Tom Brokaw called the WWII veterans the “greatest generation.” Guy Gabaldon, a short Hispanic enamored with Japanese culture, would probably be ranked by Brokaw right at the top of that group. The guy captured 1500 Japanese, was the subject of a film (“Hell to Eternity”), and was eventually given the Navy Cross, though the Congressional Medal of Honor still eluded him during the production of this documentary. In other words, they just don’t make them like that anymore. Today’s vets all have PTSD and film atrocities for their friends to see on the Internet.
Gabaldon was still alive when “East L.A. Marine” was made, so we get to hear a lot of the stories first hand. His family, friends and fellow soldiers are also interviewed, and they all portray the subject as a stand-up guy who was the definition of a hero. He may have gotten in some trouble as a youth, but he more than made up for it when he became a Marine. You can argue with the “greatest generation” label, but it’s hard to deny Gabaldon, his sincerity, and the respect he gave his enemy (also a very traditional Japanese trait).
It’s rare to see a WWII veteran actually get to speak in his own documentary, as most of them have passed away. The fact that the focus of this film is on such an extraordinary figure makes it even more exciting. If WWII fascinates you, then this is something you can’t afford to miss.