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The Independent Critic

David H. McNerney and the men of A-Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division
Eric S. Dow
Eric S. Dow, John A. Ponsoll
100 Mins.
Time Stand Still Productions


 "Honor in the Valley of Tears" Review 
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Conceived by Executive Producer John A. Ponsoll, whose father served with A-Company and documented his tour of duty in Vietnam with a slide camera, Honor in the Valley of Tears is a touching and insightful feature length documentary about Congressional Medal of Honor recipient 1st Sgt. David H. McNerney and the men of A-Company, 1st Batallion, 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division that he trained and led into a bloody, yet largely forgotten battle near Polei Doc in the Central Highlands of Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War. The area was known as the "Valley of Tears," and Honor in the Valley of Tears powerfully captures the time these men spent together and the powerful, seemingly unbreakable bond it created.

The men of A-Company trained together for 11 months and served together for one year, beginning with basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington in 1965 and their bond has remained just as powerful over 40 years later including a well documented reunion in 2007.

Few docs have so vividly captured both the military and human aspects of war and intertwined them, an accomplishment most wonderfully realized as the film recounts with first-hand details of the A-Company's most intense combat encounters including the events of March 22, 1967 that led to 1st Sgt. McNerney being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. To this day, he retains the admiration, respect and love of the men he traiend and served with and those whose lives he saved.

Honor in the Valley of Tears recently completed its festival circuit which included appearances at the GI Film Festival, DocUtah and the New Jersey Film Festival and picked up prizes for Doc Audience Award at 2010's Dances With Films and Louisville International Festival of Film.

Even as an avowed pacifist, it would be nearly impossible to not be deeply moved and inspired by Honor in the Valley of Tears, a film that is filmed with such respect for its subjects that one can practically feel the entire crew standing at attention.

Trisha Solyn's camera work is simple yet effective, intertwined with several A-company interviews and available footage that helps to complement the stories that these men are telling. While the interviews at times lack energy and pacing, the stories that these men are telling are so rich and heartfelt that it's clear that director Eric Dow took the right approach and allowed for a gimmick free doc that focuses almost exclusively on these men.

Honor in the Valley of Tears is practically a must see for any of our current military families as the United States finds itself involved in military conflicts throughout the world. While Honor in the Valley of Tears is specific to the Vietnam War, its messages and themes are universal and soldiers and their families young and old will unquestionably embrace it while even those opposed to military actions will find themselves reflecting upon the humanity that is all too often forgotten amidst the larger than life presence of war.

For more information on the Honor in the Valley of Tears DVD, visit the film's website. The film is also available at, so just click on the banner to your left on this site and pick it up!~

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic