Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘Nampa’

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

September 10, 2014

Nampa, Idaho Screening to Benefit Wyakin Warriors

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On September 25, 2014, BRAVO!, COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR will be screened at the Elks Lodge in Nampa, Idaho. Doors will open at 6:00 PM with the screening of the film at 6:30, followed by a Q & A session. Suggested donation, $10.00 to benefit the Wyakin Warrior Foundation.

We are delighted to announce two very special guests for the event: BRAVO! Marine Ron Rees, and noted Boise author Alan Heathcock who will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Alan Heathcock Photo by Mathew Wordell

Alan Heathcock
Photo by Mathew Wordell

The Wyakin Warriors Foundation is a local nonprofit that provides a comprehensive education, mentoring, professional development, networking and job placement program for severely wounded and injured veterans. Wyakin Warrior Foundation’s motto is “Battle Tested, Business Ready.”

Wyakin’s goal is to prepare its clients for success. Since September 11, 2001, there have been in excess of fifty-one-thousand seriously injured service members who, when they finally get home, face unemployment rates of up to thirty percent for veterans in the eighteen to twenty-four year age range.

These veterans have been trained to fight and serve our country, but they haven’t been trained to function well in the civilian world. That’s where Wyakin comes in with six major tenets: Financial support, mentoring, professional development seminars, service projects completed by the veterans while they are still in school, networking, and active annual follow-up to monitor the veterans’ emotional, physical and professional status.

Ron Rees Photo by Betty Rodgers

Ron Rees
Photo by Betty Rodgers

Wyakin Warriors Foundation is a veteran-led organization that relies on a wide variety of volunteers to run its
operations.

Please take a moment to learn more about the Wyakin Warrior Foundation at their website: http://www.wyakin.org.

And come on out to the Napa Elks Lodge at 1116 E First Street, Nampa, Idaho, on September 25th and support this event. The Wyakin Warriors need your help.

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

DVDs of BRAVO! are available. For more information, go to https://bravotheproject.com/buy-the-dvd/.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way to stay up on our news and help us reach more people.

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

August 13, 2014

New Honors for the Fallen of Khe Sanh

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We posted a blog in June of this year that pondered, among other things, a firefight that occurred northwest of Hill 881 South on June 7, 1967. Two platoons of Bravo Company, 1/26, were involved in that battle. Before the acrid scent of gunpowder had disappeared, it was clear that Bravo had taken a significant number of casualties.

One of the men killed in that action was HN (Corpsman) Gregory Vercruysse. Last month I heard from Gregory’s younger brother, Dean. Dean and I have traded e-mails about that day, about Gregory, about memory and honor.

Marines on Hill 881 South. Photo courtesy of NamViet News

Marines on Hill 881 South. Photo courtesy of NamViet News

In November of this year, Gregory is to be posthumously honored by the city of Liberty Lake, Washington. Greg (as his brother Dean refers to him) will be memorialized at the City of Liberty Lake’s Fallen Heroes Circuit Course by having a circuit station named after him. First dedicated in September 2013, the course’s stations will all be designated in the name of one of Liberty Lake’s fallen.

This isn’t the first time that a blog we have written about one of the men who served at Khe Sanh has given rise to a member of the family contacting us. We receive queries about loved ones who were killed in action or who were wounded or who managed to get home in one piece but who are now gone.

Sometimes all this blogging and filmmaking and creating art and recording history about the events centered around the Khe Sanh locale gets to be a heavy load. Yet, when it starts to feel like we are spitting into the wind, someone like Dean Vercruysse contacts us about his brother or a cousin and suddenly the importance of what we are doing becomes clear again.

If you are interested in seeking out more about the City of Liberty Lake’s Fallen Heroes Circuit Course, you can find information HERE.

Bravo Blogger Ken Rodgers looking back at you.

Bravo Blogger Ken Rodgers looking back at you.

On the screening front, BRAVO! will be shown in Nampa, Idaho, on September 25, 2014 at the Elks Lodge. Doors will open at 6:00 PM with the screening of the film at 6:30, followed by a Q & A session. Suggested donation, $10.00 to benefit the Wyakin Warrior Foundation. http://www.wyakin.org.

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

DVDs of BRAVO! are available. For more information go to https://bravotheproject.com/buy-the-dvd/.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/. It’s another way you can help us reach more people like Dean Vercruysse.

Guest Blogs

May 14, 2014

All I Ever Did Was Love My Country: What we don’t—and can’t—know about PTSD (because we weren’t there).

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By Liza Long

“Oh yes, you asked me about the rocket attack on Danang, and well, honey, just don’t worry about rocket attacks at all—they’re really inaccurate. Of course, we’d take it very personally if one hit us, but they are very inaccurate, and since I’ve been here, rockets haven’t hit at all.”

