 guys.
I'm a 50 guy.
The 50 is the sexiest weapon
the Army's got.
It's loud, it shoots a whole
hell of a long way.
They say, that round
only has to be
within 18 inches of you,
to sear flesh.
That's bad-ass.
When you shoot that thing,
it'll rock your world,
it just...
it's a giant machine gun.
What's not to like
about a giant machine gun?
You sit out there at Restrepo,
and you just dwell
about being out there.
Damn, I'm at fucking Restrepo.
I'm in Afghanistan, meh.
You might as well
get over with...
it's not going to do you
any good.
Hey, guys!
I mean, our quality
of life was what we made it.
Whatever we could hump up there
or whatever we could do
for ourselves is what happened,
you know, and that's what gave
us our ability to survive.
Is that heavy?
No, Sir.
You got Marlboro Reds,
Yes, I do!
Six cartons of fucking
different flavors.
You know what that means?
Smoke up!
I got a chair, too.
What's the chair for?
The chair's
for the platoon, man.
I stole that fair and square
from a Sergeant First Class
in Kuwait.
Mother fucker's crying now.
He ain't got no chair.
Sergeant First Class Elder.
We got your chair, man.
We got your chair, brother.
They eventually
slung us up a generator,
a gas generator with a big...
big blivott of fuel
so we could run electronics.
There it is!
The fan, the fan!
Nice! Nice!
It was OP Restrepo.
It was our place.
It's all we had.
I told you.
I said "generator."
Is it weird being on leave?
You guys, you guys are out there
and you're, you know,
in a swimming pool or whatever.
I mean, you deserve the leave,
but does it feel weird?
I don't know,
it sucks being away.
'Cause you're thinking
like, what happens
if something happens
to somebody you know?
But it's nice being home.
It's hard coming back
'cause like...
The hardest part's probably
saying goodbye to your family.
Like walking through the gates
to go into the airport,
or to go through security,
all your family's
just standing there
kind of crying,
and then you got to...
you got to make that step.
Once you get through there,
then it's easy to come back.
How was your leave?
It was excellent.
I got to see my family.
I spent more time than I
usually do with my family.
You know, I thought
me and my fiance
were going to have a lot
of problems, and we didn't.
We were arguing a lot
before I went on leave.
Like, I was pretty much...
I was pretty much...
We were both pretty much on
the verge of leaving each other.
It was just a combination
of being stressed out here
and not wanting to get shot
and never seeing your family
and everything and then,
you get home,
and it's just like...
you know, you're like, "Yes!"
You can go get drunk
and fucking have fun
and party out and stuff.
When you go home,
is there someone
you talk to about it all?
I didn't talk to anyone.
I can't talk to my mother 'cause
she worries enough as it is.
And, well, family
is just always family.
And I couldn't talk to them.
My stepfather's actually
been in the Army before.
He somewhat understands
what I've been going through,
but I didn't want him
worrying either,
seeing that I couldn't sleep
just more of a chore
for them back at home.
What about, like, friends?
You know, male friends,
like, close friends?
No, I mean... No.
Actually, I just stayed
to myself for the most part.
I went out, had fun,
but didn't really tell anybody
about my problems back here.
See, Hoyt, it's important
to remember...
Make sure they get behind cover.
- Got eyes on them.
- You do?
Right above Lumber Yard.
Say about 100 meters to the
right as you're walking up it.
There is a dude in fucking...
I don't know, maybe BDUs, black.
He's underneath
the tree in the shade?
I think that might be a cow.
But right behind that,
about fucking five feet,
something just popped up over,
looked over here,
and then fucking
popped back down.
I guess it's more of...
prefer to fight
on my terms type deal.
Like, fighting here
and stuff like that,
that'd be perfectly fine
with me, but like,
those times where
you have to get
in the fucking low ground
and shit like that,
it's like I don't really
look forward to those
as much as I used to.
So this feels pretty good
here, like, we're good?
Yeah, I mean, it's not bad.
I got a tree that is okay.
You got some rocks up there
and shit like that so...
ls there anything about
this you're going to miss?
Shooting people.
It's always fun shooting.
Is there anything
you miss about Restrepo?
The firefights,
I ain't going to lie.
The firefights...
but we miss the firefights
in Restrepo or in the Korengal,
I think a lot of us
kind of miss that adrenaline.
