Betty and I are excited to start this blog about Bravo! the documentary. We are excited, and honored, to be able to create a powerful film that has, we intend and hope, both historical importance and artistic appeal.
When you decide to do something with which you are completely unfamiliar, the journey to your goal can be daunting, or at least seem to be. Betty and I have talked about making a documentary about the Siege of Khe Sanh in 1968 for a number of years now, but the talk was mostly that, palaver. It was like we were dreaming a project that would never happen. But somewhere between Betty’s aspiration and the impetus of thinking about things sits the junction of dreams becoming fact. And here we are in the middle of filming, making trailers, doing websites, making plans for research in Washington, D.C., come fall.
Our movie is titled Bravo!, and our website Bravotheproject.com is a place where news about our production progress and fundraising activities will be centered, cyberly speaking anyway.
We have watched a ton of documentaries with our favorites generally being by Werner Herzog. We have interviewed me, located some film and photos, hired a professional videographer named Mark Spear, found some music. So, like good marines, we charge forward.
And we are getting help. The country-folk musician, Ray Doyle, has graciously agreed to let us use cuts from his recorded rendition of the song, “Mick Ryan’s Lament,” set to the tune of “The Garryowen,” General George Custer’s regimental marching song. The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation has generously kicked in start-up funds so we can begin production. The Marine Corps has agreed to let us dig into their film and photo archives. Energetic members of the Idaho Media Professionals have taught us the rudiments of film making and continue to inspire us with their infectious energy and their boundless interest in our efforts. The Khe Sanh Veteran’s are assisting us with a venue for filming interviews in San Antonio. Idaho fundraiser, Mary McColl, is on board with a bevy of ideas and activities to help us finance the project.
We will travel to San Antonio, Texas, in mid-July for interviews of my fellow survivors. Most of these men were about twenty to thirty weeks out of their mothers’ kitchens when they were thrown full-throttle into combat at Khe Sanh, both siege warfare and pitched battles. Fighting holes, bunkers, hunker, the shakes. Full-blown Iwo Jima-like attacks, bayonet battles, death and mayhem spread on the red clay around them. Corpsmen mending broken men. Boys on point, their fear crammed back down their throats to rear up later, in bed, with their wives of twenty years. And now, forty-two years later, how they assess their fight, their actions—what it meant and what it means today.
We will post updates to www.Bravotheproject .com as events warrant. Learn about our trials and triumphs. Our glasses raised in salute to the men who lived it. Learn about making movies. Donate funds to help this project come to fruition.