'CHiPs' gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

In the wake of the Vietnam War, Hollywood didn’t give vets of the controversial conflict a good depiction. The Oscars went to movies like Deer Hunter or Platoon, which did a great job of showcasing the horrors of war, but often made troops appear to be ruthless, cold killers.

On the small screen, however, things were different. Famously, Tom Selleck’s portrayal of Thomas Magnum, a private investigator and former Navy officer, in Magnum, P.I. helped others see vets as tough and virtuous. But a show about motorcycle cops also helped showcase the good side of vets three years before Selleck assumed his iconic role.


CHiPs featured two California Highway Patrol officers, Jon Baker and Francis Llewellyn “Ponch” Poncherello, as played by Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada, respectively. Wilcox got into acting after serving in the Marine Corps for three years, reaching the rank of sergeant and serving for 13 months in Vietnam as an artilleryman. Estrada previously played a small role as the pilot of a F4F Wildcat in the movie Midway.

CHiPs star Larry Wilcox was a Marine artilleryman who served in Vietnam.

(USMC)
CHiPs star Larry Wilcox was a Marine artilleryman who served in Vietnam.
(USMC)

Throughout the show, Baker would occasionally mention his service in Vietnam, including during a third-season episode where he and Ponch had to skydive in order to catch drug smugglers in the act. Wilcox’s portrayal of Baker stands out — because he didn’t play a PTSD-riddled derelict (a popular trend in movies at the time), but instead a productive member of society. In fact, Baker often ended up being more by-the-books in comparison to the flamboyant Ponch.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Wilcox starred in the series ‘CHiPs’ for five seasons and in a 1999 TV reunion movie.
(NBC Television)

The show lasted for six seasons on NBC, with Wilcox playing Baker for five of those. Most of the cast returned for a reunion movie in 1999. By then, Baker had been promoted to captain. Baker, incidentally, was not the only character to portray a Vietnam-era vet. Robert Pine (the father of Chris Pine) played Joe Getraer, the long-suffering sergeant and Navy veteran. Arthur Grossman was also a service vet.

After CHiPs, Wilcox became a producer and continued to act. Today, you can stream CHiPs for free on Amazon Prime.

If you want to take a quick stroll down memory lane, watch the opening and closing credits below.

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY HISTORY

Sebastian Stan stars as US official who risked his career to honor a fallen hero in ‘The Last Full Measure’

Airman 1st Class William “Pits” Pitsenbarger was a Pararescueman during the Vietnam War. Less than a year after receiving orders, he would go on to fly nearly 300 rescue missions and save over 60 men before sacrificing himself to aid others during one of the most brutal battles of an already harsh war. When offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of the combat zone, Pits stayed behind to protect the lives of others and was later killed by Viet Cong snipers.

The Last Full Measure is the long-awaited story of how the men he saved would try to procure him the Medal of Honor — and the dark reason why the American government resisted.

Check out the final trailer, released today:


“The sacrifices of the fallen will never be forgotten,” intones Christopher Plummer, who plays the father of William Pitsenbarger. The Last Full Measure, written and directed by Todd Robinson, also stars Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and William Hurt.

“Todd Robinson’s riveting drama chronicles one man’s sacrifice and valor on the battlefield, and we believe it also highlights an aspect of American patriotism overdue for recognition. Everyone should know about William Pitsenbarger’s bravery and life, and it’s a privilege to bring this film to theaters where it should be seen,” said Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff, as reported by Deadline.

Pits was initially posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, becoming the first enlisted Airman to receive it, before it was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

William “Pits” Pitsenbarger

(U.S. Air Force photo)

Medal of Honor Citation

“Airman First Class Pitsenbarger distinguished himself by extreme valor on April 11, 1966 near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, while assigned as a Pararescue Crew Member, Detachment 6, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On that date, Airman Pitsenbarger was aboard a rescue helicopter responding to a call for evacuation of casualties incurred in an on-going firefight between elements of the United States Army’s 1st Infantry Division and a sizable enemy force approximately 35 miles east of Saigon. With complete disregard for personal safety, Airman Pitsenbarger volunteered to ride a hoist more than one hundred feet through the jungle, to the ground.

On the ground, he organized and coordinated rescue efforts, cared for the wounded, prepared casualties for evacuation, and insured that the recovery operation continued in a smooth and orderly fashion. Through his personal efforts, the evacuation of the wounded was greatly expedited. As each of the nine casualties evacuated that day were recovered, Pitsenbarger refused evacuation in order to get one more wounded soldier to safety. After several pick-ups, one of the two rescue helicopters involved in the evacuation was struck by heavy enemy ground fire and was forced to leave the scene for an emergency landing. Airman Pitsenbarger stayed behind, on the ground, to perform medical duties.

Shortly thereafter, the area came under sniper and mortar fire. During a subsequent attempt to evacuate the site, American forces came under heavy assault by a large Viet Cong force. When the enemy launched the assault, the evacuation was called off and Airman Pitsenbarger took up arms with the besieged infantrymen. He courageously resisted the enemy, braving intense gunfire to gather and distribute vital ammunition to American defenders. As the battle raged on, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to care for the wounded, pull them out of the line of fire, and return fire whenever he could, during which time, he was wounded three times. Despite his wounds, he valiantly fought on, simultaneously treating as many wounded as possible.

In the vicious fighting which followed, the American forces suffered 80 percent casualties as their perimeter was breached, and airman Pitsenbarger was finally fatally wounded. Airman Pitsenbarger exposed himself to almost certain death by staying on the ground, and perished while saving the lives of wounded infantrymen. His bravery and determination exemplify the highest professional standards and traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Air Force.”

He was also posthumously awarded the rank of Staff Sergeant. Other awards and medals include the Air Force Cross, the Airman’s Medal, and two Purple Hearts. His name can be found on Panel 06E Line 102 of the Vietnam Wall.

Following the battle, Pitsenbarger’s fellow PJ’s and soldiers who he saved in combat embarked on an over 30 year effort to upgrade his Air Force Cross to a Medal of Honor. In the trailer, William Hurt, who plays a fellow PJ, describes the situation as “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Finally, in 2000, Pitsenbarger received the Medal of Honor in a cermony attended by his parents, fellow veterans and the Secretary of the Air Force. The Last Full Measure will release in theaters on January 24th, 2020.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The 2018 VETTY Awards recognized exemplary service to the veteran community

In acknowledgement of veterans that have gone beyond their call of duty, the 3rd annual VETTY awards recognized marquee veterans that have exemplified ongoing public service and advocacy efforts, and who have demonstrated exceptional contribution and service to the veteran community in 2017.


Chief Washington Correspondent and CNN anchor journalist, Jake Tapper, hosted the event, held Jan. 20 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Seda Goff accepting the VETTY for Employment on behalf of Bunker Labs with Mark Rockefeller and Sofia Pernas.

Tapper is known for his vocal advocacy of the veteran community and his book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor debuted at number 10 on The New York Times Bestseller list.

His work reporting on veterans earned him the “Tex” McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Esteemed speakers and presenters for the red carpet event included Marine Corps and Navy veteran Montel Williams of The Montel Williams Show, and actress Anne Heche, series lead of the hit NBC military drama, The Brave .

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Montel Williams gives a passionate speech to the VETTY audience.

During Williams speech, he recognized what an honor it is to be a United States military veteran.

“I get the opportunity to travel around this country on a daily basis—and there is nothing prouder in my life—or world—than to be able to step up and say that I am a veteran.”

Williams also empathized with his fellow veterans about where some Americans choose to share their loyalty.

“It bothers me… but… last week another awards show had 25 million people watching—but none of those people would have the right to get an award without the people sitting in this room.”

His comments were met by a roar of applause—but how fitting his comments considering the audience.

Winners Of The 3rd Annual VETTY Awards

Mental Health: Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc.

Education: Dustin Perkins | Director of Marketing | Student Veterans of America

Leadership: Sarah Verardo | Executive Director | The Independence Fund

Employment: Bunker Labs

Community: National Veterans Legal Services Program

Honorary VETTY: Steven D. Vincent | Senior Business Development Manager | tiag® (The Informatics Applications Group, Inc.)

Honorary VETTY: George A. Chewning, II | Director of Governmental Affairs | Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation

Among the VETTYs attendees were respected veterans and mil-spouse entrepreneurs that dedicate their lives to supporting a community—a community that is first to support our great nation—but reserved when is comes to applause.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
VETTY attendees dressed in their best for a night of recognizing incredible veterans.

Presenting at this year’s awards were not only celebrities like Emmy-winning actress Shohreh Aghdashloo and Mike Vogel of NBC’s The Brave , but also veterans such as Army veteran and former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper, Nate Boyer, and Air Force veteran and the CEO of Streetshares, Mark Rockefeller.

Another notable presenter was Navy SEAL, Shark Tank success story, and CEO of Bottle Breacher, Eli Crane—a man that has been vocal in his support of the United States and his veteran comrades through today’s troubling political environment.

Crane was seen with Marine Corps veteran Eric Mitchell of LifeFlip Media, Navy SEAL veteran Sal DeFranco and his wife Dana of Battle Grounds Coffee , and Marine Corps veteran Travis McVey of Heroes Vodka.

The Academy of United States Veterans (AUSV) established the annual VETTY awards in 2015 to recognize the most impactful entities that contribute to the well-being of the veteran community.

The AUSV was founded with one principle in mind: the importance of public service.

They inspire veterans who have found their purpose in serving their country—and hopes to encourage a culture where caring for one another is not considered a duty, but a joy.

In respects to their principals, the AUSV has pledged to donate a portion of the evening’s profits to helping restore the livelihoods of our fellow citizens who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricanes 2017.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Film Review: “The Gentlemen” is a perfect tonic for election night burnout

After months watching the presidential election approach, using as much information as possible in making a voting decision, and constantly hearing the same things from the same people some families dug in their heels on election night. Mine was one. 

Nothing was going to be settled early on election night, so why watch the same talk over and over? Therefore, my family suggested to take a break and enjoy some entertainment for a few hours instead. I acquiesced and was, after the fact, glad I did.

The Gentlemen,” the latest film from Guy Ritchie, was the perfect antidote and a great way to kill a few hours before turning back into non-stop election news. Although the film was released in January, it was time to revisit it and look at it critically, since I was in the mood. 

First, I have to make a confession. I have always been a huge fan of Guy Ritchie’s films or “fill-ems” as Colin Farrell says (more to that below). “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” are some of my favorites. Ritchie has also directed the Sherlock Holmes series, “The Man from Uncle,” and “King Arthur – Legend of the Sword” with Charlie Hunnam, who also appears in “The Gentlemen.” 

In his movies, Ritchie pays homage to the great spaghetti western director Sergio Leone and to Quentin Tarrantino, two of his biggest influences. In Ritchie’s best films, which center around British gangsters, those two influences shine through.

He often uses a cast of characters with different stories and angles who intersect into each other’s lives (a theme found in Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” and Tarrantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”). His dialogue is snappy and crisp and the characters speak the patois of the streets. They are usually gangsters with Cockney accents that are sometimes almost impossible to decipher.

In “The Gentlemen,” Ritchie returns to the genre that has served him well. An American named Mickey Pearson, excellently portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, is the biggest marijuana dealer in England. He has connections all through Europe to sell his weed, but nobody knows where he gets it from. 

Mickey is number one and everyone is looking to knock him off his perch. Especially when he decides he wants out of the business to spend time with his wife Roz, whom he refers to as a “Cockney Cleopatra” and is ably played by Michelle Dockery.

Yet, the entire story revolves around the slimy, private detective/investigative reporter Fletcher played almost over the top by Hugh Grant. Fletcher has dirt on everybody and thinks he is slick enough and smarter than everyone else that he can blackmail everyone. Meanwhile, he is penning a screenplay and tries to sell it to Miramax Pictures, which not so coincidentally produced this film…a little free advertising. 

Fletcher approaches Mickey’s brilliant right-hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam). At first glance, Ray is the boss’ office nerd, dressing in dress shirts and ties and handling all the office BS. But Ray is not nerdy, he’s just such a badass. He doesn’t have to show how badass he is until the gloves come off. He is somewhat reminiscent of Vinnie Jones’s excellent but slightly different “Bullet-Tooth Tony” in “Snatch.” 

The two main gangsters trying to move in on Mickey’s business are “Dry-Eye,” a Chinese-Cockney gangster who is backdooring his own boss, and “Matthew Berger,” a somewhat stereotypical Jewish double-dealing businessman played by Jeremy Strong. 

When Mickey shows Berger where he grows his ganja that’s when the shit really hits the fan. One of Mickey’s grow labs gets raided by a group of totally badass black MMA fighters who beat the hell out of the crew there and steal all the pot plants. 

Their MMA “Coach” is hilariously played by Colin Farrell who steals every scene he’s in. He is furious at his fighters for what they did because he knows who owns the pot-growing facility. He pleads with Ray not to harm his fighters and vows to make it up to Mickey. He then spends the rest of the film telling everyone that he’s a coach and not a gangster but then acts like a badass gangster. 

Farrell wears these outlandish Tartan plaid tracksuits that just add to his persona. He looks like he had a ball playing this character and it shows through with his performance.

The film builds to a wild climax where all of the pieces tie together. Grant and McConaughey alternate as narrators, but as in Ritchie’s other films, the climax ends up with a lot of violence, including at least one requisite bullet to the back of the head.

The cast is large and talented, and Ritchie blends them all together in his own brilliant fashion.

He gave an interview a while back speaking about how he creates his films and characters.

“My creative process has never been something I can put into words. It’s very random, very scattered and can sometimes lead down dark alleyways and dead ends. What I will say is I think any director needs to immerse himself in both real life and in history to fully open up creative processes. And you must be prepared for the reality that any creative process worth its salt needs to be revised, reworked, and, on occasion, thrown out the window entirely.”

If you are in need of some great action and hilariously funny scenes, check out Ritchie’s latest and greatest, “The Gentlemen.” And you still won’t miss out on any election non-stop talk…

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army wife competes on NBC’s ‘The Titan Games’

When a locked-down America tunes into the May 25 premiere of NBC’s “The Titan Games”, sports-starved viewers may notice a familiar face competing for the title and $100,000 grand prize: Chantae McMillan Langhorst, the track and field Olympian and nude high-jumper for The BODY Issue of ESPN The Magazine.

“One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do “The Titan Games” was its challenges that I have never faced before and will never face again,” McMillan said. “I’m doing obstacles on the show that are strength and cardio all at one time. Each event is over in five minutes, but you’re so fatigued afterward.”


The 32-year-old from Rolla, Missouri knows all about pushing through fatigue. McMillan is not only an elite athlete, but an Army wife to Warrant Officer 1 Devon Langhorst, a helicopter pilot stationed at Fort Rucker, Alabama and mom to 18-month-old Otto. She is also the daughter of two career soldiers.

McMillan competed in the 2012 Olympics in London as a heptathlete and was training for the 2020 Olympic Trials as a javelin thrower when the coronavirus pandemic caused mass cancellations of sporting events. After competing in one track meet in March, organizers of future meets canceled their competitions.

At first, McMillan was unruffled.

“I thought, okay, my next meet will be in May, then trials in June,” she said.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

The Tokyo Olympics and its trials were postponed until 2021. The initial disappointment turned out to be a “blessing in disguise,” she says.

“I was like, ‘Alright, let’s go,'” McMillan said. “It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders, because from March to June I didn’t know if I could be where I wanted to be, so I was kind of stressed out.”

McMillan lost her 64-year-old father in 2015 to appendectomy complications, right before failing to qualify for the 2016 Olympic games. She bounced back, becoming an Army wife and mom in 2018 and switching from heptathlon to javelin, one of her strongest events.

She’s still aiming for Olympic glory — just a year later than originally planned. She and her coach, two-time Olympic hammer thrower Kibwe Johnson, are training her body as if she were throwing her way through a normal season.

“A couple weeks ago, coach asked me where my strength is, and I feel the strongest I’ve felt in years,” McMillan said. “I feel very powerful. Now it’s just translating onto the field. I feel so strong.”

That strength has not gone unnoticed by those outside the track and field world. In November, a casting producer for “The Titan Games” asked McMillan to audition for the show’s sophomore season after seeing her training photos and videos on Instagram.

McMillan auditioned alongside thousands of others to be a competitor. She succeeded and spent the first two weeks of February filming in Atlanta. Not only did she get to meet Dwayne Johnson, the show’s host, McMillan also connected with plenty of fellow athletes.

“It was very amazing, being around so many people who are likeminded and striving to be the best they can,” McMillan said. “It has still carried on to this day to motivate me to be better.”

The show’s obstacles, designed for 13 episodes with entertainment in mind, were vastly different than the pure “run-jump-throw” actions McMillan said she is used to in track and field.

“They’re just weird obstacles that challenge you in ways you never thought you could be challenged,” McMillan said.

This season of NBC’s show pits professional titans like Super Bowl champion Victor Cruz, UFC fighter Tyron Woodley and “American Ninja Warrior” star Jessie Graff against “everyday” athletes like McMillan. Four of the 36 competitors are active-duty military members.

Viewers can expect to be surprised at who makes it to Mt. Olympus, the show’s ultimate event, McMillan said.

“I think people will be able to connect with all of us, the way our stories are going to be told,” she said. “It’s not every day you’re around motivated people like that.”

Visit https://www.nbc.com/the-titan-games for information on upcoming episodes of The Titan Games.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY HISTORY

6 absolute BAMFs who saved lives in Vietnam War

This article is sponsored by The Last Full Measure, now playing in theatres! Get your tickets here.

There are two primary ways to end up a hero on the battlefield: either slay the enemy in such stunning numbers that even Frank Miller starts to think the story sounds exaggerated, or else place your own body in harm’s way repeatedly so as to save the lives of friendly forces (bonus points for doing both).

These six men put themselves in mortal danger to rescue their peers.


‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger poses with his M-16 in front of a rescue helicopter.

(National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)

1. Air Force pararescue joins the ground fight under mortar fire

On April 11, 1966, an Army company became separated and found itself under fierce fire. With mortars landing in their perimeter and machine gun fire racing in, the casualties started to mount. When Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger arrived for the wounded, it quickly became apparent that the infantry was losing the ability to defend itself and conduct medevac at the same time. So, he requested permission to join the ground fight.

In the jungle, he directed the evacuations under fire until it became too fierce for the helicopters to stay. Given a last chance to fly out, Pitsenbarger gave up his seat to a wounded man and stayed on the ground to serve as a medic. Overnight, he kept giving medical aid and resisting the enemy until he succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds.

In September, 1966, he posthumously became the first enlisted airman to receive the Air Force Cross. It was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Now, his bravery and the struggle to have his valor honored at the highest level is set to hit the big screen. Check out the trailer below for The Last Full Measure, landing in theatres on January 24th.

The Last Full Measure Official Trailer | Roadside Attractions

www.youtube.com

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Navy Lt. j.g. Clyde E. Lassen

(U.S. Navy)

2. Navy helicopter pilot turns his lights on in a firefight

When Navy Lt. j.g. Clyde E. Lassen went out on June 19, 1968, he must have known that it was a risky mission: pulling two downed aviators out of a night time firefight.

But when he arrived on site, it was worse than he expected. The downed pilots were repeatedly hampered by thick underbrush, and a firefight was already raging around them. He managed to land his helicopter the first time but the pilots couldn’t get to him. He came to a new spot under an illumination flare, but the flare burned out and Lassen struck a tree in the darkness.

He barely saved his own bird from crashing but, rather than heading home for fuel and repairs, he came back in under another flare. When that burned out, Lassen turned his own lights on, making him a beacon for enemy fire. Doing so let him land long enough to pick up the other pilots and skedaddle for home. He reached the ship with only five minutes of fuel left. He later received the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Army Maj. (Chaplain) Charles Liteky, far right of four men lined up, waits to receive his Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson in 1968.

(White House Photograph Office)

3. Army chaplain goes full beast-mode and rescues infantry

Army Capt. Charles James Liteky was supposed to hang out in the back and administer to the spiritual needs of the infantry, but on Dec. 6, 1967, a large enemy force suddenly assaulted his battalion and one company was nearly overwhelmed — and so the chaplain ran into the machine gun fire to help.

First, Liteky found two wounded men and carried them to safety. Then he went back out and began giving aid to the wounded and last rites to the dying. When he found a wounded man too heavy to carry, he rolled onto his back with the man on his chest and inched his way through heavy fire to safety. He was credited with saving 20 men despite wounds to his own neck and foot. His Medal of Honor was approved the following year.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Allan J. Kellogg, Jr.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

4. Marine rallies his men under machine gun fire, then jumps on grenade

Gunnery Sgt. Allan Jay Kellogg Jr. was leading a platoon on a risky rescue operation on the night of March 11, 1970, when his company was assaulted by a large North Vietnamese force. As the firefight intensified, one enemy soldier slowly crept to the platoon and managed to get a hand grenade into its midst.

That grenade glanced off the chest of Kellogg. He recognized what it was and had the chance to dive away, but he instead dove onto the explosive and hoped that his body and the Vietnamese mud would save his platoon. It worked, but the weapon inflicted severe injuries upon Kellogg.

He survived and would later receive the Medal of Honor for his action.

5. Navy SEAL leads small team to rescue downed pilots after other attempts fail

In early 1972, a pilot was downed behind enemy lines, triggering a race between the U.S. and North Vietnam to reach him. American attempts from the air were a catastrophic failure. In one week, 14 Americans were killed, seven more aircraft were lost, two were captured, and another aviator was stuck behind enemy lines.

So, U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. j.g. Tom Norris put together a gutsy ground extraction with his Vietnamese Sea Commando counterparts. They rescued the first isolated pilot on April 11, the first day of the SEAL extraction plan — but the other pilot they were trying to rescue couldn’t reach the river. Over the next three days, the commandos lost four members to mortar fire on a second rescue attempt.

With dashed spirits and a depleted force, only Norris and the Vietnamese commander were willing to continue. They dressed up as fisherman, stole a sampan, and grabbed the missing pilot. They were nearly discovered by enemy patrols multiple times, and Norris was forced to call in a series of airstrikes to save them at one point, but it worked.

Norris would receive the Medal of Honor for his actions. The Vietnamese commander received the Navy Cross and later became an American Citizen.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Army Spec. 5 James McCloughan receives the Medal of Honor from President Donald J. Trump for actions in the Vietnam War.

(U.S. Army Eboni Everson-Myart)

6. Army medic continuously ignores orders and runs towards machine gun fire

In May, 1969, Army Spec. 5 John C. McCloughan was part of a combat assault that went sideways right away. Two helicopters were downed and the ground fire became too thick for helicopters to conduct a rescue. McCloughan, a medic, was sent in to help extract the air crews from the ground. When he arrived on site, he immediately dashed over 100 yards across open ground to recover one soldier, despite a platoon attacking towards him.

Then, he charged through American air strikes to rescue two others and gave them medical aid even after he was torn up by shrapnel. He was specifically ordered to see to his own wounds and stop charging into danger, but he just kept charging. Over the course of the 48-hour firefight, he was credited with saving at least 10 men and with destroying an RPG position with a hand grenade.

He received a Medal of Honor in 2017 for his actions.

This article is sponsored by The Last Full Measure, now playing in theatres! Get your tickets here.

Articles

13 new shows and movies vets should watch

Hollywood and other multimedia producers get it wrong a lot of the time when they’re trying to appeal to the military community.


But there are those out there who try their best to nail it.

Here are 13 upcoming shows and movies that get it right, according to Got Your 6.

1. “American Veteran”

The feature length documentary tells the story of U.S. Army Sergeant Nick Mendes, who was paralyzed from the neck down by a 500 pound improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011. The documentary follows Nick for five years following the explosion as he rebuilds his life and falls in love with Wendy, an extraordinary medical caregiver he meets in a VA hospital. The film chronicles his long recovery, struggles, and pain, but never perpetuates the stereotype of the “wounded veteran.” BetterThanFiction Productions

2. “Criminal Minds”

The long-running American police crime drama, set primarily at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) based in Quantico, Virginia, follows a group of FBI profilers who catch various criminals through behavioral profiling. The plot focuses on the team’s cases and their personal lives, depicting the hardened life and statutory requirements of a profiler. Actor Joe Mantegna plays Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi, a senior level profiler who happens to be a Vietnam veteran as well as a moral core of the show. His service is primarily mentioned in passing, depicting his veteran status as one of many characteristics as opposed to defining his identity. The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios

3. “Fences”

Directed by Denzel Washington with a screenplay by August Wilson based upon his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Fences” follows Troy Maxson in 1950s Pittsburgh as he fights to provide for those he loves. Troy once dreamed of a baseball career, but was deemed too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart. Troy’s brother Gabriel, a disabled veteran, acts as a shining beacon of hope, despite his traumatic backstory. Gabriel is a fresh take on the sorts of wounds soldiers endure and showcases the strength of the human spirit. Paramount Pictures, in association with Bron Creative and Macro Media

4. “Five Came Back”

Netflix’s “Five Came Back” is a three-part adaptation of Mark Harris’ bestseller, directed by Laurent Bouzereau. Meryl Streep narrates Harris’ story of how five esteemed Hollywood directors – Frank Capra (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), George Stevens (“Swing Time”), William Wyler (“The Letter,” “Jezebel”), John Ford (“Stagecoach,” “The Grapes of Wrath”), and John Huston (“The Maltese Falcon”) – volunteered to make propaganda films for the United States and its fighting corps. For the adaptation, it was Bouzereau’s vision to ask five current filmmakers – Guillermo del Toro, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan and Paul Greengrass – to consider the Hollywood quintet who went to war and returned forever altered by what they saw and did. Amblin Television, IACF Productions, Netflix, Passion Pictures, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment

5. “Megan Leavey”

This film is based on the true life story of a young U.S. Marine corporal (played by Kate Mara) whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (“Blackfish”) and written by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt, the film documents their journey of more than 100 missions until an IED explosion injures them. Bleecker Street/LD Entertainment

6. “Sand Castle”

Set in Iraq in 2003, “Sand Castle” follows a platoon of U.S. Army soldiers in the early days of Iraq War. Inexperienced Private Matt Ocre (played by Nicolas Hoult) and his unit are ordered to the outskirts of the village Baqubah to repair a water pumping station damaged by U.S. bombs. Ocre struggles with the true cost of war and learns that trying to win the hearts and minds of the locals is a task fraught with danger. The film was written by U.S. Army veteran and Tillman Scholar, Chris Roessner. Treehouse Pictures, Voltage Pictures, 42/Automatik, Netflix

7. “Seeing Blind”

A digital short produced by Crown Royal as part of its “Living Generously” campaign, “Seeing Blind” tells the story of U.S. Army Major Scotty Smiley, a combat veteran who was blinded in Iraq and continued to serve in active duty for another decade as the Army’s first blind commander. To thank Major Smiley for his service, Crown Royal paired him with internationally renowned poet Matthew Dickman to help him visualize his hometown of Pasco, Wash., in a poetic new way. Good Company

8. “Seven Dates With Death”

This moving documentary short is about Moreese Bickham, a man jailed for an act of self-defense who survives half his life in prison by holding onto his faith, resilience, and hope. Viewers don’t learn he is a veteran until the end credits when an American flag is draped on his coffin at his funeral; however, this symbolic end showcases the depth of Moreese’s life and sacrifice. The short documentary is currently playing in film festivals across the U.S. and London and is expected to be publicly released by the end of 2017. Executive Producers Joan M. Cheever, Mike Holland

9. “Taken”

A television series based on the “Taken” film trilogy, this series acts as a modern day origin story for former Green Beret Bryan Mills (played by Clive Standen), who overcomes a personal tragedy while starting his career as a special intelligence operative. As a former CIA agent and post-9/11 veteran, Mills has spontaneous flashbacks to his military service. While the show touches on his service, it allows the audience to be empathetic with his experience and the skills learned while in uniform. “Taken” consulted with Got Your 6 team members on specific issues regarding active duty service and veteran reintegration. FLW Films, Universal Television, Europacorp Television, NBC

10. “The Vietnam War”

This 10-part documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will air on PBS in September 2017. In an immersive 360-degree narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War through the testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many American veterans who served in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides. Florentine Films, PBS

11. “This is Us”

This hit American television series stars Milo Ventimiglia (Jack) and Mandy Moore (Rebecca), parents of triplets – two natural-born and one adopted after their third child is stillborn. The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall as their lives intertwine. After 18 episodes, it is revealed that Jack – who must balance being the best father he can be with the struggles of supporting for his family of five – is a Vietnam War veteran. This dramedy challenges everyday presumptions about how well we think we know the people around us. Rhode Island Ave. Productions, Zaftig Films, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC

12. “VOW” (digital shorts)

“VOW” (Veterans Operation Wellness) is a Spike campaign created to inspire veterans to make the same commitment to their health and wellness that they made to their country. Two of the campaign’s digital shorts, “Operation Surf Helps Returning Soldiers” and “NYC Veterans Day Parade 2016,” were awarded 6 Certified status. In addition to featuring inspiring veterans, the shorts serve to motivate civilians to connect with veterans through community-building events and activities. Witness Films, Viacom

13. “When We Rise”

This four-part mini-series event which chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs, and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBTQ men and women who helped pioneer the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Ken Jones (played by Michael K. Williams and Jonathan Majors), an African-American Vietnam veteran, joined the gay-liberation movement in San Francisco, only to discover and confront racism within the gay men’s community. For years he organized services for homeless youth, worked to diversify the gay movement, and led efforts to confront the devastation of the AIDS epidemic. ABC Studios

Articles

That time Egypt pulled a perfect ‘MacGyver’ move to defend its ships from air attack

When Egypt bought the two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships that France declined to sell to Russia, one thing that didn’t come with those vessels was the armament.


According to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World,” Russia had planned to install a mix of SA-N-8 missiles and AK-630 Gatling guns on the vessels if France has sold them to the Kremlin. But no such luck for Egypt, which had two valuable vessels that were unarmed – or, in the vernacular, sitting ducks.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
The Mistral-class amphibious assault ship Anwar el-Sadat, prior to being handed over to the Egyptian navy. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

And then, all of a sudden, they weren’t unarmed anymore. A video released by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense celebrating the Cleopatra 2017 exercise with the French navy shows that the Egyptians have channeled MacGyver — the famed improviser most famously played by Richard Dean Anderson — to fix the problem.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
A helicopter comes in for a landing on an Egyptian Mistral-class amphibious assault ship. An AN.TWQ-1 Avenger is secured to the fight deck in the background. (Youtube screenshot)

Scenes from the video show at least two AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air-defense vehicles — better known as the M1097 — tied down securely on the deck of one of the vessels, which have been named after Egyptian leaders Gamel Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat. The Humvee-based vehicles carry up to eight FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles and also have a M3P .50-caliber machine gun capable of firing up to 1200 rounds a minute.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
An Avenger missile system is capable of firing eight Stinger missiles at low-flying enemy airplanes and helicopters. (Photo: US Army Sgt. Anthony Hewitt)

The Mistral-class ships in service with the French navy are typically equipped with the Simbad point-defense system. Ironically, the missile used in the Simbad is a man-portable SAM also called Mistral. The vessels displace 16,800 tons, have a top speed of 18.8 knots and can hold up to 16 helicopters and 900 troops.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
The Simbad missile system that fires the Mistral man-portable SAM. (Wikimedia Commons)

You can see the Egyptian Ministry of Defense video below, showing the tied-down Avengers serving as air-defense assets for the Egyptian navy’s Mistrals.

MIGHTY MOVIES

10 Questions with M*A*S*H star and famed actor Jamie Farr

Jamie Farr hails from Toledo, Ohio, and remains grounded in his hometown roots. His work in Hollywood spans over half a century, which includes him as Klinger in M*A*S*H*, where his career started back in 1955 in The Blackboard Jungle which starred Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier. He was drafted into the Army soon thereafter and served abroad in Japan and Korea where he was requested to work for famous comedian Red Skelton on his tour to entertain US troops in Korea. He is most grateful for his career, military service and the stars he got to work with who include Bob Hope, Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Lucile Ball, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Don Ameche and many more. 

Photo credit Jamie Farr.
  1. Can you tell us about your family and your life growing up?

My father came from Lebanon in the early 1900s with his brother. They initially settled in Cedar Rapids, IA.  My mother was born in Cedar Rapids where her family was from Lebanon as well. My grandfather and grandmother, her father and mother, had come from Lebanon to Iowa. My mother was a very smart woman even though she didn’t finish high school because she had to work to make her family sufficient monetarily. My mother could speak Arabic, sing and was a seamstress. My parent’s marriage was designated by my grandfather (maternal), which was normal, back then. She was married at seventeen and my father was a butcher for the Swift Meats Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They moved to Sioux City where my sister was born and then moved to Toledo because of the great Lebanese colony there. I was born in Toledo as Jameel Joseph Farah.

Our original family name was “Abboud” where his father’s name was “Farah Abboud.” At Ellis Island when they came over, they were going to say “Farah Abboud”, but the personnel at Ellis Island stopped them at “Farah” so they didn’t take the full name, just Farah.

My older sister was the one who got me into show business as she would take me to the movies growing up and read me fairy tale books. She was like a second mother where she was very artistic, could dance and sing although she never got into show business. She would take me out for my birthday and I could get whatever I wanted no questions asked about the price. I do miss her as she passed away a few years ago.

Our whole neighborhood was Jewish, Greek, Lebanese, Italian and so on. You never locked your doors and you never dated them because we all knew each other, so it would be like dating a sister. It was very family oriented and Sunday’s after church there would be big get-togethers for food. We put out card tables, folding chairs and table clothes with good food. If we were lucky enough, we would go to the movies and then come back for leftovers to listen to the radio. I loved listening to Lux Radio Theatre on Mondays and on Tuesdays we had Bob Hope at 9pm and Red Skelton at 930pm. I had a Crystal Set radio and would listen to Hope and Skelton when I was supposed to be asleep in my room. 

Growing up I slept on Murphy Bed at the time since I didn’t have my own room. I had to put the bed down every night in our dining room and thankfully I never got caught up in the bed like you would see in comedy movies and cartoons. We had an old-fashioned bathtub back then as well where Saturday night was your bath day. 

The Abijay family had 13 kids and the father left where the mother raised them herself. They had a three-story house where each child of the house was of a different age group it seemed. My older sister had friends in their family and so did I. It was a poor neighborhood where we shopped at the bargain basement floor of the department store. I never knew what it was like to buy new clothes on the fancy floors. 

We had a lot of famous people from my high school that made it big in show business including Danny Thomas (comedian), Andrew J Fenady (writer, producer), Georg Fenady (director/producer), Clifford David (Broadway actor), and Phillip Baker Hall (actor). We were all from the same neighborhood where it must have been in the water or the Buckeye beer! Although Lake Eerie was so polluted back then you could walk on it to Windsor, Ontario.  

My cousin was James Jabara, first American and USAF jet pilot ace, and then my uncle Bob served as a medic in WWII in the North Africa campaign. My Uncle served in the Coast Guard and I served in the US ARMY in 1957 to 1959 in NYC, FT. Knox, Ky, Fort Huachuca, Az, Japan and Korea. I was in Special Services and wound up with Armed Forces Radio at the FAR EAST Network in Japan and Korea. I remember WWII very well with several of the Gold Star’s in the windows of neighbors and friends. It was disheartening and distressing to the entire neighborhood because we all knew them. We were all growing up together and our families were all very close. We had Victory Gardens where we could have a little plot to plant vegetables. Everything was rationed back then. My mother and sister made a lot of homemade pies, pastries and cakes from the Middle East as well.

  1. What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?

I have so many of them with my parents there is not a distinct one exactly. They were very family oriented and taught us values to live by, which have lasted.

  1. What values were stressed at home?

You respected your family and never disgraced them. You didn’t have to be Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, but you never wanted your last name disgraced. Whenever people say your name there is honor and honesty that comes with it. You want a good reputation. You never lied, cheated or stole. You always made it yourself and did things yourself. You didn’t go around asking people for things. Nobody locked their doors. If people were ill, we would cook for them and take them food. It was very communal where they would help one another. 

