I watch a lot of television, movies, trailers, and trailer breakdowns for work, but here's the thing: I can't tell you or anyone else what makes a genuinely good military movie or show, especially if I haven't seen it yet. And I wouldn't call myself a "critic" in the classic sense. Then again what do they know; they said The Hurt Locker was a masterpiece.

What I do know, is that I get excited about stories that make an honest effort to achieve some measure of authenticity, whether it's a full blown dramatic reenactment of some major conflict, or seeing characters interact (even briefly) in a way you recognize, because you've had those conversations on base, overseas, or while you were drunk at one in the morning in the barracks.

At their best, military movies and shows focus on a character's service as more than a lazy plot device to explain why they're good with guns, have a high and tight, or shout out bits of military lingo at random moments; at their very worst, they may trot out the broken vet trope to add a little drama. And of course, there's the laziest of them where everyone's an operator — even lawyers, apparently.

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I tend to have a light touch when critiquing new movies based on a trailer alone. But after watching the teaser for Semper Fi, an upcoming prison break movie starring a whose-who of A-list actor lookalikes who decide to break their Marine buddy's kid brother out of the big house, I can't fucking help myself.

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U.S. Navy sailors at Los Angeles International Airport. It took the U.S. government nearly 40 years to recover the wreckage of the E-1B Tracer aircraft that crashed, killing Guerra in 1967. (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

As kids, Ruben and Raul thought they had life all figured out.

They would grow up and live minutes from each other, be best men in each other's weddings, godfathers to each other's children. They would sit side by side at Dodger Stadium, two old men in a sea of blue.

The friends never imagined that after high school both would be sent to Vietnam — but only one would return.

The loss was so painful that for 40 years Ruben Valencia could hardly bring himself to say Raul Guerra's name.

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The casket of Marine Private First Class Robert Graham is carried into St.Elizabeth Ann Seton Church by members of the New York City Police Department on Friday, April 26, 2019 in Shrub Oak, NY. (AP Photo/Allyse Pulliam)

Last week, hundreds of people gathered in Shrub Oak, New York to attend the funeral of Robert Graham, a 97-year-old veteran who served in the Pacific as a Marine Raider during World War II. The attendees came from all across the state, many were veterans themselves, and few if any of them had ever met Graham.

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Are you considering joining the Marine Forces Reserve? Perhaps you're getting off active duty and you think the Reserve will make for a smoother transition into civilian life. That might be true, but MFR is currently facing a major recruitment problem and with good reason. And I, a Marine veteran and former reservist, want to make sure that you have full warning of the downfalls before you make the jump into the elite weekend-warriors.

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Photo courtesy of Everett Evans

After 46-year-old Marine Corps veteran Everett Evans lost his home to the Erskine wildfire that raged across 50,000 acres in central California last summer, he was devastated. But now, he’s doing everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen to his small Kern River Valley community again.

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