HBO Synopsis: The Last Patrol
Easy Co. arrives in the Alsacian town of Haguenau near the German border, and are ordered to send a patrol across the river to take enemy prisoners. Lt. Jones (Colin Hanks), fresh from West Point and eager for combat experience, volunteers to lead. While successful, the mission costs another paratrooper’s life, prompting Winters (Damian Lewis) to ignore the order to send a second patrol the next night.
A few of the things that really stood out to me in this episode was the focus on Webster, who was getting a lot of crap from all his buddies with his return from the hospital and his missing the action in Bastogne. Well, he didn’t express any of that ill-will in his letters home, nor did Ambrose. Though I am sure it was a sentiment that occurred, and Ambrose did remind readers on a couple of occasions, that while Webster was a good soldier, he refused any promotions, responsibilities of leadership, and that he didn’t volunteer for anything. There is also much less of a focus on LT Jones in the chapter, but I mean it’s Colin Hanks, who’s adorable, so why wouldn’t they want to give him a larger role – and it did highlight the role of young officers towards the end of the war and how they would influence the regular army.
One thing I thought was really interesting was the sentiment of war as a spectacle. The soldiers all reveled in the destruction brought about by war. Ambrose states: “the human eye is lustful; it craves the novel, the unusual, the spectacular.” (227) And what is more spectacular than witnessing the level of destruction man can do to one another and the technology that allows him to do so?
Another thing that stood out to me, which I noticed earlier in the book with talks of Bastogne, is the role of the PR photographers. At one point, the soldiers were being visited by General Taylor, so all of them were ordered to clean up. One soldier didn’t and he was pulled aside, looking ragged and soiled by war, and got his picture taken with the General for propaganda reasons. (237) I understand why he was targeted, but an earlier account noted how one photographer aided wounded soldiers and soiled his uniform to get a picture. I mean, weren’t there enough chances to get pictures of genuine moments, why facilitate them like that?
Anyway, this episode starts the transition of the Easy men in the windings down of the war. They were about to enter Germany, and to find out who their real enemy was.