The people from Toledo that made it in Hollywood stayed very much the same. They were all from that same neighborhood. We all talked about what was going on back home in Toledo and talking about things we did there or were going back to do. It is ironic having watched stars like Bob Hope and Red Skelton on the big screen and then coming to Hollywood to work with these people. I even got to work with Lucille Ball.

  1. What influenced you to join the US Army, what was your experience and what lessons did you take away from your service?

I was drafted into the Army and it was an inopportune time for me as my career was taking off. The last movie I could take part in before heading off to the Army was No Time for Sergeants where I played Lt. Gardelli. My hope was that the movie took awhile to come out because I was a private in the Army, but a lieutenant in the movie so people would think I was demoted. I reported the next day after filming wrapped to the Army recruiting station. 

Working on No Time for Sergeants was a lot of fun, especially with Andy Griffith and Mervyn LeRoy. Andy’s first movie wasn’t out yet which was a Face in the Crowd. Elia Kazan directed Face in the Crowd where he came on set of No Time for Sergeants to ask Mervyn if he could shoot a close up of Andy that he needed for his film. LeRoy granted the request where we all got to watch Kazan direct Griffith in a short close up scene, which was amazing. Kazan said a few things and words to Andy and then “action.” Kazan stepped back and let Andy do his work, one look here and one look there. It was amazing what Kazan could do with a few words to direct Andy. You could see Andy’s talent and that he was going to blossom. 

Red Skelton was like a second father to me and was very instrumental in helping my life. I did his show and carried half the show with him live on CBS. They kept calling me back before I got into the Army. I took Basic Training at Fort Ord and my MOS was as a Broadcast Specialist. I was sent to NYC to the Army Pictorial Center, which used to be the old Paramount Studios and did training films for the US Signal Corps. Some of my fellow soldiers at the center had famous Hollywood parents to include the son of Charles Vidor (director) stationed there. I went on TDY to Fort Knox to do tank training films where I was a script supervisor and went to Fort Huachuca in Arizona for similar duty. 

I got shipped over on the pipeline and thought I would go to France. I worked on my French and practiced my introduction, “je m’appelle Jamie Farr” and then when ordered to Tokyo, Japan I practiced, “Watashi Wa Jamie Farr.” I was trained at the Pasadena Playhouse to break into the business and met Bob Furiga who was a fellow actor. We were both drafted at the same time and did our indoc training together and were even in the same squad at Fort Ord together. We were at the Army Pictorial Center as well and then went to the Orient together. My buddies mostly ended up in Korea. I served with the Far East network in  Japan. 

I served with Red Skelton as he had requested me to be his assistant through the Department of the Army. After Red’s son passed away, he wanted to do a tour to entertain troops and he wanted to do his shows with me. We flew on a United Nations airplane just me and him. I had VIP status which surprised me. We went to every encampment all the way up to the DMZ in Korea.

We opened up Armed Forces TV in Korea in a DC-3 airplane where we had all service branches and civilians on the plane. There was an extreme cold front that came in where everything was frozen, so we had to sleep in a luggage area with a pot-bellied stove there in Korea after we arrived. We slept with our clothes, boots and coats on because it was so cold. We were told in the morning that it was safe enough for us to fly back to Japan where we flew out over the Sea of Japan. It got to be below zero inside the plane during the flight and the two engines froze so they started handing out parachutes. We wouldn’t survive in the water because of hypothermia so it seemed kind of pointless. We started dropping and while we did, they pumped alcohol into the wings to get the ice to melt. As we dropped the ice began to break off the wings and propeller blades where we heard the pilots trying to start the engines.

I remember looking out of the window thinking, “I watched all those John Wayne movies of him in the military where how in the heck did I end up here?.” I was praying and finally we heard the ping of the engines starting. I don’t know how far above the water we were, but that was a scary moment for us in that plane.

I did two years of active duty, two years of reserve, and two years of inactive reserve. I came back to Hollywood and my father passed away. I went by CBS Studios to say goodbye to Red Skelton and he wouldn’t let me go and put me under personal contract and said, “I was one of us. A doctor of comedy..” He pulled out several hundred-dollar bills and told me to send those home to my mom. He said, “From here on in you are working for me and I will see you up at the house in the morning.” I went with Red for a whole year and helped him in his nightclub act at the Sands (Las Vegas), Fontainebleau (Miami Beach), Moulin Rouge (Los Angeles), and the Chez Paree (Chicago). I then branched out to get my career started again where Carl Reiner working on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” took a chance on me and put me as the Snappy Service delivery man. The part helped to resurrect my career again. 

Red Skelton gave me a St. Christopher medal to protect me when I went into the Army. I cherish it and wear it every day. Red was a very kind, conscientious and loving person. I also have a painting of Red’s as well and was one of his pallbearers at his funeral. Red’s third wife, Lothian Toland, asked me to be a pallbearer for his funeral. The four pallbearers were me, Bob Hope, Milton Berle and a stage manager that Red liked a lot. A few notes on Red are when his son Richard passed away from leukemia, he used to keep his room just the way it was when he passed away. It had a little train set and a few other things in it where Red would just stand there, look at the room and soak it in. On another note, Lothian’s father was Gregg Toland known for being the cinematographer of Citizen Kane

Red came from a different era where they could work on stage to be bad and then become good over time. Now you have to be really great right away and don’t have time to develop. George Buns used to say, “there isn’t a place you can be bad anymore.”

  1. What values have you carried over from the Army into acting and comedy? 

My values instilled in me by my family have stayed with me throughout my life. I try to be straightforward and honest in all my dealings. Zenith used to have an ad that said, “It has to be good because it has our name on it.” That is how I feel about my name and how it needs to be respected. I was an adequate soldier and whatever I did, whether producing shows for the Army or whatever, it was the best I could do. 

As an aside, a lot of my friends from the service have now passed on such as Paul Rausch, Bob Furiga, who later became an exec at ABC, and Bernie Papin. My friend Mort Goldstein became an exec at CBS and is still living. The older you get the phone doesn’t ring as much for your friends or the business.

Farr in an episode of “The Red Skelton Show” with famous actor Peter Lorre. Photo credit Vimeo.
  1. What is the most fulfilling project you have done and why?

For TV it would be “M*A*S*H*” for TV and The Blackboard Jungle for film. The film had Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier with music featuring Bill Haley and His Comets which was filmed at MGM. I was watching MGM movies at the Lowe’s Valentine Theater in my hometown theater and 18 months later am working on an MGM film.  In high school I used to see shows at the Paramount Theater in Toledo, which has since been torn down and turned into a parking lot. It was one of the most beautiful theaters you could have ever seen. The touring version of “Guys and Dolls” came into town with Allan Jones playing the part Sky Masterson and saw the show as an usher. I couldn’t believe the music or characters in it where I wanted to play Nathan Detroit one day, which I did on Broadway. 

While on “M*A*S*H*” there was a guest actor, Jerry Zaks, on the show that had done the tour for “Grease.” He was having a rough time and I gave him a pep talk. Later on, he goes back to NY and becomes a successful director. A call comes out for “Guys and Dolls” and I ask my agent to get me an audition since Jerry was directing the show. I went downtown in Los Angeles, couldn’t sing a note, but still went to audition. The show was already cast with Nathan Lane as Nathan Detroit. My agent called me and asked if I would like to do “Guys and Dolls” as Nathan Lane is now leaving the show. Everyone remembered me from the audition and I went to NY to play Broadway. I only had two weeks and one rehearsal with the cast. I was never so frightened in my life. My chest came out of my body and across the room it was such an exhilarating and exciting thing to do. I did that show for almost a year and it was even exciting putting that on my resume.

Working with the Skeltons, the Berles, the Hopes and the Kayes was memorable and significant as well.

I played in “King Lear” at the Pasadena Playhouse as the title character, which was challenging. I learned all that Shakespeare for one performance. I did more theater at the Pasadena Playhouse as well and my first big play was “Mister Roberts” at the Los Palmas Theater. Craig Stevens was the lead actor and Harry Bernsen (father of actor Corbin Bernsen) produced the show. I earned my first Actors Equity card in that show thanks to Mr. Bernsen. I played the Navy guard that brings all the guys back when they are drunk in the play. I made the soap suds for Ensign Pulver as well. Did that for a whole year. I also did “Stalag 17” with John Banner, Tom Drake, Harvey Lembeck and Dennis Weaver. This was before Dennis Weaver did Gunsmoke and I was the understudy to Lembeck for the role of “Shapiro.” Theater trains you very well and teaches you a lot. 

A quick side note is, initially I was only on “M*A*S*H*” for one episode where my character was written by Larry Gelbart, creator of the show, for the episode. Larry’s father Harry Gelbart was the barber to the big comedians back then like Danny Thomas, Jack Benny, George Burns and a lot more. Harry would always tell his customers about his son and his comedy writing. Once when Harry was cutting Danny Thomas’s hair, Danny agreed to reading his son’s joke. Danny read them and found jokes funny and paid Larry for his material where Larry was just a high school student at the time. Larry ended writing for Sid Caesar and movies, most notably writing Tootsie which starred Dustin Hoffman. Larry’s pay back to Danny wrote my character as Lebanese and from Toledo where my character’s name came from his (Larry’s) childhood friend “Klinger” from Chicago, which is where Larry was from. 

