Friday, October 14, 2005

Over Where?

There's a new show this season on FX network called "Over There" and it's supposed to give the viewer an idea what it's really like in Iraq, from the soldiers perspective and also some insight on what it's like for those left behind on the homefront.

A pretty good concept, if you ask me. So I began to watch it, and with every new episode I began to seethe just a little bit more. I've made a few friends here in West Virginia, and several of them are in the West Virginia National Guard and just came home from Iraq. From what they tell me, this show is so far from reality you really begin to wonder what kind of dope the writers are smoking.

I tend to pick apart TV shows and movies, mostly cop & army shows. It was a habit that used to drive my ex nuts, but I still can't help myself. Especially when I see a glaring mistake. And this show is chock full of them.

I've been out of the army for going on eighteen years but still retain a lot of the stuff that was crammed into my head, and also I have a pretty good memory when it comes to the five years I spent in boots. A lot of it is so fresh in my gray matter it's like it happened yesterday, and I don't think those memories will fade anytime too soon.

Ok, so I start watching this show in great anticipation. The first episode starts off with with a group of soldiers from the 3rd ID (Infantry Division) getting shipped out from their base in California to head to Iraq. First mistake. The 3rd ID is based out of Ft. Stewart, Georgia. I know this because I was stationed there for two years. Audie Murphy must be spinning in his grave.

Ok, ok. I give them the benefit of the doubt, so I watch on. It's pretty accurate in the weapons and uniforms, vehicles and such. But that's where it ends. Second mistake I see is one of the main characters "Sgt Scream" is a sergeant First Class, who's in charge of a rifle squad. Another mistake. A SFC would not be in charge of a rifle squad, that'd be a SGT, E-5 or maybe a corporal. A SFC would be a Platoon sergeant... And the size of the squad is in question also. I know I've been out of the army for some time, but a rifle squad in an infantry platoon would be twelve-man strong, not four.

Then comes the next episode where a two-star general comes and gives the sergeant orders for a mission. Let me tell you this. In the five years I was in the army, the highest ranking officer I ever spoke to let alone received orders from was a Captain, several grades below a Major General. This would never happen in war or in peacetime.

Another word on officers here. The platoon leader, a Second Lieutenant portrayed in the show is way too old for his rank. The guy in the show playing the lieutenant is around my age, pushing forty. The oldest 2nd Lt. I ever saw was around twenty-three. Either this guy had a really rough paper route growing up or they've badly miscast him. They did get it right that he's a complete fucking moron though, but that's another bitch.

Several other boners there too. The characters keep on referring to "Getting thrown in the Brig".

Brig? Since when the hell did the army get a brig? Unless the army has a ship out in the middle of the desert somewhere, the closest "brig" would be on one of the US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. The army has the "Stockade" or "CCF" (Confined corrections Facility) Never a fucking brig.

I could really go nuts about the mistakes in infantry tactics shown, but they're far to many to list. I'll just say that if I ever did any of the dumb mistakes shown on the show in real life I'd be very, very dead in short order.

Then we go to the scenery. I never knew Iraq had Mesquite and Juniper trees. Looks like Southern California or Arizona to me.

Then we have the characters. And boy are they. A grenadier with no grenades, a SAW (squad automatic weapon) gunner who wields his M-243 like a cowboy who hasn't clue what he's doing, A blonde female truck driver from West Virginia (I wonder where they got that fucking idea from? How Goddamn original!) and of course the token Arab-American who just so happens to speak fluent Farsi.

All in all this show insults me on several different levels.

It shows the army and it's soldiers in the worst light, making everything we've accomplished there worth nothing. Shows the the basic infantry soldier as a knuckle-dragging, trigger happy idiot who doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself and all the loved ones he or she has left behind as drunk assholes who are fucking everything that moves when their spouses are away fighting the war. It also shows that we're not doing anything good there at all, and that's so far removed from the veterans I've spoken to at great length. They tell me of so many good things they've done. How every day Iraqis would come up to them and thank them daily for getting rid of Saddam and how much they're appreciated there.

This show has great potential. It's up to the writers, producers and military advisors to get it right. Of course there's going to be some ugly things. It's a war for Christ's sake. Nothing is ever surgical or clear-cut in a war. But let's start telling the truth and getting the facts straight. 100% of the soldiers there right now are volunteers. Many are on their second and third tours, not because they were told to, but volunteers to go back, because like the way I was instructed as a young soldier, get the job done. Never give up until the job is done. When it's done, then come home.

