Stripes (1981): Thanks to a run of bad luck and go-nowhere jobs, John convinces Russell to join the army so they can get in shape, likening it to a health spa. Once in boot camp, wiseguy John tangles with his by-the-book Sgt. and becomes the unofficial leader for his platoon, made up mostly of other misfits and assorted losers. After somehow making it through graduation, they are given a special assignment but, thanks to John’s romantic interest in a pretty MPO, the other men wind up behind the Iron Curtain until John, Russell, their dates and Sgt. Hulka make a daring rescue attempt in explosive style. Played by fascinating Bill Murray.
John Winger: Cut it out! Cut it out! Cut it out! The hell’s the matter with you? Stupid! We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts! Here’s proof: his nose is cold! But there’s no animal that’s more faithful, that’s more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw “Old Yeller?” Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end?
Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? I’m sure.
I cried my eyes out. So we’re all dogfaces, we’re all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We’re mutants. There’s something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us – we’re soldiers. But we’re American soldiers! We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re ten and one! Now we don’t have to worry about whether or not we practiced. We don’t have to worry about whether Captain Stillman wants to have us hung. All we have to do is to be the great American fighting soldier that is inside each one of us. Now do what I do, and say what I say. And make me proud.
From IMDB: We Were Soldiers In a place soon to be known as The Valley of Death, in a football field-sized clearing called landing zone X-Ray, Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and 400 young troopers from the elite newly formed American 7th “Air” Cavalry, were surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers dug into the tunnel warren mountainside. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history and is portrayed here as the signal encounter between the American and North Vietnamese armies. We Were Soldiers Once… And Young is a tribute to the nobility of those men under fire, their common acts of uncommon valor, and their loyalty to and love for one another.
Look around you. In the 7th Cavalry, we got a Captain from the Ukraine. Another from Puerto Rico. We’ve got Japanese, Chinese, Blacks, Hispanics, Cherokee Indians, Jews and Gentiles – all Americans. Now here in the States, some men in this unit may experience discrimination because of race or creed. But for you and me now, all that is gone. We’re moving into the valley of the shadow of death, where you will watch the back of the man next to you, as he will watch yours. And you won’t care what color he is or by what name he calls God. They say we’re leavin’ home. We’re goin’ to what home was always supposed to be. So let us understand the situation. We are goin’ into battle against a tough and determined enemy. I can’t promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear before you and before Almighty God that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off. And I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me God. Lt. Col HAL MOORE played by Mel Gibson.
The story was originally written, We Were Soldiers Once … and Young, by the man who lived it, now retired Lt. General Harold G. Moore. While serving as an instructor at West Point, Moore taught then-cadet Norman Schwarzkopf. The book of course goes into full details of the battle and the true extent of it.
If you have the inclination to read the book and see the movie I suggest seeing the movie first then reading the book. You will disappointed in the movie and some of its portrayal of events otherwise.
A little Hollywood boomerang action: From the movie Lethal Weapon (1987) Murtaugh tells Riggs(Mel Gibson) that Huntsaker saved his life in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965. Mel Gibson would later play Col. Hal Moore in We Were Soldiers (2002) which is a movie adaptation of that battle.