Captain Theodore T. Long Jr., USMC, in an audiotape mailed from Vietnam to my mother in Layton, Utah, February 1970.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I’m obsessed with the show Madmen. This season, the clothes get ugly, the soundtrack gets funky, and it’s time to talk about hard truths that never seemed possible in those early 60s Camelot times of JFK and Jackie, pearls and Hyannis Port. The one scene from an early Madmen episode that still stands out for me is Don Draper and his (then) wife, Betty, picnicking beneath stately trees in early summer with their picture-perfect children. When they leave, they don’t bother to clean up the mess they have left—why would they?

What a mess. That’s what a group of veterans told me on a Monday in late April 2014, when I was invited to visit a group of Warrior Pointe members in the recreation room of a cinderblock Christian church in Nampa, Idaho. The men ranged in age from grizzled Vietnam veterans to young soldiers who had just returned from Afghanistan. Their leader and Warrior Pointe founder, Reed Pacheco, walked in with a cell phone to his ear. He was talking with a family member of a veteran who had threatened suicide and needed an intervention fast.

Liza Long head shot 2013

Pacheco, himself a veteran, founded Warrior Pointe because he wanted to create a space where former soldiers could come together to talk about the issues that continue to haunt them. “The VA just isn’t there for us,” he said, as heads around the table nodded emphatically. This group of 20 men have taken a new mission upon themselves: no soldier left behind.

“The first thing people ask when you get back is ‘Did you kill somebody? How many people did you kill?’” one Vietnam veteran told me. “They just don’t understand how inappropriate that question is. We did what we had to do. You can’t know what it means to sit, 40 years later, in front of a television set reliving the same 40 seconds, over and over and over. You can’t know. You don’t want to know.”

I learned more than a few things about courage in my hour with this veterans’ group. And I also learned more than a few things about how the United States has let its soldiers down. I often wondered why so many veterans’ groups were opposed to the Affordable Care Act of 2010. “It’s the same thing as the VA,” one Afghanistan veteran told me. “You wait and wait and wait for care. And when you finally get in to see someone, they just give you painkillers instead of recommending surgery or something you need to actually fix the problem.”

That delay of care has been in the news recently, with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki facing allegations that VA clinics delayed treatment to vets who desperately needed it, then covered it up. You can read more about this issue here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/05/13/shinseki-set-to-testify-over-alleged-secret-list-hiding-va-treatment-delays/. No one disputes that patients died while waiting for care.

The Warrior Pointe organization recognizes that all of its members, no matter where or when they served, suffer from some sort of PTSD—Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The controversial DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) revised criteria for the disorder which is now described as “a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.” You can find out more about that here: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/dsm5_criteria_ptsd.asp.

Pretty much everyone who went to war to defend our country could suffer from PTSD.

But the Warrior Pointe veterans feel empowered to help each other, where they feel the Veterans Administration has failed them. “We are all brothers,” says Tom Bosch, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. “We understand each other. We can talk to each other. We can support each other.”

My father served in Vietnam. While the Don Drapers of the world were enjoying three-martini lunches and free love, my dad sent anxious audiotapes to reassure my mother, who heard nothing but bad news about the war at home. Dad didn’t have to serve. He was his father’s only surviving child. He set out to write his senior thesis in Political Science to defend the Vietnam War. As he researched the subject, he concluded there was no justification for America’s involvement in Indochina. Then he graduated from college and went to Vietnam anyway.

Theodore and Liza Long

Theodore and Liza Long

My dad flew medical rescue missions. As far as I know, he never killed anyone. He came home to life as a husband and father and used the GI Bill to pursue his passion to study law. But I will never forget the morning we were running errands in Bakersfield, California. The road was blocked to allow a parade, a hero’s welcome for the warriors of Desert Storm.

When I looked at my dad, I was surprised to see tears streaming down his cheeks. “They spit on me when I got home,” he said quietly. “They called me a baby killer. All I ever did was love my country.”

And as a defender of our country, my dad most likely suffered from PTSD.

Liza Long is a writer, educator, mental health advocate, and mother of four children, one of whom has a mental illness. She lives in Boise, Idaho. You can read more of Liza Long’s thoughts here: http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/.

Documentary Film,Khe Sanh,Marines,Other

January 14, 2014

Kudos to BRAVO! Supporter Mike Shipman for Creating BRAVO!’s Cover Art

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BRAVO!’s Cover Art

Ever wonder about the person and story behind the art? We have been so pleased with the reaction to BRAVO!’s graphic design that we’d like to tell you more about its genesis.

Early on, we realized the message conveyed by our posters, DVD cover, and other items should be created by a professional. We knew we had exceptional elements, but didn’t quite know how to put them together in a way that would impart the heart and soul of these Bravo Company men and their story.

BRAVO! Graphic Image by Mike Shipman © Kingfisher Arts, LLC 2013

It started with Betty and BRAVO! friend Sheila Robertson visiting the Boise indie theater, The Flicks, and meeting with owner Carole Skinner. Carole took the time to show us many of the posters she keeps on hand, from the old classics to present-day films. From that experience, we knew we preferred a deep, rich, blue background. Sheila suggested using the Marine Corps dress blues…perfect!

