MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

With the long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel now delayed until the world is finished contending with the coronavirus, we’re left with no alternative but to revisit the 1986 classic for the millionth time, and as may come as no surprise to you, it still holds up. The story of Pete “Maverick” Mitchel has all the hallmarks of a modern blockbuster: fantastic action sequences, cheesy moments that make you smile despite yourself, and of course, topless volleyball.

There are, however, a few burning questions that set in as you watch Tom Cruise’s Maverick demonstrate very clearly that he should be immediately pulled from flight duty for the umpteenth time. The first is… Just who exactly are they fighting? The movie never clearly indicates whether the enemy fighters are Russian, Chinese, North Korean, or otherwise. As Brad Howard at Task & Purpose points out, even the red star on the tail of the enemy fighters doesn’t quite match any national Air Force… but it does match the color scheme utilized by the VFC-13 Aggressor Squadron. In other words, the terrifying enemy fighters may have been rocking aggressor colors because that’s exactly the role they fill in real life, just as they do in the movies.

With that mystery effectively solved, the next one to creep into your mind is… Wait a minute, are MiG-28s real?

When I was a kid, I knew the names of a handful of fighter jets, but practically nothing of the Mikoyan MiG production line. At the time, those little black MiG-28s just looked more acrobatic than the larger F-14 Tomcat, really emphasizing the idea in my mind that American pilots needed to be better than the competition in order to come out on top. It didn’t occur to me that Paramount Pictures probably didn’t get the Kremlin’s permission to borrow a few of their intercept fighters for what could arguably be called an American propaganda film.

MiG-28s (Paramount Pictures)

The truth is, the MiG-28 that Maverick and Goose can’t tell you about (it’s classified) is not a real aircraft at all… it was made up specifically for the purposes of the movie.

Okay, so that’s not technically true: The aircraft you see depicted at the MiG-28 in “Top Gun” is a real aircraft, it’s just not a MiG. Heck, it’s not even Russian. It’s actually another fighter in the U.S. arsenal called the Northrop F-5 Tiger II.

Northrop F-5E Tiger II (WikiMedia Commons)
Deadly MiG-28s from “Top Gun”

The MiG-28 is supposed to be a twin-engine fighter that’s slightly slower than the F-14 Tomcat but considered to be far more maneuverable. In that regard, these fake MiGs are probably intended to stand in for the very real and similarly twin-engine Soviet MiG-29, which is indeed a bit slower than the F-14, but boasts a better thrust-to-weight ratio and is seen as more acrobatic. In video games based on the movie, the fictional MiG-28 is actually replaced by the real Mig-29, seemingly confirming its role as a stand in for the real jet.

Slovak Air Force MiG-29 (WikiMedia Commons)

On-screen, the small Northrop F-5 just looks more nimble than the larger F-14s, and with good reason. The F-5 measures up at just over 48 feet long, eight feet shorter than a real MiG-29, and more than 14 feet shorter than the F-14 Tomcat. Wingspan tells a similar story, with the F-5 (MiG-28) coming in at just under 27 feet, the MiG-29 at more than 37 feet, and the swing-wing F-14 measuring more than 64 feet. The decision to use the F-5 as a stand-in as the fictional MiG-28 definitely does the premise justice, making the MiG-28 and F-14 feel like two fighters with very different strengths on screen.

“MiG-28” (Paramount Pictures)

The F-5 may fit the aesthetic bill of a smaller and more maneuverable fighter, but when compared to its real-life counterpart in the MiG-29, the F-5 doesn’t quite keep pace. The MiG-29’s top speed is Mach 2.5, whereas the designer imposter F-5 can only reach a still respectable Mach 1.63. The Mi-29 can also cover far more ground, with a range of 890 miles compared to the F-5’s 554.

In terms of armament, the real MiG-29 isn’t that far off from its fictional cousin. The F-5 boasts the same number of hardpoints (seven) and carries, among other weapons, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile for air-to-air engagements. According to the movie, the MiG-28 carries Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name “AA-2 Atoll”) missiles, which are real Soviet missiles developed by reverse-engineering the America’s Sidewinder. Instead of a single 30mm cannon, however, the F-5/MiG-28 utilizes two 20mm M39A2 Revolver cannons.

It wasn’t just filmmakers who saw the Northrop F-5 as a worthy stand-in for Soviet aircraft. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, F-5s served in multiple aggressor squadrons, including the 64th and 65th aggressor squadrons out of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Although, it’s worth noting that the F-5 was chosen not because of its similarities to the MiG-29, but rather because it was seen as a suitable stand-in for the older MiG-21. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps also both operated the F-5 at one point or another.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

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

This new movie pits a diabolical sniper against Army special operators

We’re always on the look out for new military flicks, and this one caught our eye.


A new sniper movie featuring WWE superstar John Cena and Aaron Taylor Johnson — the nerdy hero in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2 — is hitting theaters in March 2017.

The movie studio describes the film as a deadly psychological thriller that follows two soldiers pinned down by an Iraqi sniper with nothing but a wall between them.

