As two filmmakers born after the Vietnam War, we realize we know exactly one thing about the war… that we don’t know much about the men and women who served in it. Who are they, how did the war affect their lives, and what happened when they came home? So we hit the road.
And we kept driving…
Basically, a lot of driving.
We even learned you can hit traffic jams in the middle of the desert at 7,000 feet above sea level.
In total, we have driven almost 14,000 miles across the country to learn more about the Vietnam War and the forces that have shaped how we have learned about it.
We have visited the National Vietnam War Museum
We’ve spoken with psychologists who specialize in PTS
Visited with Vietnam War reenactors who specialize with Apache Troop.
We even invited ourselves over to Randall Wallace’s house to talk about Hollywood’s responsibility in fairly representing the war and its veterans.
But the most important part of our 14,000 mile road trip has been talking with veterans.
At first, our goal was simple. We wanted to learn why Vietnam Veterans have been treated so differently than veterans of any other conflict our nation has fought in. All the stories we have ever heard from Vietnam Veterans have always sounded the same as veterans of other wars. Stories of heroism, courage and sacrifice. Yet, you wouldn’t know that from everything we have been taught.
But a funny thing happened along our journey. For a lot of these men, it was apparent that this was the first time they had ever sat down and talked about the war in the last 46 years. The stories and emotions that have come pouring out have been so raw and visceral, it’s almost like you can reach out and grab them. But when they were done talking, they almost seemed like different people. As if a weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Gone was the man gripping his chair with white knuckles as he talked about the war. In his place was a man who was smiling and thanking us for being the first person to just sit down and listen to them.
That’s when one of weaknesses became a strength. Since we had not lived through the war, we did not have any preconceived ideas heading into the interviews. We didn’t have any stakes in the game so-to-say. We became that impartial ear for the veterans to sit down and talk with. So that’s what we’ve done. We’ve spent the last year sitting down with veterans and letting them tell their stories as we listened. It has been the most fulfilling thing we have ever done.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Right about now, you’re probably wondering, “But if you’ve already done all of these great interviews, what do you need from Kickstarter?” That’s exactly the type of critical thinking we admire. We’re here because in order to prove the healing power of talk, we need to actually go back out and prove the healing power talking about the war had on these veterans. So we’re hitting the road and are going to drive around the US talking to these veterans again. Literally around the US.
It has been almost one year since we talked to most of these men. We’re heading back to sit down with them in their homes and see how the last year has been for them. Have they felt any positive effects of from finally talking about their experiences? Have they talked with their families since then, like some mentioned they wanted to? Would they encourage other veterans to not be afraid to sit down and talk with their relatives? We really don’t know what we’re going to get, but we’re excited to find out!
Who Are These Veterans?
Apache Troop 1/9 was an Air CAV Quick Reaction Force (QRF) tasked with rescuing down helicopter crews and Ranger teams that were being overrun by enemy forces. With the advent of the helicopter, they were able to cover a lot of ground quickly. It also meant they saw combat an average of 5 days a week, every week, for a year. It was also not uncommon for them to complete two or three missions a day.
They were a self contained unit with their own scout ships (The Whites), Gun Ships (The Reds) and infantry (The Blues). Everyday, at first light, the scouts were up and looking for the enemy. If they were found, The Blues were on their way to take care of business.
There’s a Good Chance You’ve Seen Them Before
If you have watched Vietnam War documentaries there is a good chance you have already seen these men. Thanks to a day, March 25th, 1970 to be exact, that Richard Threlkeld was embedded with Apache Troop when they came under attack and Sgt. Kregg Jorgenson was shot while CBS News cameras rolled.
Walter Cronkite called this footage the best combat footage to come out of the entire war. That means it has popped up in countless documentaries whenever they needed to show combat, no matter if it was in the right context or not (it’s usually not). Sgt. Jorgenson told us that he has seen this so many places, he feels he’s been shot in almost every section of Vietnam in several different years.
The key that we have that we have over any other documentary out there is we have actually tracked down every living soldier in this video and documented the real story of what happened that day as well as what happened after that Medevac helicopter flew away. Spoiler Alert: Sergeant Jorgenson did not go home. He checked himself out of the hospital and went back to his unit.
Here are the men we have talked to:
These men all served with honor and dignity. They deserve to have their stories heard. But we want to make sure to point out that no matter how far we drive and how many people we talk to, we will never be able to cover it all. For every story we will be able to tell, there are thousands more out there that deserve to be heard.
Who Are We To Pull This Off?
We’re a few guys with nothing but our hopes and dreams, a pinch of moxie and a whole lot of sheer will to get this done. As well as a bit of experience making movies.
Here is an example of our work. Our short film, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD that we toured the festival circuit with in 2015
It was driving to a film festival for this film that Kregg and Dave started talking more about his service in Vietnam. The stories were so vivid, so amazing, and so different that anything Dave had ever heard about the war that he decided then and there that a they had to make a movie about these men. And here we are.
Why Kickstarter ?
We have been able to accomplish a lot with the aforementioned moxie and sheer will, but we can’t do it all by ourselves. As an example of the scope of this project, here are all the states we will have set foot in by the time we are done filming.
We are about 70% of the way through production. With this trip, we will be ready to head to post-production. Unfortunately, 5 week long, 8,000 mile road trips are not inexpensive. Here is how the funds from this campaign will be spent.
Thank you for taking the time to read through our campaign. We hope we have moved you to want to donate to this project. We can do this with your help. We can get these men’s incredible stories out there to be heard. Hopefully, with your help, we will also be able to encourage others to speak to the veterans in their lives and that that will make the world just a little bit better of a place. Because no matter how much time has passed by… it is never too late to talk
Thank you for your consideration. Please follow us on social media to stay current on our progress:
TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION
Your donation is tax deductible!!! APACHE BLUES: The Soldiers Unknown is a fiscally sponsored project of the International Documentary Association (IDA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions on behalf of APACHE BLUES: The Soldiers Unknown are payable to IDA and are tax deductible less the value of any goods or services received, as allowed by law. The value of goods and services being offered is noted under each donation level. If you would like to deduct the entire donation you have the option to simply decline the reward at check out.
Risks and challenges
Driving this many miles on the road comes with an inherent amount of risks.
– Mechanical Problems
– Theft Out of Our Vehicle
We will take preventative actions where we can. The car will be brought into the shop immediately before the trip to make sure it’s in the best shape possible. We unload the car in full every night and park where we can see the car while eating lunch. We also try to find that dividing line between cheap, affordable hotels and the ones where you feel like you need to take shifts watching the door each night.
As for accidents, you just do what you can do to drive safely and avoid idiots as much as possible.
Planning a trip like this is like putting together a huge house of cards. We have to plan our driving days, where we are going to be and how that works trying to coordinate the schedules of a lot of different individuals. There is always the chance that someone’s schedule is not going to work with ours. That has not been the case so far on this project, knock on wood, and we continue to be proactive to work with everyone’s schedule.
There’s also always the chance that we could forget Dustin somewhere along the route if we forget whose day it was to watch him. However, we would like to think that we would notice right away if we were missing the 6’5″ guy with a mohawk who was supposed to be in the passenger seat.
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Posted by VTN on March 16, 2017, With 0 Reads, Filed under Life, Of Interest, Vietnam War (1955-1975). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.