If you were paying attention at the end of 2007, then you probably heard of, if not saw the PBS documentary, The War. An excellent little doc (if you call about 25 hours little) that I highly recommend. Well, if you watched all of it, you might have heard mentioned a couple of times the glider pilots involved in several major battles. Well, in the new Inecom documentary, Silent Wings, we not only learn more about these brave men, but about a nearly forgotten piece of American history.
The movie begins by explaining the reason for using gliders in the first place, they were an excellent way to get troops and supplies behind enemy lines. The doc tells the story of the gliders from the inception of the idea, through their use during the war. If you’re like me, you never really heard of gliders before and the story is one of heroism and bravery nearly unmatched! Glider pilots were the only men who began as pilots and wound up as infantry troops, after flying behind enemy lines they gathered gear and formed up to fight! Gliders were used in almost every major battle of World War 2, and used early in the battles, gliders dropped troops behind enemy lines before the invasion at Normandy, they took troops behind the lines to take bridges and control roads in Holland during Operation Market Garden, the stories of the gliders is really one of the people out in front during the war.
The story is told by some of the surviving pilots, Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite. And, while Rooney is really a background artist here, telling more of the story of the war and some interesting behind the scenes stories, it’s Cronkite who’ll leave you wanting more. Mr. Cronkite was actually involved with the glider program, in that he was on at least two missions on board gliders. Cronkite even tells how he ended up actually leading a platoon of men (briefly) after landing…I won’t say more, it’s a pretty good story. When you look back, not only were the gliders heading behind enemy lines, but, because of they way they were built and how they were used, most landings were basically controlled crashes…and sometimes there wasn’t all that much control. We today should really look back at this time in our history and imagine the bravery and daring of men, who looked death in the face…literally…day in and day out, and, if they survived, got up, dusted themselves off, and walked back into the fray. It’s a level of bravery that, I’m sad to say, seems to be lacking in this day and age. The story of World War 2, and the glider pilots specifically, is one that we should all look on with pride, if not for these brave men, who took their lives (and the lives of their passengers) into their own hands regularly, the war might have ended very differently. It’s because of these men that we’re all in the positions we’re in today. It makes you want to take a minute and thank all these men for saving the world!
I’m giving Silent Wings: The American Glider Pilots of World War II, four out of four cigars, it’s never boring, it’s entertaining and, it’ll make you feel a bit more proud, coming from a country that can turn out individuals who are not only ready, but willing to stand up in the face of danger and do the right thing…no matter the cost. Usually, at the end of a review, I try to end with a pithy comment or joke, but in this case, I’ll just say that we should all be proud of these men, and God Bless America.