HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 6, 2006, Herald Journal

Some warriors really are heroes


Among the many themes of Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, “Flags of Our Fathers,” is, in war, everyone is a hero.

Veterans who have actually fought in real shooting, bombing, bloody battles know that Eastwood is wrong. There are heroes, and other veterans have seen them in action with their own eyes.

The movie is about the men who raised the flags on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima during World War II. There were two flags raised, the first was a little one, measuring 54 by 28 inches. The other flag was a replacement, so the battalion’s corporal could protect and secure the original.

The original flag was placed with great valor. “Everyone thought they would never make it, and for making themselves targets in order to plant the stars and stripes and raise the spirits of the other 70,000 Marines still caught in savage battle,” said Yale Kramer in the Oct. 25 American Spectator.

The replacement flag is the one in the famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal.

Kramer believes Eastwood holds the politically correct view that war is unnecessary, and if there was no hero worship, then war would not be encouraged, he said.

“Doc” John Bradley, a medical corpsman, placed both flags. The book on which the movie is based also told about Doc’s actions before the flags were placed.

A Marine had blundered into a cross fire of machine-gun bursts and slumped to the ground, James Bradley related in his best selling book.

“Doc did not hesitate...(he) sprinted through 30 yards of saturating cross fire--mortars and machine guns--to the wounded boy’s side. As bullets whined and pinged around him, Doc found the Marine losing blood at a life-threatening rate,” Bradley said.

Doc attached a plasma bottle to the Marine’s rifle and jammed it bayonet first into the ground. “He moved his own body between the boy and the sheets of gunfire. Then, his upper body still erect and fully exposed, he administered first aid.”

His buddies watching from their shell holes were certain that he would be cut down at any moment...(he) stood up into the merciless firestorm and pulled the wounded Marine back across 30 yards to safety by himself.”

Two sergeants and Captain Severance reported it, so that Doc earned the Navy Cross, a medal for extraordinary bravery. Not much of this is in the movie.

Is everyone a hero, or are some heroes more heroic than others? You decide.