RED WHITE BLACK & BLUE
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A man wearing a coast guard uniform and an American flag pin stands in front of a geometric monument on a barren hillside
“The reason you didn’t hear anything—the American government didn’t want the American people to know that the Japanese were on American soil. Attu, of course, being American soil.”
—Bill Jones, World War II veteran

In June 1942, less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese army invaded the remote Alaskan island of Attu, in preparation for a larger advance into Canada and the lower 48 states. Although thousands of soldiers died in the ensuing battle, the American public was not informed of the attack in fear that widespread panic would occur.

Sixty years later, RED WHITE BLACK & BLUE escorts veterans Bill Jones and Andy Petrus back to the wind-swept terrain of Attu. The 80-something-year-old men confront ghosts from their pasts as they retrace their steps over a former battlefield littered with unexploded bombs, collapsed buildings and crashed airplanes.

Through intimate interviews with Bill and Andy, the film explores what it means to be a soldier then and now. And for Bill, that means continuing the battle—even at the cost of his own peace of mind.

Update

Producer/Director Tom Putnam provided updates in October 2007 on Bill Jones and Andy Petrus:

After Attu, Bill and Andy went on to fight in four more island battles in the Pacific—Kwajalein, Lahti and Okinawa—where they each received the Bronze Star for heroism.

Bill and Andy are now both in their 80s and retired. Andy lives in Grants Pass, Oregon, where he and his wife raise poodles. Bill lives in Tavares, Florida, where he continues to fight for the removal of the Japanese monument on Attu Island.


Related Links and Resources

Red White Black & Blue
The film site.

Attu Homepage
Read Attu war stories, view maps and more.

History of World War II in the Aleutians
A chronology of the Aleutian campaign, from the National Park Service.

The Aleutian Islands War
Detailed history, maps and photos regarding the 1942–1943 battles.

Independent Lens: MAN BITES SHORTS: Tom Hits His Head
The Independent Lens page for Tom Putnam’s famed short.

Report from the Aleutians
Directed by John Huston

Private Snafu in Isles of Enchantment
Directed by Chuck Jones
Written by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel

The Aleutian Warriors
by John Haile Cloe

(Anchorage Chapter Air Force Association, June 1992)

The Capture of Attu
Compiled by Lt. Robert J. Mitchell

(University of Nebraska Press, 2000)

The Forgotten War
by Stan Cohen

(Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, November 1993)

They Also Serve
by Ian W. Beaton

(Xlibris Corporation, August 30, 2000)

The Thousand-Mile War
by Brian Garfield

(University of Alaska Press, December 1995)

When the Wind Was a River
by Dean Kohlhoff

(University of Washington Press, July 1995)


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