I am not some handsome guy like Rock Hudson or a star carrying movies, so I am proud to have just been a working actor.

  1. What was your experience like in working with such talents as Red Skelton, Harvey Korman, Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swift, Gary Burghoff, Burt Reynolds, Bill Murray, David Alan Grier on such shows as MASH, After MASH, the Cannonball Run films, Scrooged, and The Cool Kids?

Harvey was great and we got to work with Danny Kaye, who also was great. I used to watch all of Danny Kaye’s movies where he could sing, dance, act and do mimicry. I was a big fan of Sid Caesar growing up and he was one of our writers on “The Danny Kaye Show.” Carl Reiner was very helpful to me in my career as well. Harvey was brilliant and trained in Yiddish comedy by Menasha Skulnick in NYC.

Alan Alda, Gary Burgoff, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swift, Harry Morgan, William Christopher, and David Ogden Stiers were all great to work with. You could not have asked for a better cast than the one on “M*A*S*H*” and we had such excellent material as well. We are still in touch even this long after the show. We lost Gene Reynolds (producer of the show), Harry Morgan, McLean Stephenson, Larry Linville, and Bill Christopher were all wonderful people and highly talented. We dearly loved Harry as the patriarch of the show. The egos didn’t get into the way on the show where the story was not about me it was about the particular scene we were doing. 

We had some great guest stars on the show as well to include Laurence Fishburne, Ron Howard, Brian Dennehy (Marine) and Burt Young (Marine) during our run. Harry Morgan was a dear friend of famous actor and veteran Jimmy Stewart as well. Harry would tell stories to me about working on films with Jimmy. Harry introduced me to Ralph Bellamy where we became friends. I got to meet Jimmy one time as well, which was great. 

The cameos I do now have people coming up to me all the time telling me they watched “M*A*S*H*” with their family and how much it meant to them. I am overwhelmed by young people that have taken to the show. It is amazing I happened to be on a series that was the best show you could do. The writing was so good and so were the production values. Audiences came to know us on the show as family. It was like watching “I Love Lucy” where we got to the audiences. 

Burt Reynolds was a lot of fun to work with. He was very loyal to his acting friends. Charles Durning (Army) did projects with Burt and had his friend Ossie Davis (Army). Burt was like the John Wayne players where he had the same people in his movies like Ward Bond or Paul Fix. Doing his movies was like being at a party. It was a party every single day and didn’t know what was going to come next. Hal Needham (Army) was the director of the Cannonball movies which even made it more fun.

We had Roger Moore (Royal Army) in The Cannonball Run where he would come out of his trailer in the early morning in Florida where we were filming with a white suit on, a beautiful Havana cigar, and a flute of champagne with no hair missing and not a bead of perspiration where he looked like he was out of GQ. We used to hate him for how perfect he looked and was disgustingly handsome. 

Dom DeLuise was a lot of fun to work with. The best was working with Dean Martin (Army) and Sammy Davis, Jr. (Army). I loved Dean where he had a great sense of humor and cared about the project. We had Charles Nelson Reilly, Telly Savalas(Army) and Frank Sinatra in the Cannonball movies as well. We all got along on the films and there were no egos that got in the way of the production. 

I got to work with Don Ameche, Bob Hope, Yvonne De Carlo, Stella Stevens, Jayne Meadows and Frank Gorshin in A Masterpiece of Murder. Don was a great actor to work with. 

Over my career I have had the opportunity to work Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Ed Wynn, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Van Heflin, Glenn Ford, Walter Brennan, Jim Hutton, Dorothy Provine, Rod Steiger, Victor Buono and so many more. My gracious, what a wonderful career I have had.

I worked with Bill Holden on “The Blue Knight”, which was the first TV miniseries. Robert Butler directed it and he used to work with John Frankenheimer. I was having trouble with the studio at the time trying to get a raise.. I asked Bill about what I should do in my situation. If I fought back I could be written out of a show, like a script where my character Klinger steps on a land mine and is done. My agent was at a smaller agency not like a William Morris where he could be blacklisted as well from selling his clients. You used to call the man who set the budget the “hatchet man.” Bill said he had this problem with Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures when he was under contract there. Bill said, “You have to take it out of the agent’s hands and put it into your hands. If you want that raise you need to go ask yourself, but just don’t point a gun at their head.”

Well that gave me the idea of getting a fake pistol from the prop department from “M*A*S*H*”, which I did. It was like a cartoon after I got the prop pistol and  finished filming for the day on stage nine on the lot. I hid behind a bush and then went behind a tree and could see the “Hatchet Man’s” office. He faced away from the window in his office toward the door. I went around into the executive building and kicked the door open. I said to him, “This is how it’s going to be my raise and that!”, where he said, “You’re crazy! You’re crazy!”, and I said, “That’s right I am and I am going to get my section 8.” Well at any rate he laughed and he saw what I was doing. I did get a raise from that instance. 

Bill Holden was a terrific actor and a really nice guy. I miss him a lot. He was working on the film The Towering Inferno which was just across the way from us on set with “M*A*S*H*” where he would come over just to say “hi” to me. If I was at Oblatt’s Deli across from Paramount eating at the counter, I would get a big bear hug from someone behind me which turned out to be Bill. He would be there shooting a movie and would come across to the deli to find me there.

Fred MacMurray was a great actor to work with where we did “My Three Sons” together. We got to know each other very well. Many people make him out to be all fluff and not much there, but his work in Double Indemnity and The Caine Mutiny showcases his talent. He did a lot of comedies on the big and small screen where he was so versatile. There was much more to him than what people may think.

A lot of my actor friends used to make fun of John Wayne where Wayne is one of the best movie actors around. When he says, “Follow me” in a movie whether it is the cavalry or the Marines you are going to follow him. He has that command about him. He may not be able to do Macbeth, but what he does he is 100% believable. He is one of our greatest film actors ever. 

I was in acting class with Clint Eastwood back in the 50s with where our teacher was named Jack Kosslyn (who later appeared in Eastwood films during the 1970s). He was cleaning pools during the daytime and I was cleaning chinchilla pens at a farm in Burbank for my side work. He did pretty good for himself. 

Being in “The Cool Kids” meant a lot to me and getting to perform for a new generation is great.

  1. What leadership lessons in life and from the Army have helped you most in your career?

Remain humble and it is a team effort. It is about the ensemble. 

Farr(center) on an episode “The Cool Kids.” Photo credit IMDB.com.
  1. As a veteran, how do we get more veteran stories told in Hollywood?

We need to and have the veteran stories around, but some people in charge may not want to produce our stories. They don’t seem to be interested in the heroics of our people. When I see Audi Murphy in a film, I can’t believe what he has done for our country. Gary Cooper as Sgt. York is an excellent film with heroics. Some of the executives today don’t want to popularize the heroism because of cynicism and negativism towards our service people. There are stories to tell, but the executives and producers put too much “seasoning” into them to make the stories something they are not. If you can keep the story simple and show these military characters doing what they did then you can have a good project.

When my country called on me, I went even though it was detrimental for my career at the time. I knew if your country needed you at the time, then you went and did whatever they asked you to do. As President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” A similar saying was written years before by the Lebanese American writer Khalil Gibran which I am familiar with. This is what the immigrants in our neighborhood did, we had community and cared for each other and our country. 

Farr with his wife Joy at the Air Force One exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Photo credit Jamie Farr.
  1. What are you most proud of in life and your career?

This is not an easy business where people should be grateful for whatever they have done. It is not just given to you and you have to earn it. Some people that are absolutely brilliant talents never get anywhere. Some people are average and make it to the top of the industry. All I can say is what a lucky guy I am. 

Farr wanted to personally thank all the servicemen and women serving to keep this country safe and are living up to the values of why this country was born. 

Farr’s park dedication ceremony in Toledo, OH. Photo credit Jamie Farr.
MIGHTY MOVIES

Why the music collection at Guantanamo is a hipster’s dream

Everyone knows Cuba is a bastion of great music — but most people probably don’t consider Guantanamo Bay when they’re thinking of all that great Cuban sound. They definitely don’t think of the Navy base for having a good time rockin’ in Fidel’s backyard — which happens to be the slogan of the radio station on base.

The truth is, there’s an amazing collection of music in that remote corner of the island — and the Navy takes full advantage by playing all of the greatest hits by the original artists.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Part of Radio GTMO’s collection.

Radio GTMO houses an amazing collection of some 22,000 pieces of music — some on reel-to-reel tape and many others on vinyl — including a reel-to-reel of the Beatles anthology. The collection is valued at over $2 million and is carefully cataloged in alphabetical order on a series of index cards.


“I believe this is one of the largest, if not the largest, collection in the Armed Services Network,” Kelly Wirfel, base spokeswoman, told Military Times.

Though the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo has been in operation since 1903 (it’s the oldest overseas U.S. Navy installation), Radio GTMO has only been in operation since 1940. Unfortunately, Cubans outside of the base don’t get to hear the Classic Rock and Top 40 songs played by Radio Gitmo — the transmission signal stops at the base’s gate (Cubans get music and news from outside Cuba via another U.S. government entity — Radio Marti, run by the same folks who create Voice of America News).