From the looks of the trailer, the bad guy is a psychopath who likes to play with his targets before he takes the killing shot.

It leaves you wondering how in the heck they’ll make it out alive. Here’s the trailer for “The Wall”:

Amazon Studios, YouTube
MIGHTY CULTURE

These are the 5 deadliest James Bonds by body count

James Bond isn’t quite as deadly on the screen as he was when we all played him on Nintendo 64’s legendary Goldeneye 007 video game, but he still made short work of any number of psychotic evildoer in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. As a matter of fact, the world’s most non-secret secret agent has killed so many people over the years it would take 38 minutes to see them all.

Luckily, someone compiled all those kills for us.


While they didn’t include a count of clever puns, we can be reasonably sure the numbers mirror one another. But there is one other thing the video didn’t break down: who was the deadliest Bond? Unless George Lazenby went on a murder rampage in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, my guess is it was probably one of the other five.

Here they are, the deadliest Bond by average kills per movie.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

1. Timothy Dalton

Timothy Dalton takes a hard fall at number five here, with only two movies and 20 kills, giving him an average of 10. But Dalton does get two of the most interesting kills, one for killing someone by sealing them in a maggot-filled coffin and another kill where the murder weapon is a bust of the Duke of Wellington.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

2. Sean Connery

Connery had two runs as the dashing secret agent hero, with a total of seven Bond films and an average kill count of 12.5. If Connery’s Bond is in some way riding in a motor vehicle, look out: chances are good that someone is going to meet their maker very soon.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

3. Daniel Craig

While Craig may not be the deadliest Bond, he is definitely the drunkest, averaging at least five drinks per movie.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

Film and Television.

4. Roger Moore

Roger Moore’s Bond is long-known to be both the quippiest and at times creepiest Bond, but he’s also the second deadliest. The Bond films with the least number of kills, The Man With The Golden Gun, and the most number of kills, Octopussy, are both Roger Moore films. Still, it wasn’t enough because even if you take out the one-kill outlier, it’s not enough to catch up with…

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

5. Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan’s Bond was Murder, Incorporated, far outpacing the kill rate of his nearest competitor (including one of Sean Bean’s onscreen deaths). Keep this man away from any kind of explosives or firearms, almost every time he touches one, someone in the movie goes to walk with god.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Sending Tom Hanks get well vibes with this top 10 tribute

Well, the coronavirus got one of our favorites. Oscar winning actor, amazing fun guy and a man who has gone out of his way to bring amazing stories about our American heroes to the screen told us late Wednesday that he and his wife Rita came down with the COVID-19 bug while in Australia.

(Yes, we know there are a lot of stories that need to be covered, but we want to add a little levity too.)


We were putting out an article about the release of the trailer to his new movie Greyhound, which featured some amazing action scenes from the Battle of the Atlantic, and wanted to also give a shoutout to Tom by giving a ranking of his top 10 best films.

This was hard. There are too many good ones and a lot of great characters. Not everyone reading this will be happy. Don’t blame us! Blame Tom for making so many great movies. Before we do, we also have to shout out his great TV career before he even became a big movie star. He was on the Love Boat, had the great show Bosom Buddies, and even had a martial arts fight with Fonzie.

Honorable Mentions

On the list of greats but just missing the cut are Sleepless in Seattle, Bachelor Party, That Thing You Do!, Turner & Hooch, Charlie Wilson’s War, Road to Perdition. All great with some awesome scenes, but as you will see the rest are hard to top.

**There are spoilers, so don’t get mad if you haven’t seen a movie yet and continue to read.**

Big (1988) – Piano Scene

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Big

When we were kids we all wanted to be grown up. When we grew up, we kinda wished we could be kids again. Arguably, no movie sums this up as well as Big. The great comedy from 1988 had Hanks as Josh Baskin, the kid that made a wish (Zoltar still creeps me out) and grew up overnight. He realized how good he had it and went back to being a kid, but not before giving everyone the two songs they must try to play whenever they see a keyboard.

Fedex – Cast Away Commercial

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Cast Away

“We never turn our back on it and we never ever allow ourselves the sin of losing track of time.”

The FedEx man who was all about time and efficiency, Hanks’ character Chuck Nolan has the misfortune of becoming a modern-day Robinson Crusoe. Stranded on a deserted island with his thoughts and a volleyball named Wilson, Nolan adapts to life alone before realizing he doesn’t want to die alone.

Also, extra props to FedEx for taking the movie and giving us one of the funniest Super Bowl commercials of all time.

I’m Tired Boss | The Green Mile | SceneScreen

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The Green Mile

Hanks is masterful as Paul Edgecomb, a death row prison guard who encounters a life-changing man in John Coffey. He initially is dismissive of Coffey and tries to ignore him, although he is still drawn to him. As he gets to know him, he realizes that a mistake has been made and now has to deal with the fallout of what he learned. An allegory of the story of Jesus, the movie has moved many to tears.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2undcZx2MFo
Captain Phillips get rescued by navy seals movie scene

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Captain Phillips

“Look at me, I’m the captain now!”

