Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘Dallas’

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Khe Sanh Veteran's Reunion,Marines,Vietnam War

October 26, 2012

The Great Adventure Film Tour

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BRAVO! co-director and co-producer Betty Rodgers muses on the summer of 2012’s screening tour.

Ken and I have been home from our “Great Adventure Film Tour” for three weeks now, allowing us time to reflect on the experience as we settle back into our lives in Boise.

To recap, we headed south from Idaho through Utah, dipping quickly into the heat of summer as we scurried across deserts and mountains, prairies and plains toward Dallas for our first screening. There we showed BRAVO! to more than 125 attendees at the Vietnam Veterans of America Annual Leadership Conference and were introduced by our host, Michael Keating, to many of the important people who drive the organization forward. The VVA’s founding principle is, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

From right to left, Michael Keating, Betty Rodgers, Ken Rodgers at the VVA National Leadership Conference.

From there we took the sultry road through pecan orchards and goat ranches to Brownwood, TX, where we were the guests of Mary and Roger Engle, longtime friends and fans of BRAVO! Mary put together a first-class screening at the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom on the campus of Howard Payne University. One of the hosts for the evening was former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Billy Murphey, the local Veterans Service Officer, who arranged for a local Marine Corps League color guard to formally kick off the program. The auditorium was filled to capacity. The editor of the Brownwood Bulletin, Gene Deason, interviewed us and wrote an insightful article about the event and the film.

Next we ventured on to lower temperatures in Memphis where we were greeted by our host, Cobb Hammond, a historian of the Vietnam War. Cobb gave us a wonderful tour of Memphis, including the Mississippi River, Beale Street, and a drive by Sun Records. He also made sure we enjoyed the superb BBQ at the Blues City Café, and bemoaned the fact that we were not experiencing typical (sweltering) Memphis summer weather. Thank goodness! Our screening was also hosted by Khe Sanh survivor Skip Funk, and Mason Ezzell at LSI. Guests came from far and wide and included a Korean War veteran.

With Ken still behind the wheel, the galloping Honda CRV then transported us to Washington, DC, and the home and culinary sanctuary of my cousins, Chuck and Donna Dennis, who also hosted us two years ago while we did research for the film. We attended the annual reunion of the Khe Sanh Veterans and screened BRAVO! to a standing-room-only crowd. We were pleased to have three members of the “cast,” Steve Wiese, Ken Korkow and Doc Cicala, in the audience. Our friends Betty and Lee Plevney, Connie and Greg Gibbons, Mark and Elaine Kramer, and Ron Exum each contributed greatly to the success of this event.

BRAVO! screening in Washington D C

And then finally, Boston. Beautiful Boston, where we were the guests of Marie Chalmers and the family of Vincent Mottola, a Marine from Bravo Company who gave his life at Khe Sanh. Marie not only hosted the screening, but also gave us a delightful whirlwind tour of the city. BRAVO! was shown at the West Roxbury VA with the assistance of Diane Keith, and a color guard of local Marines. The appreciative audience was comprised of local folk as well as people from southern California to Rhode Island. It was also a special afternoon for families…both the Mottolas and the family of “cast” member Mike McCauley.

And then we headed north, then west, happily donning sweaters and jackets in the cooler clime.

To say the least, we are exceedingly grateful to those who invited us to their meetings and cities to screen BRAVO! And without the hospitality of friends and family along the way, the trip would not have been possible. Their belief in the film and its importance is responsible for the huge positive response we have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy as more screening requests come our way.

Now we are back home and once again searching for a corporate sponsor and/or a distributor. We are making daily contacts to find that one personal connection that will help send BRAVO! out into a national or worldwide audience.

And we do so with the glorious memories of our journey. Ken chose to drive the entire way, which concluded at about 12,900 miles. I was the navigator, ice chest and luggage manager, and scribe. Ken was the car packer, itinerary planner, tour guide and historian. To travel with Ken is to learn of people, places and events; to learn of geography, geology and the solar system.

Along the way we were able to see migrating snow geese and more than 70 species of birds, plus wildlife such as deer, elk, bighorn sheep, bear, and coyotes, but nary a moose. The “Moose-on-the-Loose” signs were posted nearly everywhere in the north like a promise, but one that was not fulfilled. They say it was because we didn’t drive at night.

