When SSgt. Kyle Vogel leaves a handwritten letter on the seat of his car, grabs a pistol and steps into a Minnesota forest, we wonder who he is and what he’s about to do. Flash back a few months as Vogel lies wounded in a hospital near Anbar Province, Iraq. The night before he’s due to return to combat, his doctor, Lt. Kelly Tripp, presses him on why he’s so obsessed with collecting battle souvenirs. Kyle proceeds to tell her what happened on Memorial Day, 1993, when, as a 13-year old boy, he discovered his Grandpa Bud’s WWII footlocker.
Though reluctant to talk about the war, Bud, who served with the 82nd Airborne, strikes a deal with Kyle: “Pick any three objects, and I’ll tell you the story behind each one.” As we see Bud’s WWII tales from Europe, we also see how Kyle’s experiences in Iraq have paralleled them—and how that day on the porch will affect how he ultimately deals with the losses, regrets and moral dilemmas that unite all soldiers across wars and generations.