Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Posts Tagged ‘veterans’

Documentary Film,Khe Sanh,Marines,Okinawa,Veterans,Vietnam War

April 12, 2019

On Okinawa

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About this time fifty-one years ago, I arrived in Okinawa on my way home from the war and the Siege of Khe Sanh. On the flight between Da Nang and Oki’s Kadena Air Force Base, I gazed around at the men on board. We looked battered, most of us donning dungarees so dirty and worn it seemed like we were prisoners bound for a life of confinement.

A Marine with whom I had an acquaintance, Corporal S, sat next to me. A cannon-cocker, I’d met up with him I don’t know where or when.


When we landed at Kadena, we deplaned and were ordered to fall in and stand at attention, which we didn’t do, and listen to a spiel given by a bunch of Marine Corps NCOs about what we could do on Okinawa and what we couldn’t while at Camp Schwab waiting transfer to the states.

Photo taken at Camp Schwab, 1971. Photo by Scott Parton – http://www.jonmitchellinjapan.com/agent-orange-on-okinawa.html, Public Domain, Link


Several of the two-hundred or so Marines who’d been on that plane barked out comments about POGs in Okinawa lecturing real warriors about what and what not to do.

Several of the NCOS jumped right in and instructed us that they were not any different from us; they’d just been wounded three times in Nam, so they had to finish out their twelve-month-and-twenty-day tour on Okinawa.

But collectively, we dirty band of ragged Marines, didn’t buy their explanations. The men facing us were decked out in snappy new dungarees and covers starched and formed as if they were all still in Boot Camp. We hooted . . . and this struck me . . . we hooted as if we could care less about how many times they’d been shot or wounded. And our derisiveness felt good to me, way down, and maybe it wasn’t fair of me or the rest of us, to put their service down, but at the time, it felt damned good.

The next morning we fell in and received orders for all of us to report here and there around Camp Schwab for mess and maintenance duty.

Right up front, Corporal S told the duty NCO, “Go to hell.”

Unlike him, I reported to the BOQ and spent the morning policing the barracks for transient officers. When I left for chow, I asked the duty NCO why they made us clean up while there were barracks full of new Marines headed to Nam who needed something to do.

Blogger Ken Rodgers at Khe Sanh prior to the beginning of the siege. Photo courtesy of Michael E. O’Hara.

He didn’t answer, just scowled at me.

I have never figured out why they did that—made us clean up, unless it was punishment for our salty attitudes out on the tarmac at Kadena—and that morning stint was my last. I spent the next two days shooting hoops at the base gym with Corporal S.

My mother used to tell me, when I complained about vacuuming the house or mowing the lawn when I should have been playing with my buddies, that an idle mind was the tool of the devil, and maybe the Marine Corps had similar sentiments.

Nevertheless, if the Marines in charge of keeping things running at Camp Schwab depended on me and Corporal S, and I suspect, the rest of us who arrived on that flight out of hell a few nights before, they were sorely disappointed.

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BRAVO! is now available in digital form on Amazon Prime.

This link will take you directly to BRAVO!’s Amazon Prime site where you can take a look at the options for streaming: In the US you can stream at https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

In the United Kingdom, you can stream at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZKJXBM.

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

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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,Veterans,Vietnam War

April 8, 2019

News From La Grande, Oregon

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Ten days ago, we were privileged to show BRAVO! in La Grande, Oregon, to an enthusiastic crowd of 150 folks in a jam-packed auditorium at Eastern Oregon University. The event was scheduled as a way to do something special for local Vietnam veterans on March 29 which is National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Photo of the cake at the La Grande Screening. Photo courtesy of Betty Rodgers

La Grande is located near the home of BRAVO! Marine Ron Rees, whose story is one of the rock ribs of the film. Picturesque snow-capped ranges of mountains surround the valley where La Grande sits near the Grande Ronde River. The valley sported a spring green that shone in the daylight, no matter what time of day. After a long, wet, cold winter it was a pleasure to feel the force of the new season.

The evening began with a chance to feast and visit with Ron and his family, his friends, and numerous local veterans and other folks interested in the film, including Master of Ceremonies Brian Westfield and local Congressman Greg Walden.

After the screening, the audience engaged in a lively panel discussion with Vietnam veterans Ron Rees, Dennis Ross, George Knight and Ken Rodgers about war, veterans and the military.

