For the soldiers of Fort Carson's 3rd Squadron of the 61st Cavalry Regiment, "The Outpost" isn't just a Hollywood war movie.

The film screened at the Army post Friday is part of the unit's identity, as indelible as their cavalry Stetsons and spurs. The stars of the movie, based on the book of the same name by CNN anchor Jake Tapper, play 3rd Squadron soldiers.

Two of those soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism in a costly, last-ditch stand at an isolated outpost in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. 

"We definitely look up to all those guys who were there and we try to carry that spirit with us everyday we go to work,"  said squadron trooper Spc. Dillon Zettel.

The battle in the movie depicts Fort Carson's most decorated unit and the post's deadliest day since Vietnam when more than 300 Taliban fighters attacked the remote Combat Outpost Keating on Oct. 3, 2009, in what is known as the Battle of Kamdesh, killing eight men who headed to war from Colorado Springs.

The film's two hours of intense combat and nuanced interactions between the men who fought at the outpost, gave the squadron's troops a window into their unit's past. It also brought appreciation for what it means to be a soldier.

"It was just amazing what those men persevered through and that they just kept pushing and kept fighting through everything that happened to them," Tristan Porcelli, a private in the squadron, said. "It's just an honor to be able to represent that."

The film was scheduled to be released at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, but, with theaters closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was released online, instead. 

It tells the stories of Medal of Honor recipients Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, played by Caleb Jones, and Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, played by Clint Eastwood's son, Scott Eastwood.

On the day that hundreds of Taliban fighters surrounded the outpost where 53 U.S. soldiers lived in the tight confines of a river canyon where the base of several mountains met.

It was a death trap.

As soon as the Taliban fighters swarmed the outpost, blood began to spill. The men were spread thinly across the outpost as they tried to defend the collapsing perimeter. 

In one corner of the encampment, several soldiers were trapped in a Humvee as bullets poured down on them. The men tried to run for better cover, but it proved deadly. Several men died, two others were able to sprint back into the protection of the Humvee. 

One of them was Ty Carter.

As he sat under the protection of the Humvee he saw his comrade Stephan Mace wounded on the ground. Wearing a T-shirt and shorts, Carter jumped out to help Mace. He tied a tourniquet on his leg and carried Mace to safety under a hail of bullets.

Mace didn't survive his wounds.

Carter's feat was one of many brave acts that day. Clint Romesha, earned the Medal of Honor after repeatedly rallying his soldiers and braving enemy fire during the 12-hour firefight.

By the end of the battle, more than 150 Taliban fighters were dead.

Soon after the battle, the outpost was abandoned and the squadron withdrew. Eight Fort Carson soldiers were killed during the battle and 27 were wounded. Killed were Justin T. Gallegos, Christopher Griffin, Kevin C. Thomson, Michael P. Scusa , Vernon W. Martin, Joshua J. Kirk, Joshua M. Hardt, and Mace. 

As the auditorium lights lifted, the movie's ending brought solemn silence rather than applause.

"It shows us where we're from and it gives us a lot to live up to,"  Zettel said.

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@JessySnouwaert

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