On March 10, 2015, seven Marines with U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) died when an Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed near Eglin, Florida. One of those men was Master Sergeant Thomas A. Saunders. The Marines and Corpsman involved in that crash became known as the Raider 7. “The Detail” is a short film inspired by true stories that occurred after that tragic event. Master Sergeant Saunders — one of the Raiders killed in that crash — is represented by a character named, Sean Thomas.
Clocking in at approximately thirteen minutes, “The Detail” is a film dedicated to showing how Marine Raiders celebrate life and honor their traditions in spite of difficult circumstances. Master Sergeant Ian Teague is tasked with a mission — organize the perfect welcome home party at the request of his Marine brother, Sean Thomas. Thomas himself had recently provided Teague with a list of items to purchase, things to prepare, and people to muster for his own welcome home party. Most of the Raiders in the film appear to have transitioned to civilian life at this point — indicating that most had served together many years prior. Upon arriving to the party house where members of their unit are gathering, Master Sergeant Teague has an awkward encounter with one of his former troops. The young man, now a civilian, seems to struggle with interacting with his former Staff NCO and quickly reverts back to respectfully addressing his former superior by his rank. There is a feeling that these men have been through hell and back together and this gathering isn’t an easy one to handle. Some are awkwardly goofing off, some are playing guitar and reserved — all are drinking. Thomas’ sister is present and dealing with the shenanigans of the men in the house. Stories are shared about some of the crazy times they experienced together — one including a deer carcass in the barracks. Teague continues to refer to his list, checking it off while reflecting on things. When a vehicle arrives, the men gather out front by the gravel driveway and stand in formation as they await their brother’s homecoming. As the vehicle appears, the tone of the film changes from anxious to somber as they prepare to welcome their brother home under circumstances that none of them wanted.
It is a heartfelt movie that relied heavily on professional military advisors, Marine Raiders who served with Saunders, and military wives to ensure accuracy with dialogue, wardrobe and other details based on the inspiring events behind the film. There have been countless military films that were painful to watch for servicemembers and veterans due to glaring inaccuracies and missed details, but this is not one of those films. Director, Kat Croft, was largely inspired to write and direct the film from her own family’s military service. However, it was seeing the ceremonies held by Master Sergeant Saunders’ family and friends that drew her to this particular story. Croft stated,
I thought of Tom’s personality and what he’d be like in that scenarios and spread those qualities out among the characters. Of course the guy that was on his way home would have very specific, ridiculous, and sentimental demands for his party, especially if he was surrounded by his friends who knew everything about him.”
The Detail is available to watch through Amazon Prime Video and it is well worth your time. While short, it is intriguing and powerful. Actors do a stellar job, and the film quality is excellent. Although Memorial Day recently passed, we should always take opportunities to honor the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters to remember their sacrifice. The Detail not only honors the memory of Master Sergeant Thomas “Tom” Saunders, but it pays respect to the Raider community that has lost many fine men throughout their history. It gives viewers a glimpse into the life of the men who have said goodbye to a friend and fellow warrior. I can’t recommend it enough.
All images taken by the author from “The Detail”