October 28, 2007

The Real G.I. Joe

Apparently, for an upcoming movie to be directed by Stephen Sommers (of "The Mummy" fame), G.I. Joe is being transformed into a multinational rapid response force based in Brussels, Belgium. According to Variety, "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."


G.I. Joe was based on a real guy. A U.S. Marine, to be exact, Platoon Sergeant Mitchell Paige, who literally singlehandedly held off more than 2,000 invading Japanese infantry from taking over a then-unknown island called Guadalcanal. That's why G.I. Joe has to be a U.S. Marine, a "Real American Hero," the way I got to know him as a child of the Cold War.

Take a moment to read the links, please. Particularly impressive was his solo, handheld use of a .30 caliber M1919 Browning, a weapon usually mounted on a tripod and controlled by a gunner and an ammunition feeder. His citation for receipt of the Congressional Medal of Honor reads:

For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, in combat against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area on October 26, 1942. When t he enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, Platoon Sergeant Paige, commanding a machine-gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he manned his gun, and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire against the advancing hordes until reinforcements finally arrived. Then, forming a new line, he dauntlessly and aggressively led a bayonet charge, driving the enemy back and preventing a break through in our lines. His great personal valor and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

I'm no specialist in infantry tactics, but it seems to me the reason you orchestrate a bayonet charge in 1942 is because you ran out of ammunition. I don't think that Col. Paige, who died four years ago, would have liked being recast as a multinational force based in the chocolate confectioner's capital.

The movie, by the way, sounds suspiciously like a wondrous piece of B-moviedom from the mid-1980's. Now, I'm all for a cheesy B-movie. But, Hollywood, must you destroy the icons of my youth to create them? Yes, yes I guess you must. It's in your nature.

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