Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

A seemingly minor character in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (a Marine in Afghanistan being interviewed by embedded reporter Kim Baker) makes an offhand comment on camera about how he doesn’t even bother to load his gun every day, and gets transferred to a new unit for his sins. During an argument later in the movie, Kim Baker is informed that the soldier had both of his legs blown off as a result. Remorseful (and probably looking for an endorphin spike), Kim tracks him down and visits him back in the States, finding him riding his John Deere at home with his family, expecting him to blame her for the loss of his legs and prepared to take any sort of verbal lashing he wants to give her. But Specialist Coughlin does not conform to the disability movie stereotype of the angry amputee who seeks revenge on the person they blame for the loss of their limb:

Specialist Coughlin: “Ma’am, I lost my legs because of an IED, not because of you.”

Kim: “I appreciate that. But if I hadn’t quoted you, you wouldn’t have been transferred. No, really, you can say whatever you want to me. That’s why I’m here.”

Specialist Coughlin: “OK, then let’s say you’re right. It’s still not ’cause of you, ma’am. Some 12-year old hadji had to plant that bomb. And hell, if Bin Laden’s parents hadn’t gotten divorced, maybe none of us would have been in this damn to begin with. And the Taliban, they wouldn’t have even been there for UBL, if Breznev hadn’t gone and fouled up Afghanistan in the first place. And the British Empire. Oh, and Kim Baker.”

Kim: “OK, I deserved that.”

Specialist Coughlin: “Goddam! When you got no legs, everyone takes everything so serious! There’s only so much any of us have any control of, good or bad. If you didn’t learn that in Afghanistan, you were not paying attention. I mean, ma’am, Kim,
you gotta move on. You’re giving yourself way too much credit. You embrace the suck, you move the fuck forward. What other fucking choice do we have?”

1 Comment
  1. After almost losing my leg leg in an accident , spending 3 months in a hospital and going on my 2nd month in rehab and losing grip some times on reality and emotional roller coaster a friend of mine that has visited me every day since sent me that quote when I was down and out and it changed my outlook on rehab and the length of time I have out of commission. Change is not easy but that say helped me refocus when I’m down.

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