And I don't personally
talk to astronauts
or you know
any kind of extremists,
but until you hear
the snap of a bullet
go by your head
or hit your head...
There's nothing else like it.
All right,
we're getting engaged again,
because our guys are moving.
Fucking blowing my
God damn eardrums out!
Toves is fucking having a blast.
Oh, shit!
- Your turn!
- I'm on fucking fire!
Hey, Solo!
Two on three! Lumber Yard!
See any metals,
fucking smoke them!
Roger that!
Aye-aye, motherfuckers!
Fuck you!!
Come on!
Get some!
You want to fucking...
you want to shoot again, man?
Yeah, but my barrel's
kind of hot!
So's mine, dude.
So I'm going to let it
cool down for a little bit.
Look at that fucking shit!
That is intense!
What the fuck is that?
That was awesome!!
It was a bomb, baby!
Look, fucking dude's over there
fucking on fire!
That's the shit, dog!
- Aww.
- That's it?!
Dude, my eyes are so powdery.
That was pretty intense!
I really don't think we took
too many rounds.
It was just fucking awesome
just shooting again.
I think if you ask
anybody about the adrenaline,
that adrenaline rush
from those firefights?
It was a feeling that we got
to know quite well,
you know, and got to like.
Some fights go bad,
you know, if you lose friends,
people get hit,
it doesn't feel great at all.
But you know, when you've had
a nice firefight,
stuff was close, and you know
everybody comes back unhit?
You're just like...
you just cheated death.
You know, you feel...
you just feel great.
And then it's pretty rough
when you go 100 miles an hour
to a dead halt.
We did everything
to deal with the boredom.
We have talked about
everything with each other
that you can talk about
with another person.
We'd have a five-
or six-hour conversation
about who would win in a fight,
George Clooney or Fabio.
Why did we talk about that
for six hours?
I have no clue.
I still say George Clooney
would win,
but you're like, damn,
life is getting weird up here.
Just imagine living
two feet from somebody
for months at a time
and not being able to get away.
Eventually, they're gonna
get pretty annoying.
They start to smell worse.
They start to sound stupider.
After sitting around,
kind of being boxed up,
you know, it gets...
it gets to a person.
And you...
you see the guys on edge,
like, "When's the next round?"
Just looking.
The tensions would come from,
"Okay, I know they're going
to start shooting at us soon."
Like, we haven't been shot at
for two weeks.
So they're probably storing
up all their ammunition,
all their weapons right now,
"and they're going to hit us
hard right now."
For some of us...
I kind of always liked hearing
they're gonna attack 'cause
I got to do my job.
Yeah, I mean, sometimes
you just... you want to fight
so bad just to pass the time.
And the only
thing you have to do
is read a book or get
into a firefight...
When you don't have
that excitement anymore
you got to find stuff
to fill its void.
I've been hit!
No, why don't
fucking you stay there
- where I fucking put you?
- Roger.
How do we connect
to the Korengalis?
That's definitely a hard thing.
I know that we're
serving a purpose
besides just killing bad guys.
We are helping that country.
We are helping
the local populous.
Providing them with a lot
of things they've never had.
Like sometimes when he lays
down, is it a burning sensation?
We come in,
they're going to take what
they can get from us, and then,
as soon as the Taliban comes in,
they're going to give them
what they want.
But they're a little more scared
of those guys than us.
So I think they play both sides,
and they'll be friendly
to your face, but, you know,
in the end they're...
they're just kind of in
the middle, trying to survive.
I'd like to welcome
all the elders of Korengal.
Uh, we're going
to welcome Governor Wahidi,
the governor of Kunar Province,
and Colonel Ostlund,
the Task Force Rock Commander
presiding over the Kunar
Province with Governor Wahidi.
They're going to talk to you
guys today about security,
about some of the roads ahead
that are going to lead
to a prosperous
and safe Korengal Valley.
Do I respect them?
I don't respect the Korengalis.
Like, when you gather
them all up, no.
They're a bunch of liars,
and they didn't want us,
they didn't want our help.
Are there certain individuals in
the Korengal that I do respect?
Yes, I believe that they
want it better for their people
and they want it better
for their families.
But they were caught between
a rock and a hard place.
Basically, Governor,
there is a sense
of intimidation in the valley.
