I was inspired by Dean’s recent post about the show, Supernatural, and its showcasing of male relationships and brotherhood. This evoked memories of the show that awakened my own inspirations and longings for brotherhood — the miniseries, Band of Brothers.

Produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, this HBO miniseries is the spiritual successor to Saving Private Ryan. It follows the true story of the Easy Company regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during World War 2, telling in gritty detail the major battles and tribulations they faced.

I was a freshman in high school when I watched Saving Private Ryan. Like many viewers, I was powerfully impacted by the horrific, grisly images of violence and gore that war brings. Spielberg’s direction, the harrowing battle scenes, the acting, and John Williams’s moving score are all terrific, and the series gave me a new appreciation for veterans.

However, what stood out most for me in the film was the camaraderie among the soldiers. The scenes where men slowly died of bullet wounds while being cradled in the arms of their fellow soldiers moved me.

Were men even allowed to show such compassion, even when a comrade was dying?

Band of Brothers presents very similarly to Saving Private Ryan with its visual style and extreme realism. But compared to Saving Private Ryan as a two-hour movie, Band of Brothers tells its story in ten hourlong episodes — ten hours to get to know these soldiers to the point where they feel like our own brethren.

When these brothers die, it’s much more of a gut punch. The longer running time also expands on the camaraderie among the soldiers.

The series begins with the company’s basic training under the harsh command of Captain Sobel (David Schwimmer). After Sobel gets ousted, Lieutenant Dick Winters (Damian Lewis) takes over and becomes the main focus of the show.

We see the company drop into Normandy on D-Day, win the battle of Carentan, face a devastating loss in Operation Market Garden, endure a brutal winter in the Battle of the Bulge, liberate a concentration camp of Jewish holocaust victims, and steal Hitler’s cutlery at the end of the war.

We watch the camaraderie and brotherhood of the soldiers of Easy Company bloom as they become closer than brothers amid the horrors of war. When some are killed or wounded, they are held in their brothers’ arms.

This leads me to my YOB pseudonym, “Eugene Heffron.” It comes from a combination of two characters: “Doc” Eugene Roe (Shane Taylor) and Edward “Babe” Heffron (Robin Laign). They share a small yet touching relationship in my favorite episode, “Bastogne.”

This particular episode centers on Eugene Roe, one of the company medics during the Battle of the Bulge, occurring in the icy dead of winter. When the allied forces get surrounded by the Germans with few supplies, winter clothing, and other provisions, Eugene struggles to keep up caring for the wounded soldiers.

Eugene is my favorite character and the one I relate to most. He’s the quiet loner of the company but still works hard to care for his wounded brothers. He is also haunted by the suffering of the wounded men he tries (and sometimes fails) to save. He has a seemingly supernatural calming touch to the men in such pain.

Eugene’s relationship with Edward Heffron starts off rockily when he asks Heffron for any spare morphine. Edward goes off on him for not addressing him by his nickname (“Babe”) and walks off in a huff.

Later, Edward watches helplessly as one of his closest friends, Julian, gets shot in the neck, though remains alive. Pinned down by a hail of German bullets, they are forced to retreat and leave Julian to slowly bleed to death, alone in the snow.

Edward grows despondent over the loss of his friend, and Eugene can’t find him in his foxhole. Much to his surprise, he finds Edward in his own foxhole being cuddled by a fellow medic. Eugene comforts him by handing him some chocolate and referring to him as “Babe.” The three men snuggle together in the foxhole for the remainder of the night.

Now, in all fairness, the soldiers snuggled for practical reasons, staying warm in the cold. As opposed to some who may cuddle for the joy of physical touch.

Watching this for the first time, my high school mind thought: are men seriously allowed to do this?

Edward warms up to Eugene and becomes a caring friend by the end of the episode. They share a foxhole, and Eugene patches up a wound on Edward’s hand as they keep their eyes on the German line. Eugene finally refers to his new friend by “Babe,” and it’s a touching little relationship. The warmth of their friendship is an oasis to their frigid, cold, war-torn world.

Needless to say, the episode moved me deeply. If you’d like to watch the aforementioned scenes, I’ve found a handy dandy YouTube video that compiles them.

