Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘Steve Wiese’

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

December 6, 2013

On Carson City, Kentfield and the Future of BRAVO!

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Here we are nearing the end of 2013 and it has been a fabulous year to be involved with filmmaking and with the folks who have been viewers and participants with BRAVO!

Last month we screened the film at Western Nevada College in Carson City, Nevada, as part of WNC’s veterans club celebration of Veterans Day, 2013. One of the memorable elements of that event was the number of young Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who attended. Betty and I had intense discussions with those young vets about the film and how their experiences so often mirrored what the men of BRAVO! described in the film.

Before the screening at Carson City, Betty and I took a walk with Marine and BRAVO! supporter extraordinaire, Mr. Terry Hubert, up to the WNC observatory, enjoying a moment of relaxation before the show began.

A big thanks to Terry for his efforts in arranging the Carson City screening, to retired Marine Corps Major Kevin Burns who is the veteran faculty advisor at WNC, to the WNC Veterans Club, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 388, Marine Corps League Detachment 630 and the Nevada State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, all of whom made this event a great success.

Earlier in the day, Betty and I had a great time with Terry Hubert and his granddaughter Kayla at the Veterans Day Parade in Virginia City, Nevada. It was a glorious day weather-wise and the streets were lined with a wide variety of parade onlookers including veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East wars. The parade featured hot cars, bands, ROTC units, horses, floats, veterans and characters dressed like the old-time denizens who lived in Virginia City back in the heyday of the silver boom.

At the Virginia City Veterans Day Parade: Nice tail gate. OORAH! Marine!

Moving on to California and the San Francisco Bay area, we stopped for a lunch of tacos with Khe Sanh veteran and big-time BRAVO! supporter Mike Preston. As so often happens with Mike and others, our conversation tilted mightily toward deceased Khe Sanh heroes.

On November 14th we screened BRAVO! at College of Marin in Kentfield, California, in association with the College of Marin Veterans Association. A big thanks to Craig Wheeler and Ben Wilson of the college veterans and to Vietnam veterans Brent MacKinnon and Ted Wilson for all the work it took to put this screening together. College of Marin’s James Dunn Theatre was a first-rate venue, and the college’s catering department prepared a delicious array of food for the reception

The audience was varied with veterans present from a variety of our nation’s conflicts. Also attending were BRAVO! film and sound editor John Nutt (a Vietnam veteran) and his wife Ann. The Nutts brought an interested group of independent filmmakers to view the film and discuss its historical, artistic and technical aspects. Included in this particular group was filmmaker Christopher Beaver who has been a valued consultant on the production aspects of BRAVO!

We finished up the evening at College of Marin with a panel discussion emceed by Craig Wheeler. The panel included Vietnam Veterans Ted Wilson, Brent MacKinnon, Sunny Campbell and Ken Rodgers.

At the Virginia City Veterans Day Parade: Check out Kayla's cool cap!

Associate Producer Carol Caldwell-Ewart was on hand to help us manage the screening details and as always she did a great job.

Deceased Marine and BRAVO! interviewee Dan Horton was represented at this screening by two of his cousins, Janet and Kathryn Horton. It was a real pleasure to meet them, to see the similarities they had with Dan, and to remember Dan’s and my time together at Khe Sanh and after.

On the following day we traveled to San Francisco to discuss a possible screening of the film at Fisherman’s Wharf on March 30, 2014, which is Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day and the anniversary of a major event for Bravo Company during the Siege. A big shout-out goes to nephew Troy Campbell, Executive Director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit Association, for helping us make this contact. And yes, it was the opening day of crab season, and what do you suppose we ate?

It was a great trip that capped off a truly stellar year for the film in which screenings were hosted in Fresno, Clovis, Sonora, Soledad Correctional Training Facility, Kentfield and Santa Rosa, California, Casa Grande, Arizona, Reno and Carson City, Nevada, and Moscow and Eagle, ID. In addition, BRAVO! was screened for six-hundred-fifty-plus active duty Marines at Twentynine Palms, California where Bravo Company’s beloved skipper, Ken Pipes, represented Team Bravo.

2013 also saw the release of DVDs of the documentary film for purchase. The response has been good and we appreciate all the folks from around the country who have bought copies of BRAVO!.

Last but not least, we were honored to be featured, along with BRAVO!’s own Steve Wiese, on Dialogue on Idaho Public Television, a news program hosted by Marcia Franklin.

Things are already shaping up for 2014 as we are in negotiations for screenings in Las Vegas, Nevada, San Francisco, Modesto, Fallbrook, Sacramento and Sebastopol, California, and another screening in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Thank you all who support BRAVO!

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,Film Screenings,Khe Sanh,Other Musings,Vietnam War

November 10, 2013

On Semper Fi and Mo & Sluggo’s

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Happy 238th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps

Today, on our way to tomorrow’s screening at Western Nevada College, we celebrated at Mo and Sluggo’s in Carson City, Nevada, which included a lot of OORAHS, the traditional cake-cutting ceremony with the oldest and youngest Marines, and the birthday cake. Events like this took place all around the world, from the very formal with pomp and circumstance, to the rowdiest and noisiest jam-packed tavern. To all Marines everywhere, Semper Fi!

Sign for Mo & Sluggo's Bar and Grill, Carson City, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

And OORAH to friend and Marine Terry Hubert for joining us, and for initiating tomorrow’s screening .

In BRAVO! news, we are very proud to announce that Idaho Public Television chose to commemorate this date and Veterans Day by featuring interviews with Steve Wiese, and Ken & Betty Rodgers on Marcia Franklin’s program, Dialogue. Working with Marcia was especially rewarding because of her preparation, insightful questions, and knowledge.

The youngest and oldest Marines cutting the cake at the 238th Marine Corps Birthday celebration at Mo & Sluggo's. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

We invite you to listen in at the following Dialogue links, the first about the Khe Sanh experience, and the second about making the film. The YouTube links may be more reliable for some viewers. We invite you to take a look:

Program:
On IdahoPTV: http://video.idahoptv.org/video/2365114795/
On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfnXJoKOnDE

Extra:
On IdahoPTV: http://video.idahoptv.org/video/2365117413/
On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLVctdXJaRI

Also, if you’d like to follow BRAVO! news on Facebook, here is the link: www.facebook.com/bravotheproject.

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

October 21, 2013

On Idaho Public Televison, Steve Wiese, BRAVO! Screenings and a DVD Sale

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On October 16, 2013, BRAVO! Marine Steve Wiese, Betty and I were interviewed by Marcia Franklin of Idaho Public TV for her show, Dialogue, which will be aired on Idaho Public Television on November 8, 2013. In the studio we had a small audience that included Steve’s wife, Deborah and BRAVO! supporter extraordinaire, Ben Shedd, who won an Academy Award in 1979 for his documentary film The Flight of the Gossamer Condor. We enjoyed our time with Steve and Deborah who came up to Boise from the Sacramento, California region at the invitation of Marcia Franklin. Some clips of BRAVO! will be shown during the interview which also includes a lively discussion moderated by Marcia. The discourse centered on the Siege of Khe Sanh, Vietnam, Marines, war’s impacts and the making of the film. We couldn’t be more pleased and found it a real privilege to work with Marcia, and can’t wait to share the Dialogue program with you. If you don’t get Idaho Public Television, we will provide a link after the program airs which will allow you to see the entire interview plus some web extras which will not be in the main one-half hour broadcast.

From left to right, Marcia Franklin, Steve Wiese, Betty Rodgers, Ken Rodgers. Photo courtesy of Idaho Public Television.

In separate news, we have the following information on screenings of BRAVO!:

Santa Rosa, California on October 30, 2013, 6:00 PM in the Lodge Room of the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Avenue, Santa Rosa, California. This screening is sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 223. Admission is free. Donations accepted. A Q & A period with the film’s producers, Betty and Ken Rodgers, will be held after the screening. Refreshments will be served. Much thanks to BRAVO! Associate Producer Carol Caldwell-Ewart and Vietnam veteran Ken Holybee of VVA Chapter 223.

Betty Rodgers

Also on October 30, 2013, BRAVO! will be screened as a Professional Military Education session at Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Corps Base, Twenty-Nine Palms, California. The screening will be at 2:00 PM at the base theater followed by a Q & A session with retired Lieutenant Colonel Ken Pipes, BRAVO! Marine and company commander of Bravo Company, 1/26, during the Siege of Khe Sanh. This is a Marine Corps event.

The Eagle Public Library, November 6, 2013, at 6:30 PM, 100 N Stierman Way, Eagle, Idaho. Admission is free. The producers will be present at this screening.

Carson City, Nevada, on Veterans Day, November 11, 2013 at Western Nevada College. The screening will take place at 4:00 PM in Marlette Hall. This event is free to the public and is sponsored by the Nevada State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, VVA Chapter 388 and the Student Veterans of Western Nevada College. Come meet the producers. Thank yous are due to Marine and Vietnam veteran Terry Hubert for his efforts in making this screening happen.

Ken Rodgers, co-producer, co-director of BRAVO!, photo courtesy of Kevin Martini-Fuller

College of Marin, in Kentfield, CA on November 14, 2013. Admission is free. More details to come. Come meet Ken and Betty Rodgers.

Casa Grande, Arizona, at the old Paramount Theatre on February 13, 2014. More details to come. The producers of the film will be on hand to talk about BRAVO!

