“Restrepo,” an award-winning documentary named after Juan Sebastian Restrepo, a Colombian-born U.S. platoon medic killed in action in Afghanistan, was released in Colombia Friday.
The film follows the second platoon of the 173rd U.S. Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan for one year, newspaper El Espectador reported.
The documentary honors Restrepo, who was born in the town of Neiva, in the central Colombian department of Huila, but grew up in the United States.
Though Restrepo was a naturalized U.S. citizen, he stayed in touch with his Colombian roots. According to the Miami Herald, he periodically visited his father, a neurologist, in Colombia.
After graduating from Florida State University, Restrepo returned to live in Colombia, where he taught guitar lessons and learned to play the violin. He also met a Colombian woman, with whom he had a child.
Upon return to the United States, Restrepo made the decision to enlist in the U.S. Army. Before reporting for duty overseas, he “managed a quick trip to Colombia for his daughter’s birth.”
Within a year, Restrepo was assigned to work as a platoon medic in Afghanistan. Friends affectionately called him “the Colombian beast in the Middle East.”
On July 22, 2007, the Colombian-born U.S. soldier died after his patrol was ambushed in the infamous Korengal Valley. He was surrounded by his buddies.
The fallen medic was awarded with “the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Basic Parachutist Badge and the Combat Medical Badge.”
His mother told the Miami Herald that she had the U.S. Army send his body to Colombia to be buried because anything else would have been “another trophy for George Bush.”
Though Restrepo passes away early in the documentary, his memory and playful spirit led his friends to name the U.S. Army’s base in Korengal Valley –which they defend throughout the remainder of the film– “OP Restrepo”.
“Restrepo” was named one of the top documentary films of 2010 by the National Board of Review and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. The film won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.