Unless you've served, you'll never know exactly what it means to be in the military.

Sure, friends and family can come home, do their best to explain to you what it was like, show you pictures, and maybe go explain what the food is like, but it is an entire experience.

Something that, unless you lived it, will never fully comprehend.

Always worth trying, though.

Reddit user Ancient_Session wanted to hear the first-hand experiences when they asked:

"War Veterans of Reddit;what's one thing war movies get wrong?"

They're Not Out To Rule The World


Military leaders (at least in most developed countries) are generally not warmongers. It seems that's their only purpose in Hollywood, though.

They're the ones who know the horrors of war the most. They've been there, they've seen it, and they're responsible for a lot of those lives - people they know personally...people they identify with. General officers have spent the better part of 30 or 40 years working their way up the ranks. They know how horrible war is.

A typical general is a lot less likely than a non-military policymaker to advocate for starting a war.


The Environment Is Not What You Picture

I was in the mountains in Afghanistan and most movies about the wars in the middle east are about how hot it is. I was goddamn cold with more snow than i've ever seen.


Peppered In Some Realistic "Language" To Spice It Up

The dialogue.

For example, a movie scene that shows some military guys hanging out and are deploying soon. Maybe there is a cookout and one guy is all like, "hey sarge, what's the sitrep on those burgers?" And he says something like, "eta in five mikes." People in the military don't talk like they would over the radio calling in air support 24-7.


Seriously. Can We Get Past This.

The Middle East has roads.


No effin' way! I thought its juat dust paths with a donkey at every few miles with direction painted on their side!!


Keep It On The Green

[The Hurt Locker] is the most full of sh-t movie in the world! If you go out of the fob to play soccer with kids you're going to get killed or kidnapped and get your head sawed off


But It Sounds So Cool In The Movies...

Doing areas i.e picking up cigarette butts whilst being shouted at by a bored full screw. Amount of films where squaddies don't even use their chin strap is a bone of contention for many.

Calling sergeants 'sarge' is a sure way of getting your arse kicked.

"The only sarge is me masarging my sausarge up your f-cking pasarge you utter c-nt!"


Why Waste So Much Fuel?

Fighter jets are not always on afterburner....they would have to hit a tanker so many times due to the amount of fuel they are burning.

My favorite is the random two ship flying over an airbase during a time of war.

The whole Maverick "hitting the brakes, he'll fly right by"....not a thing.

The end scene of the movie "Pacific Rim"...all the choppers flying in formation ....why?


Wait a minute... you're telling me that "Pacific Rim" is unrealistic?


"But How Am I Supposed To Be Reckless, Loose Cannon Who Always Gets The Job Done?"

The countless hours of "safety" briefings and being told not to do dumb sh-t.


And, of course, someone goes and does it anyways.


I experienced this for the first time about ten days into basic and it blew my mind. Now I'm nine years in and I don't think anything could surprise me anymore.

The DS told the entire company to put on their "god d-mned motherf-cking green t-shirt on fire guard. Don't let me catch you wearing that f-cking gray PT shirt I swear to god." Guess what happened that same night...

We give these people grenades and firearms.......


When You Need To Put Something On Those Rations


Texas Pete is EVERYWHERE


I used to carry around a 40oz bottle of Texas Pete around Iraq in '03.

Lasted a whole 3 months.


Yeah, Where DO They Go To The Bathroom?

Havent seen one portaloo/john in a war film yet.


Sometimes, The Movies Aren't Right At All.

In most movies with missiles, they just pick a random one that looks good. It doesn't have to make sense in time or application. You can have a movie about the 60s show a ship to ship missile made in '92 blow up a building in Cuba.

It would be like putting a 2020 dodge charger in a western but it could only drive on the water.


There's Supposed To Be An Earth-Shattering Kaboom.

F-cking explosions.

Those fuel explosions in the movies don't happen. It's always just some dust, shrapnel, and very rarely a fireball.


No Movie Could Ever Capture This Spirit

No movie can capture the feeling of actually having to say things like,

"Sir, the machine gun feed tray cover is not a place to put your sandwich."

"Private, where is your helmet? And your pants?"

"Sergeant, that rifle only works if you have a magazine in it, and for f-cks sake there has to be bullets in your goddamn mag!"

All things I have said seriously in my 21 years, also,

"I'm not sure what that is man, it could be syphilis, go see the doc!"


Feels Like This One Should Be More Obvious

How nice the average Afghanistan civilian is.

Some of the most hospitable, kind, and generous people I've ever met.



People can hear each other and have an almost-normal level conversation about tactics and enemy locations during a firefight in movies.




I SAID-- You know what, this is one reason we developed hand signals and radio sets, sometimes, that have noise dampening.


Just A Lot Of Overcompensating Dudes

The military is about 60% homoerotic humor.

When was the last time a war movie showed a bored enlisted dude run up behind someone and pelvic thrust a traffic cone into them?


When The Music Is Gone And Back Again

The one dude that can play guitar and sing like Eric Clapton, any song you want and you sit there for hours listening, remembering good times with friends, family, spouse. Then you cry a little because your home sick after 8 months of looking at sand and smelling sh-t and all you want is to get laid and mother f-cking cheese burger.

Movies never get that right or don't show that at all.


And then, 3/4 of the way into your deployment that guy gets killed, and you're left with emptiness.


This was oddly specific


The Lack Of Anything Happening


My veteran friends say it's f-cking boring most of the time.


Generation Kill does a decent job with them just driving the first few episodes and barely any action.


I've deployed to Kuwait but I'm not in a combat role and there was absolutely zero fighting going on anywhere near me. I still identify with like 80% of that series. Can confirm, pretty damn realistic.


The amount of boring, and the amount of bullsh-t. I've had superior officers ask for the weirdest sh-t, and you're expected to just do it. Dig a hole here, move the hole over there, they don't care at all about how much time you have to put into it. That and the paperwork, some one always has to have a form filled out for something. Signing in, signing out, it's soul crushing after a while. It's almost second nature to ask for a form whenever you need something or need to tell some one something after a while.

Glad that I'm done.


It's Not Always What You Don't See...

Not that they get it wrong, but it's something very important that's missing: smell.

The smells in there are rather strong and stick to the memory more than anything else. Burnt gunpowder, mixed with whatever the area smells like, only it seems to be amplified. If you ever see an exploding vehicle in a movie, try to imagine the smell of burnt gas with it.

I was first recon on a crash site in a forest. The whole area smelt of kerosene and freshly cut trees. The bodies didn't smell though.


Apparently a group of D-Day Veterans were taken to an early showing of "Saving Private Ryan". The only comment was, "They got everything but the smell."

I won't ever forget the smell of Ground Zero. Crushed, damp drywall, kerosene, and rotting meat. It was a heavy, greasy stink, and for the next 2 months every time I sneezed hard, I smelled it.