Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘Ken Pipes’

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

October 29, 2014

On Oceanside, Newport Beach, the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day

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Last Wednesday night BRAVO! was screened to an enthusiastic crowd at the Meridian Library District, Meridian, Idaho.
As the event began a brisk wind snapped the American flag on its pole outside the library building. Warm gusts sluiced across the surface of the parking lot, tumbling orange, gold and russet leaves that announced the abrupt arrival of autumn.
The weather hinted at what winter will deliver here in Idaho between now and April, but the mood of those folks gathered inside the library was one of much anticipation for the screening of the film.

BRAVO! was well received by the audience and we wish to thank all the folks who attended. Many thanks, too, to the Meridian Library District and to Mr. Greg Likens of the library who put the event together.

Ken Rodgers introduces BRAVO! to the Meridian, Idaho attendees. © Betty Rodgers 2014

Ken Rodgers introduces BRAVO! to the Meridian, Idaho attendees.
© Betty Rodgers 2014

This time of the year brings Halloween and Thanksgiving and sandwiched in between that, the Marine Corps’ 239th Birthday on November 10, 2014, and on the day following we honor America’s warriors with Veterans Day. The Marine Corps has a new commandant, General Joseph Dunford (you can find out more about Commandant Dunford at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_F._Dunford,_Jr.) who will soon deliver his first annual Marine Corps birthday message to Marines of all eras. In tune with the season of military memory and honors, it seems to be the season of film screenings for BRAVO!.

Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Joseph Dunford Photo courtesy of Department of Defense

Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Joseph Dunford
Photo courtesy of Department of Defense

Besides the just-completed event in Meridian, BRAVO! will be shown as follows:

On November 1, 2014, at 10:00 AM at the Veterans Association of North County, 1617 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, California. Donations will be accepted at the door to benefit the Association’s building fund. You can find out more about the Veterans Association of North County at http://www.vancnorthcounty.org/. Doors open at 9:00 AM. Reservations are requested for this screening. Please RSVP by emailing Vanc.events@gmail.com or calling 208-340-8889.

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote a fine article earlier this week about the screening in Oceanside. You can read the article at http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/20/bravo-uncommonvalor-vietnam-siege–khe-sanh-rodger/.

At 5:30 PM on November 11, 2014, BRAVO! will be screened at the Meadowwood Technology Campus, E. Mission Avenue in Liberty Lake, Washington as part of a ceremony honoring Bravo Navy Corpsman Greg Vercruysse who was killed in action when Bravo Company 1/26 was ambushed off of Hill 881 South on June 7, 1967. You can find out more about Greg at http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/53621/GREGORY-P-VERCRUYSSE. More details about the Liberty Lake screening can be found at http://www.llfhcc.org/index.php.

Gregory Vercrussye Photo courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Gregory Vercrussye
Photo courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial

On November 15, 2015, BRAVO! will be screened at American Legion Post 291, Newport Beach, CA, 215 15th Street, Newport Beach, CA. Screening begins at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2014. Proceeds go to benefit the Fisher House of Southern California. You can find out about American Legion Post 291 at their website: http://www.al291.com/.

The Fisher House of Southern California is a non-profit organization that offers shelter and support to military families in times of medical crisis. You can find out more about The Fisher House of Southern California at http://www.fisherhousesocal.org/html5/AboutUs/Home.html.

Please attend one of these events in your area and please be sure invite your friends.

If you would like to host a screening of BRAVO! in your town this winter or spring, please contact us immediately.

DVDs of BRAVO! are available. For more information, go to http://bravotheproject.com/buy-the-dvd/.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way to stay up on our news and help us reach more people.

Documentary Film,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

August 20, 2014

Honors for BRAVO! Marine Michael E. O’Hara

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Last week BRAVO! Marine Michael E. O’Hara was awarded the Congressional Veterans Commendation for the Ninth Congressional District of Indiana. This prestigious award was presented by Congressman Todd Young in a special ceremony in southern Indiana’s Martinsville.

O’Hara was a member of Second Platoon, Bravo Company, before and during the Siege of Khe Sanh. During the Siege, he earned three Purple Hearts. O’Hara then returned to garrison duty where he became a Primary Weapons Instructor training over 120,000 young Marines at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. Back home in Indiana, he became a homebuilder and has been actively and unselfishly involved in local Veterans affairs since 1993.

Michael E. O'Hara during his interview for Bravo! Photo by Betty Rodgers

Michael E. O’Hara during his interview for Bravo!
Photo by Betty Rodgers

Honored alongside Michael were Colonel Shirley M. Ohta and Staff Sergeant Merrill E. St. John. Eligibility for the award is based on the following items. A candidate must reside in Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District and must have served on active duty in the Armed Services of the United States or have been in a branch of the Armed Forces reserve and called up to active duty. Candidates must also have been retired or honorably discharged. Candidates are chosen by a review board comprised of Ninth District veterans.

Congressman Todd Young is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and was a captain in the Marine Corps.

Michael E O'Hara and Congressman Todd Young.

Michael E O’Hara and Congressman Todd Young.

Attending the honors ceremony along with Michael were his soulmate, Maxine Bailey, his daughter, Charlene Folz, and his brother Wayne (also a Marine).

I personally served with Michael in the Third Squad, Second Platoon, of Bravo Company. He was, as Bravo Skipper Ken Pipes calls him, a “gunfighter.” He was a squared-away Marine then and he’s squared-away now.

Congratulations, Michael E. O’Hara, you have made your BRAVO! brothers proud.

Left to Right: Charlene Folz, Michael E O'Hara and Maxine Bailey.

Left to Right: Charlene Folz, Michael E O’Hara and Maxine Bailey.

On the screening front, BRAVO! will be shown in Nampa, Idaho, on September 25, 2014 at the Elks Lodge. Doors will open at 6:00 PM with the screening of the film at 6:30, followed by a Q & A session. Suggested donation, $10.00 to benefit the Wyakin Warrior Foundation. http://www.wyakin.org.

If you would like to host a screening of BRAVO! in your town this fall or winter, please contact us immediately.

DVDs of BRAVO! are available. For more information go to http://bravotheproject.com/buy-the-dvd/.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way you can help us reach more people.

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

June 18, 2014

Notes on the Springfield, Illinois Screenings of BRAVO!

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Last week Betty and I flew into Chicago, rented a car and drove down to Springfield, Illinois, the burial place of our 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. We traveled there as the guests of the Staab Family and to screen BRAVO! at the Hoogland Center for the Arts as part of a Flag Day benefit for the planned Oak Ridge Cemetery Purple Heart Memorial in Springfield.

We arrived in town and were met by BRAVO! Marine Tom Quigley, a native son of Springfield who was instrumental, along with PJ Staab and the Staab Family, in making these events happen.

The next morning, Betty and I met Tom at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library where Tom and I were interviewed by local radio personality Jim Leach of WMAY radio. Betty, Tom and I were impressed with Jim’s knowledge of the Vietnam era and the Siege of Khe Sanh in particular. You can hear the interview here: http://wmay.com/assets/podcasts/20140612jlsBravo.MP3.

Later, Betty and I walked down to the Hoogland Center for the Arts where we met with their events manager, Vanessa Ferguson, and checked out the facilities for the screening. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped in at the First Presbyterian Church and looked at their seven fabulous Tiffany stained glass windows and the pew where the Abraham Lincoln family sat during church services.

Left to Right: Tom Quigley, John Cicala, Michael E O'Hara, Cal Bright, Ben Long and Bruce Stuckey. Photo courtesy of Ken Rodgers

Left to Right: Tom Quigley, John Cicala, Michael E O’Hara, Cal Bright, Ben Long and Bruce Stuckey.
Photo courtesy of Ken Rodgers

During the day, Bruce & Francine Jones and Bruce & Judy Stuckey arrived. Bruce Jones, alias T-Bone, was a radioman for 81 Millimeter Mortars and spent a lot of time on patrol with Bravo Company. Bruce Stuckey was a radio man for Bravo Skipper Ken Pipes. That evening, we all went out for dinner at Saputo’s Italian Restaurant where we were joined by Tom’s wife Nancy and daughter Erin Parsons and her family. If you are ever in Springfield, I suggest you try the fare at Saputo’s. It is rumored that Al Capone liked to dine there, and as we tucked into our ravioli and manicotti and other dishes, I imagined seeing Al parade in with his entourage, all wearing natty summer suits and two-toned fancy shoes, ladies of the night hanging onto their arms.

Also arriving in Springfield later that night was BRAVO!’s associate producer, Carol Caldwell-Ewart.

The day of the screening, Betty and I and BRAVO! Marine Michael O’Hara, who had arrived early that morning, toured the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum—definitely worth the fees and the time it takes to watch the films, view the exhibits and look at all the memorabilia.

BRAVO! Marines Cal Bright and Ben Long with his wife Joyce, and John “Doc” Cicala who was one of Bravo Company’s corpsmen, arrived that day too. We all met at the Hoogland before the screening and had a moment to visit while Carol, Betty and I worked with the staff to make sure everything was in order.

The very capable A/V tech estimated that over 300 folks came out to donate funds to help build the Oak Ridge Cemetery Purple Heart Memorial and to watch BRAVO!. The evening started off with a reception hosted by the Staab Family. Right before the film was shown, Master of Ceremonies PJ Staab introduced all of the Khe Sanh vets in attendance, and we were honored by an enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience. I haven’t ever been honored like that since my return from Vietnam in 1968. You must recall that the Vietnam Veteran wasn’t particularly popular back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Somehow we were blamed for our political leaders’ decisions, so the standing ovation was particularly heartwarming. And the ovations didn’t stop there! We were also honored at the end of the film as the credits ran, and yet again before a snappy and informative Q & A session that followed.

The scene at Staab Funeral Home in Springfield, just before the Ride in Honor bike run. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers.

The scene at Staab Funeral Home in Springfield, just before the Ride in Honor bike run.
Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers.

The next morning, all of the BRAVO! folks met for a special breakfast and then as some headed home, five us—Michael E. O’Hara, John “Doc” Cicala, Carol, Betty and I—traveled over to the Staab Funeral Home where lines of motorcycles threaded across the parking lots in anticipation of the annual Ride in Honor, a bike run to four of the area’s veteran’s memorials.

I had never been around one of these bike runs—I’ve heard about them—so it was exciting to see all the bikes with their multi-hued frames and the colorful characters who were riding them. Again, the bikers chipped in funds to participate in this event with the proceeds going for the Purple Heart Memorial.

Just prior to the run, PJ Staab invited us to meet his Aunt Catherine, the last of the World War II era Staab generation. We of course said, “Yes,” and followed PJ upstairs to visit with Aunt Catherine for a while. And what a delight! She’s seen the film twice and wanted to meet us.

Then it was off in a roar of engines to the veteran’s shrines, the first being the Oak Ridge Cemetery where the planned Purple Heart Memorial will be built. Also located at Oak Ridge is President Lincoln’s tomb as well as commemorative tributes to the men and women who fought and died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Michael E. O’Hara, Doc Cicala, Bob Cowles, Tom Jones and I made up a detail that placed a wreath on the Vietnam War Memorial.

I have never been a part of anything like the placing of the wreaths, so it was humbling to be a participant. Both Bob Cowles and Tom Jones have been instrumental in getting the Purple Heart Memorial project off the ground. Betty and I first met Bob Cowles, a US Army veteran of the Vietnam War, when he arranged for us to interview Tom Quigley for BRAVO! in 2010 at the Springfield VFW Post. Tom Jones, also a Vietnam Veteran and Navy Corpsman who served with Force Recon, is the author of the novel LOST SURVIVOR about an African-American’s journey to fight in Vietnam.

Left to right: Bob Cowles and Tom Jones. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers.

Left to right: Bob Cowles and Tom Jones.
Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers.

After placing the wreath at Oak Ridge, we proceeded to travel to the memorials at New Berlin, Spaulding and the National Veterans Cemetery at Camp Butler where we again placed wreaths at each location. We were treated to a poetry reading and to a trumpet rendition of “Taps.” Before departing Camp Butler, the crowd of bikers lined up and hugged and thanked each one of us for our service. It was intimate and humbling for each of us. For a generation of veterans who were pretty much shunned by their country, it is amazing, after 46 years, to be getting some thanks for what we did. We were young then, and wanted to do what was required, and we wanted to do it well.

We finished the day with another trip to Saputo’s, this time with PJ Staab and his lovely wife Ruth. For me it was sausage and peppers with a side of spaghetti. And they got the red sauce right.

Thanks to PJ Staab and the Staab Family, to Jessica McGee, to the Marine recruits who acted as ushers at the screening of the film, to the Hilton for our lodging and the Hoogland Center for the Arts for a screening venue, to all the folks who came to see BRAVO! and to Springfield with its wonderful memorials. And thanks to Carol Caldwell-Ewart and to the men of Bravo and their wives for traveling to participate in this special weekend.

If you would like to host a screening of BRAVO! in your town this summer or fall, please contact us immediately.

DVDs of BRAVO! are available. For more information go to http://bravotheproject.com/buy-the-dvd/.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way you can help spread the word about the film and what it is really like to fight in a war.

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

April 30, 2014

Skipper Ken Pipes’ Reports on Veterans in the San Diego County, CA Jail

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I have been asked by Ken and Betty Rodgers to comment upon a special program that has been recently instituted by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department within their county jail system. The program’s goal is to stop veterans from returning to confinement in a never-ending revolving door scenario, which is a known and tragic aftermath of war. We hope to give our incarcerated veterans a chance to get back on—and stay on—the high road.

The hands-on supervisory authority for this program is the responsibility of retired Marine Master Sergeant G. Morales, who is the program administrator and chief counselor.

The three outside team members are Marine Combat Veterans: Bill Rider, Colonel Al Slater and I. Bill Rider and I served at Khe Sanh, and Al Slater did his time in the barrel in the unforgiving environment of the far Northern sector of the DMZ, in The Trace and along the Ben Hai River. He and his company of Marines battled the NVA to a standstill every time they crossed sabers. Both Bill and Al are members of one of the most famous Marine infantry units to serve in Vietnam, “The Walking Dead,” First Battalion, 9th Marines (1/9).

Bill, the team leader, is the founder and chief executive officer of the American Combat Veterans of War (ACVOW). I note that Bill and all volunteers in ACVOW receive no compensation. They are volunteers in the true, righteous sense of the word. Bill was with 1/9 before, during and after the second Battle of Khe Sanh, serving as a riflemen, fire team leader and squad leader until he took the hardest and last of his three hits and was evacuated out of country. Though it was never awarded, his unit twice nominated Bill for the Silver Star.

These two Marines are veterans of some of the most vicious, hand-to-hand combat and hardest fought battles in the history of the Vietnam War. I note in passing that the three of us wear a total of six Purple Heart medals. This is mentioned only in the context that when discussing the effects that hard, sustained combat can have on Warriors, we collectively and individually bring some bona fides to the table, lending credence to our observations, comments and recommendations.

Ken Pipes © Betty Rodgers 2014

Ken Pipes
© Betty Rodgers 2014

Our mission, which has been reduced to a Memorandum of Understanding, is currently awaiting review and approval by the sheriff and his staff. The short version of our mission is to assist these veterans in re-entering society in a productive and responsible manner. This will be done by assisting with job placement, education, establishing/re-establishing their veterans benefits to include discharge upgrades, medical, disability and limited financial assistance if needed/as available. Clearly, the official document is more detailed.

The veterans in the jail, and the three of us, with the assistance of Master Sergeant Morales, agreed to the necessity of establishing a couple of ground rules within which both sides could operate. Briefly, ground rule #1 recognized that the inside veterans and the three of us on the outside have developed over a number of years, rather well-oiled B.S. detection meters. That said, we agreed to not consciously force the use of this rare detector, and rule #2, and as important, agreed that what is discussed in the cell block stays in the cell block (CB). With those two essential operational rules, the program was set in motion.

The veterans who are in this test program have been carefully screened. Veterans who have committed violent crimes, such as serious assaults/batteries, child molestations and other similar crimes, are not in the program. Those who are selected, for the most part, have been accused/convicted of committing crimes that can be attributed to drug and/or alcohol related abuse problems, minor domestic violence issues and other crimes of this type; poor decision choices made while under the influence, which short-circuits normal thought processes.

The resulting group of 32+ veterans includes a couple of our vintage from the Republic of South Vietnam era. The numbers of specific War on Terrorism veterans increase as we get closer to the Iraq and Afghanistan ventures. I have made very satisfying and personal contacts with several of the vets in the CB—one will be released by the time you read this and will be working within a verified, excellent program. He was in 3/5, “The Dark Horse Battalion,” as a rifleman in what remains one of the fiercest of several tough battles in Iraq. Another is a long-serving SEAL with tours in both the above areas of operations. He is a good man who probably should not be where he is. Our consensus is that he will be released very shortly.

The group meets once a week, usually every Thursday morning or afternoon, and the sessions are critiqued and reviewed by the chief counselor and the ACVOW Team afterwards. The program as envisioned is constantly being fine-tuned, and it does vary from session to session. For example, on a recent Thursday, Bravo! was shown in its entirety to our veterans in their CB, or as we like to say, in their home, with their permission and on their time.

The Skipper at Khe Sanh

The Skipper at Khe Sanh

I refer to what we do, including the documentary screening, as training that is needed for each of them as they are all on an extended, unaccompanied tour of duty without dependents; not necessarily a bad way of describing their current situation. I must say that some veterans were completely overcome by the film’s content, the subject and presentation. As I scanned the common CB room, I noted several of the men were having trouble with eyes perspiring—most of these were verified combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Sounds kind of familiar?

After 4-1/2 months of data collection:

* 26 Inmate Veterans released
* 21 Inmate Veterans placed into a program
* 5 Transferred to state prison
* 1 Drug relapse (not arrested, returned to program)
* 1 Charges dropped and released to work-furlough (refused community service, subsequently rearrested)
* 0 Disturbances noted in the Veterans CB during this period

As many of you know, the ultimate success of programs like this can frequently get side-tracked; lack of funding, too many people claiming to be the daddy, fights over turf—the list goes on. I personally feel that this program, under the supervision of the chief administrator, Retired Marine Master Sergeant Morales, is progressing very well and that the credit for the success must rest with him, Bill Rider, and Colonel Slater.

Finally, The Program has been enthusiastically received and accepted by the veterans. They collectively feel it is beneficial, informative and very professionally conducted. If the initial data is any indication, the program is positively headed in the intended direction and at a manageable speed. I will attempt to keep everyone informed of our progress as this worthwhile project matures and develops.

I am proud to note that Ken and Mrs. Betty believe so strongly in what Mr. Rider and his organization are doing that the ACVOW received the net proceeds of the Vista American Legion Post 365 and the Fallbrook VFW Post 1924 documentary previews of Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor.

For the Veterans, Team Morales and the ACVOW,

Ken Pipes

Documentary Film,Eulogies,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

April 19, 2014

BRAVO! Marine Michael E. O’Hara Remembers Quiles Ray Jacobs

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Nineteen years ago the ground around Los Angeles shook terribly for just a moment. A Giant of a man had just fallen after a long and courageous struggle for survival. Quiles Ray Jacobs had succumbed to his cancer, probably related to what is commonly referred to as Agent Orange from his time serving as a Marine in Vietnam. His heroism during that time is documented elsewhere on this Blogspot dated March 2011 entitled “Ghosties.”

Jake, as he was affectionately known, and I were good pals from our days in “The Nam.” He was a bit younger than I but had entered the Corps ahead of me, which is why he became my Squad Leader at Khe Sanh. Everyone loved the guy from the git-go. He had his “stuff” together and we all knew it. He was a born leader. For a kid from the streets of Compton, CA, in the greater Los Angeles area, he would make his family proud. He earned two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with Combat “V” device and the coveted Silver Star. He got them all the “old-fashioned way”—he earned them.

Horton Jake photo The late Quiles R. Jacobs and Dan Horton, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968
Photo courtesy of Michael E. O’Hara[/caption]

After the war he continued on life’s journey, as did we all. His moral compass never faltered. He was a Lion for sure. He was one of those men who always knew, instinctively, what the morally correct decision was. He had built and owned a twelve-unit apartment complex behind the Shell station on the four corners that everyone watched burn during the LA riots of 1992. It was a really nice building. He and his brothers transported the twelve families to his home 4 miles away and his wife Naomi cared for them all for two weeks until the area settled down. All the while Jake and his brothers guarded their property from the rooftop of the apartment so it would not fall victim to the violence. In the end they were all returned safely to their homes unscathed. That was the man I knew in Vietnam and came to admire. He remains one of the finest examples of a man I can relate to anyone.

I visited him last in August of 94. Our CO, Lt. Col Ken Pipes, and I went to visit with him as he was failing somewhat and we knew time was running out. It was a wonderful three days.

The night before he died I had a dream in which we were together and the magnolia trees were in full bloom. The next morning when I went to town I saw all the magnolias were indeed blooming that day and I knew it was time. When I returned home in the late afternoon, the phone rang as I opened the door. It was his beloved Naomi with the heartbreaking news that he had slipped away to be with the Lord. It was 19 April 1995 and some jerk had just taken the lives of so many young people in Oklahoma City that morning. No one felt the earth shake in Los Angeles.

Jake's Magnolia Photo courtesy of Michael E. O'Hara

Jake’s Magnolia
Photo courtesy of Michael E. O’Hara

Sometime later I planted a magnolia tree in my yard in his memory. Actually, I planted two. One died, one survived. That was the way it was in “The Nam”. The trees were but mere sticks and would take years before the one began to bloom. My magnolia now blooms continuously from April until August, just for my friend Jake.

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

March 30, 2014

After Action Report on the Vista and Fallbrook, California Screenings

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On behalf of Ken and Sharon Pipes, their son Tim, grandson Connor, and Ken and Betty Rodgers, we wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks and gratitude for making the screenings of BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR at the Vista, California Alvin Myo Dunn American Legion Post 365 and the Fallbrook, California Charles E Swisher VFW Post 1924 such resounding successes. We were all left nearly speechless at the warm welcome and genuine hospitality we received at each of the venues. The overwhelming emotional reaction and positive comments were tremendously validating to all of us.

We want to extend a special thanks to Marine Bill Rider, who endured the Siege of Khe Sanh along with his fellow Leathernecks in the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. Bill is the President and CEO of American Combat Veterans of War, an organization of warriors helping warriors integrate back into non-combat environments. Net proceeds from both of the screenings went to American Combat Veterans of War to assist in funding their programs.

The Vista screening began bright and early at 09:00 on Saturday, March 22, 2014, and the standing-room-only 90+ intrepid folks who attended were treated to a continental breakfast of pastries, yogurt, fruit and coffee.

It was good to see David Burdwell, a sniper and member of the 1st Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment, standing outside the Vista American Legion Post, waiting for us to arrive. (Ken and Betty were delighted to meet David and learn that he is one of the Marines in the archival footage used in the film.)

Special thanks are also in order to American Legion Post 365 Commander Haywood Bagley for representing his Vista post at this screening and to Junior Past Commander Chris Yates for all his promotional and technical work in making the morning screening in Vista possible. Chris, retired from a twenty-year career in the USMC, owns a lot of enthusiasm and expertise, which he brought to bear on this project. Ooorah, Chris Yates! Thanks, too, to post board member Raymond Johnson for taking photos of the event and for creating an awesome poster that both Post 365 and we used to promote the event.

Ken Pipes, The Skipper

Ken Pipes, The Skipper

At 14:00 on the same Saturday, 125+ viewers joined us in Fallbrook for the second screening of the day.

The afternoon meal at the conclusion of the screening at VFW Post 1924, prepared and served by the Patriots Ministry under the guidance of Tom Langan, was absolutely outstanding, as was the song sung by Tom’s beautiful daughter. Kudos, too, to all those who helped Patriotic Ministries make the tri-tip meal happen—what wonderful folks they all were.

The set-up for the afternoon screening went smoothly and efficiently. We extend our thanks to Robert Styles and Retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Ken Etherton for their onsite suggestions, supervision, enthusiasm and technical expertise. Also, we thank past Fallbrook VFW Commander Berry for the excellent job he did as the MC for the event.

The set-up in Fallbrook would not have been as smooth had it not been for the hard work of the Fallbrook Senior Volunteer Patrol deployed under the able command of the chief administrator, Retired Navy Commander Manny Ortega. We’d like to express our thanks to all the volunteers who so graciously gave us that important boost over the finish line.

Also, it was good to see several members of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Vista unit present and aboard—each righteous and honorable men and Marines—Retired Sergeant Major Brown and Retired Gunny Delgado (both USMC) and Corporal Tutera, who was stationed at the Danang, South Vietnam AO—back in the DAY!

We also send to one of our benefactors, Mr. Mark Van Trees, sincere thanks for the very special and deep-felt appreciation and support he and his organization extended to the American Combat Veterans of War and the Patriotic Ministries. The items that were selected and shipped out here by Mark and the folks at Support the Troops could not have arrived at a better and more opportune time. Thank you, Mark, for making this happen. Those items will go to Marines and their families who have just returned from duty overseas and/or who are in special need.

We wish to relay our appreciation to Retired USMC General Carl Hoffman, Retired Colonel of Marines Lyn Hays, and the Marine officer currently commanding the 5th Marine Regiment, Colonel Jason Q. Bohm, for honoring us with their surprise attendance. Also a surprise attendee was BRAVO! Marine, Ron Rees, whose two daughters made it possible for him to share the Fallbrook screening with us after traveling from his home in Oregon.

We would be remiss if we did not mention how honored we were to have former California State Senator and Mrs. Bill Morrow with us as well as Tom Stinsen, who represented current Fallbrook area State Assembly Member Marie Waldron.

Also joining us was Mr. Alex Dominguez from Norwalk, California. Alex is a veteran of Khe Sanh, a Marine, and a stout supporter of BRAVO! No matter where we screen BRAVO!, Alex might show up to support our efforts.

The support of these fine men, women and Marines and all the other folks they brought with them will not soon be forgotten.

In closing, on behalf of all Bravo 1/26 Marines, we thank you for your support, encouragement, positive comments, and for remembering those of our companions who are no longer with us. To all those who have made this project and so many others possible: SEMPER FIDELIS!

DVDs of BRAVO! are available. For more information about purchasing BRAVO! DVDs, go to http://bit.ly/18Pgxe5.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way we can spread the word about the film and the Vietnam War.

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Other Musings,Vietnam War

January 22, 2014

On January 21, 1968

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Yesterday I awoke early, when the dark still hung from the eaves and leered into my dreams like spirits of long-lost warriors. It was January 21, 2014. Most January 21sts are like that for me…an early awakening, an early rising, coffee and pondering January 21, 1968, the beginning of the Siege of Khe Sanh.

Here in Idaho it was dark and foggy and the stench of inversion settled into every crevice it could get its stinky fingers into. I thought about the men I served with and where they are now, if they are anywhere, and what they are doing and whether or not I am in contact with them. I thought about the day before the beginning of the Siege, and how it became clear to me that my experience in Vietnam was about to become more violent, and I thought about the night before as Puff the Magic Dragon spit curving arcs of red death at the NVA out in front of my bunker. I thought about the awful shock of being awakened around 5:30 AM on the 21st by a crescendo of terror that shook the ground, and frankly, shook me, too.

Still groggy from sleep, I got my gear and bolted into the trench, and light and fire and noise drove me into the bottom of the trench, on my face. Something thudded into my lower back below my flak jacket. My back and jungle dungarees sizzled and I smelled singed flesh and I wondered if I could move my legs. I started screaming, “I’m hit, I’m hit.”

Steve Foster, who was in my fireteam, scrambled over and began to laugh. Normally you would think that someone who would laugh at another man’s wounds was really weird but if you knew Foster, well… He scraped whatever was on my back and got his face close to my ear and said, “It’s only clods.” And then he laughed some more.

Ken Rodgers at Khe Sanh, Courtesy of the Estate of Dan Horton

I rose and went to my fighting hole and someone came by and ordered me into the machine gun bunker close by which was manned by wounded men, one with a huge gash in his shin and another with his face bandaged so he couldn’t open his mouth, and his arm in a sling. We watched outside for the enemy to overrun us, but they never came. The gas from the exploding ammo dump, which was close by, forced us to put on gas masks.

It wasn’t much better for the next seventy-seven days. And a lot of those days were worse than January 21, 1968.

For years I kept my memories of that day secret. Only I was allowed access to those terrifying moments that crept up my spine and stopped me in the middle of whatever I was doing. Nobody cared much about what happened to me at Khe Sanh unless they knew me well or were at the Siege or went through something similar. All of us Vietnam Vets were hibernating, I think, until it became cool to have been a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. As long as we let our memories sleep, we were almost the same as being gagged.

But now, the stories are rolling out of us like a river that has finally thawed. We are speaking and we are telling our story, about our war—not our fathers’ war, but our war—which in its own way was as nasty and deadly as any war fought any time or place.

Part of the story of Khe Sanh has been told by Betty and me in our film, BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR. It is not the only story, by any means, but it is my story and it is the story of the company of Marines I served with and in many ways it is a story that speaks for all Vietnam Veterans and maybe even veterans of other wars.

Marine and BRAVO! supporter extraordinaire Terry Hubert says that our job—Betty’s and mine—is to educate, and we hope that the film educates folks about what Vietnam Veterans went through and what it means to us now. There are messages in the film, it seems, that speak to some universal truths about conflict and humanity.

Part of the way we are educating America about the Vietnam War is by traveling around the country to give screenings. We are getting set to hit the road and travel to my home town of Casa Grande, Arizona, where we will screen the film in the historic Paramount Theatre on February 13 at 7:00 PM. In addition to educating folks, the proceeds from the screening of BRAVO! (entree fee is $10.00) will help fund the Pinal County Veterans Memorial.

If you are in the area, come by and catch a look at this powerful and poignant film. We’d really like to meet you, or get reacquainted if we have already met. You can find out more details about the Casa Grande screening at http://www.paramountfoundation.org/EVENTS.html.

On March 22, 2014, BRAVO! will be screened at VFW Post 1924 in Fallbrook, CA. BRAVO! Skipper Ken Pipes lives in the area and will be on hand along with Betty and me when we show up to screen the film. More details to come on this screening.

On March 29, 2014, BRAVO! is provisionally scheduled to screen for veterans incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California. As soon as we know more, we will provide the information.

On March 30, Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, we will be on board the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, The National Liberty Ship Memorial at Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, CA. The proceeds from this screening will benefit the SS Jeremiah O’Brien’s Memorial. Again, more details are to come.

Another way we are trying to educate the public about the Vietnam War is through the sale of DVDs. For more information about purchasing BRAVO! DVDs, go to http://bit.ly/18Pgxe5.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way we can spread the word about the film and the Vietnam War.

Film Screenings

November 2, 2013

Screening Report

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On October 30, 2013 BRAVO! was screened in two locations to nearly 700 viewers. Mid afternoon, the film was shown at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, to 550 active duty Marines. Thank you to Colonel Michael Robinson, G-3, at the Combat Training Center at Twentynine Palms, for putting the screening in motion and making it happen on the ground.

Left to Right: Bill Rider, Jim Kaylor, Colonel Mike Robinson, Ken Pipes, Lt. Colonel Sean Hankard (Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines), Retired Sergeant Major Tom Brown. Photo courtesy of Ken Pipes.

Thanks too to BRAVO! Skipper Ken Pipes for his tenacious drive to screen BRAVO! at Marine Corps facilities across the nation. Ken and his lovely wife, Sharon, drove up to Twentynine Palms along with BRAVO!’s staunch friend, retired Sergeant Major Tom Brown. Traveling with the Pipes was the mayor of San Diego’s Special Advisor on Veterans Affairs. Mr. Bill Rider, who was a squad leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines at Khe Sanh. Also in attendance was Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sergeant Jim Kaylor, who served with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines at Khe Sanh.

You will see in the photograph below, left to right, Jim Kaylor, Bill Rider and Skipper Ken Pipes talking about Khe Sanh after the screening of the film. We love to see the backs of all those Marine Corps heads.

Jim Kaylor, Bill Rider, Ken Pipes. Photo courtesy of USMC.

Later, about four-hundred miles north and several hours later, BRAVO! was screened at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. Vietnam Veterans of America Redwood Empire Chapter 223 sponsored the screening. A big thank you to Mr. Ken Holybee and the members of Chapter 223. A big shout-out also to Carol Caldwell-Ewart, associate producer of BRAVO!, for facilitating the screening in Santa Rosa, and for her hospitality.

The room set up for the Santa Rosa screening. So many attendees we needed more chairs. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

The viewers at the Santa Rosa screening were a wonderful mixed group of Vietnam Veterans, friends of the producers, and folks old and young.

While in Santa Rosa, Ken and Betty Rodgers met and discussed filmmaking with instructor Brian Antonson’s film production classes at Santa Rosa Junior College. Novelist, writing instructor and good friend of BRAVO! and Ken and Betty Rodgers, Jean Hegland, helped arrange the visits to the film classes and we are very grateful to Jean for all her efforts.

Members of VVA Redwood Empire Chapter 223. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

NEWS ON UPCOMING SCREENINGS:

The Eagle Public Library, November 6, 2013, at 6:30 PM, 100 N Stierman Way, Eagle, Idaho. Admission is free. The producers will be present at this screening.

Carson City, Nevada, on Veterans Day, November 11, 2013 at Western Nevada College. The screening will take place at 4:00 PM in Marlette Hall. This event is free to the public and is sponsored by the Nevada State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, VVA Chapter 388, the Carson City Marine Corps League, and the Student Veterans of Western Nevada College. Come meet the producers! Thank yous are due to Marine and Vietnam veteran Terry Hubert for his efforts in making this screening happen.

College of Marin, in Kentfield, CA, on November 14, 2013 beginning with a reception at 5:00 PM, screening of the film at 6:00 PM, followed by a Q & A with local veterans. Admission is free. The screening will be at the James Dunn Theater on the College of Marin campus. Come meet Ken and Betty Rodgers.

We ask for your help in sharing this information about screenings with Vietnam veterans and anyone else who would or should be interested in seeing our film. With your help, we will get this story and history into the hands and hearts of many.

OTHER NEWS:

DVDs of BRAVO! are now for sale with a limited-time special offer at http://bit.ly/18Pgxe5.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way we can spread the word.

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

October 21, 2013

On Idaho Public Televison, Steve Wiese, BRAVO! Screenings and a DVD Sale

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On October 16, 2013, BRAVO! Marine Steve Wiese, Betty and I were interviewed by Marcia Franklin of Idaho Public TV for her show, Dialogue, which will be aired on Idaho Public Television on November 8, 2013. In the studio we had a small audience that included Steve’s wife, Deborah and BRAVO! supporter extraordinaire, Ben Shedd, who won an Academy Award in 1979 for his documentary film The Flight of the Gossamer Condor. We enjoyed our time with Steve and Deborah who came up to Boise from the Sacramento, California region at the invitation of Marcia Franklin. Some clips of BRAVO! will be shown during the interview which also includes a lively discussion moderated by Marcia. The discourse centered on the Siege of Khe Sanh, Vietnam, Marines, war’s impacts and the making of the film. We couldn’t be more pleased and found it a real privilege to work with Marcia, and can’t wait to share the Dialogue program with you. If you don’t get Idaho Public Television, we will provide a link after the program airs which will allow you to see the entire interview plus some web extras which will not be in the main one-half hour broadcast.

