Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘Mike McNamara’

Other Musings,Veterans,Vietnam War

December 29, 2016


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last summer I was made aware of a talk radio show called ALL MARINE RADIO which is ramrodded by retired Marine Mike “Mac” McNamara.

Mike started ALL MARINE RADIO to highlight combat veterans’ mental health needs with a major focus on suicide prevention. He also envisioned the station as a place where current and former Marines could stay connected or re-connect with their military culture. The mission of ALL MARINE RADIO also includes presentation of current affairs and issues that affect the everyday lives of current and former military personnel.

The list of guests includes current and former Marines, Army personnel, female Marines, historians, business coaches, authors, chefs, Marine wives, police officers, to name just a few categories.

Mike McNamara in the studio at ALL MARINE RADIO. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

Mike McNamara in the studio at ALL MARINE RADIO. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

To be more specific, some of the guests have been Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Neller, author Sebastian Junger, author and Marine Karl Marlantes, Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly (currently slated to become the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security), author Eric Hammel who has written extensively about Marines, Carrie Reilly who is a US Army widow who talks about dealing with suicide, and historian Albert Berger who most recently discussed Fidel Castro’s legacy.

And three times….me.

The first time I was on we talked about BRAVO! and Khe Sanh and Vietnam and post-deployment issues experienced and still being experienced by Vietnam veterans.

In my second appearance we talked about post-deployment and mental health issues of combat veterans in general and I think Mike was interested in seeing if I had anything to say that might help veterans of war, most specifically veterans of the Middle East conflicts.

The third time we talked about transitioning from being a Marine to becoming a filmmaker and we also touched on the notion of how it really helps to have something to involve yourself that is bigger than you–a cause, a purpose, a goal–when transitioning from service to civilian life or from work to retirement, or, I suppose, during any major life change.

Michael McNamara was born in California and his father was a major league baseball manager. He has extensive experience with radio media as a talk show host and as a station executive. The National Association of Broadcasters named Mike the “Small Market Personality of the Year” in 2007.

Mike McNamara in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

Mike McNamara in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

Mike was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1983 and he left active duty as a Captain in 1994. He returned to active duty with the USMC and deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in 2004, to Fallujah, Iraq in 2006 and to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010. After that, Mike remained on active duty until he retired in 2015.

He has four children, including two sons who are now officers in the United States Marine Corps.

Mike does most of the interviewing on the program and his interests cast a wide net. In a recent interview with Albert Berger, PhD, Professor of History at the University of North Dakota, Mac asked Dr. Berger about his thoughts on the legacy of Fidel Castro, who, for much of the last 60 years, has been a thorn in the side of many politicians, military officials and citizens of the United States.
Dr. Berger and Mike’s in-depth look at Castro, the history of Cuban-American relations in the last half century and some thoughts on the future of Cuban-US relations were informative and fascinating.

One of the things I like about Mike’s interviews is how the discussion invariably leads me into thoughts and memories of my own. I was a sophomore in high school when the Cuban Missile Crisis came about. At the time I lived in southern Arizona and we’d had a lot of rain on that normally dried-out Sonoran Desert, and the country was in flood. Every arroyo, wash and low spot was flowing with water.

Mike McNamara, center, with his two sons, John, left, & Patrick, right, at Patrick's Commissioning in 2015 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

Mike McNamara with his two sons, John & Patrick at Patrick’s Commissioning in 2015 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

I remember riding on the back of one of my friend’s Harley out to the Santa Rosa, a sometimes river, a sometimes wash and most times a dry sandy arroyo. But on this day, it was at least a mile wide and water ripped through what had been cotton fields fecund with cotton stalks ready to be picked. I remember the ominous feeling at the time that filled my body with strange electricity that I was to later experience in combat.

Electricity spurred by fear. Back then, it was the dual threat of death by flood and death by nuclear attack because the Russians were placing nuclear missiles in Cuba.

In another recent interview, Mike interviewed US Marine Karl Marlantes, author of MATTERHORN and WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR, and one of the more striking moments in the interview was Karl Marlantes talking about the first time he visited The Wall (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) in Washington, DC, and how it affected him and that led my mind back to my visits to The Wall.

I first visited The Wall in 1993 with a large group of folks associated with the Khe Sanh Veterans. We went at night and the heat pressed down on us like the threat of attack and I recall being amazed at how so many of the tough men I knew broke down as they read and felt the names etched in that artful memorial. It didn’t affect me that way. What that experience did for me was to allow my mind to begin the long process of discovering and dealing with my feelings about the war and what role combat played in the man I had become.

Mike McNamara's children from left to right: Katherine, John, Colleen, Patrick. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

Mike McNamara’s children: Katherine, John, Colleen, Patrick. Photo courtesy of Mike McNamara.

Some years later, I went back to the memorial and while searching the directory for the names of some of my school mates who are remembered on the memorial, I couldn’t keep tears from sneaking down my cheeks. It was all I could do to keep from busting wide open with an emotion that felt like that flood I witnessed back on the Santa Rosa.

So, thanks to Mike McNamara for hosting these interviews that allow me to retrieve my memories and thoughts.

If you are interested in all things Marine, or in what the current political and cultural pulse of America’s veterans are, or you are interested in history, cooking, mental health, post-combat issues, politics, the military in general, check out Mike’s programs.

You can access ALL MARINE RADIO here:

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

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at