"Being out of breath. For your first several engagements, you go in to survival mode, which, even if you're sitting still, means you can't get enough air. You're breathing like you just sprinted, and no matter what you can't catch your breath. It gets better as you gain experience, but it sucks so much" (Source).
"Balkans vet here. So no experience with mud wall houses or IEDs. But for me the aspects Hollywood mostly fails to get across include: (1) People mostly die slowly. They don't drop silently after a round to the stomach. They just don't. Even if the wounds are fatal, unless you are hit squarely in the aorta, upper spine or brain you'll be alive somehow for minutes or hours or even days. Maybe functional, maybe not, and often not silent about it. If you haven't heard the screams of a kid stuck in a minefield where nobody to help him/her, then your nightmares still have some way of becoming worse. (2) The confusion. People are improvising and not knowing what the others do, and being in the middle of it does not mean you know best what is going on. (3) The fear. Most combatants spout a f--kload of suppressing fire with exposing themselves minimally from cover. People don't generally randomly charge suicidally like in the movies. (4) The fatalism. Paradoxically, after a while the strangest things become 'normal', at least to some people. And those are not necessarily the soldiers. I've seen hospital staff going out after/ during a shelling just holding a clipboard over their head as if to keep the rain away. Or soldiers handling shellings as if just another day at work. (5) The lethality. No, you don't walk away from a huge explosion close to you. No, there is no such thing as a 'flesh wound' from an MG, the shockwave tears your flesh to shreds (I was a combat medic so obviously speaking from observation not personal experience as I am writing this with intact hands).
In general, I feel that the bizarre mix of chaotic hilarity, camaraderie, odd situations and godawful trauma, fear pain and anguish of what you do and see is often sacrificed to get a 'consistent' or even 'realistic' mood of the film. Reality is a mix of everything, just more extreme in a war zone. Also, they tend to overlook that often most causalities are civilians" (Source).
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