Marine Lance Cpl. José Antonio Gutierrez was one of the 300,000 soldiers the U.S. military sent to war in Iraq in March 2003. A few hours after the war began, his picture was broadcast all over the world: he was the first American soldier to be killed in Iraq. He was also a so-called ‘green-card soldier’—one of approximately 32,000 non-U.S. citizens fighting in the ranks of the U.S. armed forces who would receive U.S. citizenship as compensation for their sacrifice.
The film tells the moving and nearly unbelievable story of a one-time street kid from Guatemala, who headed north along the Pan-American Highway—full of hopes and desires for a better future—ultimately to die an American hero far from home. Searching for the images and stories that made up this life, the filmmaker set out to retrace José Antonio’s path—from Guatemala through Mexico and into the USA. This story is told by the people who knew José Antonio: his friends from the street, the social workers at the orphanage, his sister, his foster family and his comrades at Camp Pendleton in the United States Marines.