'Assault on VA-33' director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Christopher Ray is a Navy veteran film director behind the new action movie ‘Assault on VA-33.’ He was a Deck Sea Man, Quartermaster and photographer during his active duty years. Ray made the film with hopes of opening a conversation on veteran issues such as PTS. People can experience an emotional or mental health crisis due to a wide range of situations. For veterans, these crises can be heightened by their experiences during military service. If you or someone you know may be in crisis or need support, please contact the Veterans Crisis Line. The Veterans Crisis Line provides free, confidential support and crisis intervention — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Simply call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

To learn more about Assault on VA-33, We Are The Mighty had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Ray for an exclusive interview.

That scene where the main character is retelling his experience overseas at his VA appointment was so authentic, so raw. What was it like to direct that?

RAY: You know, two of those guys are vets. One is a vet who just got home and it was something he needed to do. We asked him if he was going to be okay with it because he’s going to be the guy missing the arm. It was one of those situations where you just have to step away for a minute. What we did was very authentic; the smoke and you can’t really see anything. We actually got the rest of the crew out while we filmed two of the actors together. It was definitely unnerving to say the least. It turned out really well.

One of the first thoughts I had watching the movie was ‘Wait a minute. That’s Conner from Boondock Saints!’ Veterans love the hell out of Sean Patrick Flanery, how did you end up casting him?

Sean Patrick Flannery during filming of Assault on VA-33.
Sean Patrick Flannery during filming of Assault on VA-33. (Courtesy of Paramount & Saban Films.)

RAY: A good friend of mine, Richard Gabai, is good friends with him. Looked at the script, thought this actor would be great. I looked him up and it was amazing. Working with Sean was great. He would show up and everything he added helped the film. He is an amazing actor and an amazing person.

How did you navigate the redtape of the VA for filming?

RAY: It was one of those things where since the VA-33 doesn’t exist and we’re bringing attention to something people forget about it was easier. Even though it is an action film, we try to focus on this often enough where we had signs that said ‘If you have a problem, reach out’ and actual hotline phone numbers throughout the film. It was important to have that message along with the action film.

The movie is filled with action stunts. What was your favorite moment during production with the crew?

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
(On set image courtesy of Paramount & Saban Films.)

SRAY: ean Patrick Flanery vs Mark Dacascos. The actors were having a good time, the crew was having a good time. That fight sequence was a major highlight.

Are ‘Red appointments’ a real thing?

RAY: It is. We change the name so we didn’t have any [OPSEC] issues with it. The evaluation of different soldiers are sometimes done by private psychiatrists is a real thing.

What’s next for you as a director?

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
(On set image courtesy of Paramount & Saban Films.)

RAY: I produce a lot of films for lifetime and hallmark. I also have a series coming out called FraXtur. We’re finishing that now – two other films in the works [too]. To vets, look us up, we’re hiring veteran cameramen. We try to bring in as many vets as we can. If anyone is interested. I have no problem with anyone emailing me or seeking me out. Come out! Work hard! That’s how people get going in this business.

Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of We Are The Mighty?

RAY: Give it a run and have a good time with this. It was a fun film to work on and make. We also want to make sure that we bring enough attention to the need, different actions one can make, and how to do it. There’s help out there and even though it was fun filming an action movie, we are not making light of what the film is about.

Paramount and Saban Films’ ASSAULT ON VA-33 arrived in select theaters April 2 and On Demand and on Digital April 6. The action/thriller is directed by Christopher Ray (“FraXtur”) and stars Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints), Michael Jai White (“Black Dynamite”), Mark Dacascos (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Rob Van Dam (“WWE Raw”), Weston Cage Coppola (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) and Gina Holden (Final Destination 3).

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This Army vet is crazy motivated

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  Former NFL player and Army Veteran Daniel Rodriguez seeks out battlefields.

Enlisting after the untimely death of his father, Rodriguez served grueling deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, survived heavy action and the loss of comrades, and returned stateside with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star — all by age 19.

Battling PTSD, Rodriguez reinvented himself as a college football player, joining the Clemson University team and eventually going on to play pro with the St. Louis Rams. Continuing to master the improbable, he wrote a bestselling autobiography about his experience entitled “Rise: A soldier, a dream and a promise kept.”

And now he’s reinventing himself again, having just signed to play pro soccer in Europe. You might think you’re motivated, but sorry, not like this dude.

“If I had any one of my friends that could be here today that were killed, what excuse would they make to not want to be with their loved one, to not want to be productive, to not want to do something one more day if they had the opportunity to.”

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
Dust, and where to eat it. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Rodriguez invited Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis to spend a day with him on the off-season training pitch, a battlefield that would soon test the limits of Curtis’ athletic prowess. Not content to merely survive a session in the sh*t in Rodriguez Boot Camp, Curtis attempted to recapture some manhood by asserting his prerogative to throw down the now familiar Oscar Mike Challenge.

The results were all too typical.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
For a brief moment, things looked promising for Curtis. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Watch as Rodriguez shows Curtis how to put some twinkle in his toes and where he can shove his “spinning cartwheel block” in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

This is why you don’t challenge an ex-sniper to a duel

Watch this Vietnam War vet school a young soldier in stunt driving

This is what happens when you put a sailor in a stock car

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 veterans making great television

Stories of heroism have been a fascination for humans for as far back as we can trace our sentient history. From ancient tales like The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Iliad to modern blockbusters like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, war stories permeate our culture and entertainment.

