The 11 best military movie quotes - We Are The Mighty
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The 11 best military movie quotes

Hollywood has a tendency to mess up uniforms, customs, and tactical thinking when it comes to military movies, but they sure know how to give us quote-worthy characters. From the masterful intro speech of “Patton” to the character of Hoot in “Black Hawk Down,” these are the films that we remember for having characters with great dialogue.


We picked out some of our favorite quotes from classic military films. You probably already know all of these by heart. We sure do. So in no particular order, here are our favorite movie quotes of all time.

Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore, “Apocalypse Now” (1979)

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like … victory. Someday this war’s gonna end.”

That first one is hard to beat. But check out what Michael has to say in The Deer Hunter.

“You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it’s all about. A deer’s gotta be taken with one shot.” — Michael, “The Deer Hunter” (1978)

When Saving Private Ryan debuted, audiences walked out of theaters en masse because the opening scene was so brutal. Miller definitely has the right advice here.

“Keep the sand out of your weapons, keep those actions clear. I’ll see you on the beach.” — Capt. John Miller, “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

Of course Hoot knows that no matter how much a civilian friend tries to “get it” they’re never really going to get it.

“When I go home people will ask me, ‘Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?’ You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”  — Norman “Hoot” Hooten, “Black Hawk Down” (2001)

Now that we know no one is going to understand, Barnes’ quote feels a whole lot more spot on.

“Are you smoking this sh-t so’s to escape from reality? Me, I don’t need this sh-t, I am reality. There’s the way it ought to be, and there’s the way it is.” — Staff Sgt. Barnes, “Platoon” (1986)

Of course, Patton’s advice is as true now as it was in 1970.

“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” — Gen. George Patton, “Patton” (1970)

Gen. Jack Ripper always had a lot to say about, well, a lot.

“Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war? … He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” — Gen. Jack D. Ripper, “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)

Naturally, Gunnery is the end-all-be-all when it comes to motivators and this quote provides it.

“Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy fucking walrus-looking piece of sh-t! Get the f–k off of my obstacle! Get the f–k down off of my obstacle! NOW! MOVE IT! Or I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Private Pyle, IF IT SHORT-D–KS EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!” — Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, “Full Metal Jacket” (1987)

Damn right, Capt. Martin.

“Aim small, miss small.” — Capt. Benjamin Martin, “The Patriot” (2000)

The way Sgt. Apone suggests breakfast in bed is just downright hilarious. He’s right though – every meal is a straight-up banquet.

“All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!” — Sgt. Apone, “Aliens” (1986)

Col. Kirby has our heart, always, with this quote.

“Out here, due process is a bullet!” — Col. Mike Kirby, “The Green Berets” (1968)

What’s your favorite military quote? Did we miss any? Share yours in the comments.

Related: Check out this list of our favorite war movies from the 1970s. 

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