FALLOUJA, Iraq — The convoy was about to roll, and Marine Lt. Michael Scott was giving an order for his troops to start their vehicles. "Saddle up," he yelled down the line of Humvees.
Suddenly, the enlisted Marines were doing their own version of the famous scene from the classic John Wayne movie "Red River" in which the Duke gives the order and his cowpokes start yelling joyously.
Face it: You can take the military away from Hollywood, but taking Hollywood out of the military is nearly impossible. In the day-to-day operations of the three Marine battalions that have encircled this Sunni Triangle city to wipe out the heavily armed insurgents that hold sway here, movie and showbiz references pepper both casual conversations and military planning.
Numerous radio call signs use names of movies, actors or other entertainment figures. One Marine delights in whistling the theme song from TV's "MASH." An officer has a suggestion for what to do with Fallouja:
"Let's just build a fence around it, like 'Escape From New York,' " he said, referring to the movie in which the Big Apple is quarantined as irredeemably evil.
Capt. Michael Fehn, in charge of information operations for the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, said part of the strategy for winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis is to reduce the menacing appearance of the Marines. For that reason, sunglasses are not allowed.
"What we don't want is them looking like 'The Terminator,' " he said.
Navy chaplain Lt. Scott Radetski, as part of his ministry for frontline troops, brought a DVD copy of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" for their viewing.
Behind his back, Marines refer to one of their officers as Rick Moranis, a semi-tribute to the officer's short stature and boyish appearance.
And as troops wait for a possible order to begin an all-out assault on insurgents in the core of the city, a phrase is gaining currency to describe the attack, in which all manner of weaponry will be used.
"Be prepared to 'go medieval,' " said one Marine, co-opting a line from Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction."