Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘Terry Hubert’

Documentary Film,Other Musings,Veterans,Vietnam War

January 11, 2017

Why We Make Films

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It’s 2017 and as always my mind turns to thoughts of the coming months as well as the approach of the anniversary of the Siege of Khe Sanh.

What I am going to dwell on right now is the stories we tell through our films BRAVO! and I MARRIED THE WAR, which is now in production.

Recently I had a discussion with a retired Army veteran about what we are trying to do with these projects.

Initially, with the making of BRAVO! I think we saw the effort as storytelling in its simplest notion. We saw the film as a narrative about a small unit of Marines at the Siege of Khe Sanh which, having lived through it, I personally thought was an amazing tale of bravery, death and endurance.

I don’t know that I can speak for Betty here, but for me, in the beginning, it was just about getting the story told and I wasn’t thinking about what good the film might do in terms of secondary reasons.

Nevertheless, during the journey we have made with BRAVO! from 2009 to today, we have become keenly aware that there are other reasons to make and screen these films about war and its aftermath.

In 2013 Terry Hubert, who was a Marine who served in Vietnam and was instrumental in helping us screen BRAVO! in a variety of venues in the west, advised us that our duty as filmmakers—or our primary duty as filmmakers—is to educate.

I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of American citizens have very little knowledge of the true cost of war—both during deployment, during combat and the years after the warrior comes home.

Betty and Ken Rodgers, co-producers, co-directors. Photo courtesy of Don Johnson.

Betty and Ken Rodgers, co-producers, co-directors. Photo courtesy of Don Johnson.

So, I think it’s fair to say that for both Betty and me, filmmaking is a process by which we can help educate the American public—the world—about the costs of combat. In addition, these films are an opportunity to present some history that a lot of our citizens are not aware of, or if they are aware, it’s often in a way that doesn’t reveal the visceral magnitude of war and its aftermath.

But there is something more to be said about these films and the mental chronicle of their participant’s lives, and a large number of those stories beg to be told and by making our films we allow the folks we interview, as well as viewers who have similar stories to relive, to rethink and revalue certain experiences that have been part of their lives.

Stories of being trapped in battle, seeing the death of friends, and being shunned for the most part by your fellow citizens, are important narratives not only as educational tools but also as vehicles for the storytellers to articulate and examine their lives and the meaning of their experiences.

This type of benefit seems to drill down, for me, to something more personal, more individual. A woman or a man tells her or his story of war and horror and caregiving that has for all intents and purposes remained untold. After telling the story, the load seems to lighten to some degree. It happened to me and I know it happened to a number of the men we interviewed for BRAVO!, and there are indications that the same is true for at least some of the women in I MARRIED THE WAR.

A similar benefit of these stories happens when a viewer of one of these films has his/her own moments that allows him/her to process experiences.

One particular instance comes to mind. We screened BRAVO! in California a few years back and one of the folks who came to see the film was a Khe Sanh Veteran who had survived the Siege as an artillery man and who went on to stay in the Corps and reach the rank of gunnery sergeant before getting out. After leaving the Corps, this gentleman’s life nosedived and he found himself living in a dumpster in San Francisco.

When we met him, he was in a halfway house for folks trying to kick abusive addiction. I spoke to him before the screening and found his dialogue to be extremely fractured and the folks hosting the screening were concerned he may have a breakdown if he watched the film.

So, as he watched, we watched him. After the film was over he came up to our co-producer, Carol Caldwell-Ewart, and very calmly and coherently touched his chest and said, “Thank you for making this film. It relieved my heart.”

That scene is etched in my memory and every time I recall it I feel that all the resources and emotional effort spent on the film were worth it. For a moment—I don’t know how long—we helped someone, and we did so because we told a story. It wasn’t his story specifically, but in a more general sense, it was: He lived through the Siege of Khe Sanh. We often hear from other folks, too, who served elsewhere in Vietnam, who say that BRAVO! tells their story, too.

We also often hear: Wow, that’s the true story of combat.

But the reactions we hear don’t stop there. It seems the messages people gain from the film cast a wider net, such as, for instance, people commenting: Now I understand my dad, or thanks for showing our story, or thanks for not gussying the story up with nothing but images of noble sacrifice like they do in Hollywood.

Marines from Second Platoon, Bravo Company, Gray Sector, Khe Sanh Combat Base. Photo courtesy of Michael E. O'Hara

Marines from Second Platoon, Bravo Company, Gray Sector, Khe Sanh Combat Base. Photo courtesy of Michael E. O’Hara

So, thanks to my veteran friend for leading me into the discussion about what it is we do with our films, which prompted me to sit and think about what it is we really do.

We educate, yes, but we really want to get down to the personal level and help people understand on a level that just reading history doesn’t often deliver. Not that reading is bad. It’s extremely important, too.

But there’s nothing like a film that pulls you in on an emotional level that makes what you watch so personal, it becomes your story, too. And you find yourself caring about the characters because you see yourself in them. This is what we also hope to accomplish with our telling these important stories and the history they impart.

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.

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

April 9, 2014

After Action Report on Screenings at San Quentin and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien

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The cream-colored walls of San Quentin were shrouded in a cold mist as Betty, Associate Producer Carol Caldwell-Ewart and I arrived at the prison to screen BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR on Saturday, March 29, 2014.

The visitor parking lot was crammed with the vehicles of people who were lining up to get inside and visit prisoners incarcerated at San Quentin. As we waited our turn, we observed a steady stream of people going in and out, the sounds of bells and buzzers announcing things we did not understand.

As the sky drizzled a slow rain, we were greeted by Mary Donovan, Executive Director of Veterans Healing Veterans from the Inside Out, the organization that sponsored this screening. Mary does a lot of volunteer work with the veterans inside San Quentin.

At the gate an imposing guard barked out names of people who would not be allowed to go in for one reason or another. He wore a hooded jacket over his uniform and stared at each of us and our drivers’ licenses as we walked through. We were joined there at the gate by Vietnam War Marine Terry Hubert, the Vietnam Veterans of America’s chairman of the Veterans Incarcerated Committee. Terry has been and still is a big supporter of BRAVO!.

Hatch and Stairway into the Saloon at the SS Jeremiah O'Brien © Betty Rodgers 2014

Hatch and Stairway into the Saloon at the SS Jeremiah O’Brien
© Betty Rodgers 2014

Also joining us were Marine Steven Wiegert who served with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in Vietnam and Sunny Campbell, Lt. Colonel, USMCR Retired. Steven and Sunny spend a lot of time on the inside of San Quentin working with veterans, as well as other inmates. Also joining us was Rhonda Harris, a veteran who is—by providing housing assistance, higher education prospects and employment opportunities—instrumental in helping other veterans integrate into the mainstream society through an organization called The Veterans Resource Center.

We screened the film at the protestant chapel inside San Quentin and the facility had good audio/visual equipment and a proficient A/V Tech named Steve. The prisoners in these venues don’t volunteer anything other than their first names and we always feel there is a good reason for this, and not because I know what that might be, but because I can feel it in the tenor of the time and place. We never ask them what they “did” to get inside and it is really none of our business.

This is the second time we have shown BRAVO! inside a California state prison. A lot of people remark that surely the experience of screening inside a prison has more import or carries more gravitas than a screening outside a prison. I don’t think there is much difference. All screenings are unique. The one thing I can say about screenings with inmates in a correctional institution is that we, the filmmakers, receive well-thought-out questions and the viewers exhibit a lot of emotion. After some thought, I think this may come about as a result of the prison environment being a day-to-day war zone. These men know fear similar, I suppose, to what we experienced at the Siege of Khe Sanh.

L to R: Steve Wiese, Lou Kern, David Moragne and Ken Rodgers at the SS Jeremiah O'Brien © Betty Rodgers 2014

L to R: Steve Wiese, Lou Kern, David Moragne and Ken Rodgers at the SS Jeremiah O’Brien
© Betty Rodgers 2014

Folks often wonder why we would take our film into the prisons to show to the veterans, and Betty and I would say that even though these men (and women) have done things that earned them a prison sentence, that fact cannot, in our opinions, be allowed to detract from the service—especially the honorable service—they have given their country.

Another big OOORAH to Marine Brenton MacKinnon for all the work he did to bring this screening about.

After leaving San Quentin, we (including Carol Caldwell-Ewart) met with BRAVO! Marine Steve Wiese and his wife Deborah for dinner and talked about the screening that was to happen the next evening, March 30, aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien at Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco.

Associate Producer Carol Caldwell-Ewart manning the table. © Betty Rodgers 2014

Associate Producer Carol Caldwell-Ewart manning the table.
© Betty Rodgers 2014

March 30 is a banner day for the Marines of BRAVO!. It was the date of the Payback Patrol that plays a large part in the lore surrounding the film, and is also Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

A large crowd of friends, family, veterans, volunteers and supporters made their way to the dock, up the ship’s gangway, through a hatch and down another gangway into the saloon amidships where the event took place. Many of the folks wound their way through the museum and other areas of the ship before things got started. Over 150 folks viewed this screening in a genuine nautical environ (one of two surviving World War II Liberty ships) that added ambience to what was being depicted on the screen.

After the screening, BRAVO! Marines Steve Wiese and Ken Rodgers joined with Marines Lou Kern and David Moragne, as well as BRAVO!’s film editor John Nutt (also a Vietnam veteran) for a lively Q & A with the audience. Lou and David were with Force Recon at the Khe Sanh Combat Base during the Siege. Moderating the Q & A as well as acting as Emcee for the evening was Tom Croft from Santa Rosa, CA. Tom was a United States Navy dental tech in Vietnam. He worked on Marines’ teeth during the day and then treated wounded Marines at night as a Corpsman.

The Jeremiah O’Brien screening would not have been possible without the efforts of our nephew, Troy Campbell, who is the Executive Director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, and Eliz Anderson, Office Manager, Corporate Secretary and benevolent angel of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. We also want to thank the captain of the ship, Patrick Moloney, and all the ship’s many volunteers for their efforts to make this event such a success.

View from the deck of the SS Jeremiah O'Brien © Betty Rodgers 2014

View from the deck of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien
© Betty Rodgers 2014

Thanks to Nick Bovis and Al Casciato of San Francisco’s historic Gold Dust Lounge for providing food for the evening, along with Eliz Anderson who donated cookies and beverages. And as always, a big OORAH to Carol Caldwell-Ewart for managing the myriad administrative tasks that always arise at each screening. Thanks, too, to Bon Mot PR, FX Crowly, Inc., Hancock Sea Squadron, and Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf for helping make this event happen.

We met up with a lot of old friends at this, our first screening in San Francisco, and made some new ones, too, which is always appreciated on our end. We feel that one or our primary duties with this film is to educate, but we also like to broaden our circle of friends.

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.

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.

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

January 22, 2014

On January 21, 1968

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Yesterday I awoke early, when the dark still hung from the eaves and leered into my dreams like spirits of long-lost warriors. It was January 21, 2014. Most January 21sts are like that for me…an early awakening, an early rising, coffee and pondering January 21, 1968, the beginning of the Siege of Khe Sanh.

Here in Idaho it was dark and foggy and the stench of inversion settled into every crevice it could get its stinky fingers into. I thought about the men I served with and where they are now, if they are anywhere, and what they are doing and whether or not I am in contact with them. I thought about the day before the beginning of the Siege, and how it became clear to me that my experience in Vietnam was about to become more violent, and I thought about the night before as Puff the Magic Dragon spit curving arcs of red death at the NVA out in front of my bunker. I thought about the awful shock of being awakened around 5:30 AM on the 21st by a crescendo of terror that shook the ground, and frankly, shook me, too.

