In The Shadow of The Blade follows the 10,000-mile flight of a restored, battle-scarred UH-1 “Huey” helicopter across America to hear the untold stories of the soldiers who once relied on it for survival and of the families who waited for them to come home. Landing in backyards and farmyards, the war’s symbol became a catalyst for healing as soldiers and citizens came to pay tribute to their shared experience and to the war’s fallen.
Moments captured by the filmmakers as they traveled from the ocean across the plains to the mountains include a Native American blessing of the aircraft, the reunion of a Vietnam War nurse and a Vietnamese woman she helped save 34 years before, an infantryman’s delivery of a message that haunted him for three decades, a door gunner’s meeting with the man he’d helped save, and the army’s highest-ranking prisoner of war’s reunion with the machine that took him “to a very bad place.” Hundreds of veterans from all branches of service rode in the aircraft and shared their stories. By mission’s end at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Chapel in Angel Fire, New Mexico, the evocative healing power of In The Shadow of The Blade had been described as “the most important thing to happen to Vietnam veterans since the dedication of The Wall.”
Commentary by General Hal Moore and combat journalist Joe Galloway, co-authors of the best-selling We Were Soldiers Once…And Young, fine-toothed verification of story accuracy and the unfiltered stories of combat veterans deliver what the Library of Congress Veteran Forum describes as “a gold standard for accuracy, insuring that the real experience, as opposed to the Hollywood cliché, is documented for posterity.”
In The Shadow of The Blade has been endorsed by major veteran organizations including the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association, the DUSTOFF Association and several smaller organizations. It received Best Documentary and Best of Show in the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival in 2004. The aircraft used in the film and three clips are part of a permanent exhibit in the Smithsonian’s history museum.