During the holiday season, when many of us are celebrating with our families in the peace and safety our military has made possible for us, it is fitting to remember, support, and serve our military and their families however we can. Helping viewers to remember and support our military, ‘The Long Road Home’ supports military during holidays and helps us to do just that as it continues on the National Geographic Channel throughout the holiday season.
The Long Road Home is an eight-part global event series that provides a gripping and intimate look at the toll war takes on soldiers and their families. It tells the story of “Black Sunday,” when a small platoon of soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division from Ft. Hood, Texas, was ferociously ambushed in Sadr City, Baghdad, in April 2004. Eight American soldiers would make the ultimate sacrifice that day and more than 65 were seriously wounded. Cutting between the soldiers on the ground and the home front in Texas, the series provides the perspective of key soldiers of varying ranks and responsibility and their loved ones at home.
Based on Martha Raddatz’s New York Times bestselling book, The Long Road Home is appropriate for older teens and adults only, as it is graphic in terms of realistic violence. It also has some female backside nudity in one scene. However, it does present faith and prayer positively throughout.
Sonoma Christian Home’s Dr. Diane Howard pre-screened the whole series and sat with soldiers who participated in the real events for the premiere at Ft. Hood. They said that for the most part, it is accurate and realistic. They were impressed at how hard the actors and film team worked to get it right. The series features the following notable actors who give heartfelt, believable, authentic performances: Michael Kelly, Jason Ritter, E.J. Bonilla, Kate Bosworth, Sarah Wayne Callies, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Sisto, and more.
Dr. Diane Howard met Pedro Guzman, who was the platoon’s 21-year-old medic in the intense Black Sunday events, at the premiere of The Long Road Home at Ft. Hood and later interviewed him.
Pedro’s service during the Black Sunday events is a focus in one of the episodes in The Long Road Home series, when he continues to give CPR to fallen, respected gunner Sgt. Eddie Chin, even after Guzman believed Chin was gone. Carter Redwood, known for Blue Bloods and The Good Wife plays Specialist Pedro Guzman throughout the series
Pedro Guzman gives heartfelt responses for Sonoma Christian Home. Dr. Diane Howard reports.
DH: Did you think that the series honors the sacrifices and service of the military and their family members?
PG: I do strongly believe The Long Road Home honors everyone and their sacrifices. This story has been tightly monitored by none other than Martha Raddatz throughout all of these years. She is the reason why our story is being told in the first place.
DH: Do you think the series for the most part accurately portrays what happened?
PG: The series doesn’t accurately portray every single thing that exactly happened because of the time crunch and available resources that they had; but from the resources that they did have, they did a phenomenal job thanks to the show’s technical advisers Eric Bourquin and Aaron Fowler. Because of them, the uniforms, the set and how we communicated on the radio, is highly accurate!
DH: How do you hope the series will affect viewers?
PG: I already have seen reactions of viewers and they take it pretty hard… People are now seeing what some combat veterans go through, especially in the recent war. Everyone knows how all the other wars happened; but now they are seeing a glimpse of how Operation Iraqi Freedom went down.
DH: How do you hope the series would affect our country and culture?
PG: I hope the country will appreciate veterans more… This country is getting better in a general sense of taking care and honoring veterans, but I think we, as a country, can do better!
The series begins as the soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, say goodbye to their loved ones as they depart for Sadr City, Baghdad, on what is considered a peacekeeping mission. Without incident for a year, the area is known as the “safest place in Iraq.” Troops under Lt. Shane Aguero are ambushed during a routine support mission. Within minutes, bullets pound the vehicles in a relentless hailstorm. Aguero’s Platoon has no hope of getting back to base with its two vehicles down.
Braving an increasing rain of bullets from rooftops, the men head down a long, narrow alley, where they find refuge in a house with its terrified Iraqi family inside., Lt. Col. Gary Volesky and Capt. Troy Denomy back at Camp War Eagle launch the first of three rescue missions to retake the city and to free their men. At first unaware of the mounting situation in Iraq, the soldiers’ wives and families back at home continue on with daily life as they try to maintain normalcy during their loved ones’ deployment.
As this scripted series offers viewers an intimate look at the experience of war as seen through the eyes and the hearts of the soldiers themselves, as well of their families back home, it shows how no soldier fights alone. It is an adrenaline-fueled and emotional journey that follows the action of the battle on two simultaneous fronts. One front is on the chaotic, terror-filled streets of Sadr City, where a group of inexperienced young soldiers faces an unexpected and unimaginable attack with bravery they never knew they had. The second front is at home at Fort Hood, where family members, desperate for news of their loved ones and fearing the worst, discover their own courage and determination as well.
With unprecedented intimacy, this eight-part series tells the stories, not only of the courageous soldiers under the fire of an ambush, but also of their compatriots involved in the three desperate and deadly rescue missions launched to save them. Across eight hours, reflecting the exact amount of time the soldiers were pinned down, each episode focuses on a different character’s unique and compelling story as we come to understand their heroism and humanity.
Dr. Diane Howard has been involved with the military all her life. She grew up in an Army family and then married Dave Howard who became a 20-year Veteran Army chaplain. Her husband, David R. Howard, is a retired LTC Army chaplain. He has been trained by the Army as a Marriage and Family Therapist. He is a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Counseling and has been involved in PTSD research and counseling. He continues to support and serve soldiers and their caregivers as a retired Army chaplain, therapist, and professor.
Dr. Diane Howard’s father served General Patton in WWII, liberating a concentration camp and much more. He also served in the Korean War under General MacArthur and in the Viet Nam War under General Westmoreland. After Diane was born, her father served as a liaison officer to Chiang Kai-Shek. Their family was evacuated to Japan from China during the Communist invasion.
Dr. Dave Howard’s last assignment was at Ft. Hood and he continues to serve the military and their families there, as does Dr. Diane Howard. Dave retired from the Army near Ft. Hood, where they have both served as professors at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard