Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘documentary films’

Documentary Film,Khe Sanh,Marines,Meet the Men,Other Musings,Veterans,Vietnam War

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

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In Their Own Words

Fifty-four years ago today, the Siege of Khe Sanh commenced and for roughly 77 days, the battle roared and the scenes of carnage and death and courage were featured on television screens across America.

While the participants’ families and friends sat in their easy chairs in their living rooms, watching with horror, going to work and church and school with the thoughts of death and fear in their minds, the men who fought the battle dug in.

What was it like?

Let some of the Marines and Navy Corpsmen who made it home tell you. These comments are from the original interviews done for the film. Some of them made it into the final cut, some of them you have never read before. Even though the interviews were conducted on an individual basis, the men often recollected the same events without anyone prompting. That was one of the amazing things about interviewing the men of BRAVO!

Khe Sanh TAOR 1968 Photo Courtesy of Mack McNeeley

On the night before the boom lowered and the siege began some of the men had a sense of foreboding.

Ken Rodgers:

I went out in the trench and I think I had first watch and as I was getting off watch it was misty. You could see through the mist and there was Puff the Magic Dragon flying around and all you saw was the blur of the tracers and hear the thing and it was moaning. I understood then that something was going to happen.

Cal Bright:

Everything was all nice and quiet. As a matter of fact it was, more or less, too quiet.

The initial eruptions of incoming found most of the men of Bravo 1/26 in their racks. The chaos ripped them out of their sleep and into the trenches and fighting holes.

Dan Horton:

There’s an explosion in the doorway of the hooch. Slammed me against the bulkhead. Then I knew the shit was hitting the fan here. Scared the crap out of me, of course, I was all discombubulated.

Cal Bright:

All Hell broke loose.

Michael E. O’Hara:

I was there digging holes in the trench. I wanted to go down as far as I could go. I was scared.

Lloyd Scudder:

I went outside and tried to curl up in a ball as much as I could. I looked like a turtle underneath my helmet.

Then the ammo dump took a direct hit.

Mike McCauley:

When the ammo dump exploded, man, we thought it was atomic.

Cal Bright:

It was obvious that they, the NVA, had been reconning the area for quite some time because you can’t hit an ammo dump with artillery and rockets and score direct hits without practicing. And it took them no time at all.

Ken Rodgers:

Our own artillery rounds that were stored in the ammo dump were cooking off and shooting straight up into the air and coming down on us.

Tom Quigley:

The NVA rounds had hit our ammo dump, and in the ammo dump was a lot of CS canisters and those went off and the gas started coming in through our hooch.

Mike McCauley:

Nobody had their gas masks with them so everybody’s trying to find a gas mask.

Ken Pipes:

The CS gas that was blown out of the dump was burning and settling into the trenches because it goes to the low ground and into the bunkers.

Debris at Khe Sanh. Photo courtesy of David Douglas Duncan.

Guys were getting hurt. Guys were dying.

Ken Korkow:

We got a lot of incoming and I’ll tell you, three separate times, incoming was so close to me I didn’t jump down, the concussion of the shell actually knocked me to the ground.

John “Doc” Cicala:

I heard ‘em yelling for a Corpsman and I started running down the trench line and the next thing I know I was looking up at the sky and I heard a Marine calling for a Corpsman and “where the hell is that son-of-a-bitch?” I was kind of lying there dazed and I got up and I picked up my helmet and I had the tail fin of a mortar in the top of my helmet. It must have hit me and knocked me out.

Peter Weiss:

I didn’t know it at the time: the radioman who had been killed. Must have been killed right at the door of the bunker. Touching a body…first time I touched a dead body. It was like, “Oh, my God.”

After hours and hours of explosions, the ammo dump going up, the CS gas in the trenches, things calmed down.

John “Doc” Cicala :

The rest of the morning was just taking care of every guy that had shrapnel wounds.

Mike McCauley:

It was pretty chaotic.

Steve Wiese:

I thought, my God, you’re not going to survive this. Little did I know that it was going to go on for 77 days.

DVDs of BRAVO! are available @https://bravotheproject.com/store/.

A digital version of BRAVO! is available in the US on Amazon Prime Video @ https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.

The new documentary film from Betty and Ken Rodgers, I MARRIED THE WAR, is now available to watch. Check it out at https://imarriedthewar.com/.

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Other Musings,Veterans,Vietnam War,World War II

November 10, 2021

News on Screenings of BRAVO!

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We will be screening BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR in West Jefferson, North Carolina at 3:00 PM on Thursday, November 18. Come join us at the Parkway Theater. Filmmakers Betty and Ken Rodgers will be there in person to talk about the film along with Bruce and Francine Jones. Bruce served with the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines at Khe Sanh as did filmmaker Ken Rodgers.

On November 20th at 10:00 AM at the Library in West Jefferson, we will be screening our second film, I MARRIED THE WAR, about the wives of combat veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. Francine Jones, one of the strong and courageous women in the film, will be on hand to discuss the project along with the filmmakers, Betty and Ken.

Please join us.

In separate but associated news, DVDs of I MARRIED THE WAR are now available to purchase. Details can be found at https://imarriedthewar.com/buy-the-dvd/.

As Veterans Day approaches, our thoughts turn to the wars fought in our lives and our friends and loved ones who served, some living, some now gone. We think of them, see their faces, hear their voices.

Our films speak to some of the issues surrounding war and combat. We wouldn’t have been able to create these stories without the help of all our friends and supporters, who are many. Thank you!

America's Middle East Conflicts,Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Korean War,Post Combat Mental Health,Veterans,Vietnam War,World War II

November 1, 2021

Don’t Miss the Premiere

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Our first film, BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR, was about a lot of things: History, war, courage, danger and trauma. And a more visceral understanding of trauma may be one of the messages that many viewers have taken from that film.

Our new film, I MARRIED THE WAR, addresses the types of trauma that come home with some of the warriors of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. The trauma that moves in with the family. The wives who must deal with helping their warriors integrate with the family, the world.

Here’s news on your chance to see this film now:

I Married the War: A Virtual World Premiere

Betty and Ken Rodgers at Syringa Cinema have announced the virtual world premiere of their documentary film, I Married the War, a story of war, homecoming, loss, resilience. A story of love.

The event will stream on Nov. 6 at 7 PM EDT and will conclude with a live Q&A with women featured in the film. Tickets are $12 each at eventive.com and can be purchased via https://imarriedthewar.com. (One dollar from each ticket, plus all additional donations, go to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes program, which seeks solutions to the tremendous challenges and long-term needs faced by military caregivers.)

I Married the War was edited by BAFTA award-winning veteran of the film industry, John Nutt. Director of Photography, Bill Krumm, a Silver Circle inductee of NATAS, has received multiple Emmy Awards for his work. The musical score was composed and performed by the celebrated composer, pianist, teacher, and blues/rock/soul singer-songwriter, Sarah Baker.

As long as mankind has waged war, women have waited and welcomed their warriors home, only to discover that the conflict dogs their husbands’ footsteps, bringing with it hyper-vigilance, isolation, anger, substance use, and emotional escapism—all manifestations of post-traumatic stress.

I Married the War gives voice to 11 wives of combat veterans from World War II to present-day Middle East wars. They are known as military caregivers, and they represent more than 5.5 million such caregivers in our nation alone. Listen as these remarkable women expose the emotional cost of war and its painful impact on their families. Learn how they cope, how they heal, and how they protect those they love. Share their struggle to hold on to their own hopes and desires.

The women of I MARRIED THE WAR

When Betty and Ken Rodgers married nearly forty years ago, Betty knew nothing about Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and the many other manifestations of the trauma of combat. Ken had served as a Marine and experienced the 77-day siege of Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War. While producing and showing their award-winning film Bravo!, Common Men, Uncommon Valor, a documentary about the men who lived through that siege, Ken and Betty met hundreds of military caregivers. Betty recognized herself and her own marriage and personal xperience in the lives of these women. The pair realized how silent and unseen the plight of military caregivers is, and they were determined to make it visible. Six years in the making, I Married the War is now poised for this premiere.

The filmmakers

A portion of the proceeds of this screening will benefit The Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s HIDDEN HEROES project which provides programs to help spouses and other caregivers deal with what comes home from war with their loved ones

The entire team at Syringa Cinema wishes to thank Optum, Recovery Idaho, BPA Health, and Magellan Health for sponsoring this virtual event and honoring America’s military caregivers.

What others are saying about I MARRIED THE WAR:

“…a nuanced, heart-breaking, and, most of all, magnificently inspiring film.” — Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone

“A moving, fascinating, informative, haunting, inspiring film. It’s utterly stunning.” — Jean Hegland, author of Into the Forest.

Get tickets for the world premiere of I MARRIED THE WAR here: https://imarriedthewar.com/.

Documentary Film,Film Festivals,Other Musings

September 21, 2021

Lady Filmmakers Film Festival

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Friends, our new film, I MARRIED THE WAR, will be shown at the LADY FILMMAKERS FILM FESTIVAL in Beverly Hills, California, on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 5:15 PM Pacific Time. If you are in the Southern California area, please consider joining Betty Rodgers and me at this event. If you can’t make it, you can watch I MARRIED THE WAR virtually as part of the film festival.

Filmmakers Betty and Ken Rodgers

I MARRIED THE WAR is the compelling story of wives of combat veterans told through the voices of eleven women who loved, married and lived with combat veterans—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines—from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. This film covers a gamut of emotions from the sad, the somber, the reflective, the happy, the redemptive.

The film festival celebrates lady filmmakers and the men who collaborate with them.

Details on securing tickets for the live screening or the virtual performances can be found at https://filmfestivalflix.com/lady-filmmakers/purchase-tickets/.

Thank you for being our supporters and friends.

Documentary Film,Guest Blogs,Other Musings,Veterans,Vietnam War

May 31, 2019

HAMBURGER HILL (MEMORIAL DAY 2019)

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Guest blogger Cobb Hammond’s article on the savage battle fought in May, 1969, originally published in the MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL on May 24, 2019.

As Americans this weekend memorialize the casualties of our war dead, a small band of US soldiers of the 101st Airborne division will recall in their collective memories, comrades in-arms of a battle during the Vietnam War. The Battle of Hamburger Hill fought 50-years ago this month, is seared into the memories of its participants; a struggle in the heavily contested A Shau Valley. Fought over a specific mountain, known as Hill 937, denoted for its height in meters (approx. 3 thousand feet), it was also called Dong Ap Bia by the North Vietnamese, which translates into ‘Mountain of the crouching beast’.

Part of a chain of mountain ridges and numerous valleys, it sat one mile from the Laotian border and contained multiple ridges and fingers that came off the summit. The slopes of Dong Ap Bia were covered in extreme overgrowth of sharp elephant grass up to 7 feet, thick bamboo groves and triple-canopy jungle, making daylight appear as dusk. The entire area was a support system for the North Vietnamese infiltrating supplies and men into the South, and the general vicinity contained roads for trucks, major supply depots and the like.  After increased enemy activity had been noted by army recon teams in the valley, Operation Apache Snow commenced on May 10, utilizing a Marine Corps regiment, multiple airborne battalions and allied S. Vietnamese forces as well.  The 3rd battalion, 187th Regiment of the 101st – also known as the “Rakkasans” would be tasked with finding the enemy, on or around 937 and eliminating him. This understrength infantry unit was at 65% strength at the outset of the campaign due to recent engagements contributing to the attrition of the units.   The commanding officer of the battalion was Lt. Colonel Weldon Honeycutt, a no-nonsense career soldier and North Carolinian who had joined the army as a teenager at the end of WWII.

Hamburger Hill
Photo by Shunsake Akatsuka

On the morning of May 10, a one and one-half hour prep of the battlefield commenced, with multiple batteries of artillery opening, followed by dozens of sorties by attack aircraft and helicopters firing their ordinance.  At 7 am transport helicopters inserted the initial element of forces into landing zones in the valley, with one mission: find the enemy and make contact.  The first day drew only light contact for Alpha and Charlie companies. Due to the rugged terrain, extreme heat and thick underbrush progress was slow. Bravo and Delta, which were kept in reserve choppered in on the second day and incorporated into the general scheme of the attack.  The 1st battalion of the 506th regiment was working working its way north toward the area as well, but due to the hazards of the terrain and constant ambushes by the enemy would not arrive until the latter part of the battle, leaving the ‘tactical’ burden to the four rifle-companies of the 3/187. 

As day 2 absorbed into 3, the fighting intensified, clearly indicating to the commander that they were facing more of the enemy to their front than originally thought. In fact, as the battle progressed, the enemy, North Vietnamese, were able to fortify their forces on the hill. Little did US troops know at the time that they were facing the 29th NVA Regiment, which had distinguished itself in other battles previously. On May 14, the fourth day, Col. Honeycutt decided to attack more aggressively and could not wait for reinforcements, so orders were given to B, C and D companies to attack from different vantage points. Unfortunately, the attacks were unable to be well coordinated due to the terrain and because enemy resistance had become extremely heavy.  C Company which was counterattacked several times took the highest casualties on the day, losing its First Sgt, two of three platoon leaders, the company exec. officer and six-squad leaders; all either killed or wounded.  To compound matters, a helicopter gunship flew in and shot-up friendly troops, killing two and wounding at least twelve, mistaking them for the enemy. This was the first of three cases of fratricide during the battle.  As day fell to night after a day of fighting, the American soldiers could see enemy cooking fires above, which was usually unheard of in an engagement like this and could hear enemy troops hollering down at the men of the 3st battalion as well.

The topography of the landscape favored defense, and conversely the enemy did well in fortifying positions. They had built earthen-log bunkers- some 6-8 feet deep, with crisscross firing angles to take advantage of the slopes. The slopes also harbored dozens of spider-holes, allowing for a quick burst of gunfire or grenade throw with the enemy then stealthfully melting back into the earth. The NVA also had dozens of light and heavy machine-gun emplacements strategically placed and manned.

Hamburger Hill
Photo from M. Taringa

May 18th and 19th again witnessed the depleted airborne companies making progress, then gradually having to dig in, move forward or back down the steep slopes as the fighting devolved into a slugfest on the squad level; with each company making its own progress on sheer will.

On the morning of May 20, ten US artillery batteries opened fire on the hill and fired for almost an hour, before dozens of air sorties by tactical aircraft came in with napalm and 250 lb. bombs on the now denuded mountaintop. As fire stopped, up went the riflemen, working their way up the slopes and ravines encountering lighter resistance than previously encountered, and making it to the summit within two hours.

After enemy stragglers were cleaned out, the bloody mess of Hamburger Hill ceased.  623 enemy dead were counted, with a much higher casualty rate no doubt noted, as many were crushed in their earthen graves from bombs or taken by their comrades into Laos.  Of the airborne troopers of the 3/187, 39 were killed and another 292 wounded, more than 70% of the battalion. Total US losses were 71 dead and 372 wounded.  The battle although tragic, did accomplish its strategic task, albeit a costly one.

Guest Blogger Cobb Hammond

On this most reverent of days, remember these men, many which spent their last breath in that hellish place.  And one which was the most seminal event of their lives.

Cobb Hammond of Memphis, TN is a ‘Financial Advisor’ who writes on military history, military affairs and composes poetry. Cobb can be contacted @ chammond40@yahoo.com.

If you or someone you know are interested in sponsoring a screening of BRAVO!, please contact us!

DVDs of BRAVO! are available @ https://bravotheproject.com/store/

A digital version of BRAVO! is available in the US on Amazon Prime Video @ https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

In the United Kingdom, BRAVO! is available on Amazon Prime Video UK @ https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZKJXBM.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.

Amazon Prime,Documentary Film,Khe Sanh,Marines,Other,Veterans,Vietnam War

May 6, 2019

Greetings From BRAVO!

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Greetings from BRAVO!. We have some really great news to share.

Last year we sold out of DVDs and it took a while to choose the best source for manufacturing a new lot. But we got it done, and are happy to say there are plenty of brand new DVDs in stock. If you’d like one for yourself, or have been planning to gift DVDs to a veteran, friend, relative, or library, they are again available for purchase here.

If you prefer to watch your movies through digital download, BRAVO! is still available on Amazon Prime Video here.

For your friends or family in the UK, BRAVO! is also available here.

And because you’ve had such a positive impact on our passion for exploring large issues through intimate stories, and educating the world about the cost of war to humanity, we invite you to learn more about our current film project, I MARRIED THE WAR. This new documentary, now in post-production, is the story of wives of combat veterans from World War II to the present. As with BRAVO!, it, too, can educate the wider public and has the potential to reach thousands—if not millions—of citizens who can be helped by this story.

We invite you to join the effort with your financial support, and to learn more about this new endeavor here.

Thank you for your continued interest, encouragement, and support of our efforts to foster a dialogue about the lasting costs of war.

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

April 8, 2019

News From La Grande, Oregon

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Ten days ago, we were privileged to show BRAVO! in La Grande, Oregon, to an enthusiastic crowd of 150 folks in a jam-packed auditorium at Eastern Oregon University. The event was scheduled as a way to do something special for local Vietnam veterans on March 29 which is National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Photo of the cake at the La Grande Screening. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

La Grande is located near the home of BRAVO! Marine Ron Rees, whose story is one of the rock ribs of the film. Picturesque snow-capped ranges of mountains surround the valley where La Grande sits near the Grande Ronde River. The valley sported a spring green that shone in the daylight, no matter what time of day. After a long, wet, cold winter it was a pleasure to feel the force of the new season.

The evening began with a chance to feast and visit with Ron and his family, his friends, and numerous local veterans and other folks interested in the film, including Master of Ceremonies Brian Westfield and local Congressman Greg Walden.

After the screening, the audience engaged in a lively panel discussion with Vietnam veterans Ron Rees, Dennis Ross, George Knight and Ken Rodgers about war, veterans and the military.

BRAVO! Marine Ron Rees with his daughters. Photo courtesy of Kim Mead.

Ron made a special request to honor the men who have passed away since the making of BRAVO!. We remembered Marines Ken Pipes, Daniel Horton, Mike McCauley, and Lloyd Scudder, and cinematographer Mark Spear.

Betty and I felt honored to show our film to such a receptive group and to spend time visiting with friends, old and new.

These screening events are the direct result of a group of citizens working together, and this occasion was no exception. Hosting an Oregon premiere of BRAVO! was a dream come true for us, and we thank Ron and his wife Tami Murphy for putting the event together in concert with this impressive list of local sponsors: American Legion Post 43, Auxiliary Post 43, Legacy Ford, Copies Plus, Starbucks (Island City), Safeway, Hines Meat Co., Mission 22, The Landing Hotel, Side A Brewing, Fitzgerald Flowers, Dominos Pizza, and other individuals.

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BRAVO! is now available in digital form on Amazon Prime.

This link will take you directly to BRAVO!’s Amazon Prime site where you can take a look at the options for streaming: In the US you can stream at https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

In the United Kingdom, you can stream at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZKJXBM.

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

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BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.

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

March 20, 2019

On Memory, The Wall That Heals and Screenings of BRAVO!

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Betty and I journeyed to my old home town the week of March 4 to screen BRAVO! at the historic Paramount Theatre. The event was sponsored by Casa Grande, Arizona’s Marine Corps League Detachment 901 and was part of a larger slate of events including the Arizona Marine Corps League’s annual spring gathering along with the arrival of The Wall That Heals. You can find out more about The Wall That Heals here.

While in Casa Grande, we met with a group of Vietnam vets and helped raise and lower the colors at the Wall That Heals. We were introduced to Marine Corps League dignitaries and spoke to the League’s leaders about BRAVO! and the power held by a story of committed warriors fighting on in the face of long odds as did the Marines, Sailors, the Army, Air Force and ARVN personnel who were present at the Siege of Khe Sanh.

The Marine Corps League Meeting at the Paramount Theatre, Casa Grande, AZ. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers.

We screened the film twice, once to a small group of veterans and other interested folks, some of whom were present at Khe Sanh during the siege. We also screened the film to a large general audience and it was gratifying to see some of my old friends the Millers, the Hoopers, Marine Corps veteran Charlie Pierce and his wife Nancy come and watch the story. A lot of Vietnam veterans came to this showing and a number of them were in some way affiliated with the siege: pilots, crew chiefs, recon Marines, grunts, Seabees, communicators.

At both screenings, we had lively discussions about filmmaking, Khe Sanh and war.

Much thanks is in order to our wonderful new friends, Retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Ross Scanio and his wife Renee, for putting the events together, and to Debby Martin, who provided the beautiful space for the screenings. Kudos, too, to Palmer Miller III and Lyle Dillie, warriors turned artists who provided combat art to enhance the experience. Thanks to Palmer and the Scanios for making a generous gift of one of Palmer’s unique American Flag paintings to Betty and me.

Left to Right: Ken Rodgers, Betty Rodgers, Debby Martin of the Paramount Theatre, Ross Scanio. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers.

Renee Scanio was very interested in helping us get the word out about our new film, I MARRIED THE WAR, (you can find out more about the film here.) and voiced an appeal for funds to finish the editing of the film. Many thanks to Renee for her enthusiasm and support, and to Ross for his passion to serve fellow veterans.

On the evening of March 8, Betty and I attended a candlelight ceremony complete with bagpipes at The Wall That Heals. Some of the names on the wall are kids I went to school with: John Henry Armstrong and Wes Patterson and Efren Carmona and Guadalupe Rendon to name a few. I remember their vitality and how those moments we shared as boys are forever etched in my recall.

Betty and I also spent some time finding the names of men I served with in Vietnam and knew in some regard: Ed Furlong, Dutch Vercouteren, Ken Claire, Don Jacques, Greg Kent, Jimmy L McRae, and David Aldrich, to name some of those warriors. And with each and every one, images of those Marines and other veterans stepped out of the mist of remembrance to look me in the eye and it felt like they wanted to speak to me, but too much time and too much life had intervened.

At The Wall That Heals, March 8, 2019, Casa Grande, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Ken Rodgers

On March 29th we will be in La Grande, Oregon, to screen BRAVO! in recognition of National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The event will be held at Eastern Oregon University, in Room 102, Huber Auditorium in Badgley Hall Building, One University Avenue. You will be able to get tickets at the door and the donation will be $10.00 and $5.00 for students under 18. Proceeds will go to benefit veteran programs of American Legion Post 43. This will be an opportunity to meet Ron Rees, one of 14 Marines in the film, and his dynamic wife and veteran’s advocate, Tami.

Doors open at 5:00 PM for refreshments. Film will begin screening at 6:00 PM and will be followed by a Q & A session.

For more information about this screening, check out our Facebook event here: or contact Tami at 541-805-9565.

Here’s a copy of the poster for the La Grande Screening:

Poster for La Grande, Oregon screening of March 29, 2019

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BRAVO! is now available in digital form on Amazon Prime.

This link will take you directly to BRAVO!’s Amazon Prime site where you can take a look at the options for streaming: In the US you can stream at https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

In the United Kingdom, you can stream at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZKJXBM.

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

***

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.

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

February 25, 2019

Ruminations

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Fifty-one years ago today at Khe Sanh, Marines from 1st and 3rd Platoons of Bravo/1/26 went out on patrol from the combat base and walked into an ambush that killed 27 Marines and Corpsmen and wrecked the psyches and memories of a hell of a bunch of young warriors.

This event, now known as the Ghost Patrol, has been written about a lot by both me and other folks, and it was the subject of a field problem in the Scouting and Patrolling Course at the United States Marine Corps Basic School where all new Marine Corps officers and warrant officers receive training. So what I say here isn’t any revelation of new events.

What strikes me now, after all these years, is how raw the memories can be when someone recalls the names, the weather, the terrain, the terror of that day.

For those who survived, the memories are indelibly scratched into the psyche and cannot be kicked out of the mind. For those of us there who witnessed that massacre in one way or another—what happened—the memories are also pretty much inescapable.

Marines on The Ghost Patrol. Photo Courtesy of Robert Ellison/Blackstar

But it’s not just the combatants who live with images of those men. There are also the families who haven’t been able to forget, either.
Since Betty and I made BRAVO!, we have had a lot of communications with folks who lost family members at Khe Sanh.

I recall one day picking up my cell phone and seeing I had a voicemail message from the brother of a Marine killed on the Ghost Patrol. He had found me by chance when he discovered a DVD of BRAVO! in a museum. He hadn’t known about the film until then, and was stunned to see his brother’s name listed in the litany of the dead from that terrible day, February 25. We talked a number of times and I told him I did not know his brother, but if I could help him with any info, I’d be happy to do so.

Then I remembered that a friend of ours had sent a donation to memorialize this Marine in the film credits. In fact, he had recovered the Marine’s remains when a patrol from Bravo and Delta Companies, 1/26, went out and retrieved them.

Here’s what really sticks with Betty and me. My Marine buddy and the brother were able to meet up and talk about memories, about what happened, and hopefully the get-together helped the deceased Marine’s brother process the recollections and questions that had flooded his mind for over fifty years.

Stark image from the Ghost Patrol. Photo courtesy of Robert Ellison/Blackstar

Not long after, I received a call from another man whose brother was also KIA on the Ghost Patrol. I knew that Marine, not well, but still, we’d arrived at Bravo Company about the same time and although he went to a different platoon, my recollections of his renown as a joker, a gung-ho Marine, an ebullient young man who entertained his comrades, matched the brother’s memories.

We discussed that Marine and the film and I could tell from the telephone conversation that what I said had helped him settle something in his thoughts—what it was I have no idea, but it was palpable over the phone.

When we set out to make BRAVO! it was an endeavor to tell the story, preserve the history if for no one else, at least for me. But the creation of the film has turned into so much more for not just Betty and me, but also for lots of other folks who have those memories and ties that they don’t want to chuck out like a set of dirty dungarees. After all the years, the intimate pain still grates.

BRAVO! lives on and as proof, we have more screenings coming up in March.

Blogger Ken Rodgers while at Khe Sanh. Photo courtesy of Michael E. O’Hara.

On March 9, 2019 at 5 PM the film will be screened at the Paramount Theatre in Casa Grande, Arizona—my hometown—in association with the Arizona Marine Corps League’s spring convention. The screening is open to the general public. The event will begin with a panel discussion followed by the film, then a Q&A will end the evening. Proceeds from the event—a $10 advance donation per attendee or $15 at the door or VIP seating at $15.00—will go towards funding the Marine For Life program that helps Marine Corps veterans and their families transition from active duty to civilian life, including education opportunities, employment and other veteran and community resources. More details about the event can be found here: https://m901.org/category/event/.

On March 29, 2019, BRAVO! will be shown in La Grande, Oregon (our Oregon premiere!), as part of the local Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans celebrations. More details soon.

We look forward to seeing you at these events, and greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word. Semper Fi.

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BRAVO! is now available in digital form on Amazon Prime.

This link will take you directly to BRAVO!’s Amazon Prime site where you can take a look at the options for streaming: In the US you can stream at https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

In the United Kingdom, you can stream at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZKJXBM.

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

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BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.

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

January 16, 2019

If

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I woke this morning and thought about the date, and like most mornings as I lie in bed, I contemplated what I’d done while in Vietnam on that same date.

On January 16th, 1968, the morning was probably misty and the sense of urgency that had risen since the early part of the month was alarming to a lot of us.

I have written about this before, about the word coming down from Battalion and Regiment that something big was about to occur.
I was on the back end of my tour and kept telling myself that it was all bullshit, like a boy crying wolf, something the higher-ups simply dreamed up to keep us on edge like fighting men need to be.

Blogger Ken Rodgers. While at Khe Sanh. Photo courtesy of the estate of Dan Horton.

In the late Spring of 1967 I’d been sent down to Phu Bai to a combat demolition school, and so over the course of the year, I’d been called upon to detonate suspicious caches of mortar rounds and rocket rounds we’d found out in the field while on patrols.

I always had a healthy respect for det. cord and blasting caps and C-4 and explosives large and small.

“Fire in the hole,“ I’d yell, and hope like hell that the NVA hadn’t planted that little cache on top of something bigger—a thousand pound bomb or something like that—which would erupt beneath me when I set the smaller load of munitions off. If that happened, I’d be blown to smithereens.

Anyway, on or about this date in 1968, I went on a detail with a Marine whose name I can’t recall to set out some munitions that would blow the hell out of anyone trying to come through the rows of concertina wire—the German kind—that we’d been stringing every morning the weeks before.

Roll of concertina wire.

This Marine, who was a machine gunner and also a combat engineer, stuffed rolls of barbwire with sticks of C-4 that, when detonated, would turn everything and everybody that was exposed into shards and splinters and toothpicks and chunks of bloody flesh and bone and sinew. And it wasn’t just him; it was me, too, doing the stuffing, trying to keep my mind on my business so I didn’t manage to blow the two of us to kingdom come.

Sensations like spider legs crept up my spine as we loaded the explosives in the rolls of wire and then inserted a blasting cap in the top of the C-4 and strung detonator wire back to bunkers so that, if and when—and at the time, “if” was there in my head, and as long as “if” was there, the reality of what was to come remained only a possibility—the NVA came through our wire defenses with his blood curdling screams. And if that happened the Marines in their bunkers could squeeze the detonators and blow the enemy to pieces.

If, yeah, if. We were just being prudent. We were exercising the caution that maybe we should have had back in September and December when it seemed all we did was slip and slide in the monsoon slop, never building any decent bunkers or trench lines.

As I did my dangerous and dirty work, I stymied thoughts of the mayhem of screaming voices, AK-47 reports, explosions, and then, when my handiwork was set off, the bloody chaos of bodies torn to shreds and how if one was caught out in an open place above the sandbag trenches, he’d be taken apart so that no mortician could ever put him back together.

Roll of barb wire.

I tried not to squirm as I thought about my endless curiosity and how I might want to watch what madness I’d created when one of those makeshift weapons went off, and in my desire to witness it, lost my head to the hurtling shards of metal thrown from the exploded barbwire.

Here’s the thing, I know I had that thought because it haunts me now as I write this; it haunts me every time I think of it. So I clung to my notion of “if.”

In my mind, just because we were up all night on Red Alert, and working all day on barriers and sandbags and trenches and bunkers, and improving the qualities of our defenses didn’t mean anything would ever come of it.

I’d heard it all for almost eleven months; I’d heard it all.

If.

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On a separate note:

Betty and I are making another film titled I MARRIED THE WAR, about the wives of combat veterans from World War II until the present. We have finished interviewing eleven dynamic wives and have now embarked on turning their stories into a documentary film.

I Married the War

This last Monday morning we delivered all our footage, photos and a preliminary script to our editor, John Nutt.

We are soliciting donations to help us get this movie edited, sound mixed and color corrected. If you are in a giving frame of mind, please check out the website for the new film at http://imarriedthewar.com/ and scroll down to the section about donating.

We appreciate our friends and followers and know we cannot succeed at our filmmaking efforts without their generous support.

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BRAVO! is now available in digital form on Amazon Prime.

This link will take you directly to BRAVO!’s Amazon Prime site where you can take a look at the options for streaming: In the US you can stream at https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

In the United Kingdom, you can stream at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZKJXBM.

***

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

***

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.