How fitting that Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around” served as swan song on the final installment of HBO’s critically acclaimed Iraq War miniseries Generation Kill. I felt shoulder to shoulder with at least 2 of the Four Horsemen, War and Death, for most of the seven mind-searing episodes. Still, I found myself sad to say goodbye to Brad, Ray, Trombley, Godfather, Scribe/Reporter and the rest of the ensemble making up the 1st Recon Marines. Both Blues and I are hoping beyond hope that it could become a regular series.
Based on Evan Wright’s memoir, Generation Kill follows Alpha and Bravo companies as they make their way from Kuwait to Iraq for the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The vulgar, politically incorrect trash talking is balanced with poignant moments in the soldiers’ lives and scenes of graphic violence and gore. As with any human drama, there are multidimensional characters with quirks and idiosyncrasies; the good guys and bad guys so often referred to by the soldiers are in everyone all at once. Despite whatever preconceptions or opinions one can have about the war in Iraq, the miniseries created a sense of family/community that draws you in if you can stomach the profanity and harsh imagery.
As the partner of an Iraq vet, I found the miniseries insightful, engaging, and moving. It introduced me to a universe I barely know, based from my limited experiences of briefly visiting an Army base or hearing my dad’s boot camp stories. It gave me lots of consider and offered a deeper sense of what Blues has experienced in his life. It also made me value the sacrifice of the thousands of troops still stationed in the Middle East.