COURAGE UNDER FIRE

Courage Under Fire (1 Corinthians 10:13 ) stars Denzel Washington as Colonel Nat Serling and Meg Ryan as Captain Karen Walden. Denzel Washington really has a knack for making military movies with Scriptural parallels.

The movie begins as Colonel Serling leads his tank battalion into battle in the Persian Gulf War. His mission is successful although he directs "friendly fire" against one of his own tanks, killing his best friend. The Army buries the details and Colonel Serling turns to alcohol to deal with his guilt.

Like Colonel Serling, Captain Walden is in the Persian Gulf. But unlike Serling she is there to rescue troops as Captain of an Army medical helicopter. While on a rescue mission her helicopter and crew are fired on by Iraqi artillery. The helicopter is shot down and one of her men is wounded and not able to make it to an area of safety alone. The other men determine to leave him behind as they flee. Captain Walden insists that they care for the wounded man and wait on the rescue vehicle. She is shot by one of her men in their panic to flee.

When the rescue vehicle does arrive Captain Walden provides cover for her crew's escape and instructs them to send a stretcher back for her. At the rescue vehicle they know that a court martial awaits them with Captain Walden alive; so they report that she is already dead. The area is sprayed with napalm to kill enemy troops, but also ensuring her death.

Now fast forward:
Back state-side, Colonel Serling is given the task of confirming details for a posthumous Medal of Honor for Captain Walden. Because of what he's been through in the same theater of battle he is expected to cover up the unsavory particulars. But he can't do it; and this is where the battle begins.

In this movie, just as in Crimson Tide, Denzel Washington's persona (Colonel Serling) is one of principle and character. If Colonel Serling covers up the act of cowardice by male troops under female command, he will also be covering up mutiny and murder; and as a reward, his own battlefield error and subsequent excessive drinking will be overlooked. To his credit he does not flinch in taking the correct action despite the temptation to take the course of least resistance. And here is where the movie parallels Scripture: James 1:12 states, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."

The movie ends before dealing with Colonel Serling's fate for insisting that the truth be known. And there is no evidence that Colonel Serling is a follower of Christ, worthy of any crown. But it is comforting to see Scriptural principles played out even in ignorance of Scripture.

In this movie we also see a Scriptural parallel in the fate of Captain Walden. She was subject to the same danger as her men. Yet she determined that, although severely wounded by her own troops, she would stay behind to ensure their safety as they ran to the rescue vehicle. Her courage saved them, while they thought her death would make them free. Two Scriptures come to mind: 

  • John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep, and 
  • Mark 12:7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Captain Walden had a Christ like sacrifice even in the face of hostility from her charges, and her charges behaved as the bad husbandmen.

If you've already seen the movie, rent the video and view it from a Scriptural perspective. 

/WL / SS / CG