Just a warning: there is graphic violence and strong language in these clips. If you’d like to skip the violence and watch the foxhole cuddle scene, it comes at the 1:55 mark.

After watching the series thousands of times, I longed for my own “band of brothers.” Beyond the military, it seems like the only other environment that fosters this sort of thing these days are athletic teams. I wouldn’t last long in either environment. This is a shame. This is something I think all men need, regardless of their orientations.

I’m grateful Band of Brothers introduced me to the concept of true brotherhood at a young age. Had I not seen it, I may have grown up thinking the only type of intimacy between people is sex.

While I may be sexually attracted to men, my longings for relationships like those of Easy Company are completely nonsexual. My longings are for the warm feelings of having brothers — men who know you and are family to you.

At long last, I feel like I have found my band of brothers here at YOB and in the “Side B” world at large: men who know me, love me, and will be there for me, even at the end.

I do strongly recommend giving Band of Brothers a watch. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you made it through Saving Private Ryan you’ll be fine here. It’s a great series about camaraderie and brotherhood in the face of evil and darkness from a long lost time.

One last thing. Eugene Roe is a very religious character, and at one point in “Bastogne” he takes a break from the carnage in his own foxhole where he recites this prayer of St. Francis:

“Lord, grant that I shall never seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, or to be loved as to love, with all my heart.”

It’s a prayer I try to live by, too.

Have you seen Band of Brothers? What other favorite shows or movies encapsulate brotherhood well?

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  • I’ve always wanted to see this series (add it to the list along with Supernatural…). One day! I love everything you’ve described about it, Eugene. And it’s cool to finally learn the origin of your pseudonym! What a reveal.

  • This post does make me want to watch the show. TBH, I considered joining the military when I was younger because of the brotherhood I saw between brothers in arms. Like you, I feel my longing for that is like this:

    While I may be sexually attracted to men, my longings for relationships like those of Easy Company are completely nonsexual. My longings are for the warm feelings of having brothers — men who know you and are family to you.

    I have found that, both in YOB, other Side B groups, and also with some of my straight friends. Some who will even let me lay my head on their shoulder while we talk. I feel like family there.

    • That’s true, I would fantasize about joining the military too purely for the longing of brotherhood and camaraderie. But I know now that I probably would not have lasted a day there. I’m way too sensitive for that kind of thing I suppose.

  • It is interesting to me how we (Side B Men) watch movies/TV with strong male relationships and long for what we see. I remember watching ‘I Love You Man’ and thinking oh that’s so me!! The Paul Rudd character could have so easily been written as a side B guy, would not have taken much tweaking at all. As I pray about my relationships God often reminds me that I do have strong connections, and that he does provide all things, and that I am not missing out on anything. That is the continual work in progress for me, letting go of this idea that I am some how missing out on intimacy. When go to the park and see a couple of guys throwing a ball around, or see a casual baseball game I almost immediately think “Oh, that should be me, look at them, they are bonding and don’t even realize it.” When I go there I get stuck, because I start to be prescriptive with my own relationships in how I think bonding needs to happen rather then just letting it happen organically. At any rate, just a few of my thoughts. Thanks guys!

    • Oh yes I loved that movie too! I have let go of the idea that I’ve been missing out on a big world of closeness and intimacy amongst the straight world. I’ve come to the hard realization that it simply isn’t there. I don’t know if its society or simply just the way straight men are. A lot of friends have argued the latter saying its just personality type but I don’t know, something about it feels so inhuman.
      But I’m very and happy and proud to have found that in the Side B world. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I don’t even have to put my life on the line for it! lol

  • Band of Brothers is everything you say and more. Maybe the most raw and soul-wrenching thing I’ve seen in a film is when they liberate the concentration camp. It’s both terrible and terribly human.
    There’s something about being on a mission with other guys and fighting thru that changes you, be it war or sports. Remember the Titans is the true story about a Virginia high school football team during the time when segregation was ending. I can’t think of any films, but doesn’t it seem like church should be that too?
    Eugene, you had me fooled like Dean. I’ve seen Band of Brothers and didn’t pick up on that. I’m half expecting that Tom is gonna say Zuniga is from some obscure European art house film. I might as well reveal as well. Bluz is one of the guys in the Happy Monster Band and Hawk is short for Hawkeye from Avengers, and Bluzhawk seemed better together than Bluz Hawk.
    JK, Blueshawk is a Gibson guitar designed for playing the blues.