We continually get the elders
from Chichal, Kandalay,
and Kamisar saying, "Hey,
we're willing to work",
but we need Haji Zalwar Kahn
to tell us
"that we're allowed to work."
Haji Zalwar Kahn,
I don't trust him.
Do I respect him?
Because I don't know that
I could carry the weight
of all the Korengal Valley
and be able to play
the United States
and the insurgents that can come
in the middle of the night
and knock on his door,
not carry a weapon,
and I won't know who it is,
and they can do whatever.
And Zalwar Kahn
is saying, like..
But we understand
that if I go in here
and bark at these people,
I kick in their doors,
and that I do piss them off,
the next time that's gonna be
that many more guns
shooting at me.
And, the instincts
of survival are, hey,
if more people hate you,
greater chance
that you're gonna not
come out of this thing alive.
I've seen the first guy
we brought in,
the oldest of the kids, and
he's always coming through here.
I've... he's just shady.
The kid's just shady as shit,
and he...
every time we pass him
on the road,
he doesn't want
to make eye contact.
He always looks nervous.
I don't like him.
I know this dude.
So, what am I supposed
to think when...
when the guys are shooting
from where you were
and then from not to far away
from where you were?
About the amount of time
it takes to walk up there.
This is a GSR kit.
It checks for gunpowder residue.
Like, basically if they've
handled any ammunition
any explosive stuff like that.
Basically what
we're looking for is...
there'll be little, tiny blue
specks that stand out.
And, uh, that's the signs
that we're looking for.
Right now we're not
getting anything.
Hey, sir, I don't have
any hits on any of these.
I mean, they came up clean.
So he could be innocent.
Or just washed your hands.
I don't trust him for...
you know,
as far as I can throw him
but you cant do anything
if you don't have any evidence.
It's just like the States,
you know?
This whole "going there
and act like their friend" thing
doesn't work,
especially when you got,
you know, the Afghani
that we caught trying to put
the roadside bomb in, the LED,
just spitting on us, calling us,
you know, infidel and stuff.
You know, hearts and minds
goes out the window then.
Hearts and minds goes
out the window when you see
the guy shooting at you,
and then he puts his wife
and kids in front of him,
knowing full well
that we won't shoot back.
Got some women and children
up on the roof...
Or the guy that shakes our hand,
takes the ten bags of rice
we give him for his family
and the school supplies
and the coats
and immediately walks up
the mountain and shoots
an RPG at us,
walks back down then smiles
the next morning
when he's walking his goats.
Fuck his heart
and fuck his mind.
We, um, had thoughts
about the elders
just lying straight to us
and there was times where
we just wanted to, you know,
beat the shit out of them
and make them tell us the truth.
I mean... Now, that's...
I know I'm not the only one
'cause I know someone...
we talked about it.
And the guys, there was a point
with me and the guys
were just talking about,
hey, you know,
we should just grab him,
kick his ass,
and make him tell us the truth.
Hey, eyes into that valley
on those guys
that were down there!
That's where I want you to scan.
We got a spotting scope!
Use that on 1705!
There would be
the firefights where we'd see...
actually see,
somebody get killed.
- Now look at him.
- Yeah.
Split him
into fucking pieces, man.
Seen the dude running
and then you seen him
blowing into pieces...
We all started cheering.
It's pretty much like
a "fuck you" to them.
'Cause every single day
they're trying to kill you
when you're trying to bring
something good into their val...
into this shitty-ass valley
they have.
That has not even running water
in it, really.
And then, after every single day
of them trying to kill you
and then finally you know
that you fucked one of them up,
you're like...
it almost makes...
it makes you cheer a little bit.
In your mind you're thinking,
this guy could have,
you know, murdered my friend.
He could be the one
that put the bullet
through so and so's head.
He could be the guy
that shot me in the head.
The cheering comes,
I think, from knowing that
that's a person you'll
never have to fight again.
That's a person that's not gonna
attempt to kill you ever again.
And as sick as people may think
it is at home
or people that don't
understand it, uh...
Fighting another human being
is not as hard as you'd think
when they're trying to kill you.
You can't kill me,
This one's for you, America.
For a while there,
I started...
I started thinking
that God hates me.
And, like I said,
I'm not religious or anything,
but I felt like
there was this hate for me.
'Cause I did... sins, you know?
I sinned.
And, uh, although I would
have done it the same way,
everything the same exact way...