A Moose on the Loose sign

A stand-out for me was the people all over the North American continent who give themselves to history and place and talk about it with great passion and eloquence. There is the person behind the counter at our national parks, the ranger who drives from monument to monument with a speech and armful of maps and photos for each stop, the archaeologist who thrills at the find of the day. There are the greeters at the information centers who welcome you to their country, state, or city. There are the servers at restaurants who talk about what it’s like to live in their towns, and the bus drivers who care about the movement of the icefields and their watersheds.

And because we drove eastward through the US, and westward through Canada, we gained a vast knowledge of the beauty of our North American Continent and its people. It was both reassuring and rewarding. And best of all, it gave us an even deeper sense of what every Marine—and every person who serves to defend and protect our continent—is committed to preserving.

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

August 15, 2012

News on Screenings–Memphis, Dallas and More

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Last Thursday afternoon, August 9, 2012, Ken and Betty screened BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR at the Omni in Irving (Dallas), Texas for one-hundred-twenty-five-plus members of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

The film was well received and Ken and Betty Rodgers owe a lot of thanks to the VVA and to VVA Veteran publisher, Michael Keating and writer and historian Marc Leepson, who spearheaded BRAVO!’s showing at the meeting.

The accommodations at the Omni were more than adequate and each day began with an early morning walk around the Las Colinas surrounds.

Ken and Betty visited with lots of energetic folks who are particularly interested in veterans’ affairs, especially those of Vietnam veterans. Several unofficial invitations to screen the film in various locations have already come in from some of the convention attendees.

Last Monday evening, August 13, 2012, the film was again screened in Texas, but this time one-hundred-fifty miles southwest of Dallas in Constitution Hall at the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom housed at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. Fifty-plus folks came and watched and proved to be a fine audience who generously pitched in to help fund some of BRAVO!’s many expenses.

The Rodgers were surprised with a visit from Mike and his wife Kelley Carwile. Mike is a Bravo Marine who fought during the siege with the men in the film. Mike and Ken had a great visit, recalling the men they served with and laughing at some of the antics they used to pull. Mike brought lots of photos from his two tours in Vietnam.

Much thanks to Ken and Betty’s great friends, Mary and Roger Engle, for ponying up some shelter and chow and for arranging the screening of the film. Much thanks, too, to retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant Billy Murphey, Brown County’s Veteran’s Service Officer, and his Marine Corps League detachment for all their hard work helping us set up and tear down the screening and for posting the colors and conducting the Pledge of Allegiance. Kudos, too, to Dr. Justin Murphy and Ms. Terrie Weeks of the Academy of Freedom for their support.

It has been hot, then wet, then muggy here in central Texas, and even though we have had a great stretch, it is time to move on towards Memphis, Tennessee where Mr. Cobb Hammond will host a screening of BRAVO! at:

LSI Inc., 2950 Bartlett Road, in Memphis/Bartlett at 7 PM on August 20, 2012. If you live in the Memphis area, please consider attending the screening. Please RSVP with Ken at if you plan to attend.

BRAVO! will also be screened at 1 PM on August 31, 2012, at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel in the Washington DC area. More details to follow.

In addition, another showing of BRAVO! will occur on September 8, 2012, in Boston. Again, more details to follow soon.

Please contact us if you live in the Memphis, Washington, DC, or Boston areas and if you are interested in attending a screening of BRAVO!

Find out more about BRAVO! and Brownwood, TX, in the feature article from the August 12, 2012 edition of the Brownwood Bulletin here.

Read former Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter’s review of BRAVO! published in the VVA Veteran for July/August 2012 here and scroll down one page.

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

August 6, 2012

Screening News

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News on upcoming screenings of BRAVO!

We will be screening BRAVO! in the coming week at the following times and places:

At the Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, at 1:30 PM on Thursday, August 9, 2012.

At Constitution Hall, Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas, at 6:00 PM on Monday, August 13, 2012.

If you live or are visiting in the area where we are screening BRAVO!, please consider coming to see the film. It is profound, moving, inspirational, and as the former Washington Post critic Steven Hunter says, “This is a grunt film that looks at history from over the lip of the trench.”

If you have questions concerning these showings please contact Ken Rodgers at

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Khe Sanh Veteran's Reunion,Marines,Vietnam War

August 1, 2012

Updates on Travel and Screening of BRAVO!

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Betty and Ken are going on tour to screen BRAVO! in a number of locations across the United States.

Here is a schedule—in some cases firm, in some cases tentative—of screenings:

August 9, 2012 at 1:30 PM at the Omni in Irving, TX

August 13, 2012 at 6 PM at Howard Payne University’s Constitution Hall in Brownwood, TX

August 20 and/or 21, 2012 in Memphis, TN (Tentative)

August 31, 2012 at 1:00 PM at the Sheraton in Arlington, VA at the annual Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion. (Tentative)

September 8, 2012 at 3 PM at the Veterans Affairs facility in Boston, MA

If you live in one of these areas and would like to have more information about these screenings, please contact Ken Rodgers at Attendance is by invitation only, so let us hear from you.

We plan to see hot weather and thunderstorms but a cooling trend would be nice as we travel east. We appreciate your efforts on behalf of BRAVO! Thanks for spreading the word and thanks too, for those continuing donations at

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Khe Sanh Veteran's Reunion,Marines,Vietnam War

June 19, 2012

Update on Summer Travel and Screening Dates

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In August, as we announced before, Betty and I will be motoring to Washington, DC, via Dallas and Memphis and Shiloh and Chickamauga. While in Washington, we will attend the annual Khe Sanh Veterans reunion. While there, we hope to hold a screening for anyone interested in attending. As of now, we are in the planning stage and our plans for a screening will, in part, depend on who can attend and when.

Whether you have seen BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR or not, if you live in the general area, or are planning to travel to Washington, DC, in late August, please let us know as soon as possible if you are interested in attending and we will extend an invitation to the screening as soon as we have our plans firmed up.

You can reach us at or by calling Ken at 208-340-8889 or Betty at 208-340-8324.

Speaking of screenings, we would like to reiterate that we are showing the film in Irving, Texas, on August 9, 2012 to the Vietnam Veterans of America annual leadership conference and in Brownwood, Texas, at the Freedom Academy on August 13. We are also considering a screening in Memphis somewhere around the middle of August. If you live in the vicinity of our travels…Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, western North Carolina, West Virginia or Virginia…and would like to host a screening as a way to help support your local veterans’ organizations, we are open to your ideas.

After the Khe Sanh Veterans’ reunion, we plan to head north into the upper Atlantic states and would also entertain the opportunity to screen the film in Pennsylvania, New York, and points further north.

Still on the docket is a screening of the film in Walla Walla, Washington, in concert with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is tentatively scheduled for July 17 and 18, 2012.

We will also screen BRAVO! at the Boise VA facility this coming Wednesday evening.

Again, if you have any ideas on putting together a BRAVO! event, please contact us.

Last but not least, this travel to promote BRAVO! and generate interest throughout the US is a costly undertaking. We now have a PayPal link for donations on this website. If you would like to help further our efforts, please consider making a donation today or tell others how they can help. Unless you ask to remain anonymous, we will proudly add your name to our Wall of Supporters on the website. Without the generosity of supporters like you, BRAVO! would have never been completed. Thank you!

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Khe Sanh Veteran's Reunion,Marines,Vietnam War

June 13, 2012

News update on BRAVO!

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Good things are happening with the film, so it is time to post an update on the status of BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR:

The Boise Veterans Affairs facility has invited us back again to screen BRAVO! for their employees on June 20, 2012. At the last screening, many attendees said the film should be required viewing for every VA employee because it helps them better understand Vietnam veterans. Special guest: BRAVO! cinematographer Mark Spear.

We have a tentative showing of BRAVO! scheduled for July 17 and 18, 2012, at the Veterans Affairs facility in Walla Walla, Washington. Special guest: BRAVO! interviewee Ron Rees.

Betty and Ken Rodgers will be motoring to Irving (in the Dallas metropolitan area), Texas, to screen BRAVO! at the Vietnam Veterans of America annual leadership conference on August 9, 2012. In conjunction with the showing, an article about BRAVO! is tentatively scheduled to appear in the VVA’s July-August edition of their national magazine, The VVA Veteran. After Dallas, we will trek to Brownwood, Texas, for a screening organized and hosted by our good friends and supporters, Roger and Mary Green Engle.

After the Brownwood visit, Betty and Ken will motor through the South, visiting Bentonville, Arkansas, to view the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, then on to Shiloh and Chickamauga, Tennessee, to tour the Civil War battlefields there.

After that, they will journey on to Washington, DC, for the annual get-together of Khe Sanh Veterans. The reunion begins during the last week of August.

If you live in the general areas we have mentioned and would like to host a screening of BRAVO!, please contact Ken at At this point in time, the screenings are not open to the general public, but are private, by invitation only. If you have a favorite veteran’s charity, consider a screening of BRAVO! as a way to help raise some funds for that charity.

BRAVO! is currently entered into film festivals in New Orleans, Boston, Austin, Southern Utah, Hot Springs (in Arkansas), Port Townsend (on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State), Santa Fe, The Hamptons, Iowa City, Toronto and Chicago. If you have any connections or know something about any of these festivals and want to help give us a leg up, please give us a shout.

Last but not least, we ask for your help. We are still exploring the best way to get BRAVO! out to the widest audience. If you know of a major business that might consider sponsoring the film, or if you know a film distributor who would be interested in promoting this “astounding motion picture” (thank you, D. Schwartz) about the Vietnam War and what it means to us today, please contact us immediately.

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

May 6, 2012

News on BRAVO!

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As a lot of folks who have been following the progress of Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor know, we have been submitting to film festivals in hopes of creating some interest with distributors in order to gain worldwide distribution. To date, eight film festivals have not accepted the film, but we still have entries out for nine more and anticipate even more submissions upcoming.

For the good news, the Vietnam Veterans of America have watched and invited us to screen Bravo! at their annual leadership conference In Dallas, Texas, on August 9, 2012. As of this date, we do not have a lot of details on the conference or the showing, but as they come to us, we will report them.

While we are in Texas, we are contemplating screenings at other venues. If you live in Texas and are interested in seeing Bravo! in your town, we would love to talk to you about the possibility.

Furthermore, after our trip to Texas, we anticipate motoring east to the annual Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion in Washington, DC. We plan to go through Arkansas, on to Shiloh, Chickamauga, Look Out Mountain, Knoxville and into DC. If you live in one of those vicinities and would like us to screen Bravo! at the VFW, the American Legion Hall, a VVA meeting or the local Marine Corps League, give us a shout today. You can either email us or call (208) 340-8889.

Guest Blogs,Other Musings

January 26, 2012

Humanity in the Shadow of Inhumanity

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In keeping with this week’s musings on more current occurrences of conflict and war, guest blogger James Goertel talks about his experiences around 9/11/2001.

My memories about September 11, 2001 are not political. They seek to dispense no judgment one way or another upon a moment when two worlds collided. Nor does 20-20 hindsight offer more than what it was for me when “it” happened. The date itself is a convenient box in which I have collected the events of what was only a week in my life, but what is, in fact, a lifetime still unfolding for those directly and indirectly involved. My story is one of millions and is significant in some respect only because it is mine and maybe in some small way belongs to all of us, to any of us who have glimpsed humanity in the shadow of inhumanity.

On September, 11, 2001, I awoke in Dallas, Texas and prepared to begin a week covering a pharmaceutical conference for an agency out of New York City. At the time, I was a freelance sound mixer for film and video, both corporate and commercial. I stepped out onto the street from my hotel to the sound of blaring sirens. Having worked extensively in New York City, and being from Philadelphia, I thought nothing of the wailing, winding cacophony. I needed coffee.

James Goertel, author of “Carry Each His Burden”

I entered a greasy spoon after walking a few blocks. I have always favored local flavor over chain restaurant offerings available anywhere and everywhere. This ‘spoon’ had that down and dirty visual vibe – the kind that finds suits, hard hats, cons and cops all sharing counter space. My first clue this was no ordinary Tuesday came as soon as I entered. The hot grease wafting through the air was business as usual for a joint like this, but the entire lack of any conversation, the kind that forms a reassuring low level din which makes the new guy or gal entering feel right at home, was not only absent, but had been replaced by an aural vacuum that held hovering in its silent force only the sound of a CNN commentator babbling in fits and starts from the TV bolted into a corner of the coffee shop. All eyes, of every man, woman, child, and worker in this space, were glued to the flickering image of what I easily recognized to be the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex despite the inexplicable thick black smoke pouring from the structure. I had been on the 85th floor of that tower just a week before on a video shoot.

The hours that followed there in Dallas, hours which held further inexplicable and tragic events, were a blur. The initial fog of disbelief never really left me, but eventually gave at least some ground to a sobering and inevitable reality: nearly twenty-six hours of non-stop driving, first up through the heartland of the Midwest and then on across to Philadelphia and home. The airports in Dallas had been shut down almost immediately after the North Tower was struck and there had been an understandable imperative to head back East at all costs. The cameraman I so often worked with, and whom I was with in Dallas on 9/11, had a family member working in the North Tower, his twenty-three year old nephew, who it turned out was in the tower at the time of the impact and who became one of the nearly 3000 lives that fate would ultimately claim. Driving halfway across the country on 9/11 and on into September 12th had the eerie and unsettling feeling of a Hollywood-produced, post-apocalyptic movie, a feeling that has never totally left me.

A few days after returning home, I received a call from NBC Dateline asking me to be a part of a pool of crews to cover the events at Ground Zero and elsewhere. I said I would just as I had for many other similar calls from 30 Rockefeller Center to cover so many other events in previous years. This though, was not just another event, so I left for New York City with a sense of trepidation and, yes, with a sense of fear.

That atmosphere in New York City just days after the towers fell was both surreal and all too real. I cannot recall the exact number of times I passed through check points where my vehicle and the equipment I was carrying were given a thorough once-over by NYPD officers, but the trip to 30 Rockefeller Center that normally took me two and half hours took nearly six. The crew I was assigned to was dispatched almost immediately upon arrival and we made our way to Ground Zero – where surreal took on an entirely new meaning. The conversations I have had with those who were there in the days after the towers fell all contain this phrase in describing the scene, “… like something out of a movie.” The devastation up close could not be described. Even now, a decade later, I am at a loss for words. I can only relate with any literate accuracy my actions at Ground Zero.

Our crew it turned out was going to follow a retired fireman, Bob Beckwith, who had come out of retirement to join the search in general and specifically the search for a friend’s son, who was a New York City firefighter. The friend’s son had been among the first to respond after the North Tower was hit and was among the multitude of missing. Our producer brought me to Bob, introduced me and informed him that I would be putting a wireless microphone on him before we followed him into the rubble as he searched with so many others for the missing. I felt as small as I have ever felt, smaller than the little boy of my own childhood memories. The devastation and the reality of where I was swallowed me whole, along with the surreal nature of it all, in one anaerobic gulp. I suddenly felt as though I could not breathe. I had mic’d up thousands of people over the years, so my hands knew what to do, but as I raised them to begin the process with Mr. Beckwith they began to shake uncontrollably. My emotions, visually stricken and overwhelmed, had manifested themselves in a physical way I had never known could happen. I could not function and my eyes began to well with tears. It was then he took my hands in his, willing with the pressure of his touch my crying eyes to lift to meet his own – calm and assured, but utterly simpatico all at once. Then, knowing he had my full attention, he uttered the most sympathetic words I have ever heard in my entire life, “It’s going to be okay.”

That moment between two men, between two human beings, is the closest I have come to understanding what it means to be alive. Plato and Aristotle, with their bottomless well of philosophical insight into the human condition, have not even come close to imparting as much to me as Bob Beckwith did in that singularly lucid moment amidst a near hallucinogenic, often fragmentary block of time in those days following 9/11.

I would go on to cover stories at the two other 9/11 sites, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, and do innumerable interviews with survivors and family members of the deceased from these tragedies. These experiences were also rife with words full of humanity in their own right, but none more than those of a retired firefighter when we stood face to face at the gray edges of the long, historical, and continuous shadow of man’s own inhumanity.

Born in North Dakota, James Goertel spent twenty years working in television for ABC, NBC, and ESPN, among others. He currently teaches writing at Penn State Erie. His writing has appeared in Ascent Aspirations, LucidPlay, Manifold, and TNBBC. Carry Each His Burden is his debut fiction collection and was published in September of 2011.