    • Oh yes, I found the last couple of episodes to be the saddest and most difficult to watch. The concentration camp scene is definitely one reason for that. Really a horrific moment they had to go through. But there was also some of the depressing stories of soldiers still dying even after the war was over. Or the epilogue talking about how many of the soldiers have died since the war ended.
      But yeah I agree the church should offer that brotherhood option. I personally can’t qualify for military or sports so where else am I going to find that?
      But anyways yep that’s where my name comes from. Frankly your name has a really cool sound to it as well. Sounds like the nickname of a guitar player in some edgy band.

      • You’re right, I forgot they started each episode with some of the actual soldiers as they are today talking about what it was like then. Powerful stuff. Y’know what hit me most about the concentration camp scene wasn’t the decency and humanity of the soldiers, it was the survivors in the camp. They had been thru the worst things imaginable and still possessed this innate dignity as people. There was something really hopeful in that despite all the pain.
        Tbh, I’m not sure where to find that either but when I do I’m expecting that what we face together in mission will help us face our personal battles better.
        I just liked how the name sounded too. I have some really sweet playlists but yeah, zero musical ability.

        • I absolutely agree. It really was quite a powerful episode. I agree that there was hope in the midst of that madness.
          Well frankly the only place where I feel like I can find real brotherhood is the Side B world. I wish it were more widespread but that’s it. Still, I’m glad I found it at all. Its been beautiful.

  • I’ve been meaning to watch this for a long time, mostly for the reasons you describe in the post! Also sometimes when we Skype I see a Band of Brothers poster on your bedroom wall, and I’ve been meaning to ask you about the show.
    Guess I’ll have to watch it!
    The camaraderie and brotherhood of the military is appealing to me too, but going into the military to get it seems like buying a Boeing 747 to get a soda. Plus I wonder if, like most things, it looks much better from the outside than it actually feels when you’re on the inside.
    But it warms my heart to see good, strong brotherhood depicted in media : )

    • Haha yeah my trademark Band of Brothers poster in my room. Just wouldn’t be a skype with me without it! But yeah I definitely think you should watch it. But yeah I agree that going through boot camp torture, and putting your life on the line is really worth it to just gain brotherhood. But it is sad state that its only in the face of death that one can find brotherhood these days outside of the Side B world. Which really is quite sad.

      • I have found a type of brotherhood outside the side B world among my Christian friends where I live. I plan to write about it soon in a post. Just last night I saw my friend Ben for the first time in months. He hugged me tightly for maybe 30 seconds then we held each other in a side hug for maybe 5 minutes where we shared our hearts in a deep conversation. He is straight, married, and expecting a baby. This was in front of his wife. It can happen!

  • I’ve been familiar with this series for a long time but never watched it. You’ve inspired me to put in my watch list though.
    Thank you for sharing how this series impacted you so deeply. I feel like I know you so much better now, understanding your name, your resonation with the series, and the impact it continues to have on you.
    Brotherhood should include the freedom to hold and comfort each other in tight embraces. It shouldn’t take such dire circumstances to permit it though. It’s something I am working to develop myself in my closer relationships.
    Thank you again for sharing this, Eugene. It’s an honor to be a witness to your journey in brotherhood.

    • Aw thank you Dean! Let me know what you think of the show whenever you do watch it. Yeah it really shouldn’t take near death experiences to embrace people and have intimate relationships. I’d rather not risk my life just for tight embraces as nice as they are haha.

  • Thanks for this post, Eugene! I really enjoyed Band of Brothers! You’ve done a great job putting words to the longing I feel when watching these types of movies. It’s been a couple of years since I watched the series, but I remember it affecting me deeply. I kept going back to rewatch my favorite scenes for days. I find that, even though I’m drawn to deeply-impactful stories of brotherhood, I tend to crash and burn emotionally afterward…almost like having a sugar high. Since I haven’t had those kinds of relationships in my life, I’m left feeling quite empty and dissatisfied afterward. I end up escaping over and over into a quick-fix fantasy world rather than playing the “long game” and doing the hard (but rewarding) work of building actual relationships.

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