In the early months of 1969, six men met on a swift boat on the Mekong Delta during some of the worst fighting of the Vietnam War. Five of the men were crewmates - Tommy, Mike, Gene, David, Del - and the came from across America, from Boston to Northern California to Iowa. Their commander happened to be a young Yale graduate named John Kerry. The six men would endure the horrors of Vietnam together. They would remain friends for the next 35 years. Brothers in Arms tells the story of their unique relationship. The documentary focuses on their experiences in Vietnam, but it also recounts what happened to them after the war and delves into the way each man has dealt with the experience of fighting in, as David puts it, "a war I discovered we didn't intend to win." Interviews, photographs and archival footage of the war are woven together to create a powerful and emotional film.
Just this week, a group of men who did not serve directly with John Kerry in Vietnam published a book maligning Kerry's military service. Over the last eighteen months, I have talked to and interviewed the veterans who actually did serve directly with Kerry in Vietnam. I use those interviews as the basis for my documentary film, Brothers in Arms. I decided to focus on the crew of Patrol Craft Fast 94, the last swift boat Kerry commanded. Brothers in Arms is a recounting of the lives of the crew of the 94 before, during, and after Vietnam. While the man behind this recent book never even met Kerry in Vietnam, the crew of the 94--Del, Mike, David, and Gene--lived with Kerry day in and day out on the Mekong Delta in early 1969. If anyone knows the truth of what happened to John Kerry in Vietnam, they do. Brothers in Arms is their story.-Paul Alexander
The controversy surrounding the military career of 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry spurred the creation of Brothers in Arms
, a documentary about the crew of Kerry's swift boat (or Patrol Craft, Fast). But though politics motivated the movie, its lasting value will be as an intimate record of the Vietnam experience. The footage and in-depth interviews with Gene Thorson, Del Sandusky, David Alston, Mike Medeiros, and Kerry himself create a vivid portrait of not only the war, but the soldiers' struggle to return to their lives afterward. Kerry is perhaps the weakest element of the documentary; his comments smack of a professional politician's gloss. The rest of the crew, however, is refreshingly blunt and plain-spoken, delivering a clear and sometimes nakedly emotional testimony (which, incidentally, clears Kerry of all accusations). Any student of the Vietnam War will find Brothers in Arms
invaluable. --Bret Fetzer