I still would feel this way,
you know?
I'd still...
And that's the terrible thing
of war, you know?
You do terrible things.
And then you have to live
with them afterwards.
But you'd do them the same way
if you had to go back.
So what do you do?
You know.
It's like a fucking...
it's an evil, evil,
evil thing inside your body.
It's like fucking good
versus evil inside there,
and... everyone tells you,
you know,
you did a honorable thing.
You did all right.
You're all right.
You did...
You did what you had to do.
And I just hate that comment.
"Did what you had to do."
'Cause I didn't
have to do any of it.
And that's
what the fucking thing is.
That's the hardest thing
to deal with.
You know,
I didn't have to do shit.
I didn't have to go in the Army.
I didn't have to become
Airborne Infantry.
I didn't have to do any of that.
But I did, you know?
And, that comment,
"You did what you had to do,"
just drives me insane.
Because is that
what God's going to say?
"You did what you had to do,
good job"?
Punch you on the shoulder
and fucking say,
"Welcome to heaven," you know?
I don't think so.
They're 762
AK47 rounds with wings.
Due to the fact that I,
uh, got...
you know, took one to the head.
Kind of grazed off my helmet.
So they had...
Some angels were watching
that bullet when they
popped me in the head,
so I've got my wings.
I got this one right here.
That's the good tattoos
right there.
These are the things
you get drunk
and wake up like, oh, jeez..
When did you get that?
My 18th birthday.
And how long ago was that?
Two years ago.
How come you got it?
Partly because I wanted to
kind of make my dad mad.
'Cause he didn't really
want me to get it.
And another because
my great uncle was in the 101 st,
and that was kind of for him.
Do you have any other tattoos?
Or just that one?
- Just that one right now.
- You going to get any more?
Yeah, I'm going to get
the memorial of everyone who's...
that we lost here.
Sergeant Rice has
some names on his arm
from his last deployment.
He's going to get
another one too, with, uh...
As far as I know,
he's going to get the quote
from the beginning of
"8th of November."
- Which is what?
- It's uh... no...
"There's no love greater..."
Er... what is that?
- I can't remember it.
- You have it on your iPod?
Yes, I do.
Hello, I'm Kris Kristofferson.
On November 8, 1965,
the 173rd airborne brigade
on Operation Hump,
War Zone D in Vietnam
were ambushed by over 1,200 VC.
48 American soldiers
lost their lives that day.
Our friend Niles Harris,
retired 25 years,
United States Army,
was one of the wounded
who lived.
This song is his story.
Caught in the action of
kill or be killed...
it's coming up.
Greater love hath no man
than to lay down his life
for a friend.
That's it.
Said goodbye to his mama
As he left South Dakota
To fight for the Red,
White and Blue
He was 19 and green
with a new M-16...
This is from last deployment.
This was the five guys
that were killed in action.
These metal bands
right here symbolize
and memorialize the people
that our company lost.
All the way from OEF 6,
actually, until OEF 8.
And they will always be with me
the rest of my life.
And I carry these
as a remembrance of them.
They, this right here
is just a small representation,
but this right here
means a lot to every soldier
within the company,
because every day that
they wake up or every day...
just like...
I got this,
and they're always
going to be attached to me.
And especially for me
being their First Sergeant.
It's something
I will always remember.
Tell me what
Outpost Restrepo is named for.
OP Restrepo is named after our
original medic we had,
PFC Juan Restrepo.
He was a good friend
of the platoon.
Real, real wild guy.
Everyone liked him.
And when we were
handing over Phoenix
to third platoon,
the last patrol,
he was sh...
He was shot and killed.
How did he die?
What happened?
I wasn't out there.
I was at OP3
when Restrepo got hit.
And we were getting food.
And Sergeant Rentis
came in there,
and all like...
a couple of the guys
that were out on patrol
with him were in the chow hall.
Well, the old one,
and, he's like...
he's like,
"Yeah, he didn't make it."
And I'm like, "Who was it?"
And he's like...
he's like, "it was Restrepo."
And right then I just...
I just broke down
and started crying right there.
It was like...
probably just crushed me.
It was just pretty bad.
And then...
Is it a good thing
that this place
has been named after him
up here?
Yeah. Yeah.
Here, Sir!
Staff Sergeant Ortiz!