We also knew we had a one-of-a-kind photo, provided by Mike McCauley. The faces you see are Steve Wiese’s actual Bravo Company squad. Steve Wiese is on the far right, and Mike McCauley on the far left. Both Steve and Mike are in the film; some of the other fellows, a few of whom are mentioned in BRAVO!, were killed at Khe Sanh.

With concept and photo in mind, we then turned to our friend and Idaho photographer Mike Shipman, http://www.mikeshipman.com/#!/index. Mike took our ideas and added his own to produce the final piece. He photographed Gary Sullivan’s Marine Corps dress blues to use as the background, and Ken’s Purple Heart medal and Vietnam service ribbon for the other elements in the composition. Mike photographed Gary Sullivan in his dress blues at Gary’s place of business, Quinn’s Restaurant and Lounge in Boise. (Quinn’s is well known for its lively USMC Birthday Party every year on November 10.) The other elements were photographed and composited at Mike’s home studio in Nampa, Idaho.

Monique and Mike Shipman © Betty Rodgers 2013

We couldn’t have been more pleased with the end result. Once again, as has happened since the beginning, we put a collaborative effort into the hands of a true professional, and it paid off.

A full-time photographer with a degree in wildlife biology, Mike Shipman has made a big impact in the photography world here in Idaho and beyond. His work is commissioned by a fascinating variety of businesses, he travels around the globe to places like Zanzibar and Uruguay to photograph and experience the culture, and he teaches workshops around the U.S. from Maine to San Francisco and locally here in the Boise area. He lists his workshop services at http://www.blueplanetphoto.com/#axzz2qKfGp5g4.

Ken and Betty participated in a special workshop with Mike this last May. We traipsed up to the south fork of the Payette River and learned about long exposures. Standing alongside the flowing river, Mike taught us to relax, to settle into the environment and begin looking at detail. “What subject draws your eye? What is it about the subject that draws your eye? What detail can you single out to photograph?” We began to see the way the water slipped around and over individual rocks and boulders, we saw how the color changed, and we saw textures and patterns. Then Mike taught us about composition and balancing “film” speed, shutter speed and lens openings to capture what we observed and felt. It was a remarkable day.

Mike is also an accomplished writer, as you will note on his website and newsletter. We were honored to feature his Bravo! blog in 2012 at this link: https://bravotheproject.com/2012/05/07/bravo-2/.

We were fortunate to meet Mike when we first moved to Boise, and have benefitted from his teaching, mentoring, and friendship ever since. We are very proud that he is a significant player in the BRAVO! you see today.

DVDs of BRAVO! are now for sale with a limited-time special offer at 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.

Documentary Film,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

July 5, 2012

Meet Mark Spear

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In April of 2010, Ken and Betty Rodgers first encountered Mark Spear when they went in search of someone to shoot video for the film, BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR. They met Mark at a local studio in Nampa, Idaho.

As Ken and Betty described their project, the luminous glow in Mark’s eyes, the detailed queries he made about history and geography and aspects of the narrative generated a lot of magnetism.

Mark Spear at the Khe Sanh Veterans reunion in San Antonio, Texas, July 2010

Ken and Betty went home and talked about that magnetism…the excitement in Mark’s words and his eyes.

In late April of 2010, Mark and Betty interviewed and filmed Ken talking about his memories of the Siege of Khe Sanh. Ken had created a script of questions and as the over two-hour interview went on, Mark picked up hints about important things, emotional things that Ken and Betty hadn’t anticipated being of interest to an audience viewing a film about war. Questions about personal matters, how something felt, how it was remembered after all the intervening years, was there any humor in the seventy-seven day hell of the Siege?

In July of that year Mark, Betty and Ken traveled to the Khe Sanh Veterans’ reunion in San Antonio, Texas. They found out that Mark likes BBQ…lots of BBQ…and that he had a lot of great tips and suggestions how to best interview the eight Marines and one Navy corpsman on tap for a two-day film schedule. How to light them and how to place them in the frame of the video, how to get them to talk about what made them laugh, to recall what levity there was extant in that deadly and frightening place.

Mark made close friends with several of the men in the film. Before the filming was finished, all the men interviewed trusted Mark to show their best side.

In August of 2010, the Rodgers went on the road and filmed five more men of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment. Novices for sure, Betty and Ken ran into a number of technical problems while in the process of setting up lights or getting the sound gear right, shooting video of the men being interviewed.

Even though Mark was back in Nampa, Idaho, working on his computer editing movies with Final Cut Pro, or on locations shooting video, or acting as producer to get videos made, he always had time to stop whatever he was doing and talk to Betty and Ken about their problems, helping them come up with solutions.

Mark made a number of trailers for BRAVO! and remains a good friend to Betty and Ken as well as the Marines of BRAVO!

You can find out more about Mark Spear and his filmography here.