Still groggy from sleep, I got my gear and bolted into the trench, and light and fire and noise drove me into the bottom of the trench, on my face. Something thudded into my lower back below my flak jacket. My back and jungle dungarees sizzled and I smelled singed flesh and I wondered if I could move my legs. I started screaming, “I’m hit, I’m hit.”

Steve Foster, who was in my fireteam, scrambled over and began to laugh. Normally you would think that someone who would laugh at another man’s wounds was really weird but if you knew Foster, well… He scraped whatever was on my back and got his face close to my ear and said, “It’s only clods.” And then he laughed some more.

Ken Rodgers at Khe Sanh, Courtesy of the Estate of Dan Horton

I rose and went to my fighting hole and someone came by and ordered me into the machine gun bunker close by which was manned by wounded men, one with a huge gash in his shin and another with his face bandaged so he couldn’t open his mouth, and his arm in a sling. We watched outside for the enemy to overrun us, but they never came. The gas from the exploding ammo dump, which was close by, forced us to put on gas masks.

It wasn’t much better for the next seventy-seven days. And a lot of those days were worse than January 21, 1968.

For years I kept my memories of that day secret. Only I was allowed access to those terrifying moments that crept up my spine and stopped me in the middle of whatever I was doing. Nobody cared much about what happened to me at Khe Sanh unless they knew me well or were at the Siege or went through something similar. All of us Vietnam Vets were hibernating, I think, until it became cool to have been a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. As long as we let our memories sleep, we were almost the same as being gagged.

But now, the stories are rolling out of us like a river that has finally thawed. We are speaking and we are telling our story, about our war—not our fathers’ war, but our war—which in its own way was as nasty and deadly as any war fought any time or place.

Part of the story of Khe Sanh has been told by Betty and me in our film, BRAVO! COMMON MEN, UNCOMMON VALOR. It is not the only story, by any means, but it is my story and it is the story of the company of Marines I served with and in many ways it is a story that speaks for all Vietnam Veterans and maybe even veterans of other wars.

Marine and BRAVO! supporter extraordinaire Terry Hubert says that our job—Betty’s and mine—is to educate, and we hope that the film educates folks about what Vietnam Veterans went through and what it means to us now. There are messages in the film, it seems, that speak to some universal truths about conflict and humanity.

Part of the way we are educating America about the Vietnam War is by traveling around the country to give screenings. We are getting set to hit the road and travel to my home town of Casa Grande, Arizona, where we will screen the film in the historic Paramount Theatre on February 13 at 7:00 PM. In addition to educating folks, the proceeds from the screening of BRAVO! (entree fee is $10.00) will help fund the Pinal County Veterans Memorial.

If you are in the area, come by and catch a look at this powerful and poignant film. We’d really like to meet you, or get reacquainted if we have already met. You can find out more details about the Casa Grande screening at http://www.paramountfoundation.org/EVENTS.html.

On March 22, 2014, BRAVO! will be screened at VFW Post 1924 in Fallbrook, CA. BRAVO! Skipper Ken Pipes lives in the area and will be on hand along with Betty and me when we show up to screen the film. More details to come on this screening.

On March 29, 2014, BRAVO! is provisionally scheduled to screen for veterans incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California. As soon as we know more, we will provide the information.

On March 30, Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, we will be on board the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, The National Liberty Ship Memorial at Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, CA. The proceeds from this screening will benefit the SS Jeremiah O’Brien’s Memorial. Again, more details are to come.

Another way we are trying to educate the public about the Vietnam War is through the sale of DVDs. 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.

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.

Film Screenings

November 2, 2013

Screening Report

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On October 30, 2013 BRAVO! was screened in two locations to nearly 700 viewers. Mid afternoon, the film was shown at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, to 550 active duty Marines. Thank you to Colonel Michael Robinson, G-3, at the Combat Training Center at Twentynine Palms, for putting the screening in motion and making it happen on the ground.

Left to Right: Bill Rider, Jim Kaylor, Colonel Mike Robinson, Ken Pipes, Lt. Colonel Sean Hankard (Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines), Retired Sergeant Major Tom Brown. Photo courtesy of Ken Pipes.

Thanks too to BRAVO! Skipper Ken Pipes for his tenacious drive to screen BRAVO! at Marine Corps facilities across the nation. Ken and his lovely wife, Sharon, drove up to Twentynine Palms along with BRAVO!’s staunch friend, retired Sergeant Major Tom Brown. Traveling with the Pipes was the mayor of San Diego’s Special Advisor on Veterans Affairs. Mr. Bill Rider, who was a squad leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines at Khe Sanh. Also in attendance was Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sergeant Jim Kaylor, who served with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines at Khe Sanh.

You will see in the photograph below, left to right, Jim Kaylor, Bill Rider and Skipper Ken Pipes talking about Khe Sanh after the screening of the film. We love to see the backs of all those Marine Corps heads.

Jim Kaylor, Bill Rider, Ken Pipes. Photo courtesy of USMC.

Later, about four-hundred miles north and several hours later, BRAVO! was screened at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. Vietnam Veterans of America Redwood Empire Chapter 223 sponsored the screening. A big thank you to Mr. Ken Holybee and the members of Chapter 223. A big shout-out also to Carol Caldwell-Ewart, associate producer of BRAVO!, for facilitating the screening in Santa Rosa, and for her hospitality.

The room set up for the Santa Rosa screening. So many attendees we needed more chairs. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

The viewers at the Santa Rosa screening were a wonderful mixed group of Vietnam Veterans, friends of the producers, and folks old and young.

While in Santa Rosa, Ken and Betty Rodgers met and discussed filmmaking with instructor Brian Antonson’s film production classes at Santa Rosa Junior College. Novelist, writing instructor and good friend of BRAVO! and Ken and Betty Rodgers, Jean Hegland, helped arrange the visits to the film classes and we are very grateful to Jean for all her efforts.

Members of VVA Redwood Empire Chapter 223. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

NEWS ON UPCOMING SCREENINGS:

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, the Carson City Marine Corps League, 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.

College of Marin, in Kentfield, CA, on November 14, 2013 beginning with a reception at 5:00 PM, screening of the film at 6:00 PM, followed by a Q & A with local veterans. Admission is free. The screening will be at the James Dunn Theater on the College of Marin campus. Come meet Ken and Betty Rodgers.

We ask for your help in sharing this information about screenings with Vietnam veterans and anyone else who would or should be interested in seeing our film. With your help, we will get this story and history into the hands and hearts of many.

OTHER NEWS:

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

June 10, 2013

On Soledad

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A lot of friends and followers of BRAVO! have been waiting for a blog about our trip to Soledad, CA, to screen the film to the incarcerated veterans. We did indeed show the film at the penitentiary in Soledad, California, or as it is more specifically titled, the Soledad Correctional Training Facility. Way back at the beginning of this filmmaking adventure, when both Betty and I were brainstorming where this film would be screened, we never could have imagined it happening in a prison. Yet the screening occurred on May 28th and was a successful event. Much thanks to fellow participant Mr. Terry Hubert of the Vietnam Veterans of America’s National Veterans Incarceration Committee for giving Betty and me guidance and support with this screening.

And before I go into my reflections on this event, thanks, too, to Warden Marion Spearman for allowing us to show BRAVO! at the facility. We appreciate the help we received from the staff at Soledad, including their veteran’s staff advisor, Lieutenant Eric DaRosa, as well as Mr. Albert Amaya, the facility’s Community Partnership Manager, and Public Information Officer Lieutenant Roland Ramon.

