Synopsis Steven Spielberg directed this powerful, realistic re-creation of WWII's D-Day invasion and the immediate aftermath. Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) makes the June 6, 1944, approach to Omaha Beach, facing devastating German artillery fire. On the beach littered with bodies is one with the name 'Ryan' stenciled on his backpack. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, learning that three Ryan brothers from the same family have all been killed in a single week, requests that the surviving brother, Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), be located and brought back to the United States. Capt. Miller gets the assignment. Having previously experienced action in Italy and North Africa, his close-knit squad sets out through areas still thick with Nazis. The film's historical consultant is Stephen E. Ambrose, and the incident is based on a true occurrence in Ambrose's 1994 bestseller D-Day: June 6, 1944.