Here at Military.com, we get a lot of pitches from people who have events or projects that "honor the military." An alarming number of those folks are just looking to make a buck or have some overblown vision that end up paying tribute to nothing or no one in particular.
Finnigan's War, a new documentary about Korean War vets by filmmaker Connor Timmis, is a really nice exception to that trend. Timmis' grandfather (the "Finningan" of the title) served in Korea and he set out to interview vets about their experiences during the conflict.
The movie includes profiles of some lesser-known heroes of the war:
- Timmis visits with members of the Korean War's all-black 2nd Rangers. Unique to the
- Korean War, they were the only All-African American commando unit in
- American history.
- He profiles Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Chinese American Regular Marine
- Corps officer who led 500 Marines through a blizzard at Chosin
- Reservoir to save thousands more from death or capture by Chinese
- Communist forces.
- There's an interview with Medal of Honor recipient and Holocaust survivor Tibor Rubin.
- He talks with the family of Native American Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after drawing fire away from his company in 1950.
This movie was made by an inexperienced filmmaker on a shoestring budget. There's very little in the way of actual film footage and some of the stories are recreated with drawings by artist Justin Case. Timmis appears on camera a lot, since the movie is framed by his attempts to learn about his grandfather's war through the experiences of his interview subjects. The film is narrated by Mark Hamill, who's obviously decided to participate for reasons that don't include a big paycheck.
Everyone in this movie is grateful to have a chance to tell their stories. It's almost as if no one had bothered to ask them before. Some of the stories are a bit scattered, but Timmis allows his subjects an unvarnished chance to share them.
The lasting impression from this movie is how similar the men who fought in the Korean War and their families are to those who serve today. Their stories, presented without a lot of historical context and flashy analysis, have a directness that will resonate with anyone who's served in the last decade.