Further thanks are in order to fellow guests Steven “Tank” Konstenius and his wife Mandy, representing the California Vietnam Veterans of America, and Dr. Jennifer Lanterman of the University of Nevada at Reno. Last but not least, the biggest thanks go to the Veterans Service Officers at Soledad, Michael “Doc” Piper, Ed Muniz and Mike Walker. These three men had a vision about bringing the film to their institution, their home (if that is a worthy choice of words), and made it happen. Doc Piper served with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines and with Charlie Med, the Naval medical detachment at Khe Sanh. He found out about the film and sent me a letter asking if we could bring BRAVO! to Soledad, and we did, and as we marched down the corridors with the longest institutional murals anywhere, I was glad we were going to screen the film there.

The day we arrived at Soledad, the wind funneled up the Salinas River Valley and bent the eucalyptus trees over like rubber-handled mops. I hoped the bluster wasn’t a harbinger of things to come, and it wasn’t, although the experience wasn’t what I’d imagined, and I’m not exactly sure I can even articulate what it was we expected there.

As I entered the sally ports, (not gates or doors, but sally ports) one, two, three, four, I was reminded of my time serving as a guard in the Navy brig at the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego in 1968-1969; the clang of metal as the sally ports opened and closed, the blare of loudspeakers as the staff made announcements. There was a metal detector so sensitive it beeped at the hooks and eyes of women’s brassieres.

The day following the screening, we were invited back inside the facility to participate with the incarcerated veterans in their Memorial Day Celebration which included a luncheon sponsored and paid for by their very own VVA chapter, Chapter 1065. We got to visit at some length with some of the men we had met the day before as we shared a meal earnestly served us by some of the prisoners and listened to speakers and watched the flag ceremonies.

Since the screening, a number of friends, supporters and followers have commented that they thought the experience must have been life-changing, and maybe it was, but it hasn’t hit home yet how our lives were changed by the Soledad experience. To begin with, and obviously, the place is a prison and there is all that is associated with the milieu and its ramifications, ramifications we outsiders don’t even understand. The men are very stoic and were allowed to attend because of their good behavior and because most of them are veterans. But I can’t say that any of them seemed overcome by the BRAVO!-viewing experience. I am sure these men learn to mask their emotions, not unlike what one experiences in combat; and yes, some of these men went through combat and some of them went through a different kind of combat after returning from war…combat on the street, in the ‘hood, in prison gang fights.

BRAVO! was screened in the prison gymnasium and attended by an estimated one-hundred-thirty-five people. Afterwards the incarcerated veterans treated us to a fifty-minute film about their 2012 Veterans Day celebration. The film was shot and edited by the men in Soledad. And they were very proud of the film and what it represented.

After the screening of BRAVO! they asked some of the most incisive questions about war that we have heard anywhere. And a few of them seemed teared-up. And they lined up to thank us and shake our hands. But in those regards, the experience wasn’t unlike any of the other screenings we have conducted. And even though we hoped we’d unlocked the prisons of their memories, we were not sure.

One of the inmates, a Marine named Enrico, talked to us for some time about a lot of things, and was mostly thankful for having what he called “a normal conversation,” above and beyond the typical talk that goes on in a prison.

Another gentleman whose name I don’t know talked to me at length about BRAVO! and his experiences in Vietnam. He was Latino and my talk with him was reminiscent of hanging out down on the corners of Main and Florence Avenue in Casa Grande, Arizona, back in the days right after I returned from Vietnam. He was an Army Ranger and his harrowing tales of combat made me shiver. As he described his war, I was there. We were both there.

And again, other than the fact that all of us (even though some of us only temporarily) were locked up inside the high chain link fences, inside the off-white walls, under the guns of the men in the towers, the Soledad screening of BRAVO! wasn’t much different than any other.

As we talked to these men, a question arose in our minds, wondering what each of them had done to end up in a place like Soledad. Yet we never asked. At the time it seemed to be taboo, or at least none of our business, and it still seems that way. What they had done, they had done, and there was no going back from that. Yet many of them are Vietnam Veterans who served with honor and distinction in combat, and that is not something that can be gone back on either. Maybe the difficult part is reconciling the two situations. Who they were versus where they are now. What they had done in Vietnam versus what they had done after returning. Maybe the answer lies in not trying to reconcile anything. They served their country with distinction. That’s one of the major things I am going to take away from the experience.

