Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘Ken and Sharon Pipes’

Eulogies

April 23, 2014

Requiem for Mark Spear

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Sometimes even the hardest, the meanest of us get shocks of sad news that force us to react in ways we don’t want to react.

Thirty-two days ago, Betty and I were having brunch with BRAVO! Skipper Ken Pipes and his wife, Sharon, in Fallbrook, California, after an exceedingly successful set of screenings the prior day in Fallbrook and Vista.

During our meal, I received a Facebook message from Dan Votroubek, the step-father of our principal videographer for BRAVO!, Mark Spear, that told me that Mark had suffered a massive heart attack and died the day before. Mark was only 45 years old and has a ten-year-old son. While we were in the California Southland whooping it up with our successful screenings, Mark was passing on.

BRAVO! Marine Mike McCauley, Mark Spear and BRAVO! Marine Ron Rees at the April 2013 screening of BRAVO! in Moscow, ID © Betty Rodgers 2013

BRAVO! Marine Mike McCauley, Mark Spear and BRAVO! Marine Ron Rees at the April 2013 screening of BRAVO! in Moscow, ID
Photo Courtesy of Melissa Hartley, University of Idaho 2013

I sat there for a long time, not saying anything, not wanting to tell Betty. Betty admired, revered and loved Mark. I knew how she would react and we were in public and…well…I have to tell you this. My father was a two-fisted knuckle-buster who would give you something to cry about if you shed tears, so I learned not to cry. You just don’t know how much it distresses me to cry…all that old-time thinking of tears as a sign of weakness. I’m a Marine, for Christ’s sake; I’ve seen men die in front of me and never shed a tear or even thought about how I might really feel about their demises.

Mark Spear, clowning around at the San Antonio shoot. © Betty Rodgers 2010

Mark Spear, clowning around at the San Antonio shoot.
© Betty Rodgers 2010

So I didn’t say anything for a while and we had our brunch and we chatted and reveled in success and then I just blurted it out. And then Betty began to shed tears and despite my reluctance to let this happen, a tear or two slipped out of the corners of my eyes and slipped down my cheeks before I could get them erased.

Mark Spear interviewed and/or videoed ten of the men in our film and he also interviewed and filmed Betty and me when we made our extras about the making of BRAVO!. He helped create some of our trailers and gave us advice and info on cameras, interviewing, lighting. He traveled with us to San Antonio, Texas, and met and bonded with the men of BRAVO!. After we were done with the film, he came to screenings of the film and we often met for bar-b-que where we laughed and visited.

Yes, we laughed a lot around Mark. He was a funny man. He was also sensitive and talented, he was an artist who understood film and photography and life. He was sensitive. I repeat that because for me, it is the salient characteristic I will recall about Mark. Sensitive people can feel the world on their skins. Everybody’s triumphs and disasters are understood on a visceral level by sensitive people. And like so many sensitive people, those triumphs and disasters, those victories and defeats, seeped through Mark’s skin and became, almost vicariously, his own.

Mark Spear at the San Antonio Shoot © Betty Rodgers 2010

Mark Spear at the San Antonio Shoot
© Betty Rodgers 2010

Mark had health problems that no doubt contributed to his passing, but I can’t help but think that his sensitivity contributed to his leaving us prematurely, too. He carried a lot of weight, and a bunch of it wasn’t his.

And now he is gone and I am kicking myself in the butt because I didn’t spend more time with him, taking in all he had to teach me about life. One of the other things about sensitive people is they learn a lot from all that weight they carry for other folks. The weight gets in the pores and sneaks into the blood stream and gathers around the mind and the heart and becomes knowledge of another kind. Not out of a book, or a seminar, but from the weight of life.

I know something about grief. I should have dealt with all that grief that I accumulated from my time at the Siege of Khe Sanh. I didn’t and I still may not; I’m a Marine and I’m two-fisted knuckle-busting Dale Rodgers’ son. But I swear I’m going to deal with the grief I feel from the loss of my friend, Mark Spear.

Documentary Film,Film Screenings

March 12, 2014

News On Upcoming California Screenings

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Betty and I are pleased to announce that we will be joining Ken and Sharon Pipes for two screenings of BRAVO! in Southern California. Ken Pipes was the company commander of Bravo Company during the Siege of Khe Sanh and is one of the Marines featured in the film.

The screenings will be held as follows:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

In Vista, CA, at American Legion Post 365 beginning at 9:00 AM. A meal will be served by the Legion after the screening. There will be a $5.00 admission fee.

In Fallbrook, CA, at VFW Post 1924 beginning at 2:00 PM. A question and answer period will be held after the screening. The Patriots Ministry, an organization that provides meals for units preparing to deploy overseas, will provide a meal after the screening of BRAVO!. Admission fee is $10.00.

Net proceeds from both of these screenings will benefit the American Combat Veterans of War, a 501(c)(3) organization that helps veterans.

Then on March 29 we will screen BRAVO! at San Quentin state prison where a large number of veterans are incarcerated.We will be joined at this screening by our associate producer, Carol Caldwell-Ewart and BRAVO! supporters Terry Hubert and Tank Kostenius.

The following day, Sunday March 30, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien welcomes the general public to a screening at 6 PM, with tickets starting at $35 ($45 at the door) and available online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/bravo-screening-on-the-ss-jeremiah-obrien-tickets-10299252341. Light refreshments will be served. MC for the evening is Mr. Tom Croft. Joining the filmmakers will be honored guests Ken and Sharon Pipes, Steve and Deborah Wiese, and Lou Kern. A panel discussion will follow the film.

The O’Brien, a WWII liberty ship, is docked at Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 45, in San Francisco. This is your opportunity to tour the ship prior to the screening. March 30 is also Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, as well as the anniversary of “Payback,” a significant Khe Sanh event that is recounted in BRAVO!

Please join us for the Southern California and/or SS Jeremiah O’Brien screenings, and we invite you to forward this email to your friends and relatives…anyone who should see this film. We love a packed house.

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.