THE TRUE WW2 STORIES THAT INSPIRED SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
By David Crow
Saving Private Ryan is one of the seminal World War II films.
Using innovative filmmaking, Steven Spielberg brought the era’s sacrifice to a new generation.
Based on a screenplay by Robert Rodat, the movie is a work of fiction…
About eight soldiers sent behind enemy lines on D-Day to save James Ryan after his brothers were KIA.
But it’s inspired by some true tragic stories.
The most famous are the Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa.
In 1942, all five Sullivan sons, aged 20 to 27, joined the Navy, insisting they serve together.
In November their cruiser, the USS Juneau, sank after being hit by a Japanese torpedo.
Three brothers died on impact, two others died at sea in the eight days it took for the Navy to find the survivors.
There were also the Borgstrom brothers of Thatcher, Utah.
Five sons were enlisted or drafted to serve in WWII, and in the span of five months, four died in 1944.
After the fourth son went missing, their parents successfully petitioned the U.S. military to send the fifth home…
And to have a young sixth son exempt from the draft. It became the basis of the Sole Survivor Policy.
Perhaps most influential on Spielberg were the Niland brothers.
All four sons joined the war effort, and in 1944 seemingly three died…
One in Burma and another two during the D-Day invasion.
When Fritz Niland, also at D-Day, discovered his brothers were dead he was sent home to New York.
After the war, older brother Edward turned out to be alive, being liberated from a Japanese POW camp.