BRAVO! Marine Ron Rees with his daughters. Photo courtesy of Kim Mead.

Ron made a special request to honor the men who have passed away since the making of BRAVO!. We remembered Marines Ken Pipes, Daniel Horton, Mike McCauley, and Lloyd Scudder, and cinematographer Mark Spear.

Betty and I felt honored to show our film to such a receptive group and to spend time visiting with friends, old and new.

These screening events are the direct result of a group of citizens working together, and this occasion was no exception. Hosting an Oregon premiere of BRAVO! was a dream come true for us, and we thank Ron and his wife Tami Murphy for putting the event together in concert with this impressive list of local sponsors: American Legion Post 43, Auxiliary Post 43, Legacy Ford, Copies Plus, Starbucks (Island City), Safeway, Hines Meat Co., Mission 22, The Landing Hotel, Side A Brewing, Fitzgerald Flowers, Dominos Pizza, and other individuals.

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BRAVO! is now available in digital form on Amazon Prime.

This link will take you directly to BRAVO!’s Amazon Prime site where you can take a look at the options for streaming: In the US you can stream at https://amzn.to/2Hzf6In.

In the United Kingdom, you can stream at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BZKJXBM.

***

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

***

BRAVO! has a page on Facebook. Please “like” us and “share” the page at https://www.facebook.com/Bravotheproject?ref=hl.

Guest Blogs

May 30, 2011

Part 1

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Today, Betty Rodgers, one of the producers for Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor, muses on veterans and Memorial Day.

I was conceived not long after WWII ended. During that conflict, my maternal grandmother was a Gray Lady in the Red Cross, my mother was a Red Cross employee and USO volunteer, my biological father was a stretcher bearer in the European Arena, and my Aunty Kay was a WAC officer in New Guinea where she met her future husband, Harry Dennis, an officer who was serving there as well. Needless to say, I grew up in a family that honored and respected veterans for their service to our country and the preservation of freedom. Aunty Kay and Uncle Harry went on to become leaders in the American Legion and my aunt fought long and hard for women’s veteran’s rights and the betterment of medical care and conditions in veteran’s hospitals nationwide. Some of the most treasured books on Mother’s shelves are about WWII.

They had all believed that WWII would be the war to end all wars so their children and grandchildren would never have to experience battle.

Then came the Korean War, and after that, the war of my generation, the Vietnam War. That’s when Aunty Kay and Uncle Harry’s sons (my cousins) all enlisted in the military, along with many of my childhood friends. My first serious boyfriend was killed in Vietnam when he stepped on a landmine.

Fast forward to 1985 when I married Ken Rodgers, a Vietnam veteran. One of his best friends told me that Ken was a true war hero, having served at Khe Sanh. I gradually learned more and more about his experience and how it impacted his life, but never more than when I met the men he served with in Bravo Company and heard their shared stories in Washington, DC, in 1993. These were Marines with the same heart and beliefs as our WWII veterans, but the way it all played out in their lives was completely different. They were not respected and considered heroes by the general American public.

In July 2008, Ken and I once again attended the annual reunion of Khe Sanh veterans. Again, I listened and observed the bond that existed from the common experience of Bravo Company. I saw men from every walk of life, with every color of skin, with every possible philosophical bent, who would have never known each other except for the Vietnam War. I saw how their Company Commander, Ken Pipes, was still leading his men, and the mutual love and respect that comes only from knowing each other’s heart under the pressure of terrifying adversity.

At the next reunion in 2009, it became clear that the story of Bravo Company was slowly evaporating with each telling, and was just as relevant as the wars of previous generations. We also realized we were losing the men one by one, and with them, their stories. Ken and I agreed the history needed to be preserved in some way as soon as possible, and we sought and received the thumbs up from Ken Pipes.

The question became how to go about it. Write a book? No. Oral histories? Not enough. Documentary film? Perfect. Could we do it? Let’s give it our all. And so far the journey has been humbling, enlightening, encouraging and inspiring. I’ll talk more about it in Part II. In the meantime, we’re coming in the home stretch on creating the film.

And so today, Memorial Day 2011, I remember and thank all the people in my life, and Ken’s life, and yours, who have served our country and its fundamental purpose as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution, to “…establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

Betty and Ken Rodgers have been hitched together for over twenty-six years. Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor is just the latest of a string of successful collaborations.