Here, Sir!
PFC Restrepo!
PFC Juan Restrepo!
PFC Juan S. Restrepo!
Ready! Aim!
Ready! Aim!
Ready! Aim!
We did the ceremony, uh,
we all walked away,
and there's this little room.
Like, you notice it
when you're coming off the LZ
in blessing, kind of going
in to blessing,
there's a little guard post,
a little itty-bity room.
Our whole platoon was just
squeezed into there
'cause we didn't want
to see any of us crying.
But we we're all sitting there,
just no one talking
to each other, just upset.
And then, uh, when you like,
you... before you deploy,
you have this blue book
you fill out.
It's just a bunch of information
about how you want to be buried,
who you want notified first,
who you want to notify
your family,
and then how do you
want your memorial.
So he picked out his song...
You get to pick out what songs
you want played.
So we're all really upset
and all of a sudden,
the song "I Will Survive"
comes on in Spanish,
and he'd requested
that if he died,
and we all just start laughing.
I jumped on that one.
Hey, Vaughn,
those are our mortars.
So you don't have to worry.
Kind of scared me a little bit.
Yeah, I was kind of scared, too.
I kind of pooped a little.
I didn't really poop, but, uh...
it did scare me a little bit.
Just tell my family I love them.
All right, nice knowing you.
I know you, you'll tell my mom,
but that's about it, huh?
Yeah, I'll tell her after.
I think right now, you know,
after 15 months of this place,
not saying that I couldn't
do another deployment.
Just don't want to do
another deployment, you know?
And I just want to,
sort of hang out with my family.
You know I have
a 2-year old niece
I haven't even...
seen only a handful of times.
I miss my family.
Miss my dad.
Miss my mom.
You know, my ol...
younger sister almost died.
You know, a lot of...
a lot of things going
in your brain, you know,
when that shit goes on
and you can't be
by their side so...
'Cause, I've built my lifestyle
for the last 12 months here
getting shot at, you know?
So I'm just
going to take me time to...
Work that out, you know?
And then it's going to take
a while for me to get
if you know what I'm saying.
And then finding a job
and being happy
and all that crap...
See, a lot of...
a lot of worries.
Uh, they all move
to like different spots
for a test-fire action?
Would have been cool if they all
test fired at the same areas.
What's gonna happen
down there? Huh?
What's going to happen?
Shooting of some sort?
I think? Possibly?
- Again?
- Yeah, again.
Nice cape.
Oh, it's hailing, dude!
Aw, nice!
What a fuckin' retard!
My damn pecker got nailed!
Ahh! Ow! Ow!
I hate this stupid weather.
Is that hail?
- Yeah.
- Fucking awesome.
The brothers we lost
actually hit me pretty hard.
My shit's getting wet.
I think about the guys
that went down.
And there was a time
where actually
I didn't care about anything.
I didn't care about getting shot
or if I died over there.
That's how bad it got,
to a point it took, uh...
Quite a few people to actually
try to pick me back up.
And that was months after that.
There was times where
I would actually shoot back
and not duck.
I wouldn't even be doing
what I should know
I should have been doing
the right thing.
I would... I would run into open
not caring or would just walk,
and I would be getting
chewed out by a team leader
or a squad leader you know,
"Hurry up, get behind cover,"
and I still wouldn't...
didn't care.
I didn't care if I died or not.
I started doing
what I was supposed to
after I got a talk from
one of the guys telling me,
"if you go down, you have to
think about the bigger picture."
There's a possibility
that when they come and get me
in the open,
someone else could get shot.
And it just got me thinking.
And I started paying attention
a bit more
and actually started
doing the right thing.
I wouldn't say I was caring
much, but I was just doing it,
doing it for them, not for me.
This is to certify
that the President of
the United States of America
has awarded the bronze star
medal to Private First Class
Miguel Cortez for exceptional
and valorous actions during
Operation Enduring Freedom
while assigned as a rifleman in
the 2nd Platoon, Battle Company,
2nd Battalion,
five-oh-third Infantry.
Private First Class
Cortez's unwavering courage,
aggressiveness, and leadership
while under fire
were decisive to his company
defeating an enemy attack.
Private First Class Cortez's
performance reflects
great credit upon himself,
task force bayonet,
combined joint task force
1 -oh-1,
and the United States
Central Command.
Hey, man, how'd that feel?
