The Marines talk about the movie, compare their experiences and discuss life as soldiers
Jarhead is a war movie but even more than that it is a film about people. It is a movie about friendships formed during the most strenous of situations. It is about the bond that soldiers have both in and out of the service. No two Marines better exemplify this than Corporal's Robert Vlasaty and Angel Serrano. These are two soldiers who know one another well having been sent on missions together to places like Iraq, Japan, Hawaii, the Phillipines and Haiti.
While not in the movie Jarhead, they appear as subjects in the Semper Fi documentary which is a supplemental feature on the DVD.
As people in the Marines, how does the depiction in Jarhead measure up to what you've experienced being in the service?
Robert Vlasaty: It was right on track... you gotta realize, every Marine, every job is different. For me and Angel, we both started off in Security Forces 8152 then we went to 0311 which is Infantry. We kind of had two good experiences within one experience in the Marines. Where you have other Marines that go to be Ammo-Techs or Artillery or not even Combat Arms, but they go Motor Transport or whatever.
Within that every Marine in the Military has his own experience. For us, since we went to combat, we were on the frontlines going house to house. So we got a real taste of what being a Marine's Marine is like and actually going to War and protecting our country for what we believe in.
When you watch a film like Jarhead or any film about the military, are you able to just watch the film or are you always looking to make sure it's accurate to what you have experienced?
Angel Serrano: Every time I watch a film I pick something out and say, "No that's not true, that's not true, that's not how somebody reacts, that's not a how a grenade explodes." Yeah, you definitely look at it and try and pick out what's accurate and what's not.
How did you guys become part of the Semper Fi documentary that's on the Jarhead DVD?
Robert Vlasaty: I was on leave in Florida, just kind of relaxing, decompressing for lack of a better term, and my buddy Patrick calls me. He was still at Pendleton at the time and he came across Anthony Swofford. He said he was looking to talk to Marines "just getting out" or "on their way to getting out." So he gave him my number and in turn I gave him Angel's and from there it just happened.
Laura (Nix) came, she met up with us and did the documentary and everything just kind of got put through the process. It kind of came and went without us even blinking an eye but it came out perfect.
Do you guys have a favorite War or military movie?
Robert Vlasaty: I'm gonna have to think about that.
Angel Serrano: Mine is Saving Private Ryan. I just thought it was a good story. It was very emotional, I enjoyed it very much.
Robert Vlasaty: I really can't think of one that I can say like that, really. I don't feel that way.
When you guys are sent somewhere like Haiti what is your mindset when you get up for work everyday?
Robert Vlasaty: Okay, you're asking two different questions. One, how is it going to Haiti? And two, what is it like getting up everyday to train for something like that? A real mission that would come up?
When you're in the mission.
Robert Vlasaty: I'll put it to you like this. Me and Angel, we just got back from a six month pump in Japan. We went home for about fourteen days on leave, kind of with the mentality that we might be going to Haiti. See here's the thing, stuff comes through all the time, rumors, "Hey, this might go on, this might go on..." And as soon as you get all set, "Yeah, we're going! We're going..." everybody gets ready to go then it doesn't go through.
Well, Haiti we knew wasn't going to happen because nobody gave a sh*t. (Something happens to our connection where we can't hear each other for a few moments). From the time we got the call to go to Haiti we were there 18 hours later. From the time everybody got back to base we started getting our radios, our weapons, any kind of intelligence, what you need to know before you go in there, don't forget we've already had our vaccines from previous stuff going on.
Pretty much once you get on that bird and you're flying in and they tell you, "Go Condition One..." you're ready. There's times when you're scared because what scares you is the fear of the unknown. Obviously, you have that hesitation of, "What's gonna happen? I'm not really sure." That always goes through your head. With that same adrenaline you're focusing, "Okay, I'm trained, I know what to do." And you always fall back on that.
For me, I'm really never scared. Something comes my way, the first thing I do is orientate myself, decide what I need to do to fix it and act on it. For me, I feel I can handle any situation in the world no matter what gets thrown at me.
Angel Serrano: When I'm preparing for a mission you always make sure that your men are well trained. They know their knowledge, what to do and you're just constantly, constantly training. Run scenarios through your head and it becomes second nature and when something happens you just act on impulse. You just do things that you've been trained for.
What has been the most surprising thing for you guys about being Marines?
Angel Serrano: The amount of friends I've made and how close we are; the brotherhood. I wasn't expecting that. I was just expecting to go into the Marines, be a jarhead and do whatever I have to do, but being in touch and seeing how close we are with our friends now... we're having a reunion this weekend with Marines and I'm so excited. It's an overwhelming feeling, though you've just known them for 4 years, how much you love them and how much of a strong bond you have with them.
Robert Vlasaty: Just to add on that, not only can I call my buddies, other Marines all over the United States, but I call their parents. I ask them how they're doing, they call me, vice versa. Birthdays, holidays, everybody's in touch, "You coming out?", vice versa. So the networking ability... and the family bond that we all possess is incredible.
Would you guys like to be part of more movies in the future?
Angel Serrano: Yeah.
Robert Vlasaty: I can speak for myself but I know that Angel feels the same way. We like telling our story, number one and number two, I definitely see ourselves pursuing this and going further with it. So wherever that takes us... we're not gonna look for it, we're not gonna do anything crazy but we're definitely willing and capable if the opportunity arises.
Jarhead comes out on DVD March 7th, 2006 through Universal Home Video.
Dont't forget to also check out: Jarhead