GI Granddad: How Old Men Fight American Wars

Paul Hair

America has been at war over 15 years. And if a motivated filmmaker wants to make a unique movie about the Global War on Terrorism, he has the opportunity to do so by telling a story about the significant number of old men—GI Granddads—who fight for the U.S. armed forces.

I guess there have been quite a few movies made about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since Islamic terrorists attacked America on September 11, 2001. Many of them have been critical. And I’m not sure if any have focused on the fights going on in the other nations across the globe.

Furthermore, when you consider that Hollywood is still pumping out movies about the Civil War, World War II, the Vietnam War, and so forth, I’d argue that the market isn’t close to being oversaturated with GWOT movies. In fact, I’d say there haven’t been a proportional amount of GWOT movies when compared to the obsession Hollywood has with other wars.

Regardless, if some inspired moviemaker wanted to make a war film and didn’t know where to start, he could create an interesting story about how there are quite a few old men serving in the all-volunteer American armed forces.

For instance, there was the 59-year-old soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 (the oldest U.S. troop to die in the nation at that time).

And there was the retired flight surgeon who voluntarily returned to active duty. The Army issued a press release about him in 2010 when he was 79-years-old and had already done deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was preparing to deploy to Germany at that time.

There also have been a number of troops who have served in the GWOT and also served in the Vietnam War.

Of course, simply saying, “Here is an old man in the armed forces,” wouldn’t be enough. The filmmaker would have to come up with a compelling storyline to go along with that major plot point. But that would be easy enough to create. And I do mean “create” since I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making an outright biography of one individual troop.

While producers could make a biographical movie of one troop, and while there are plenty of troops who probably have fascinating stories, filmmakers would probably be better off reading about real-life stories and then developing their own tale.

Apart from there being so many potential real-life stories to choose from, there is a problem of some troops making up stories about what they have done. So any filmmaker wanting to focus on a biographical portrait would be well advised to do plenty of research on a subject before starting a project about him.

In short, it would be much easier to develop a fictional tale about old troops fighting American wars.

But either way, as the GWOT continues (with even bigger wars on the horizon), any filmmaker who wants to do something unique has a great opportunity to do so with the GI granddads fighting America’s battles.

They have shown no signs of slowing down in fighting the all-but-forgotten 15-year war even as everyday Americans whine about being “exhausted from the nasty presidential campaign.”