"Charlie Mike!" Continue mission.

We now have the best trained, best equipped army in the world. Don't let shows like this one dishonor them and especially those who've given their lives so that we can live free of terrorism, and also to let the Iraqis live without fear either. Oh, and if Cindy Sheehan is reading... I'm truly sorry for your son's loss, but he volunteered, not once, but twice to go to Iraq... So in saying the shit you've been spewing lately you are pissing on his grave. You care nothing about him, only you're own search for the limelight. You are not worthy enough to carry your son's boots.

As an army veteran this show insults me. It insults me as an American. It insults my intelligence and in essence, shits on every grave of every American soldier who ever fought and died for this country.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden


cantellya said...

The sad part is that people like me would never catch those mistakes, so we'd think it was an accurate account. You'd think they'd either do a little more research or get more intelligent writers.

And please don't ever shut up! :)

Ranger Tom said...

Thanks what they're hoping for cantellya...

And I can't shut up... It's a terminal condition!

Jen said...

You have a great writing style, and I enjoyed reading your opinion about the show. It is good to read some insight into the military.

Since you sound like you know what's going on and support the war in Iraq, and you tout that the soldiers need to stay and get the job done, what is that job to do in Iraq? What is the goal of being in Iraq? And, when and how can this goal be attained?

It's great to be enthusiastic about something, but it gets difficult to continue to cheer the team on when we don't know how to score in the game, how many quarters remain, nor how to say "we won."

BTW, if we are fighting for Iraqi freedom, it would be a bit misleading to ever say "we won" when it should be the Iraqi's victory?

Don't worry, I think too much sometimes, too.

Ranger Tom said...

I'm not worried Jen, a good debate is always welcomed.

When I say "get the job done" I mean staying there until the Iraqi government can handle this stuff on thier own. Can they handle all the terrorist bombings going on over there by themselves right now? Of course not. And who are these alleged "Insurgents" anyway? From everything I've learned from people who've been there and not reported on the news much, must of these jokers aren't Iraqi. They're comming in from Iran and Syria and are mostly Al Qieda members (Remeber 9-11?). The Iraqis want us there right now. Of course they don't want us there forever, but everyday Iraqis my friends have met and talked to want us there right now. But not forever, nor should we be, Just long enough to get to the point of the Iraqis handling it on thier own.

I'll compair this with Viet Nam just for a second. We could have won that war in 1968 if the government would have let us. WE then pulled out, leaving the South Vietnamese to fend for themselves. We turned our backs on them, and ran away. That's what Al Qieda is banking on now. That we'll turn tail and run. And again, if we're not wanted and not doing a good job, why are so many of the people I know who're in the National Guard and the Reserves willing to volunteer to go back, not once but twice and three times? You didn't hear of to much of that in Viet Nam.

No war is popular. I didn't really dig getting shot at in Grenada or Central America. I'm sure my father didn't dig getting shot at in Europe in WWII. But the fact of the matter is, while no war is popular, if you must fight it, fight it to win and never give up until it's won. What would have happened to Europe in 1944 if after eight hours on Omaha beach, 2000 soldiers dead, thousands more wounded, General Eisenhower called President Roosevelt and said "Oh, well. Too many dead. Let's pack it it and come home. It's just not worth it!"

If we just up and run now, it'll not only prove the enemy right and let them win, every soldier who's died there freeing the Iraqis from Saddam's rule in the first place would have died in vain.

I can't support letting theat happen. As a vet, these soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors are my brothers and sisters. I can't let them be dishonored like that.

Do I have reservations with the reasons why we went? Sure I do. Do I believe we were directly lied to about the reasons? No. I just beleive that from the top down our intelligence was bad.I could go on with another rant now how a previous administration totally imasculated the CIA and NSA in the last decade, but I won't.

That's just the way I feel, as an American and a Veteran.

Wow... A reply as long as a post. I might have set a new record!

Stephalupogus said...

My question is whether you are the type who makes comments, moans, groans, snorts, and acts generally obnoxious every time you notice a flaw in a TV show or movie, or do you wait and THEN make all your comments?
If the former, then I'm going to be obnoxious and say I agree with your ex. That is INCREDIBLY annoying.
If you wait, and then let lose, then what was her problem? That is 1 of my favorite things to do after watching a movie or TV show. Discussing what was accurate, what was not, and what was forgivable and what wasn't.

Ranger Tom said...

