Edmonds Military Wire special report: The movie ‘Fury’ — fact or fiction?

Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is a statement attributed to Churchill. Yet, “history” today is often based on the perspective of those who tell the story and their interpretation. Whether it is some educator with an agenda or Hollywood with its interpretation, can one learn from history if the facts are ignored?

David “Sting” Rae, military adviser for the movie “Fury,” starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf and set to release Friday, Oct. 17, believes that one can look beyond the facts to observe the intent of the story and still learn.

In the words of Director David Ayer, who is best known for his film “Training Day” starring Denzel Washington, the movies is “the study of a family (brotherhood) that happens to live in a tank and kill people.” One could argue this is not too far from actual real life truth in war.

Set in April 1945, the story starts as the Allies make their final push in the European Theater. A battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

The story sounds real – after all, World War II was certainly won by everyday citizens overcoming overwhelming odds – but the actual events and the heroes are more fiction than fact.

But does that really matter? I had the opportunity to speak with David Rae, who said that while the events may not be real, the issues and the psychology are very much real.

And David speaks from a position of authority.

A 22-year British Army Veteran, David reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 and the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major. He served in an armored reconnaissance regiment, which is the equivalent to our US Cavalry Scout, named The Light Dragoons. David did more than his share of deployments: Four tours of Bosnia both during the war with the UN and post-war as NATO, one tour in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan. He transitioned out of service in 2013.

Knowing that David Rae contributed his knowledge of the veteran psyche to this film will help me overlook some of the historical flaws of the movie.  So for you history buffs, put that aside for this film.

Bottom line: Whether fact or fiction, there are lessons to be learned. “Fury” should not be viewed as a lesson in history, but rather observed from the lens of how humans, regardless of their background, when faced with crisis can work together and overcome overwhelming odds. This is a lesson we all need to remember – especially in today’s environment.

– By Michael Schindler

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.




  1. Your observation about history reflects the viewpoint of the person who wrote it is right on. It’s always good to know who wrote something. Think of the difference of an account of our Revolutionary war. Is it the American version or the British version? There will be differences.

  2. Barbara, bingo. Understanding perspective is key in really understanding any issue – whether it be politics or history. When we view issues or history from this lens, then decisions tend to be more balanced and not rooted in an agenda. Specific to history, I was once told that there is truly a difference between “history” and “the past.” History is rooted in the perspective of the storyteller and the Past is rooted in facts. I’ll be coming out with a piece from the historian who writes for The Saturday Evening Post – he is compiling articles and letters from WWI and WWII that reflect the attitude and events from the time. Pretty fascinating.

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