The First Officer
In a field, several army GIs are training. They are led by LIEUTENANT ROBERT MATHIAS (28, red haired and tall). All are on the run. There are two flags from two companies. It is a race.
One GI falls on the ground, exhausted.
On your feet soldier.
Trying sir. This race is kicking
Mathias helps soldier on his feet. They start running again. After a minute, the soldier collapses again. This time he is out cold.
Come on soldier.
No response from the soldier. Mathias lifts him up over his shoulders and finishes the race.
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM
The fallen soldier is lying in bed with an IV in him. Mathias is sitting with him.
Docs say you’re be back in a day
Good. We have more training to do
and I need you there. One more
thing, I read through your note
home. You can’t write where you
are on your notes. I had to mark
it out. You can rewrite it if you
want. Just let me see it when
You rest now. I’m going to go to
Mathias gets up and walks to the door. He pauses by a cross hanging on the wall and offers a sign of his own to the cross.
We see Mathias praying during the Mass. He sits at the front of the congregation. There are other officers and GIs in the cathedral. He is seated next to some of his men. The Mass concludes. He walks out of the hall.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE CHURCH ON BASE
The church bells toll as church lets out. Some privates pass by Mathias. They are led by PRIVATE CAVANAUGH, an early twenties Midwestern boy.
Good morning boys. Ready for some
Come on Lieutenant, surely we can
have the day off. Fuck we’ve been
training for two weeks straight.
We’re not going to rest until the
Nazis are dead or we are. We have
another practice drop in an hour.
Get your gear and be at the plane.
INT. AIRPLANE (A C-47 Dakota)
Inside are sixteen men and Lt. Mathias. They are strapped in parachute gear. The plane is flying along smoothly.
OK boys! We’ve done this before and
we’ll do it again if one of you
doesn’t do it right. When the green
light goes on, you jump!
You ever hear the L-T cuss?
Never man. Although I’ve heard him
come close. Guess it’s that Catholic
The light about the door turns green. All of the men jump out of the plane and float to the ground. Lt. Mathias is the last to jump and observes his men.
EXT. LANDING FIELD – LATE AFTERNOON
Clouds are rolling in on the horizon. Lt. Mathias lands on the ground. His men are gathering up their chutes and packing them away. A jeep with four men inside comes darting between Mathias’ men. It stops at the lieutenant. In the back seat sit two of Mathias’ men.
COLONEL ROY LINDQUIST, a man in his late 30s step out of the front passenger seat. He does not look happy. The two paratroopers in the back have their heads hanging.
Lieutenant. I expected better
of second platoon, E Company.
You were supposed to land in
this target area. These two
drifted down in third platoon’s
Sorry sir. We’ll do better next
I doubt if there’ll be a next
time. Forecasters say bad
weather’s moving in. We’re
switching to ground training
tonight. Get your men cleaned
up, eat, and be ready.
Mathias and his troopers salute the Colonel. The Colonel gets back into his jeep and drives off.
Okay troops. Get your gear and
let’s double time it to base.
Maybe we can squeeze in a few
language lessons before tonight.
EXT. AIRFIELD – CLOUDY SUNSET
A number of C-47 Dakotas sit side by side. American paratroopers are lining up to board the planes. Lt. Mathias is shaking every one of his platoon’s members. Col. Linquist is with him. Mathias’s platoon is boarding two planes next to each other.
See ya on the ground Lieutenant.
Mathias shakes Cavanaugh’s hand.
We’ll show ‘em, won’t we,
Cavanaugh boards one plane while Mathias readies himself to board the other. Lindquist stops him.
Good luck, son.
Thank you, sir.
Mathias boards his plane. He is the last of his troops. Lindquist steps back away from the plane. The engines fire up.
He can hold more than his
own with the toughest man
alive; he will either earn
the Medal of Honor or be
killed in action.
SERIES OF SHOTS
EXT. AIRFIELD – DUSK
Preparations for plane departures.
Planes taking off.
INT. C-47 DAKOTA
We see the men in the airplane. All look worried. Mathias is standing near the hatch. He will be the first one to jump.
Just making our way over
the English Channel. General
Eisenhower wishes you ‘Good
luck. And let us all beseech
the blessing of Almighty
God upon this great and
So… this is it.
Do we have to fly so close
and so slow?
It’s what we’ve been doing
all in training.
The soldiers are silent as the plane shakes a little going through turbulence. Some pull out crosses and kiss it. Mathias does the same.
EXT. COUNTRYSIDE – NIGHT
A Flakvierling-38, a German antiaircraft gun, turns slightly and opens fire. Other guns around the area do the same in different directions. The Dakotas are flying overhead. Other smaller guns fire tracer bullets into the sky.
A tracer bullet ignites a hay barn. It quickly becomes engulfed in flames.
INT. MATHIAS’S DAKOTA
Mathias opens the door. He sees the burning farm. The plane is maneuvering hard and shaking. It is a violent ride.
Stand up and hookup!
The men hook their lines and get set. They can hear gunfire hit the wings of the plane and the explosion from the flak.
For Christ’s sake let’s go.
Mathias continues to watch the green light. It stays off. Machine gun fire rips through the bottom of the floor. The men instinctively grab their crotches.
Jump, damn it, jump!
The green light goes on. A flak canister explodes just outside the doorway. Mathias is thrown back off his feet; shrapnel covers his chest. Blood starts seeping out of the wounds. His men are in shock.
Mathias gets up and gets back to the door. He raises hit right arm.
Mathias leaps into the night out of the plane.
EXT. COUNTRYSIDE – NIGHT
Cavanaugh and some men are searching the countryside for other troopers. They come across Mathias’s body, still attached to his parachute. Blood is coming out of the wounds.
DISSOLVE TO BLACK
Lt. Robert Mason Mathias
The First American Officer killed
June 6, 1944 D-Day