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Radio GTMO personality, DJ Stacks, Petty Officer 3rd Class Heidi McCormick, pieces together her classic rock radio program, Jan. 10. McCormick is one of four DJs at the station who put together a total 21 local shows for the Guantanamo Bay community.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Benjamin Cossel)

The radio station will still broadcast even its oldest vinyl records, even though Adrian Cronauer (a former Air Force DJ played by Robin Williams in the film Good Morning, Vietnam) says they belong in a museum. So, how did such a stash end up in a remote corner of Cuba? The reason for it is that the station never sent its analog collection back to the Armed Forces Network when it was all recalled in the 1990s in an effort to go digital.

Among the station’s other rare offerings are live performances by Chuck Berry, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, and John Coltrane — among many, many others. It’s the third largest collection of music on any military base and the pearls of its collection rivals even the Library of Congress.

MIGHTY MOVIES

15 best foreign war films

We on Team WATM agree that no matter how you feel about the countries depicted or the wars they’re fighting in these movies, without a doubt, all these films are better than The Hurt Locker.


Here are the 15 best foreign war movies:

1. Days of Glory (France)

Days of Glory is the story of Algerian troops enlisting to fight to save a fatherland (France) they’ve never seen. Though they feel it’s their patriotic duty, they still encounter discrimination and injustice as they attempt to fight the same conflict as their French countrymen. Rumor has it the President of France at the time of the film’s release was so moved by it, he raised the pensions of former colonial troops to be the same as their French counterparts. Essentially, this movie so good and realistic it made the president give them a raise. Not bad.

 

2. Das Boot (Germany)

Das Boot (The Boat) is not just one of the greatest foreign war films, it’s one of the best films of all time, from anywhere. It follows a U-boat crew as they attempt to wreak havoc on allied shipping during WWII without getting killed themselves. The film beautifully (and sometimes chillingly) depicts life aboard the U-boats: boredom, frustration, and all the trials of life in a diesel-fueled tin can in the middle of the ocean. You will forget what side these guys are on and by the end, and will feel like a member of the crew, struggling in silence, hoping for survival. Das Boot is remarkable for its detail and suspense. (And do yourself a favor — watch it in German with subtitles.)

 

3. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (South Korea)

Two brothers are forced to fight for the South Korean Army when North Korea invades the South. One brother makes a deal with his commander to kill an impressive number of enemy troops in order to get his brother released from his enlistment. He becomes a war hero, but soon develops a taste for fighting, killing, and cruelty, leading the brother he fights to save to question his older brother’s humanity. The film may not be completely accurate in weapons or their effects, but it’s a great view of the war from the Korean perspective.

 

4. Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

The only documentary film on the list, Waltz With Bashir follows the director’s experience as an Israeli soldier during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. This is also the only animated film on this list. Banned in Lebanon, this provocative film depicts the director remembering his role in the Sabra and Shatila Massacres in Lebanon, (though the Israeli Defence Forces didn’t actually carry out the massacres, but they didn’t stop it either) and his views of the aftermath. The director is quoted as saying the happiest day of his life will be when he can screen the film in Beirut. The trailer alone is better than The Hurt Locker.

 

 

5. Waar (Pakistan)

See how India and Pakistan feel about each other in the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time – a cloak-and-dagger counterterrorism film set on the background of Pakistan’s War on Terrorism. It includes a depiction of the 2009 attack on a Lahore police station. A former Pakistani Army officer must foil attacks from the Taliban and from Indian Research and Analysis Wing spies on Pakistanis and his own family. Awesome action sequences accompany a really great and beautifully shot story.

 

6. The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria)

The actual Battle of Algiers is as legendary as this film. This is a film about freedom fighters (or terrorists, depending on where you sit) in the Algerian struggle for freedom from France. Often used by governments and insurgent groups as a demonstration of urban-style guerilla warfare, The Battle of Algiers was so controversial, it couldn’t be screened in France until five years after it was finished.

7. Lebanon (Israel)

Set in the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the entire film is the war from the point of view of Israeli tankers. The crew can only see the outside world through a gunsight. Only four soldiers are in the tank and are ordered to clear an area of enemies using illegal munitions and must deal with POWs, equipment problems, unclear orders, and the general discomforts of living in close quarters – Like a Das Boot for Israeli tankers.

8. Mongol (Kazakhstan)

The story of the legendary Genghis Khan Temujin as he was raised on the Mongolian steppe, lost his parents, was sold into slavery, won his freedom, defeated his best-friend-turned-enemy, and became the Khan of All Mongols. Originally intended to be the first in a trilogy, the end of the film definitely leaves the viewer wanting to see the rest.

 

9. Paradise Now (Palestine)

Every country wages war the best way it can, with the weapons and tactics they have. How you see these characters again depends on where you sit. During the Second Intifada, Palestinians used suicide bomber attacks. Paradise Now follows two such suicide bombers on their last days before their mission in Tel Aviv. Rather than being the emotionless death robots they could so easily be portrayed as, this film takes the time to humanize them as they realize what they’re doing and why suicide bombing is an awful tactic. The film is so provocative and controversial, one Israeli author called it “a quality Nazi film.”

10. Assembly (China)

Set during the Chinese Civil War in 1948 between Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists and Mao Zedong’s Communists, a Communist infantry captain defends the south bank of the Wen River until the retreat assembly call is heard. Politics disappear as his troops defend the bank for hours and the captain is injured. He wakes up in a hospital to find out the Communists think his troops are missing or deserted and goes to the site of the battle to make sure they get the recognition they deserve.

11. Gallipoli (Australia)

This is a depiction of the ANZAC invasion of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) during World War I. Through the relationship between two young soldiers (Mel Gibson and Mark Lee), joining to fight after being influence by homeland propaganda campaigns, the two enlist, train in Egypt, and soon experience the realities of trench warfare, eventually ending up in the Dardanelles fighting the Turkish army in what became one of the worst killing fields of any war.

12. Silmido (South Korea)

This film is a dramatization of the true story of Unit 684, a special operations unit of the South Korean Air Force. They were formed from convicts on death row and some with life sentences, and assigned to assassinate North Korean Leader Kim Il-Sung in response to North Korea’s attempt to assassinate South Korean Prime Minister Park Chung-hee. The 31 men of Unit 684 were trained on the island of Silmido but when relations warmed, their mission was cancelled. The men rebelled in 1971, killed their guards and fled to the mainland. The real reason for the mutiny is unknown, but the film depicts a version of the catalyst events on the island.

 

13. Talvisota (Finland)

Talvisota is a Finnish depiction of the fight against the Soviet invasion of Finland during 1939-1940. Though Stalin’s troop advanced quickly into Finland, the “Winter War” is generally seen as much of a Finnish victory, due to the heavy resistance of Finnish troops. Talvisota uses real Soviet T-26 light tanks and is a realistic reenactment of the war.

14. The Star (Russia)

Set in WWII Poland, The Star is about Soviet forward reconnaissance scouts behind enemy lines. The film plays with war movie clichés, only from a Russian perspective, featuring a mix of people from various origins in the Soviet Union. Keeping in mind the staggering Russian losses, the toll of civilian casualties, and the brutality of the Wehrmacht toward the Red Army and its prisoners, The Star is an interesting take on the enemy: near shadows, only seen when killed or captured.

15. Border (India)

The Battle of Longewala in India’s Rajasthan region pitted one Indian company (120 foot soldiers) against a Pakistani tank regiment (2,000 soldiers and 45 tanks) during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War. Border is the 1997 Bollywood depiction of those events. Like many Bollywood films, there is a great deal of singing, but the acting is reminiscent of older, over-the-top American action films while action sequences are completely unrealistic (see: fighter jet flies ten feet off the ground while one guy sits next to exploding tank). This film is really entertaining.

Now: These are the veteran stars of the GI Film Festival

MIGHTY MOVIES

12 potential blockbuster movies coming out this year

Disney had an unprecedented year at the box office in 2019.

The company grossed a record $11.12 billion worldwide (and counting), with six movies earning more than $1 billion. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” currently in theaters, is on track to become its seventh. Disney accounted for nearly 40% of the domestic box office.

But experts believe 2020 will be slower for the company and the box office will be more evenly distributed among the major Hollywood studios.

“Next year is more wide open for the rival studios and they’ll share the wealth more evenly,” Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider in October. “Disney will still be a major factor in 2020, but it will be a great year for studios to present a diversity of content.”


While 2020 will likely not reach the box-office highs of the last two years, or even the expected highs of 2021 (which will see four Marvel movies, three DC movies, and the “Avatar” sequel), there are still plenty of potential blockbusters on the way that could give Disney a run for its money.

Below are 12 movies not from Disney that could give rival studios a boost at the box office this year:

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in “Birds of Prey”

(Warner Bros.)

“Bird of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” — Warner Bros., February 7

Warner Bros.’ DC movies have been on a roll with the blockbusters “Aquaman” and “Joker” and the critically acclaimed “Shazam!” Next up is “Birds of Prey,” which brings back Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who was easily the highlight of “Suicide Squad.”

