Recently, Global DIRT was invited to attend the Washington, DC showing of Restrepo, a documentary following one platoon throughout their entire deployment in Afghanistan’s most dangerous region. The premiere in DC enabled our group the unique chance to branch into meeting other military-inspired organizations. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Kanani Fong, of The Kitchen Dispatch blog, who initially contacted us with the invitation to the event. We would also like to thank National Geographic for not only hosting the event, but for showing such a touching and powerful documentary.
Restrepo is a true depiction of the chaos of war, the fatigue of soldiers and the professionalism of the United States Military in an unconventional war. The film follows a United States Army Airborne unit to one of the most dangerous places on earth, where patrolling is not only about killing insurgents but also about educating the people and winning their hearts and minds. Tasked with an impossible mission in an unlivable section of war-torn Afghanistan, Restrepo makes the audience live the life of an American soldier for 90 minutes. The thriller created by the author of The Perfect Storm focuses on the individual experiences of a group of soldiers. The documentary leaves behind the usual attempt to make a political statement through clever editing and instead focuses on the day to day actions of a unit holding one of the most strategic mountaintops in the United States’ military history.
As a US Marine and disaster relief worker, I can say from my experience that Restrepo is as true to life as many civilians will ever see without signing up for service. I would recommend this film to anyone seeking to understand the daily struggles and stresses that our US fighting forces deal with, both on and off the battlefield. In the world of cheesy action flicks and tales of love stories gone wrong, this documentary is a refreshing way for military veterans to say “This is what a deployment is really like.”
Transcending both generations and military branches, Restrepo captures what numerous attempts before could not: the life of those that stand watch for American freedoms and the American way of life. It shows a true glimpse at those willing to remain awake at night in a foreign land so that Americans can sleep peacefully in their beds at home. This positive view reminds us that there are men willing to do whatever is necessary on the behalf of the United States.
As a current member of the US military I thank you for making this film and representing our generation of soldiers, sailors, and Marines. For all those out there reading this, take a break in your day to see this film and remember that at this moment, half way around the world there are men and women risking their lives, away from their families for you and the people of the world.
Specialist Misha Pemble-Belkin (l.) and fellow soldiers from Battle Company, 173rd US Airborne during a firefight at Outpost Restrepo during combat in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, Kunar Province. 2008. A film still from the documentary RESTREPO by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger. Photograph © Tim Hetherington