Steph, most of the time I'd wait... But sometimes I just couldn't help myself and blurt something out. But that wasn't to often. Most of the time I'd be watching those type of shows alone though so it really didn't matter.

And I'll never do it in a movie theater... That's just rude.

honkeie2 said...

I be honest with you I have just sworn off tv all together. It has comsumed me with addictions such as lost, invaison, csi and so on. My life was going to pot watching the idiot box. so I have turned it off and started reading again, but I do for see a 12 step program in my future :-D

dasi said...

Ok, Tom, I hear you on "Over There" - as I have never been in the military (but have plenty of family and friends who have been) I would have absolutely no idea what was accurate or inaccurate. But since you HAVE been, you have a right to pick apart the obvious mistakes.

And I refuse to say anything more than that because I have learned that you can lose a lot of friends when you get into the subject of politics - which any discussion of war inadvertently leads into. ;)

Let’s just say I have a differing opinion and leave it at that. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you…!!)

P.S. Does this mean you won't read MY blog anymore??

Ranger Tom said...

Honkeie: TV shows I watch: CSI, Rescue Me and Jeopardy!... That's it.

Dasi: Advice from my father that's stands true today. "Never talk politics and religion. They both start wars, big and little."

Pretty good advice I live by today.

cantellya said...

Cervesa=good idea!
I stopped watching CSI (Vegas) because among other 'mistakes,' they referred to a crime scene on "North Tropicana." That street runs east & west.
And I also pick movies apart, WHILE WATCHING, though not in a movie theater. While I understand a movies are fiction, I thought the idea was to make it at least realistic.

Ranger Tom said...

cantellya: Yep... The TV show "Cold Case" is funnier than hell. In the show the two main detectives went to a murder scene at 8th and Catherine streets in South Philly... There was lawns, trees, single homes... I pissed myself laughing. If you can find me one single home, tree or blade of grass anywhere near 8th & Catherine I'll eat my boots...

Ranger Tom said...

Go here for another TV show bitch:

Kev said...

I was waiting until other shows came up before throwing out this one. I lived in Alaska back when Northern Exposure was on the air. Oh, man, did they miss the mark. From dark summer evenings with crickets chirping (no crickets, no evenings that are both dark and summer) to stories of ancestors driving to the town in the Y-K delta (where there are no roads even now) to a Washington state flag flying above the courthouse, they missed the mark on so many occasions.

Cantellya talked about "a little more research or ... more intelligent writers" ... somehow, I just don't think so.

cmk said...

I TOTALLY watch TV for the entertainment value--it just would be way too frustrating to do otherwise. (I, too, am one who will pick apart the mistakes.) One just HAS to watch 24 (for example) with the idea that it is total, unbelievable, entertaining, fiction.

Without getting into a long discussion, RIGHT ON with your comments about Iraq!

Stephalupogus said...

I am totally behind cmk on this one. Evidenced by the fact that my tv viewing is limited to Bones, House, NCIS, & occassional Sat. morning cartoons, so it is pretty obvious I am not watching for reality. Since I tend to forget to put my book down, I can't even really say I watch these shows.

And you would be surprised by the number of people willing to debate in the theater. There are theaters I won't even go to because I have been burned so often by just such tackiness.

Ranger Tom said...

Kev: Hollywood does have a way with distorting the truth and taking liberties... Jackie Chan's movie "Rumble in the Bronx" comes to mind... He's fighting in the strees of New York City, and behind him you can plainly see the snow-capped Rockie Mountains... Here's anopther one I cought at a VERY early age. I couldn't have been any more that 11 or so. It was an episone of "The Six Million Dollar Man"... Aparently in the show, a group of guys steal the Liberty Bell from Independence Hall (were it was kept at the time) and drive off from the back door down a dirt road thruogh some woods... Even as a kid I know that couldn't have been possible because that section of town has been paved over since the late 1600's.

Cantellya: Here's another CSI blooper I see constantly in the morgue on the autopsy table... The ME goes to do the "Y" cut and the body will bleed... Dead guys do not bleed. If you cut into a dead guy and he starts to bleed, he's not dead!

Cmk: I don't even have cable anymore. I just download the shows I want to watch from the file sharing program Emule and watch them on my computer. I can't justify paying for a service I'd hardly use. Color me cheap...

Steph: I'd much rather read a book...

Airforce Guy said...

That show sux! Go Airforce!!!!


Ranger Tom said...

"That show sux! Go Airforce!!!!


Says the Plebe-year United States Airforce Academy Cadet, oh so eloquently...