NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- American bomb disposal experts in Iraq say few people understood what they did.
Not any more.
The U.S. military's explosive experts are basking in their job's newfound fame after the Iraq war drama "The Hurt Locker" took home the best picture prize at Sunday's Academy Awards.
But the soldiers still have to explain they are not all like the film's arrogant, adrenaline-junkie hero.
Set in the summer of 2004, the movie tells the fictional story of an elite U.S. Army bomb squad that has 38 days to go before their members can leave Baghdad. Under enormous pressure because one false move can kill them and everyone around them, they are itching to get the job done and head home.
Into the fray steps Staff Sgt. William James (played by native Modestan Jeremy Renner), who's either a swaggering, brilliant disposal expert or an egomaniacal showoff -- perhaps a bit of both. The character and the screenplay both came from the screenwriter's experience embedding with such a squad in 2004.
But James' character earned mixed reviews from bomb experts in Iraq attached to the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division.
"That guy was more of a run-and-gun cowboy type, and that is exactly the kind of person that we're not looking for," said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Phillips, a team leader in Iraq's eastern Maysan province.
Phillips, 30, from Fayetteville, N.C., called the movie's portrayal of a bomb expert "grossly exaggerated and not appropriate."
Airman 1st Class Stephen Dobbins said such swagger would put a whole team at risk.
"Our team leaders don't have that kind of invincibility complex, and if they do, they aren't allowed to operate," said Dobbins, 22, of Paulden, Ariz. "A team leader's first priority is getting his team home in one piece."
But that doesn't mean the movie doesn't have its fans among bomb disposal experts serving in Iraq.
"While it was sexed up quite a bit, I really enjoyed it," said Tech Sgt. William Adomeit, 31, from Las Vegas. Adomeit saw the movie for the first time at his base in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriyah.
Other than the best picture prize, the movie earned five more Oscars, including best director honors for Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman in the 82-year history of the Academy Awards to earn Hollywood's top prize for filmmakers.
The movie's title can mean different things -- from GI slang for severe injury to a place no one wants to go, to a tricky, locked-in space a bomb expert finds himself in when a blast goes off.
Most bomb technicians accuse the movie of taking cinematic liberties that never would occur in a war zone, such as hunting bomb-makers down dark alleys alone or riding around Baghdad unescorted by U.S. Army vehicles.
"The one vehicle going out by itself, that would not be realistic at all," said Senior Airman Katie Hamm, 23, of Raleigh, N.C.
Bombings are still the primary threat to Iraqis. Bomb disposal teams are still finding weapons caches and responding to rocket attacks, but the nature of their mission has changed dramatically since 2004, when the film takes place.
With the U.S. military preparing to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq by September, American ordnance disposal teams are training Iraqis to do a job American technicians usually spend years training for.
This new task moves American bomb technicians from the field into the classroom, where they pass on their knowledge to Iraqis who will take over the high-risk job.