That 2016 movie didn’t fare well with critics, but still managed to gross 6 million worldwide. While diehard DC Extended Universe fans who loved “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad” might be turned away by “Birds of Prey’s” more fun tone, general audiences could turn out for this female-centric action movie.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place: Part II”

(Paramount)

“A Quiet Place: Part II” — Paramount, March 20

“A Quiet Place” was one of the biggest box-office surprises of 2018, pulling in 0 million off of a million budget. A sequel was inevitable, especially considering Paramount’s otherwise dismal box-office results the last few years.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Daniel Craig as James Bond in “No Time to Die”

(Universal)

“No Time to Die” — Universal, April 10

“Skyfall” and “Spectre” were major box-office hits for Sony, with over id=”listicle-2644510669″ billion and 0 million worldwide, respectively. Universal is hoping the 25th James Bond movie, and star Daniel Craig’s last, can replicate that success.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto in “The Fate of the Furious”

(Matt Kennedy/Universal)

“Fast and Furious 9” — Universal, May 22

The last two movies in the main “Fast and Furious” series, “Furious 7” and “The Fate of the Furious,” both grossed over id=”listicle-2644510669″ billion globally. Last year’s spin-off, “Hobbs and Shaw,” wasn’t as huge but still made nearly 0 million, suggesting the series still has gas. The upcoming ninth installment will pair the main cast of Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez with newcomers like John Cena.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman 1984”

(Warner Bros.)

“Wonder Woman 1984” — Warner Bros., June 5

2017’s “Wonder Woman” was a global success with 1 million worldwide. As noted, DC movies are on a roll and with the first “Wonder Woman” being such a hit, there’s no reason to think that this sequel can’t capitalize on that.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Anthony Ramos in “In the Heights”

(Warner Bros.)

“In the Heights” — Warner Bros., June 26

“Crazy Rich Asians” director John M. Chu is directing “In the Heights,” based on “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical of the same name. It seems to be a recipe for success.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick”

(Paramount)

“Top Gun: Maverick” — Paramount, June 26

Some sequels to decades-old movies didn’t fare well at the box office in 2019, from “Terminator: Dark Fate” to the “Shining” follow up, “Doctor Sleep.” But “Maverick” will look to avoid the sequel curse by targeting adult moviegoers with nostalgia for the 1986 original “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Minions in “Minions”

(Universal)

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” — Universal, July 3

The first “Minions” in 2015 made over id=”listicle-2644510669″ billion worldwide, as did 2017’s “Despicable Me 3.” This “Minions” sequel will try to replicate the Dreamworks franchise’s success. Pixar’s “Soul” will enter theaters two weeks prior, but the name recognition of “Minions” could give it a competitive edge.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

John David Washington in “Tenet”

(Warner Bros.)

“Tenet” — Warner Bros., July 17

Christopher Nolan follows up his box-office hit, the Oscar-nominated “Dunkirk,” with “Tenet.” Nolan churns out original movies that get audiences to the theater. 2010’s “Inception” made 0 million worldwide and 2014’s “Interstellar” earned 7 million. “Tenet” looks to be his latest mind-bending spectacle.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

“The Conjuring”

(Warner Bros.)

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” — Warner Bros., September 11

The “Conjuring” franchise, including its spin-offs like “The Nun” and “Annabelle” movies, is a consistent presence at the box office. The first two “Conjuring” movies grossed a combined 0 million worldwide off of modest budgets ( million and million, respectively). This third “Conjuring” film will likely continue the series’ success.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Venom in “Venom”

(Sony)

“Venom 2” — Sony, October 2

“Venom” was a surprise hit in 2018 with 6 million worldwide and suggested that Sony could still carry its own Marvel movie universe after its “Amazing Spider-Man” movies disappointed at the box office. The studio has other movies in development, including a movie about Spider-Man’s vampire villain Morbius starring Jared Leto, but it’s following up “Venom” this year first.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

“Halloween” (2018)

(Blumhouse)

“Halloween Kills” — Universal, October 16

Blumhouse’s “Halloween” sequel/reboot grossed 5 million off of just a million budget. “Halloween Kills” is the first of two sequels coming — one this year and “Halloween Ends” in 2021.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

3 reasons Maverick would be a badass TOPGUN instructor

“Your instructor is one of the finest fighter pilots this program has ever produced. His exploits are legendary. What he has to teach you may very well mean the difference between life and death.” These are the words used to describe Maverick in one of the trailers for the upcoming Top Gun sequel. While some people question the sense of having an O-6 who is pushing 60 years of age serve as a TOPGUN instructor, he is actually one of the best teachers that the Navy could possibly have.

1. He’s had years of experience
Top Gun Maverick: Whose funeral is it?

Who would’ve thought that we’d see Maverick wearing scrambled eggs? (Paramount Pictures)

According to the Top Gun: Maverick trailer, our favorite hotshot fighter pilot had been serving for over 30 years. While Maverick’s rebellious nature has kept from achieving a Flag Officer rank, it has also kept him in the cockpit and behind the stick longer. 

No, he wouldn’t make a good instructor at the Naval War College and he probably doesn’t have the tact (or patience) to play politics in Washington; but TOPGUN is a Fighter Weapons School. As Cmdr. Mike “Viper” Metcalf said to Maverick’s class, “We don’t make policy here gentlemen. Elected officials, civilians, do that. We are the instruments of that policy.” Who better to teach you to fly your fighter plane to the edge of the envelope than a pilot who has spent his entire career behind the controls?

2. He learned teamwork and emotional intelligence through loss and combat

Eyewitnesses Claim That Tom Cruise Healed ‘Top Gun Co-Star Val Kilmer’s Cancer With The Touch Of A Finger Film Top Gun, Top Gun Movie, I Movie, Val Kilmer, Tom Cruise, Ryan Gosling, Meghan Markle, In The Heights, Naval Aviator

People learn and mature; even Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

Yes, at the beginning of Top Gun, Maverick is arrogant, self-centered and immature. He’s cocky and overly confident, even after he’s outperformed by Iceman and lectured by Jester. However, after losing Goose during their flat spin incident, Maverick is taken down a few pegs and loses his edge. It’s worth noting that before the incident, Maverick and Goose were only two points behind Iceman and Slider in the competition for the TOPGUN trophy. Despite his performance slipping at the end of the course, Maverick still accumulates enough points to graduate with his class.

Following graduation, Maverick along with Iceman, Slider, Hollywood and Wolfman, are ordered to the USS Enterprise to fly fighter cover for an operation to rescue the intelligence-gathering vessel SS Layton. Afterman Hollywood and Wolfman are shot down by enemy MiGs, Maverick and Merlin are launched to provide backup for Iceman and Slider who are fighting for their lives against five enemy aircraft. Horrible odds for any pilot, Maverick manages to snap out of his funk and engages the enemy. Remembering Jester’s words, Maverick refuses to abandon his wingman, even when an enemy MiG gets behind him.

Emerging from the engagement victorious, Maverick and Iceman’s rivalry turns into a bond of trust, the likes of which can only be formed in the crucible of combat. “You are still dangerous,” Iceman tells Maverick. “But you can be my wingman anytime.” Following the intense aerial battle, Maverick also learns to let go of Goose’s death. He no longer feels overly responsible for his RIO and throws Goose’s dogtags off the back of the carrier; a beautifully symbolic move, but not one that Goose’s son is likely to be pleased with. Admittedly, Maverick still had some growing up to do as a junior officer.

3. He has been in a dogfight and has aerial kills to his name

Very few fighter pilots in the 21st century have scored kills in aerial combat and even fewer are Naval Aviators. The shootdown of a Syrian Su-22 by a Navy F/A-18E in 2017 was the first US air-to-air kill since an Air Force F-16 shot down a Serbian MiG-29 during the Kosovo campaign in 1999.The last Navy F-14 kill took place in 1991 when a Tomcat shot down an Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter with a Sidewinder shot.

During their engagement at the end of Top Gun, Iceman emerged from a dogfight against five MiGs with one kill under his belt; an impressive feat considering he was forced to fly defensively. Maverick, on the other hand, scored three aerial kills. Just two kills shy of becoming the Navy’s first ace since Vietnam, Maverick earned his kills in close-quarters fighting. This factor adds to the impressiveness of his victories since the F-14A was more adept at intercepting Soviet bombers at long range with its powerful radar and Phoenix missiles than it was an dogfighting.

“Though the Tomcat was technically a fighter plane, it wasn’t really designed for the visual BFM arena,” Tomcat pilot Francesco “Paco” Chierici remembered. “It had a number of elements working against it when it came to dogfighting.” Besides its large size, Paco also notes that the A-model Tomcat was underpowered for maneuvering fights. Maverick was able to score three kills in a dogfight against a numerically superior enemy that was flying a smaller and more maneuverable aircraft than his. Any fighter pilot would be lucky to learn from an aviator like him.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Clearly he can still pass his flight physical (Paramount Pictures)

Despite his age, Maverick is still fit enough to fly, and fly well. After all, he’s still able to pull off his signature evasive maneuver. In the trailers, we even see him behind the controls of what appears to be some sort of high-speed experimental aircraft. Maverick returns to the skies in Top Gun: Maverick, releasing in theaters on July 2, 2021.

Watch the trailer, here: