Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘John Kaheny’

Documentary Film,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Marines,Veterans,Vietnam War,Warhawk Air Museum

October 4, 2017

The Standard Bearers of the 1st Marine Division

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On September 13, 2017 the Standard Bearers of Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, hosted a PME for their Marines and Corpsmen. The acronym, PME, stands for Professional Military Education, which covers a wide array of subjects that the Marine Corps deems critical to achieving its mission.

At the September event, the subject matter of the session was a screening of BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR followed by a question and answer session with Marines who survived the Siege of Khe Sanh.

At the PME with the Standard Bearers, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division. Left to right: Colonel Carlos Urbina, Colonel John Kaheny, Bill Rider, Lt Colonel Ken Pipes, Ken Rodgers, Sergeant Major M. P. Chamberlin. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers.

Colonel Carlos Urbina, commanding officer of Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, introduced the session by pointing out the future wars will require an awareness of a different kind of combat from the asynchronous fights in which the Marine Corps has been involved since 9/11. The enemy may very well be more like the conventional forces of the United States and thus the fights will be more like what Marines endured in World War II, Korea and in battles between Marines and the North Vietnamese Army in the 1960s and 1970s.

After Colonel Carlos Urbina’s introduction, BRAVO! co-producer and former Marine Ken Rodgers talked a bit about the film to the two-hundred-plus active duty personnel who watched a well-produced screening of BRAVO!.

Colonel John Kaheny and BRAVO! co-director, co-producer Betty Rodgers. Photo Courtesy of Ken Rodgers.

The question and answer session included Khe Sanh Marines Rodgers, retired Colonel John Kaheny, USMCR, and medically retired sergeant Bill Rider. Colonel Kaheny served an eighteen month tour of duty with the 26th Marines, including command postings with Alpha, Charlie and Delta Companies. Bill Rider was a squad leader and platoon sergeant with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines.

One of the most discussed questions from the audience was how current Marines go about teaching their new Marines to deal with fear. The discussion investigated whether it was even possible to teach someone about being frightened when faced with the possibility of death.

The event finished up with a rousing speech by retired Lieutenant Colonel Ken Pipes, Commanding Officer of Bravo Company, 1/26 during the 77-day Siege of Khe Sanh, about the legacy of the Marines of Bravo Company, 26th Marines at the siege, and a call to action for contemporary Marines to carry on the storied status of the USMC.

Prior to the screening, Colonel Urbina and Battalion Sergeant Major M. P. Chamberlin hosted the guests in their offices. We had a chance to share lunch and talk about the film, the Vietnam War, and the Marine Corps in general.

One of the highlights for us was having Colonel Urbina present both Skipper Pipes and us, the Rodgerses, with handsome plaques that recognized Skipper Pipes for his past, present and ongoing actions and inspiration to and for Marines, and the Rodgerses for creating BRAVO! and educating the public, and Marines, about the events and aftermath related to the Siege of Khe Sanh.

Colonel Carlos Urbina, right, presenting memorial plaque to BRAVO! producers Ken and Betty Rodgers. Photo courtesy of Derek Clark.

BRAVO! continues to be used in schools, colleges and the military, including at The Basic School and at PMEs, as a source of education material relative to both the history of this country and as a lesson to what the future most surely will bring to us. Betty and Ken Rodgers are most gratified that their film has become an educational tool!

You can watch a segment of Lieutenant Colonel Pipe’s stirring remarks here:

Following the screening, the active duty personnel returned to their posts.

As noted by Ken Pipes during his remarks, it appeared to all of us that the future of the United States Marine Corps is in very good hands.

Lt. Colonel Ken Pipes visiting with Marines. Photo courtesy of Derek Clark.

Thanks much to Colonel Carlos Urbina and Sergeant Major M. P. Chamberlin for the grand welcome we received for this event.

In other screening information, Idaho Public Television screened BRAVO! on Sunday, September 24th as a follow up to the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick produced series, THE VIETNAM WAR. The producers of BRAVO! wish to thank Idaho Public Television for this event as well as the Idaho Division of Veterans Services for underwriting the IPTV production of BRAVO!.

For a few more days, BRAVO! will be available to view on Idaho Public Television’s website at :
http://video.idahoptv.org/video/2365119915/.

Also in conjunction with the Ken Burns documentary, the Nampa Public Library in Nampa, Idaho, will screen BRAVO! on November 1, 2017. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the free program will begin at 7:00 PM. A panel discussion with Vietnam Veterans is scheduled to follow. The Nampa library’s website is http://nampalibrary.org.

On April 7, 2018, the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, Idaho, will host a one-day symposium in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Siege. The event will encompass a forum for educating the public about the Siege of Khe Sanh and the Vietnam War, as well as an opportunity for a Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion. Activities will include a screening of BRAVO! and guest speakers remembering the battle. Khe Sanh Vet Mike Archer, author of two heralded non-fiction books on his Khe Sanh experiences, will be one of the featured speakers. You can see more about Mike at http://www.michaelarcher.net.

Mark your calendars now, as this will be a stellar event in a world-class air museum. We are still in the planning stage, so if you would like to participate and were involved with the siege, or just want to help, please contact me at 208-340-8889. An event like this can only happen with a core group of committed volunteers. We can’t do it without you! For more information on the Warhawk Air Museum, check out their website at https://warhawkairmuseum.org.

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

DVDs of BRAVO! are available. Please consider gifting copies to a veteran, a teacher, a history buff, a library, a friend or family member. For more information, go to https://bravotheproject.com/store/.

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

Guest Blogs

January 21, 2011

Lead In Their Pack

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Today is the 43rd anniversary of the beginning of the Siege of Khe Sanh and we will note the date with a guest blog by Michael E. O’Hara who served with Bravo Company, 1/26, at the siege.

January 2011, 43 yrs Later

I first heard that term, Lead in Their Pack, nearly twenty years ago in an article written for the Khe Sanh Veterans Newsletter by Col. John Kaheny USMC (RET). It is a metaphor for the emotional baggage, pieces of broken hearts that Warriors carry with them always. It’s a heavy burden.

Why is Bravo (Company) so different you might ask? For beginners let’s look at the stats you will never see. Bravo represented about 2.5 per cent of the total population at the Khe Sanh Combat Base. All told about sixteen rifle companies. Bravo took roughly 27 per cent of the total KIA’s. Nearly half the company was lost and virtually everyone else was WIA, some more than once. While other companies most certainly had their hands full going toe to toe with Charlie, it was usually when Charlie brought the fight to them. Bravo met the enemy on three occasions during the Siege. Each time we took the fight to Charlie and it was up close and personal. We got in Charlie’s trench. The first time, February 25th, was a disaster. Twenty-seven Marines were lost and we were forced to withdraw. It was the beginning of an American tragedy.

The third platoon had been lost some 800 meters to our front. That is within the range of a good set of eyeglasses. We were ready to saddle up at first light the next day and continue the fight. We were told to stand down. The tactical thing to do was to run airstrikes over the ambush site. What? There were still many Marine bodies which needed to be recovered. We were denied. It would be nearly a month before we were allowed by the Brass (Washington) to reconnoiter the area for a possible raid on the site. We again took the fight to Charlie in his trench but on this occasion he chose to retreat. We suffered around 20 casualties but no KIA’s.

Finally on the 30th day of March we would be given the opportunity to avenge our fallen. Make no mistake, we slaughtered Charlie wholesale that day but we lost another twelve good Marines and many more had been maimed. The remains of the fallen were recovered days later (imagine) and interned in a mass burial in St. Louis. In 1973 we found out one had been taken POW and had been imprisoned over five years in Hanoi. He survived the war.

For Marines, to leave your Brothers on the field of battle like that is a cardinal sin. Even though as Marines we follow orders we still carry those awful feelings with us today. It is an eternal pain. We call it “Lead in your Pack”. What tempers the pain in my heart is the memory of their faces, so young and hardy, and yet so willing to die for “each other.” I have stated many times and it is worth repeating, “It was my distinct privilege and high Honor to have known, and to have walked such Hallowed ground alongside such Brave and Courageous young Marines.

Now being in the “Autumn” of my years I know my tears will soon cease and my heart will rest as I get closer to the wire where I will enter the Main Gate after my final patrol.

Godspeed and Semper Fidelis to Marines everywhere.

Michael E. O’Hara grew up and continues to live in Brown County in Southern Indiana.
Michael graduated in May 1966 and by April 1967 had voluntarily enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

Michael “went for four” and served one tour overseas during the Vietnam War with the 26th Marine Regiment, 1st Battalion, Bravo Company during the “Siege ” of Khe Sanh.

Upon returning to the States, Michael became a Primary Weapons Instructor for the Marine Corps 2nd Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, CA. Michael was Honorably Discharged on the early release program a year early.

Michael and his partner Maxine have been together 37 years having raised five children, nine grandkids and have two great grandchildren.

Michael is a retired custom home builder and has spent much of his life dedicated to Veterans affairs and in particular to those with whom he served. He is a life member of the Khe Sanh Veterans Organization.

Michael now spends most of his free time with two of his four smallest granddaughters flying R/C airplanes.
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