“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.
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.
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