Fallbrook, California in late March 2014, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Details to come. Thank you to BRAVO! Skipper Ken Pipes for his efforts on behalf of the film.

Modesto, California in late April or early May 2014. More details to come. Thanks to Khe Sanh brother Mike Preston for his efforts in making this screening possible.

And finally:

In recognition of the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps on November 10, 2013, of Veteran’s Day, and of the 2013 Christmas holiday season, DVDs of BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR will be available at the price of $19.95, no sales tax and no shipping through December 27, 2013. Take advantage of this special offer and buy copies for yourself, your Marine or veteran, your school or local library, a historian, or anyone else who would be interested in this insightful story.

DVDs of BRAVO! are now for sale at http://bit.ly/18Pgxe5.

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please like us at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/.

Documentary Film,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

January 19, 2013

BRAVO!: An Appreciation

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BRAVO! supporter Jean Hegland muses about the film, history and the Vietnam War

Although I grew up with the Viet Nam war, it was never very real to me. I was born in 1956, and in the 1960s when my parents began to watch the nightly news on our family’s first television, reports of Viet Nam conflict were nightly fare when I wandered into the living room to check on dinnertime. After Walter Cronkite had finally announced, “And that’s the way it is,” and the television was turned off, discussions about the wrongness of the war and the inadequacies of the politicians who were promoting it were often a topic of my parents’ conversation as we ate.

But despite its frequent appearance in my family’s living and dining rooms, in many ways the Viet Nam war was an abstraction. I knew my parents were against the war—I couldn’t fathom how anyone could actually be for the crumpled bodies and destroyed landscapes I glimpsed on our TV screen—but no one I knew was directly affected by the conflict. My parents’ affiliation with the military had ended when they were discharged at the end of World War II (my father from the Army and my mother from the WAVES); and the draft was cancelled and the conflict in Viet Nam was officially over before any of my brothers or boyfriends were impacted. Later, when I went to college, there were few vets in the circles I ran in, and those I did meet—and occasionally even dated—seemed very reluctant to discuss their experiences in what they called “Nam.”

I suppose I was used to veterans staying silent about their war experiences. Although my mother privately told me that my father had been decorated for his service when he was a medic in the South Pacific, he himself never spoke of his experiences to anyone. I never heard my uncle or my aunt speak about their experiences in WWII, either, nor my other uncle who had been a fighter pilot in Korea, nor my great uncle who fought in France in WWI. And of course my ancestors who’d fought for the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War and those who fought for America during the Revolutionary War were also silent.

Novels such as Johnny Got His Gun, and The Red Badge of Courage, and later, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Things They Carried, and Matterhorn taught me a little about what war might be like for a soldier, but I have Ken and Betty Rodger’s remarkable documentary film Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor to thank for bringing the experience of soldiers at the Siege of Khe Sanh excruciatingly close.

I understand that no one who wasn’t there can ever really appreciate what those men endured during the 77 days of siege, and I also have some inkling of what a truly remarkable group that particular battalion of soldiers were, but after having watched Bravo! I feel I know much more than I did before about a soldier’s experience of the horror, pity—and glory—of war.

I wonder if anyone can listen to Cal, John, Daniel, Ken Korkow, Ben, Frank, Mike, Ken Pipes, Tom, Ron, Ken Rodgers, Lloyd, Peter, Steve, and Michael share their stories without experiencing both shudders and tears, if anyone can watch that film and not be haunted by it afterwards. Each time I watch Bravo!, I am appalled by the situation those men—then kids the age of my lovely son and his dear friends—were literally thrust into as they leapt out of moving planes and had to scurry to safety. I am heartbroken by the suffering they endured and the appalling waste that occurred. But I am also struck by the fierce, bright spirit of each of those men, by their commitment to each other in the face of such horrible odds. I am stirred not only by their courage in 1968 when they sacrificed so much to defend what turned out to be “a worthless patch of ground,” but also by their courage now, as veterans willing to risk further tears and nightmares in order to share their memories with the rest of us. Thanks to them, I feel I understand much more than I did before—not enough, to be sure, but a great deal more.

Bravo! has not changed the opinion I grew up with that the Viet Nam War was a horrible mistake, but it has deepened my sympathy for everything that those who fought in it endured, increased my appreciation for everything that they achieved, and my gratitude for the huge sacrifices that they made. It has given me fresh insight into all the silent warriors in my own family, too, and has encouraged me to reflect on the strange and compelling machine that war is, and why it is that we humans seem to have such a hard time getting beyond it. For all that, I am very grateful.

In addition to expressing my gratitude to the brave men who allowed their intimate stories to be captured on film, I also want to applaud Ken and Betty Rodgers, whose hard work and commitment brought Bravo! into being, and whose skill as interviewers (along with Mark Spear) and vision and craft as story-shapers helped to make Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor the compelling—and transformational—film that it is.

Jean Hegland is the author of the novels Into the Forest and Windfalls.

Documentary Film,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Marines,Meet the Men,Vietnam War

March 15, 2012

Meet the Men of Bravo!–Steve Wiese

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Meet Steve Wiese, Bravo! Marine.

I was raised in Redlands, CA then moved to Carmichael, CA (Sacramento) when I was 16 years old. I volunteered and joined the Marines at 17.

I volunteered for and went to Nam at 18 years old, and I extended my tour in Nam so I had my 19th and 20th birthdays there.

Steve Wiese in Vietnam

At Khe Sanh I was an 0311, which is a rifleman. I was a squad leader of the finest men the Marine Corps ever had.

Now days I’m retired. I seem to keep busy doing odds and ends. I play golf when I can (and I use the term “play golf” loosely). I play cards each week with a great group of guys.

I also own and raise Koi fish and have for about 15 years. I have a 9,000 gallon pond (converted swimming pool). Sitting by the pond is very calming on those days when the world seems overwhelming.

Steve Wiese

All my fish are imported from Japan except for the ones I have spawned. I have world class fish that have been on the cover of Koi USA magazine and have won Grand Champion at Koi shows.

Dogs are a big part of my life also. We have two Black Russian Terriers and it looks like we have inherited a Pug. My wife Deborah has a business as an obedience dog trainer, so between the two of us, our lives always center around dogs and fish.

Steve Wiese has been known to grill some grand champion ribs, too.

Documentary Film,Guest Blogs,Khe Sanh,Marines,Vietnam War

February 8, 2012

On Friendship and Memory and Communications

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In today’s entry, we get insight into how communication between Marines, between friends, between people of all stripes adds texture and meaning to history. Below is a series of e-mails between Ken Pipes, Commanding Officer of Bravo Company during the Siege of Khe Sanh, and his old friend and comrade, Dr. Larry Farrell. Ken Pipes and Larry went into Marine Corps OCS together and have stayed in touch for over fifty years.

In a message dated January 30, 2012, Dr. Farrell writes, in part, about his son, Sean, graduating from Marine Corps Officer Candidate School:

To Family and Friends,

Family day for OCC (Officer Candidate Class) 209 will be at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Friday March 30, 2012. Graduation and Commissioning is the next day, Saturday March 31, 2012.If you are planning on going or would like to go please call us first.

Larry

Ken Pipes responded to Dr. Farrell’s e-mail with the following message:

Larry my brother–on graduation day–tell Sean that on that day 44 years ago–Bravo Company 1/26 decimated a reinforced NVA Battalion–the 66th of the 304th “Iron” Division–in the process, the entire Staff of the NVA battalion was killed. Thus “Pay Back.” Tell him for me and Bravo Company–SEMPER FIDELIS!

Ken

Dr. Larry Farrell responded with the following e-mail he sent to a larger group of recipients:

I wanted to pass along this special email from my brother Marine Ken Pipes. As some of you already know, Ken and I went into the Marine Corps about the same time out of Fresno State (also fraternity brothers). We were in Quantico (TBS) and the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, during the same time periods. In 1963 or 1964 our paths again crossed in Iwakuni, Japan (home of the 1st Marine Air Wing) after I had come back from Vietnam.

Ken was Bravo Company Commander of the 1st Battalion 26th Marines at Khe Sanh, December 1967 through March 1968. This Company was made up with people like Steve Wiese who Sue and I recently met at a powerful documentary film showing in Santa Rosa, California. They were in continuous combat for 77 days in an epic struggle against overwhelming odds. Steve and Ken are lucky to be alive.

Ken’s message is powerful and poignant to us because of the aligning of these dates.  On this date, Ken led (and Steve participated in) the only recorded bayonet charge of the Vietnam War: “Pay Back.”  Ken was seriously wounded in the chest and took a bullet through his helmet but like Steve, he survived. Ken was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor. God Bless you Ken–God Bless you Steve–God Bless Bravo Company. Your deeds are recorded in Marine Corps History forever–SEMPER FIDELIS!

Larry and Sue

Film Screenings

September 18, 2011

September 18, 2011

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In about six hours we will be screening Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor for about one-hundred friends and supporters in Santa Rosa, California.

Before the showing, Betty and I will be sharing the stage with the film’s fundraiser extraordinaire, Carol Caldwell-Ewart. Carol has arranged for us to screen the film at the 6th Street Theater.
 
Our editor, John Nutt, and Ray Doyle, whose recording of “Mick Ryan’s Lament” is excerpted in the film, will both be on hand for the screening as will Steve Wiese, an interviewee of some importance in the movie.

The weather here is gorgeous, Indian summer, and it should be a beautiful day to watch this powerful film.

I am nervous. I shouldn’t be, but I am.