From left to right, Marcia Franklin, Steve Wiese, Betty Rodgers, Ken Rodgers. Photo courtesy of Idaho Public Television.

In separate news, we have the following information on screenings of BRAVO!:

Santa Rosa, California on October 30, 2013, 6:00 PM in the Lodge Room of the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Avenue, Santa Rosa, California. This screening is sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 223. Admission is free. Donations accepted. A Q & A period with the film’s producers, Betty and Ken Rodgers, will be held after the screening. Refreshments will be served. Much thanks to BRAVO! Associate Producer Carol Caldwell-Ewart and Vietnam veteran Ken Holybee of VVA Chapter 223.

Betty Rodgers

Also on October 30, 2013, BRAVO! will be screened as a Professional Military Education session at Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Corps Base, Twenty-Nine Palms, California. The screening will be at 2:00 PM at the base theater followed by a Q & A session with retired Lieutenant Colonel Ken Pipes, BRAVO! Marine and company commander of Bravo Company, 1/26, during the Siege of Khe Sanh. This is a Marine Corps event.

The Eagle Public Library, November 6, 2013, at 6:30 PM, 100 N Stierman Way, Eagle, Idaho. Admission is free. The producers will be present at this screening.

Carson City, Nevada, on Veterans Day, November 11, 2013 at Western Nevada College. The screening will take place at 4:00 PM in Marlette Hall. This event is free to the public and is sponsored by the Nevada State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, VVA Chapter 388 and the Student Veterans of Western Nevada College. Come meet the producers. Thank yous are due to Marine and Vietnam veteran Terry Hubert for his efforts in making this screening happen.

Ken Rodgers, co-producer, co-director of BRAVO!, photo courtesy of Kevin Martini-Fuller

College of Marin, in Kentfield, CA on November 14, 2013. Admission is free. More details to come. Come meet Ken and Betty Rodgers.

Casa Grande, Arizona, at the old Paramount Theatre on February 13, 2014. More details to come. The producers of the film will be on hand to talk about BRAVO!

Fallbrook, California in late March 2014, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Details to come. Thank you to BRAVO! Skipper Ken Pipes for his efforts on behalf of the film.

Modesto, California in late April or early May 2014. More details to come. Thanks to Khe Sanh brother Mike Preston for his efforts in making this screening possible.

And finally:

In recognition of the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps on November 10, 2013, of Veteran’s Day, and of the 2013 Christmas holiday season, DVDs of BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR will be available at the price of $19.95, no sales tax and no shipping through December 27, 2013. Take advantage of this special offer and buy copies for yourself, your Marine or veteran, your school or local library, a historian, or anyone else who would be interested in this insightful story.

DVDs of BRAVO! are now for sale at http://bit.ly/18Pgxe5.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please like us at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/.

Eulogies,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

August 21, 2013

Lloyd and I…In Memory of Lloyd Scudder

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BRAVO! Marine Michael E. O’Hara muses on the passing of BRAVO! Marine, Lloyd “Short Round” Scudder. Both Lloyd and Michael are featured in the documentary film, BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR.

8/19/2013 – Some of you may know at this point that Lloyd Scudder, that lovable little guy we all affectionately called “Short Round,” has slipped away from us so quickly we all were surprised. Ken Pipes states he talked to him just last evening and he was making plans to return home from his recent heart surgery on Friday. Isn’t that how it always is? We just refuse to accept the inevitable and when we least expect it we get bit right on the rump. I had been out this morning and got home after the noon hour. When I opened Cal’s (BRAVO! Marine Cal Bright) e-mail the chair literally shot out from under me as I began to immediately try to process the information. (That’s a round-about way of saying I began to cry as I was falling to my knees.)

Each of us has our memories. Cal and Short Round were pals all along at Khe Sanh. I first met Short Round when he returned to the platoon after visiting his brother on an in-country R&R. That of course was after 25 February. This is when Lloyd and I began to pal up. I was at the end of 2nd Platoon and his bunker was the beginning of 3rd Platoon area. We would talk often before Watch in the evenings.

But our paths would cross again in ’69, I believe it was. I was stationed at the Weapons Section at Camp Horno, Camp Pendleton, California, and was a primary instructor giving the classes on the M16A1. I was just a few days from going on leave when Short Round came into the section as a corporal. It was there he would be assigned to the hand grenade range. We didn’t get to spend much time together as I was soon going home for about a 3-week leave. I told him I would see him when I got back. I never did. That was when he experienced the event that would change his life forever. A private dropped the grenade in the pit. It killed the private and severely injured Lloyd’s eyes, both hands and arms. We all (Khe Sanh Veterans) know they had to amputate his hands in the end. To add insult to injury the Marine Corps did everything in their power to make him a scapegoat over that event which would cause him much heartache and sorrow over the years. He even had trouble getting his VA benefits. But he endured.

I think the next time I saw him was at the 1995 Khe Sanh Veterans reunion in Las Vegas. That was when I realized the grenade incident nearly blinded him as well.

He sure was a hoot wasn’t he? You just couldn’t help but love ol’ Short Round. I pray for his family and wish them well. Short Round is now at rest, finally, guarding the gates until his relief arrives, as always, Standing Tall.

Semper Fi Marine Scudder.
It was my pleasure to serve with you.