Its 11:26 am
Decided to dive back into the stack of films that our friends at Mill Creek Entertainment a while back. One of the coolest things we got in this stack were three documentary films of which we have already watched and reviewed two of them. Since the cheetah and I were both is a somber mood yesterday for some reason,we decided to watch “Forgotten Heroes: The Robert Hartsock Story” from New Shepherd Films/C3 Entertainment.
Before I watched this,I looked up who Robert Hartsock was and knew thismovie was going to be emotional and it was.
Narrated by Jim Huggins,the documentary starts with recapping the history of the Vietnam War and the incredible courage of the little known Scout Dogs and their handlers. It has been estimated that scout dogs,mostly German Shepherds,and the young men who handled them saved about 10,000 American lives during the course of the war.
Over 4,000 scout dog teams were deployed in combat areas and were so effective in sniffing out danger,be it ambush,bunker or booby-traps/mines that the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) put bounties on the teams. Often a sniper would aim only for the dogs and leave the human soldiers untouched and unfired on.
The story is split into two,we learn about Robert who grew up in Maryland to a hard working and close knit family. We several of his friends and fellow soldiers who served with Robert,including his best friend Roger Forbes,he and Robert were drafted after Lyndon Johnson stated we needed more troops in order to win. What I liked about this documentary was there was no blame given or was it all “‘Murica,hell yeah”. In fact with the scriptures that were shown,this was about as close to a faith based war documentary as you would ever expect to see.
Robert served with the 44th Infantry Platoon Scout Dog,3rd Brigade,25th Infantry Division and he was assigned a dog to work with.
We learn how scout dog teams worked,they often were on “point” meaning they were first out and often engaged the enemy first. The dogs were treated just as well as any soldier for the most part except when an commander in the field would misuse his team,that often brought a swift reaction from Division on how to use the team. It is explained how the relation between a dog and its handler was established. It was shown that when a handler was killed or rotated out of theater,the dog was often too effected to work with another handler and had to be shipped home. Great care was taken to tell fellow troops that the scout dogs were not “pets” and to refrain from overly socializing with them.
Robert’s dog was Duke,a beautiful German Shepherd and they made for a great team. Duke got nicked by some shrapnel and we meet the Vet who took care of the dogs.
Robert’s time in Vietnam is followed by the reading of several letters he wrote home,he wrote his sister when things got a little hairy,he didn’t want his parents to find out.
Huggins explains how the US Pacification efforts didn’t work effectly enough because the Vietnam War (like today’s Syrian War) was a civil war and eventually both North and South Vietnamese started to resent the American presence more and more. This led to actions like the one on 23 Feb 69 where,with the help of several NVA sympathizers,2 NVA divisions attacked the American base in Dau Tieng and were on the verge of over running the base. This was done because the NVA had dug for years under the base’s defenses and when the attack came were already in the camp.
Robert Hartsock gave his life for his country when he dove on a an explosive satchel and mortally wounded. He died later that day. He was 24 years old.
President Richard Nixon awarded S/Sgt Robert Hartsock with the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1970. His dog,Duke,died of grief after he quit eating and drinking.
His best friend Roger Forbes survived the war and still mourned his best friend,he is shown weeping as the film closes. Robert was and is still the only dog handler to have won the Medal of Honor.
“Forgotten Heroes: The Robert Hartsock Story” has a run time of 65 minutes and includes two special features,the Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House and a 30 minute Army film talking about Vietnam.
You can buy this excellent and moving film by going to the website of Mill Creek Entertainment.
Needless to say,we were very moved by this documentary and learned a lot as well.
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