Netflix's upcoming Medal of Honor, set to debut on Nov. 9, chronicles the extraordinary lives and deeds of eight service members awarded the nation’s highest commendation for valor. At first glance, it looks like a gut-punch of a documentary series, replete with visceral combat scenes and war stories recalled in painful detail. But the show seems to be just as much about the men who earned the medal as it is the medal itself.
Through a mix of archival footage, cinematic recreations, and commentary from historians, military leaders, and veterans, the series follows the recipients into heavy combat and then back home, where emotional interviews with friends and family members — and, in some cases, the recipients themselves — complete the stories of how each Medal of Honor was earned and the breadth of sacrifices entailed.
“When you read citations of [Medal of Honor] recipients, often times it would not be far fetched to think to yourself there is no way this person could have done this,” Mike Dowling, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and the technical advisor for the series, told Task & Purpose. “Only they did do that, and their stories deserve to be told.”
Dowling was one of a handful of military veterans who were involved in the production of the show, which premieres ahead of Veterans Day, either behind the scenes or as actors. “It was important to this team that the veteran community be involved in helping tell these stories,” Dowling said.
Three of the recipients featured in the series — Sylvester Antolak, Edward Carter, and Vito Bertoldo — were awarded the medal for actions in World War II; two — Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura and Joseph Vittori — in Korea; Richard L. Etchberger in Laos in 1968; and two — Ty Carter and Clint Romesha — during the infamous 2009 Battle of Kamdesh in eastern Afghanistan.
“Everything we did that day, we didn't do it because we hated the enemy,” Romesha says in a trailer for the series.“Combat is not a great thing to be in, and it's not a motivation to hate, by no means. It's a motivation to love your brothers."
Medal of Honor will be on Netflix Nov. 9.