- Awesome!
- Felt good?
Felt good.
You guys looked proud up there.
Of course.
We accomplished something.
We got recognized for it.
I'm happy.
You didn't start crying
or anything?
No, no, I'm not
sentimental like that.
I don't break down or anything.
I'm a soldier
through and through.
- All right, congratulations.
- Thanks, man.
We got the new unit's Company XO
and their Company Commander
coming in,
learning that their life's gonna
suck for the next 15 months.
You see the one with
the real white, like,
clean roof over it?
It's kind of like a "u" almost?
Yeah, that's the house I was
telling you about with Sadiq.
Across the river you see that
other house over there?
That's what they call
the Ghost House.
Today, doing a movement
to contact down
to the village of Karingal,
which is this second
to last one you guys
can see down here.
Talk to villagers,
IO themes, gain atmospherics,
and then introduce you guys
to the AO.
My guys here explain to them
what we do, why we're doing it,
and if you guys are confused,
ask them questions.
Battle base viper-six-one-romeo
prepare to copy OP-CO, over.
Now what do I tell them?
When they say "Roger, send it,"
you send them up the grid.
This right here is Lieutenant G.
He's going to be taking
my place.
He's going to be the commander
here for the next year or so.
He knows about your concerns.
He knows about your issues.
They'll shoot at you
from in Marasta Naw.
They'll shoot at you from Donga,
and they'll shoot at you
from Darbat.
I don't know of a village,
except for Ali Abad
and Babeyal,
that hasn't shot at me.
Tell them I'm going home
after this.
So stay safe.
No fucking way!
I'm smashing this guitar.
I'm sorry, dude, I told you
I was smashing this guitar.
- You're smashing it?
- Oh, yeah!
Hey, we're smashing the guitar.
Out front here.
- Why?
- Because I said
I was going to and
I don't fucking lie.
Go be a rock star.
Here we go.
This is awesome.
Wow! That thing really
came apart.
I got lucky man, what can I say?
Hell no!
Get the fuck outta here early.
Hopefully get home
before the end of the month.
- Isn't that right, Walker?
- Yes, Sir.
The greatest thing
that we did is I think
we put together a group of
soldiers and brothers that...
...can look at themselves
in the mirror at night and know
that they didn't shamelessly
kill anybody or cause any harm.
And then, number two,
that they did everything
that they could down there
to bring those people...
I don't want to say joy
or happiness,
but to bring those people
into the 20th or 21 st century.
And I think that they can
sleep well at night
knowing that they did
something out there that,
you know, wasn't illegal,
number one,
and they don't have demons
inside because of it.
Go back there and enjoy
yourself, you've earned it.
And we haven't left anywhere
until the aircraft shows up.
I know you just sitting here
waiting for the aircraft.
And if the aircraft
doesn't show up,
I'll just give you
some more ammo
and we just go on
another patrol.
All right? Hooah?
- Hooah.
- Take care of yourselves.
All our guys are
starting to leave already,
going different places,
getting out of the Army.
It's heartbreaking.
You'll never have that back.
And you see the new guys
come in and you just...
You can't look at them the same.
Even if they've done
more combat than you,
if they've come from somewhere
else they're still not...
They're still not your brother.
They're not that guy.
They've been there
when any of us
have almost lost our lives.
I would do anything for them.
I would walk across the country
to help them change a tire,
in a heartbeat.
I get in scuffles
with my family, my girlfriend,
and, you know,
when you spend too much time
with, you know, your friends,
or so on and so forth,
it's like, well,
you'll never understand.
It's not your position
to understand.
Um, I might have, you know...
You may have your family's blood
running through your veins.
You know, you didn't
shed it with them.
I will never be as close
with anybody else in the world,
unless I get married someday,
or whatever.
But I'll never have that,
you know,
the bond of friendship, I guess,
with anybody else.
We're closer
than family would be.
I mean, I like me, I told them
time and time again
if a grenade went off and I know
there was no other choice,
I would actually throw myself
on a grenade.
And the guys know that I would
without hesitation.
You make
a conscious decision to say,
I'm willing to die for this guy.
And that's a hell
of a statement for a guy
you've known two years.
I love my wife.
I love spending time with her.
I like to see my mom.
But if I could get on a bird
right now and go back,
yeah, I would.
All right, let's get up there.