Brothers at War

Hollywood only rarely allows a glimpse of the humanity of the people who make up our military.  But the moral strength of America is reflected best in the soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and coastguardsmen who fight for us. Executive producer Gary Sinise (“Lt. Dan” in “Forrest Gump”) on Friday presented a new documentary film entitled “Brothers at War” at a screening at the National Press Club in Washington which encapsulates America’s greatness as reflected by the selfless men and women who make up our military.  

This documentary, alternately shocking and heart-warming, unveils the story of two brothers fighting the Iraq war through the eyes of a third brother who follows them to Iraq with a camera to find out why they fight.  There is no political agenda in this film, which is a refreshing change these days for what passes as a documentary out of Hollywood. From the explosive, front-lines look at what our men and women in uniform experience when they go to war, to the gut-wrenching insight into the lives of the military families left behind, this film resonates in its simple unfolding of truth.

When asked why he got involved with his wide support of the military as well as this project, Sinise said, “The media took the 15 people of Abu Ghraib and made them the face of the military. This [movie] is a true portrait of our military and their families.”  

Captain Isaac Rademacher is a decorated West Point graduate on his second tour with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq when he welcomes his brother Jake to his unit’s forward operating base near Mosul.  Embedded with Isaac’s troops, Jake takes us on a covert, five-day, long range reconnaissance patrol in the desert at the Syrian border that’s “kind of like purgatory” looking for foreign fighters crossing into Iraq.  

Sgt. Joe Rademacher is a Ranger and Army sniper who served with his brother Isaac in Iraq.

Sprinkled throughout the film, we go on sniper missions and kicking down doors with American soldiers.  While out on patrol with Iraqi soldiers and their American Marine advisors, our group takes casualties from an IED explosion and arms fire.  These chaotic scenes offer an unfiltered glimpse into the poignant relationships between these Iraqi soldiers and their Marine mentors.

At one point, we go back to the states with our boys between deployments — in Isaac’s case, to see his daughter who was only four months old when he left.  “She may not recognize who I am,” Isaac says as he prepares himself for likely rejection from a small daughter who simply does not know him.  Something as simple as this anxious family reunion brings home the magnitude of what our men and women in uniform sacrifice in service to our country.

At the screening on Friday, I spoke to filmmaker Jake Rademacher, the man who followed his brothers into a very dangerous war with nothing but a camera and a strong desire to know more of his brothers.  Jake told me, “I learned from their brothers-in-arms who my brothers really are.”

At times delightfully humorous, at other times gripping in its front-line action, this film is always authentic.  It simply is what it is: a stunning look at the incredible Americans who comprise our military and the families they leave behind.

For  more information or to find a screening near you: