I just watched an NCIS rerun from 2004. I’ve seen it many times and watched the entire show for the last few lines at the end. Have you ever done that? Watched a movie or television show over and over again just to hear that one phrase?
In this episode an 82 year old decorated veteran of World War II comes into the NCIS office, confused and obviously distraught. He claims to have killed his best buddy during the conflict on Iwo Jima, and as they investigate they find the man was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during that battle.
Gibbs sets the scene to rekindle the old soldier’s memory for the events of that day. He darkens the room to simulate the night time conditions. He has a tape of the real life battle playing, and he repeatedly lights matches, and blows them out to create the sulphur smell.
The final trigger for the man’s memory was a real voice speaking Japanese, as during that night he and his fellow soldiers had been evading the Japanese army. All that sensory stimulation works and the soldier remembers the truth of what happened all those years ago.
Later, Gibbs takes his fellow Marine out to dinner...at a Japanese restaurant. And who do they find behind the counter, but that same Japanese soldier he’d brought in to help with the simulation. The old soldier looks at Gibbs with understanding. “You conned me,” he said.
Then he looks to the other man, and here are the lines I wait for. “You were never on Iwo Jima,” the old Marine says.
The old Japanese soldier looks at him with a rueful smile. “No,” he says. “Gaudalcanal.”
This interchange means more if you’ve watched the whole show as the Marine had also fought in Gaudalcanal (1943) before being sent to Iwo Jima (1945), experiencing action in two of the major battles in the war in the Pacific.
At the very end the two veterans acknowledge each other, tapping their saki cups in a toast of respect. That end scene, so full of meaning and emotion; is well worth watching, I love it every time I see it. Well done.
You might remember Iwo Jima because of the historic photograph taken at the time by Joe Rosenthal...of the raising of the flag.