One of the people who seemed most moved was Doc Piper. I think the film took him back to those moments in the Khe Sanh trenches when the blasts from the incoming artillery and rockets shook the earth and forced us all to bury our faces in the red mud, all of this against our will, against our drive to be free men, not trapped by design or circumstance or as a result of our own actions.

It is our hope that this screening was meaningful and in some way helpful to Doc and his fellow veterans.

On a separate note, DVDs of BRAVO! are now for sale at https://bravotheproject.com/buy-the-dvd/.

We have a page on Facebook. Please like us at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject/.

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

March 15, 2013

Reno Screening of BRAVO!

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Last night at the University of Nevada-Reno, we screened BRAVO! in the Wells Fargo Auditorium to a crowd of over one-hundred with a wide variety of viewing ages from Korean War veterans down through current combat-theater veterans and college students at UNR. The response to the film was intense. After the screening, we had a panel discussion that included, among other things, filmmaking, the Vietnam War, Fallujah, Iraq, film distribution, Afghanistan, MIAs in Southeast Asia, the change in communication methods over the last forty-five years, and the Vietnam Veterans of America’s pledge that “Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another.” Thanks to Marine brother Terry Hubert whose exuberance and dedication to veterans fueled this event. Many thanks are in order also to the Nevada State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Reno Chapter 989 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Dr. Marta Elliot and the University Veterans Coalition, Susan Kinder of UNR, the campus veterans fraternity, NuPhi, Troy Stormoen of the Reno Vet Center and all the folks who attended the screening.

Betty and I feel very fortunate that we were able to both make new friends and visit with old friends, too, as part of the Reno screening of BRAVO!

One of the men in the film, Steve Wiese and his wife Deborah, gave us a great surprise by coming up from Lincoln, California, and it was good to visit with them. Longtime super BRAVO! supporter Dianne Jackson drove up from the Sacramento area to see the film again. Lieutenant Colonel Ken Pipes, company commander of Bravo Company and also part of the film, was represented by three of his former colleagues and Marines. BRAVO! supporters Lela and Johnny Herman from my (Ken’s) hometown of Casa Grande, Arizona invited some of their friends, Matt and Rhonda Matthews to come up from Carson City to see the film. Matt and Johnny were in the United States Army and served in Vietnam together. Also on board at the screening, all the way from Chico, California was Stephen “Tank” Kostenius and his wife Mandy, of Vietnam Veteran of America Chapter 582.

Matt Mathews and I had a conversation about the power of memory and our specific memories of war and how they affect us after forty-five years. We decided that even though a lot of those memories still haunt us with their horrors, we don’t think that recalling those violent moments is all bad. Memory can serve to remind us of what is bad, but also what is good about the human condition, even in the worst of circumstances.

Next stop for BRAVO!: Fresno, California for a screening at the Fresno VA on March 20, 2013. Doors open at 4:00 PM, screening at 4:30.

The following afternoon, March 21, 2013, BRAVO! will be screened twice at the Clovis, California Veterans Memorial Building at 2:00 PM (doors open at 1:30) and at 6:00 PM (doors open at 5:30).

Many thanks are in order to Khe Sanh veteran Dave Harper for all his hard work on putting these screenings together along with Ken Hendrix and the Joint Service Honors Command, Kaweah Covenant Group, the Fresno area detachment of the Marine Corps League, American Legion Post 509, VFW Post 3225, and American Sheet Metal Air Conditioning and Heating among a host of other folks.

On April 19, 2013, BRAVO! will be screened in Moscow, Idaho, at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Center. This screening is sponsored by the University of Idaho’s Operation Education http://www.uidaho.edu/operationeducation . Screening will commence at 6:30 PM followed by a panel discussion about veterans and wars past, present and future.

More updates to come!