It’s especially poignant when warfighters themselves share their own experiences. As military veterans transition from their service to a career in the arts, so too do the military stories themselves begin to morph, adding insight into the warrior that hasn’t always been associated with the archetype.

It can be easy to place the hero on a pedestal, but it is critical to remember that every war story is, at its core, a story about mankind. With this in mind, stories told from the perspectives of the veterans themselves carry with them the authenticity and the humanity of the military.

These are five veteran storytellers to watch in the coming months:


“SEAL Team” partners with former special forces for guidance

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Tyler Grey, U.S. Army Ranger

“What we’re trying to do as a group is make something that’s not real, obviously, but to make something that’s authentic and feels authentic,” said Tyler Grey about SEAL Team on CBS. Former Army Ranger Tyler Grey was, in his own words, “blown up on a nighttime raid in Sadr City, Baghdad, in 2005.” He was medically retired after sustaining a critical injury to his arm, which still bears the scars from that attack.

Now, he gets to use his training and experience to help tell the stories of U.S. Navy SEALs. His role on SEAL Team has ranged from consultant to actor to producer. This season, Grey tackled another title: Director. He helmed Season 3 Episode 10, which will mark his first foray into television directing.

Also: We need to talk about this week’s ‘SEAL Team’ death

How Amazon’s ‘Jack Ryan’ series will stay true to Tom Clancy’s books | Comic-Con

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Graham Roland, U.S. Marine Corps

After his military service, U.S. Marine Graham Roland started his writing career working for iconic projects like LOST, Fringe, and Prison Break. In 2018, he released Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon with co-Showrunner Carlton Cuse.

“I may never do a show that big again, in terms of budget,” he told We Are The Mighty. “We shot all over the world, on five continents. It was awesome and a huge learning experience. It was a huge property and there were a lot of people involved with a lot at stake.”

After creating a second season of the successful show, Roland has now shifted his focus to a new project with HBO that is based on the Navajo Nation in the 1970s.

Related: This Marine’s epic journey from service to ‘LOST’ to ‘Jack Ryan’

Fox has given a put pilot commitment to #ChainOfCommand, a one-hour drama from writer April Fitzsimmons, @jamieleecurtis, Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. TVhttps://deadline.com/2019/10/fox-drama-chain-of-command-april-fitzsimmons-jamie-lee-curtis-greg-berlanti-put-pilot-1202766505/ …

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April Fitzsimmons, U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force veteran April Fitzsimmons is writing Chain of Command, a Fox pilot that will tell the story of “a young Air Force investigator with radical crime-solving methodology who returns to her hometown to join a military task force that doesn’t want her, a family who has traumatized her, and must confront the secrets that drove her away,” reports Deadline.

This isn’t the first adventure into military storytelling for Fitzsimmons, whose credits also include Doom Patrol, Valor, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Justice. She is also the director of the Veterans Workshop at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, where she mentors veterans as they write and perform original monologues that deconstruct the idea of a hero.

She’s also a mentor for the Veterans Writing Workshop at the Writers Guild Foundation, paying it forward to a community of future writers who served.

ABC Developing Navy Flight School Drama Produced By Freddie Highmore http://dlvr.it/RFmSGy pic.twitter.com/0iDHPb6V4n

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David Daitch, U.S. Navy

After his active duty service in the United States Navy, David Daitch joined the Naval Reserves and started working as a technical advisor and a writer. Together with his writing partner, Katie J. Stone, Daitch’s writing credits include USA’s Shooter and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. In October 2019, Deadline announced that Daitch’s next endeavor will be Adversaries, a drama that centers on the leader of the Navy’s Top Gun fighter pilot school in Key West.

Daitch and Stone have teamed up with Sean Finegan to write and executive produce the pilot, with Freddie Highmore producing. Adversaries will tackle the intensity of the male-dominated pilot training environment.

Our writer for the finale…. Brian Anthony and our very own @monty11bravo who was an actor this evening @NBCNightShift #NightShiftpic.twitter.com/3RHTsnFxKj

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Brian Anthony, U.S. Army

U.S. Army vet Brian Anthony has a steady career in service of adding authenticity to film and television’s portrayal of the military. Most notably, he has been a producer and writer for series like FBI and The Night Shift, the latter of which notably created an episode that was both written and directed by military veterans and featured them in multiple guest roles on camera.

Anthony also serves as a mentor for the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Workshop, where he helps his fellow vets develop their writing careers.

Featured Image: David Boreanaz and Tyler Grey in SEAL Team (CBS Image)

MIGHTY MOVIES

Air Force veteran’s honest reaction to ‘Captain Marvel’ trailer

The first official Captain Marvel trailer finally dropped, teasing one of Marvel’s most anticipated new films — and its new hero, whom the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, has touted as Marvel’s most powerful yet. Needless to say, it’s an exciting time for nerds.

Warning: Potential Captain Marvel and Avengers 3 and 4 spoilers ahead.


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‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

She walks away from this, btw.

The opening sequence drops Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers out of the sky and onto a Blockbuster video store, reminding the audience that this film takes place in the 90s — which is also why we’re going to be seeing some classic Air Force fighters instead of newer (sexier?) stealth jets, like the F-22 or F-35.

Related: Why I’m thrilled Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Don’t call it a Fighting Falcon. NO ONE CALLS IT A FIGHTING FALCON.

(Still from ‘Captain Marvel’ trailer by Marvel Studios)

U.S. Air Force Captain Carol Danvers flew the F-16 Viper before becoming a part-Kree, part-human intergalactic superhero…

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

“You see, an explosion spliced my DNA with a Kree alien named Mar-Vell so now I call myself Captain Marvel and I can fly and shoot energy bursts out of my hands and stuff.”

Captain Marvel is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first film to star a female superhero, but it won’t be an origin story. When this film begins, Carol already has her powers and works with Starforce, described in Entertainment Weekly as the “SEAL Team Six of space.”

Once on earth, she finds herself with questions about her past.

“I keep having these memories. I see flashes. I think I had a life here but I can’t tell if it’s real.”

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

That’s kind of how my active-duty memories look — except with a lot more paperwork and despair.

The trailer shows what appear to be Carol’s memories, including her military training and time on active duty. Here, we get a peek at Maria “Photon” Rambeau, Carol’s closest friend and, we’re guessing, wingman.

Maria also has a daughter named Monica — whom comic book fans will know as an iteration of Captain Marvel, among others. By the time the events in Avengers 4 come around, Monica will be an adult. We know that Nick Fury’s last act before Thanos dusted him was to page Captain Marvel (yes — with a pager… because of the 90s? I don’t know how that inter-dimensional/time-traveling/vintage technology works yet).

So far, fans have only been able to speculate where Carol has been since the 90s, but a favorite theory includes Ant-Man (who was also absent during the fight against Thanos) and a time vortex.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Keep the wings level and true, ladies.

(Still from ‘Captain Marvel’ trailer by Marvel Studios)

Both Larson and Lynch spent time with Air Force pilots, flying in F-16s, learning how to carry their helmets, and how to properly wear the flight suit (except I know — I know — those actors had tailored flight suits and it’s not fair and I’m bitter because my flight suit looked like they threw a pillow case over a guitar and called it a uniform).

We definitely see some of Cadet Danvers’ determination (and disregard of safety protocols). I remember climbing ropes, but, like, not 20-foot ropes?

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Let’s hope that last bit was about healing TBIs, am I right?

As superhero films get bigger and better, expanding the mythology from the hero who saves the city to the hero who saves the universe with unparalleled powers and abilities, it’s a point of pride to see a hero begin exactly the way they do here at home: with a calling to serve.

Back in the 90s, Carol Danvers was just a kid who graduated high school and decided to attend the United States Air Force Academy. She decided to serve her country. She worked her ass off and became a pilot — a fighter pilot, no less. It’s the most competitive career choice in the United States Air Force.

All of that happened before her she gained her superpowers.

Captain Marvel is going to be about Marvel’s most powerful superhero yet, but at its heart, the film is about a girl who felt the call to serve — it’s going to be exciting to watch her do just that.

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What Hollywood gets wrong about military stories

EDITOR’S NOTE: This op/ed by We Are The Mighty co-founder and CEO David Gale originally appeared on the Hollywood Reporter website on May 22, 2017.


In honor of National Military Appreciation Month in May, I decided to re-watch William Wyler’s 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives, which follows three WWII servicemen facing the challenges of transitioning to civilian life. The film won seven Academy Awards, including best picture, and proves that a well-told, honest and authentic story is still the most powerful way to instill empathy and provide some understanding of even the most complex emotions and human experiences.

While our military is still a quintessential part of American culture, today’s Hollywood rarely gets it right, often resorting to stereotypes and common tropes to portray veterans as either dysfunctional misfits or larger-than-life heroes. Perhaps this misconception is an expected result when less than 1 percent of our population is currently in uniform. Those who come home to work in the entertainment industry, are more likely to be offered jobs making coffee and copying scripts, than to encounter an employer who authentically appreciates and values the leadership, skills and responsibilities of military service.

While there is a handful of successful vets in this business, most notably Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCU, in my 30 years in entertainment, I never met an executive who served in the military and who has responsibility for making important creative decisions. This, even though we have been at war for 16 years and millions of veterans have returned home. While some studios and networks have helpful veteran hiring programs, and nonprofits such as Veterans in Film and Television are there to support veterans who work in this industry, there are few clear paths for vets to move into the creative and executive ranks of the business.

On the contrary, the cast and crew of The Best Years of Our Lives had veterans in nearly every major creative position. Wyler, the director, served in the Army National Guard; actor Fredric March served in the Army; the author of the book on which the film was based, MacKinlay Kantor, was a war correspondent who flew on bombing missions over Europe; Robert Sherwood, the screenwriter, fought with the Royal Highlanders of Canada; and Daniel Mandell, the film’s Academy Award winning editor, served in the Marines. Gregg Toland, the film’s acclaimed cinematographer, was a lieutenant in the Navy’s camera department; he also co-directed with John Ford a documentary about the attack on Pearl Harbor. And, of course, Harold Russell, who won the best supporting actor Oscar, was a WWII veteran and double hand amputee.

War and homecoming are undoubtedly part of the American experience, yet according to a study conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, 84 percent of post-9/11 veterans believe that the American public has no understanding of the difficulties facing this current generation of veterans and military families. While we cannot expect the average person to comprehend what it is like to serve in the military, we can expect the media to do more to find and empower the storytellers who have served. Making sure veterans have more opportunities to play meaningful roles in entertainment and media is the best way for us all to begin to have some understanding of our military community and the challenges they face. This will allow us to discover the kind of extraordinary talent this next great generation has to offer. Not only is this good for our veterans, it is good for business; The Best Years of Our Lives was a huge financial success. In a time of perpetual conflict, in which so few are asked to do so much for so many, getting veterans right is also good for our country.

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The 6 best Hollywood sniper shots ever

Snipers are considered one of the most dangerous warfighters in the battlefield — taking out targets from concealed and undisclosed locations while homing in on prey that has no clue that they’re in the crosshairs.


With many legendary snipers in the history books, Hollywood loves to make movies about the single-shot heroes who man the ranks of America’s martial might.

One of our guilty pleasures is seeing the good guys duke it out with the enemy — either in close hand-to-hand combat or from far off positions with surprise direct head shots from precision shooters.

So check out the Hollywood sniper shots that we often rewind, rewatch and relive the awesomeness time and time again.

1. The 2,100-yards-out

With so many badass moments we saw in the movie “American Sniper,” one single sniper shot stands out the most. This Clint Eastwood-directed war tribute features an epic duel — sniper vs. sniper — between Bradley Cooper’s legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his insurgent nemesis.

2. One shot, one kill, no exceptions

Hitting a moving target at distance is crazy complicated. But under the guidance of a Marine sniper — some of the best in the business — you’ll be able to get the confirmed kill as shown in 1993’s “Sniper” directed by Luis Liosa.

3. Right through the eye

Steven Spielberg knows how to tell an effective story, and he did just that directing 1998’s critically-acclaimed “Saving Private Ryan.”

After showing the world how American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, he successfully captured the moment of when Pvt. Jackson (played by Barry Pepper) takes out a German sniper with a perfectly aimed round right through his scope.

4. Female VC Sniper

In most cases, it’s not okay to cheer for the villain, but as Stanley Kubrick showed us in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket,” female snipers can be just as efficient and deadly as the men.

This death shocked viewers as one of our beloved characters made a simple mistake — and paid the price.

5. Pop shot and catch

Sniping is sometimes a team effort – just ask the real Navy SEALs who filled the roles of 2012’s “Act of Valor” who killed the enemy while barely making a sound.

6. 5 Rounds = 5 targets

A sniper’s greatest tool is his power of concealment. Russian-born sharpshooter Vasili Zaytsev (played by Jude Law) used that knowledge as he whacked five unsuspecting Germans in 2001’s “Enemy at the Gates.”

Can you think of any others? Comment below.
MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s why the Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 2 is the worst episode

After leaving us with a fun (probable Boba Fett) easter egg last week, Chapter 10 opens with a meaningless action sequence that has no real consequence other than a long walk for Djarin (Pedro Pascal). The Yoda Baby is definitely going to need therapy if he’s going to be a wise Jedi leader — the kid has been thrown, concussed, and exposed to violence and murder a lot, you guys. Like, a lot.

Spoilers ahead.

Djarin is still searching for some Mandalorians and conveniently, Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) just met a creature who has a lead. “The Frog Lady,” as she’s credited, needs secure passage to rendezvous with her husband in The System in order to fertilize her eggs — and in exchange, her husband will tell Djarin where he might find a Mandalorian cohort.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
OMG there are going to be so many egg-backpacks at Comic-Con next year… (Mandalorian concept art | Disney+)

In the ship, the Yoda Baby is left alone with the eggs and here’s what I wrote in my notes: “I’m legit worried that Yoda Baby will eat the spawn…ew, Jesus, I was right.” This became a running joke(???) throughout the episode that was extremely problematic. The Frog Lady has made it clear that her only hope to prevent extinction is to reunite with her husband so he can fertilize her eggs and they can reproduce. 

In other words, those eggs are her unborn children. To imply that it’s funny or cute that The Child keeps eating them, keeps literally murdering them, is very obtuse coming from a male writer and male director. It makes my skin crawl. Such a crime and violation should be treated with the severity of when Starbuck’s ovary was surgically cut out from her while she was imprisoned by Cyclons in Battlestar Galactica.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
Murder baby. (The Mandalorian | Disney+)

The Frog Lady was dehumanized and her desire to have children was treated as a joke. Considering how few female characters there even are in the series (it has yet to pass the Bechdel Test — though it received praise for hiring female directors), it further displays how tone-deaf stories can be when women are shut out of telling them. 

MOVING ON.

During their space flight, Djarin and his cargo were intercepted by two New Republic X-Wings who started asking too many questions for Djarin’s comfort. In an effort to evade them, he crashed on an ice planet, wrecking the hull of his Razor Crest. While he sought to repair it, his cargo made some decisions.

The Frog Lady decided to take a hot spring dip with her eggs while the Yoda Baby decided to eat some eggs he discovered in the ice caves. Inside the eggs were calamari-looking spiders and the whole scene was disgusting — but not as bad as what came next. 

The hundreds of eggs reacted and began to hatch, joined by creatures Star Wars Rebels fans will recognize as Krykna — giant (ice) spiders.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
Empire Strikes Back concept art depicting Krykna on Dagobah. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Hundreds of Krykna then scuttled after the trio, ranging from babies to horse-sized spiders, to enormous monsters that were heavier than Djarin’s ship. It was tense and gross. They were saved at last by the return of the X-Wings, who had checked in on Djarin’s records and determined that he wasn’t a bad guy. 

After slaying the hordes of Krykna, the pilots left Djarin to repair his ship and limp his shaky way to The Frog Man.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Ughhhh I hate it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘The Last Full Measure’ is the must-see film that honors one of America’s finest

On April 11th, 1966, three companies of the 1st Infantry Division, known as the “Mud Soldiers,” were pinned down by Viet Cong forces outside of Cam My, Vietnam. Pararescuemen of the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron were dispatched to evacuate the wounded. The battle raged and the soldiers were taking a heavy beating.

As if an angel were descending from the heavens, Airman First Class William H. Pitsenbarger, lowered onto the battlefield to tend to the wounded. When given the opportunity to fly back to base, he elected to stay and care for the men he didn’t even know that remained in harm’s way.

He did all he could to save his fellow troops before paying the ultimate price. Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice ensured at least nine men made it home. It took him 34 years to be recognized fully for his incredible actions.

The Last Full Measure faithfully and honestly retells this story — and it’s something that our military community must see and support.


In the aftermath of the battle, Pitsenbarger was awarded the Air Force Cross. However, his fellow PJs and the Mud Soldiers he fought with continued to advocate for the award to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that he was finally bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor for giving, what President Lincoln said during his Gettysburg Address, his last full measure of devotion.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Keep an eye out for Jeremy Irvine. His portrayal of William Pitsenbarger will catapult him far in Hollywood.

(Roadside Attractions)

Written and directed by Todd Robinson, The Last Full Measure follows Scott Huffman, a jaded Pentagon lawyer (played by Sebastian Stan) as he is tasked with upgrading Pitsenbarger’s Air Force Cross to the Medal of Honor at the behest of Pitsenbarger’s fellow pararescueman veteran (played by William Hunt) and father (portrayed by Christopher Plummer).

The story unfolds as Huffman pieces together the gallantry of Pitsenbarger by interviewing the soldiers who had been saved back in Vietnam. Samuel L. Jackson, the late Peter Fonda, Ed Harris, and John Savage each portray the Mud Soldiers and give fantastic performances as they crawl through painful memories. The audience watches the fateful day in Vietnam through flashbacks as the veterans recall being saved by Pitsenbarger (portrayed by Jeremy Irvine).

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Pictured left to right: Kimberly Breyer, producer of Last Full Measure, Sidney Sherman, and Kimberly’s husband Sean Breyer

(Photo by Eric Milzarski)

Kimberly Breyer, the niece of William Pitsenbarger, was in attendance of the world premiere of The Last Full Measure. She told We Are The Mighty,

“This film means people get to hear the very important true stories of my uncle Billy Pitsenbarger, Frank, Alice, and all the people who fought with him. We want as many people who possibly can so these stories keep being told and retold.”

She also noted how true-to-life Christopher Plummer’s portrayal of her grandfather, Frank Pitsenbarger, felt. “When we saw it, especially my grandma Alice, the hair went up on the back of her neck and she started to cry. He makes me miss Frank so much. We’re very grateful to him for how beautifully he portrayed our grandfather on screen and how hard everyone worked for so many years to get this project to come together because it’s so unique in so many ways.”

I

(Photo by Eric Milzarski)

The production covers two key time periods, from the jungles of Vietnam to the halls of the Pentagon. The star-studded cast filmed in the United States and Thailand to portray the retelling of Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice. The film stays away from typical action movie tropes and instead dives deep into the psyche of the troops who returned home. It gives an accurate depiction of what goes on behind-the-scenes when a Medal of Honor is to be awarded. The film helps us understand the excruciating lengths (and sheer volume of bureaucratic red tape) that stands between valor and recognition — and leaves you wondering how many heroes haven’t been given the credit they deserve.

Dale Dye, USMC veteran who served in the Vietnam War and military advisor for many of the greatest war films, played a large role in ensuring the film was as accurate as possible. It’s all the perfectly-captured, little moments that help set the stage.

Dye tells We Are The Mighty,This is a film that goes directly to my heart and soul. And the reason is because it talks about the selfless nature of veterans and the dedication we have towards each other. This is a story of veterans who go to extraordinary lengths to get recognition for one of their own. And that’s the nature of every combat veteran.”

The writer and director of the film, Todd Robinson, tells We Are The Mighty, The military was very bullish about this film. It promotes a career field called pararescue, which promotes saving lives. So it wasn’t hard for them to get behind this film.

The Last Full Measure is a beautiful film that is rare in Hollywood. It’s not an action-packed film made with set pieces for the trailers. It’s not an overly played-out drama that uses war as backdrop. It’s the real-life story of a man who gave his all for his fellow troops and those men fighting tooth-and-nail to get him the honor he deserved.

I can’t recommend this film enough for every veteran, active duty troop, their family, and anyone who’s life has been touched by the actions of these brave men and women.

See it in theaters now.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

“She’s Kim Baker, I’m Kim Barker,” Kim Barker tells me. She’s the New York Times metro reporter and author of The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, on which the Paramount Pictures film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based. Barker is referring to Tina Fey and her performance as Barker’s embedded journalist in Afghanistan.


“I think she did a really good job,” Barker says. “I’ve seen a lot of her performances. Obviously I saw 30 Rock, and this is, I think, the most nuanced performance that she’s ever given. And I’m not just saying it because it’s supposed to be me.”

In Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Fey is a television news copywriter living an ordinary life when her network opts to send a correspondent to Afghanistan. An executive gathers potential reporters fitting a certain profile – those with little to lose – to offer them the position. Fey’s Kim Baker accepts and is quickly in country learning the ropes. She’s green, doesn’t speak any foreign languages, and has no knowledge of Afghan customs.  

There she meets photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), fellow reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), and her restrained, cautious guide Fahim (Christopher Abbott). Baker quickly learns the ropes about reporting on an “embed” (embedding with a military unit) and life in the “kabbuble” (a play on words describing how life for foreign civilians in Kabul is life in a bubble). She also meets Afghan power broker Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina) who takes an immediate liking to Fey’s Kim Baker.

Though there are some combat sequences when Baker embeds with U.S. Marines (led by a Marine officer played by Billy Bob Thornton), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF for short) is not a war movie. The movie is a dramatization of the book, but still remains true to Kim Barker’s wartime experiences. Fans of Barker’s book will find plenty to love in the film.

“They make Tina Fey way braver than I ever was,” Barker says. She adds that adequately recreating the book would be unnecessarily difficult. The narrative arcs are the same. Her interaction with supporting characters are the same. Robert Carlock, a regular 30 Rock writer, and WTF screenwriter, did a lot of independent research on top of Barker’s book.

“All the events depicted in the film happened to me or to someone I know,” Barker says. “I think the movie is a great representation and that’s what I care about most. I want people to see the movie, enjoy the movie, and then think about what the real story behind it was.”

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

The choice to depict Fey’s Baker as a broadcast journalist — as opposed to Kim Barker‘s print reporting for the Chicago Tribune — is an apt choice. The movie tells the broad story of a reporter’s time in Afghanistan, hitting all the significant events, influential characters, and memorable moments in a quick retelling of the real Barker’s experience. The book is written by a print journalist, full of detail, nuance, and explanation, a great primer for truly understanding the tribes and conflicts in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a funny, sharp, yet glossy look at the life of a war reporter covering a very real conflict. It depicts the troubles women have as war reporters and the inequalities women face in the region. The movie shows a journalist’s first ever encounter with U.S. Marines and touches on moments that are at times funny and at times trying, just like many war zone experiences. Viewers may walk away wanting something more, and they will be able to get that something from the Barker’s book, which the reporter wanted all along.  

Originally published 2016.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why ‘The Black Widow’ might reboot the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel officially announced its massive upcoming slate that will kick off phase 4 of the MCU starting with “The Black Widow” solo movie coming to theaters May 1, 2020. Black Widow finally getting her own movie should come as no surprise, as the superspy is one of the OG Avengers and is played by Scarlett Johansson, one of the biggest actresses in the world.

However, there is one big potential problem: Black Widow is, for lack of a better word, dead, as she sacrificed herself to help the other Avengers get a hold of the Soul Stone. Obviously, this means that “The Black Widow” will be an origin story set in the past but it also begs the question: could “Black Widow” being the first movie in phase 4 mean that the MCU is finally ready to embrace the multiverse?


Confused? Well, it’s possible that “The Black Widow” could just be a standalone origin film but given the interconnectivity of the MCU, that feels unlikely. “Captain Marvel,” the last movie before “Endgame,” took place in the 90s but it still managed to connect itself to the larger narrative (“Captain America” did the same thing). This makes it feel highly unlikely that “Black Widow” will be a stand-alone story that marks the end of Johansson’s time with Marvel, especially considering the fact that it has been chosen as the movie to start the post-Iron Man and Captain America era of the MCU.

This is where the multiverse comes into play because it could potentially allow the titular secret agent to find her way back into the story while also finally opening up the MCU to other universes. The MCU has been hinting at the multiverse theory for a long time, most recently via Mysterio in “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” but so far, it has only dipped its toes into the complex tapestry of parallel realities.

The multiverse theory makes even more sense when you look down the rest of the phase 4 schedule, as a lot of the upcoming shows and movies seem to suggest the possibility of alternative universes, as they are packed with dead members of the MCU. Loki, who died in “Infinity War,” will be getting his own show in 2021, while Vision, who was murdered by Thanos, is set to have a major role in “WandaVision,” another show set to air on Disney+.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
(Disney/Marvel)

Is Marvel just getting really into prequels? Maybe (although Vision and Wanda don’t meet until Ultron so that doesn’t really make sense) but how would that explain “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?” At this point, Marvel is basically winking at comic book fans with its seeming embrace of the multiverse.

So when “Black Widow” hits theaters next year, don’t be surprised if its a badass espionage flick that also sets the foundation of the Avengers diving deep into the wonderfully weird world of the multiverse. This would open it up to infinite possibilities, including rebooting storylines and bringing back characters who are currently dead.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The top 5 armies of the future in cinema

Hollywood has the ability to spark every veteran’s imagination and when the big screen explores what future militaries may become, it’s enough to make even the most content retiree dream of taking the oath all over again.


Let’s explore the fantastic armies any veteran would love to be a part of.

Related: 4 military movies whose hero should be dead

5. Imperial Klingon Wehrmacht – Star Trek

Now, they aren’t human, but they are badass. A Spartan-esque class of alien warriors whose greatest pride is their fighting lineage.

 

As for leadership, well, if the captain of any Klingon vessel is seen as too weak or unable to perform, it’s the first officer’s duty to kill him and take his place.

4. United Defense Force – The Edge of Tomorrow

It’s not the leadership, tactics, or the personnel’s esprit de corps that makes this future army enviable, it’s the standard-issue armaments that make us wargasm.

 

Mech-warriors. They issue you the tech to become a f*cking mech-warrior.

3. The Resistance – Terminator 2

 

They were all that was left of humanity after Skynet nuked the planet, leaving only the hardest humans to band together under the game-changing leadership of John Connor.

2. The U.S. Colonial Marine Corps – Aliens

If you haven’t dreamed of being a part of this platoon of barrel-chested, xenomorph-eradicating, smoke-breathing badasses, then you either haven’t seen Aliens or you are wrong.

 

Also Read: If you need a spouse, this is what the Marines would issue

1. Mobile Infantry – Starship Troopers

The source material for this sci-fi classic is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ reading list for Valhalla’s sake. Everyone fights and no one quits in this testament to warrior virtue.

 To quote the son of President Gerald Ford (who plays a character in the movie),

“We are going in with the first wave! Just means more bugs for us to kill. You smash the entire area. You kill anything that has more than two legs, you get me?!”

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s what ‘Project Blue Book’ creator, David O’Leary, has to say about UFOs

Project Blue Book is a mystery series about U.S. Air Force-sponsored investigations into UFOs from the early 1950s to the late 1960s. Dr. Allen Hynek teams up with Captain Michael Quinn to gather evidence to explain a plethora of phenomenons happening across the United States. I had the opportunity to sit down with the Creator of the series, David O’Leary, for an interview.

The show’s third episode premieres tonight, January 22, at 10/9c on HISTORY.


New UFO Drama Series “Project Blue Book”: First Look Trailer I HISTORY

www.youtube.com

What inspired you to write on the topic of UFOs?

UFOs have been a lifelong passion for me, to be honest. I grew up in New York City and I remember going to E.C.E.T. as a little kid and leaving Reese’s Pieces on my window sill. When I was nine years old, I dragged my father to see this famous UFO encounter movie called Communion, [which is] a book that they turned into a movie starring Christopher Walken. I dragged my father to this scary, real-life abduction movie when the it came out in 1989.

Given the fact that, in many cases, people are embarrassed or reluctant to talk about [their experiences,] I very quickly came to assess, these are not attention-seekers looking a weird form of fame, but they genuinely encountered something strange and they’re trying to make sense of it.

My focus, initially, was sort of present day, what was happening with UFOs in the 80s and 90s — that’s when I really started to educate myself. America has this sort of strange and mysterious history in regards to this phenomenon. You can’t look at that without looking at the premier official investigation into UFOs, which was of course, Project Blue Book.

It baffled me that, for 17 years, between 1952 and 1969, the U.S. Air Force was officially looking into these matters and going out there and investigating cases. What baffled me even more was the fact that the chief scientific adviser of Project Blue Book, a civilian astrophysicist who is a complete UFO skeptic with a trained eye, tries explain what people are seeing in the sky and emerges on the other side as a believer. Not only in the notion that UFOs represent an intelligence in our skies that we have yet to understand, but also in the fact that Project Blue Book was, in part, a disinformation campaign.

He spent the rest of his life going out there and investigating cases and wrote several books on the subject.

I thought, what if we did a television show rooted in fact, where every week we looked into these different cases that happened and examine them just like Hynek examined them in Project Blue Book?

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

(HISTORY)

The cast includes many high-ranking officers who deny Hynek’s findings. How true-to-life are these responses from the military?

Very accurate. One of the people I was able to meet was the last living director of Project Blue Book, his name is Lt. Colonel Robert Frend. He was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II and he’s 98 years old. He worked with Hynek and Project Blue Book. He was instrumental in the information on a day-to-day basis — what did Project Blue Book look like? How did it function? How did they get reports? How did it work when they went to examine cases? How did cases come in?

He spoke to high-ranking men who could come and go as they please that would take their files, examine their files, and change their files. [On one hand,] there was the public face of Project Blue Book and then there were the generals who controlled Project Blue Book with their own agenda. Our main characters are the men stuck in the middle.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

(HISTORY)

These sightings began at the start of the Cold War. Did our deadlock between the Soviet Union influence the decisions to keep the investigations classified?

Oh yeah, majorly. UFOs, even during World War II — they would call them “foo fighters” then — both sides of the conflict were seeing things in the sky. Each side was convinced that the other side had some sort of technology that would emerge once the war was over. The war ended and nobody claimed responsibility for what they were seeing. Certainly, as we move into the 50s, five or six years after World War II, most historians believe that that’s when the modern UFO era began — Roswell, Kenneth Arnold, “flying saucers” was coined, all that. It became again this notion of: Is what we’re seeing in our sky some sort of weaponry? Aircraft? Intelligence-gathering device that the other side has that we’ve miscategorized?

A lot of sightings would occur over military bases and weapons tests and that was a genuine fear. “Oh my gosh, the Russians have a technology that is surveying our bases!” UFO sightings were also happening in Russia, but they were not as well known. The U.S. Government was the only one that launched an official investigation into these matters, at least at first.

It became this idea that flying saucers might be man-made technology that we couldn’t fathom yet, and that they were built by our enemies. That was just as scary as anything. On the show, we tried to remain true to that aspect of it. Are we dealing with the Russians or not?

US Fighter Jets Encounter Unknown Flying Object [UFO] – With Pilots Audio

www.youtube.com

I’ve worked for the government before and it is incredibly hard for them to admit to investigations, even if they’re declassified. Were there any barriers in your way when you were gathering research for this project?

Fortunately, through the Freedom of Information Act, the Project Blue Book files are now in the National Archives and are searchable online. Although this was not always the case. It used to be, for many many years, the only way to access these files was to literally go to Washington D.C. and ask for them, one at a time.

Another barrier that I think is sort of interesting is that the official [statement] from our government is Project Blue Book. The official answer today is, “Listen, we’ve looked into this matter for 17 years, from 1952 to 1969, until Project Blue Book was closed after it was deemed that UFOs do not pose a threat to National Security.” The Truth is, that’s not when the government stopped investigating UFOs. The New York Times did this incredible piece on the -million-per-year program where they were researching UFOs. It became clear that the seriousness with which the military takes UFOs has never gone away, it’s just been removed from the public sphere all together.

Now they claim that that program is closed as well, but what can you believe if they said this matter was put to rest in 1969 and then you find out as recently as a couple of years ago, there’s another program looking into the matter, too. They were willing to spend million of taxpayer money researching this — and that’s just what we know about. I’m sure there are many others.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

(Wright-Patterson Air Force Base)

There’s a good probability some of our audience may have had grandparents stationed on bases that appear during the show’s timeline. What locations can we expect to see in the arc of the show?

We go to Fargo, North Dakota, to look into a famous case that happened near a military base there. We to go to Texas, West Virginia… I don’t want to give them all away because I want people to be surprised by the cases we examined. Even if we give some of them away in the trailer, we still travel the country. We wanted to showcase the totality of this phenomenon across the country, and we go to Washington D.C. itself at one point.

What I think is nice about each episode is that they end up having a particular flavor to it. If we’re going into the South, you feel it. If we’re in the Pacific North West, you feel it. If we’re in the middle of the country or a big city like D.C., each episode has a different vibe.

Of course, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, plays a huge role [because] that’s where Project Blue Book was based in Dayton, Ohio.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one

Do you personally believe that we are not alone in the universe?

I do, I 100% believe we are not alone in the universe. I think the fact that we’re one planet, orbiting in one solar system, amongst many solar systems, in one galaxy amongst many galaxies says enough. There is a line on the show that I wrote,

“The probability of us being alone in the universe is zero.”

That is something I certainly believe.

[However,] in regards to what UFO themselves are, I keep an open mind. I’m in the Dr. J. Allen Hynek camp of thought. I really do believe that UFOs are real and that they do represent an intelligence in our skies that we have yet to understand. I’m as open to [the idea] as he was, but he never explicitly said “aliens.”

He expresses an extraterrestrial hypothesis among others, such as inter-dimensional phenomenon, time travel, suggesting that UFOs are a life form that evolved on the planet that we are yet to understand, or extraterrestrial artificial intelligence. He lays out all these different theories.

Is there anything you’d like to say to our service members and veterans?

I’m so happy and feel so fortunate that we can talk to you guys as a military representation in film and media. There’s so much show content written [in that area], and I know our actors did a ton of research, especially Michael Malarkey, who plays the young Air Force Captain. He really wanted to understand what it was like being in the Air Force back then — he actually grew up in Ohio and had a friend stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He asked if he could hop into a plane because he needed to know how it feels to really fly and be one of those guys.

I’ve gotten close with Michael Harney, who plays one of our generals on the show. His character was originally inspired by a few different generals and General Hoyt Vandenberg. He went down the rabbit hole: Who are these men? What is it like to be that high-ranking of an official? What kind of weight of the world do they hold?

To the viewers and the readers of We Are The Mighty, we really do make the effort to get the military aspects of the show correct. I’m sure there’s going to be something we failed at, but we did have military advisers.

There are plenty of skeptics, believers, and people in between. The show walks that fine line. Even if people say we went deep into X-Files territory or something like that from the trailer, they will be pleasantly surprised to see not everything is as it seems. There are always two answers to every story because the truth is, simply, we don’t know. The show tries to keep an open mind while rooted in real-life findings.

The third episode of the hit series, Project Blue Book, premieres on HISTORY on January 22 at 10PM PST, 9 central. Be sure to catch new episodes each week as they’re released!

popular

Watch these special operators take on two gamers at the rifle range

For years, gamers have joked among themselves, saying that because they kick ass with a virtual rifle in Call of Duty, they’re probably a good shot in real life. Well, two former Special Forces operators decided to take two professional gamers to the gun club to test that theory.


Our two Special Forces operators really need no introduction to the veteran community: Navy SEAL Mikal Vega and Marine Corps sniper David Lonigro.

Vega served 22 years in the Navy, working with EOD and the SEAL teams. Lonigro spent six years in a Marine Corps special operations unit as a sniper and went on multiple combat deployments.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
Special Ops badasses, David Lonigro and Mikal Vega.

These two motivators went up against a 12-time World Champion gamer in Jonathan Wendel and a Call of Duty pro that goes by the screen name RUNJDRUN.

Because Lonigro and Vega are team players, they gave the gamers a few pointers during a practice round before the real thing commenced. As the timed contest opened, each competitor fired at two different targets, attempting to score accurate kill shots using six rounds total.

First, Wendel took aim and squeezed off his controlled rounds a 67 percent accuracy at a speed of 3.15 seconds.

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
Not bad at all. (Buzzfeed video)

 

On deck next was RUNJDRUN, who also fired at 67 percent accuracy, but at a speed of 4.03. This effort was followed by Vega, who nailed his two targets with 100 percent accuracy at a rate of 4.03 seconds.

 

‘Assault on VA-33’ director Christopher Ray understands veterans, because he is one
This is how experienced Navy SEALS kill the bad guys. (Buzzfeed video)

 

Finally, Marine veteran and talented sniper David Lonigro ended the day with 100 percent accuracy, but had the slowest time of 5.23 seconds. However, snipers are trained to wait to take the shot, so maybe Lonigro used that as a tactical advantage.

Ultimately (and unsurprisingly), the veterans won the shooting competition.

Check out BuzzFeed’s Video below to watch the exciting competition for yourself:

 

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