6. Windtalkers (2002). Branch Represented: Marines
This movie is based on the true story of WWII's "windtalkers," Marines of Navajo descent who used their native language to send coded radio messages on the battlefield. Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater play Marines who are tasked with defending the windtalkers with their lives. I enjoyed this movie, although I felt Christian's character was too similar to the one he played in Young Guns II.
Quote: "This is no democracy. This is the Marines."
5. The War At Home (1996). Branch Represented: Army
Emilio Estevez wrote, directed, and starred in this drama about 20-something Vietnam War veteran Jeremy Collier. Following 2 tours of duty overseas, Jeremy returns to small-town Texas to live with his parents and younger sister. The movie depicts Jeremy's struggles to re-adjust to civilian life while his family tries to cope with drastic changes in Jeremy's personality. It's a powerful reminder of the unseen scars that millions of American veterans live with.
Quote: "The final battle of Vietnam was fought along an unrecognized front, far from the shellings and the smell of napalm and the sound of planes and guns. It was a battle my brother Jeremy fought when he came back."
4. The Guardian (2006). Branch Represented: Coast Guard
Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is among the Coast Guard's elite: a decorated rescue swimmer and a legend in his own time. One night, a rescue mission goes horribly awry; a helicopter crash results in the deaths of the entire crew, including Ben's closest friend. Faced with no other option but forced retirement, Ben reluctantly becomes an instructor at "A" School, the starting point for all rescue swimmers. He butts heads with a cocky recruit named Fischer and attempts to teach him what the title really means: "These things we do so that others may live." Be sure to have tissues for the ending.
Quote: "I don't care who you are, where you're from, or where you're going. I care about one thing and one thing only and that is the future victims you'll have to save."
3. A Few Good Men (1992). Branches Represented: Navy and Marines
At the Marine Corps base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Private Willy Santiago is found dead in his barracks. Two Marines in his unit are the prime suspects; both are arrested and charged with Willy's murder. Navy JAG lawyers, Daniel Kaffee and JoAnne "Jo" Galloway, are assigned to their defense.
Quote: "I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans trained to kill me."
2. Uncommon Valor (1983). Branch Represented: Marines
Colonel Cal Rhodes' (Gene Hackman) world was shattered when news came home that his son had been taken as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Even as years pass with no word, he never loses hope that he will see his son alive again. The government declares it will no longer be searching for still-missing P.O.W.s, so Cal assembles his own team of Marines, all but one of whom served in Vietnam. They go to Saigon on a dangerous mission to liberate a camp in the Vietnamese jungle. This movie features an outstanding early performance by Patrick Swayze. It's equal parts action-packed, humorous, and genuinely moving.
Quote: "Most human problems can be solved by an appropriate charge of high explosives."
1. Platoon (1986). Branch Represented: Army
This is rightly regarded as one of the best war movies ever made and received an Oscar for Best Picture. The cast reads like a current who's-who of Hollywood: Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Johnny Depp, and Forrest Whitaker. Platoon takes us into an Army infantry unit known as Tropic Lightning during the Vietnam War; its story is told through the eyes of its newest member: Private Chris Taylor. A shocking incident in a village divides the men into what Chris calls "a Civil War in the platoon." Things only go further downhill from there.
Quote: "They come from the end of the line, most of 'em. Small towns you never heard of: Pulaski, Tennessee; Pork Bend, Utah; Wampum, Pennsylvania. Two years of high school's about it. Maybe if they're lucky, a job waitin' for 'em back in a factory. But most of 'em got nothin'. They're the poor, they're the unwanted, and yet they're fighting for our society and our freedom."