The line gave birth to plenty of memes (especially for us military types) but the movie is pretty well done. Hanks plays the title character and delivers an amazing performance of a by-the-book guy that keeps as cool a head as he can when dealing with pirates. As cool as the Navy sniper who made that awesome shot.

Philadelphia (1/8) Movie CLIP – I Have A Case (1993) HD

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Philadelphia

For his role as Andrew Beckett, Hanks won his first Academy Award. Playing a man dying of AIDS who sues his employer for wrongful termination, Hanks gave a performance of a lifetime while educating the world at the time about the humanity of AIDS sufferers (especially in the LGBT community) in the early 90s. His transformation from a young vibrant man to a dying shell of his former self changed Hanks from the comedic actor of the 80s to the powerhouse thespian that he’s been for the rest of his career.

Apollo 13

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Apollo 13

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Playing Jim Lovell, Hanks teams up with Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon to portray the almost disastrous Apollo 13 mission. The special effects and cinematography are amazing, it’s directed by Ron Howard so you know its good, and the rest of the cast back on Earth deliver amazing performances (failure is not an option, right?)—but Hanks is the rock of the movie. Showing steady leadership the entire time, from when things are great, to when the shit hits the fan, to when you just have to sit back and pray, Hanks brings it on home.

There’s No Crying In Baseball [Full Scene HD]

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A League of Their Own

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

Jimmy Dugan yelling at poor Evelyn is the icing on the cake for probably the best comedic performances of his career. A drunk has-been, Dugan gets the chance at redemption managing a team of female ball players during World War II. The journey from uninterested drunk to cynical doubter to teetotalling motivational manager is pretty fun to watch until Dottie drops the ball.

Toy Story 3 – The Furnace

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Toy Story (1, 2, 3, and I guess 4)

In a movie that literally changed the way animation was done, Hanks gave us one of the most endearing and lovable animated characters of all time, and then three more times after that. Playing the favorite (until Buzz shows up) toy of Andy, Woody is the boss of his own toy universe. When we were kids, we all imagined how our toys would be if they came to life. We all imagined they would be like Woody. How much did we love him and his buddies… you know you just about lost it at that scene in Toy Story 3, don’t lie.

Bubba Goes Home – Forrest Gump (4/9) Movie CLIP (1994) HD

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Forrest Gump

You can say Pulp Fiction should have won Best Picture that year. You can say Jenny is a truly evil person. You can say that the movie is overly sentimental. But who cares? It is still an amazing film that shows the journey of America through the life of a simpleton. Hanks is a ping pong player, runner, star football player, shrimp boat captain, and a whole bunch of other things.

But his portrayal of a soldier in Vietnam and his relationships with his friends Bubba and Lt. Dan resonates with every veteran. Holding one buddy in his arms as he dies and being there for another as he lives is a journey most of us can relate to.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) Epic Opening Scene

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Saving Private Ryan

“Earn this.”

That. Opening. Scene. There have been plenty of great war movies over the years, but this one made you feel as if you were there. The opening was so powerful some D-Day veterans had to take a step outside. In the midst of that opening, we are introduced to Captain John Miller. Miller is the guy we wish was our Commanding Officer and the guy we would follow into combat. Follow, because as a true Ranger, he led the way up until the very end. Hanks’ portrayal as the teacher turned warrior is his best performance to date.

So what’s your favorite Tom Hanks movie?

Comment and let us know!

And feel better Tom and Rita!!!

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.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
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

Articles

The Punisher revealed its episodes via Morse Code

On Twitter this morning, the official twitter handle for the upcoming “Punisher” series on Netflix released a series of cryptic tweets.


Quick translation into the regular alphabet gives you: “3am, two dead men, and Kandahar.” Kandahar, Afghanistan, is more than likely where Frank Castle was deployed, since he mentioned to an old Marine veteran back in Daredevil Season 2 that he was in Afghanistan.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
…and definitely where this scene takes place, given the headgear (Screengrab via Marvel)

The name of all of the episodes are:

  1. “3 AM”
  2. “Two Dead Men”
  3. “Kandahar”
  4. “Resupply”
  5. “Gunner”
  6. “The Judas Goat”
  7. “Crosshairs”
  8. “Cold Steel”
  9. “Front Toward Enemy”
  10. “Virtue of the Vicious”
  11. “Danger Close”
  12. “Home”
  13. “Memento Mori”

Following the standard 13 episode format for all of the series, this seems to make sense. The series of tweets ends with a very cryptic video meant to invoke the feeling of something being classified by the military.

The video ends with an ambiguous date in 2017. However, I have my own personal theory on this.

One of the directors on The Punisher accidentally revealed the show’s premiere month. The director said Netflix was planning to release his episode in November. Knowing the structure of every Netflix’s television show, this basically means that every episode drops with the whole season for maximum binging results. Netflix also releases a lot of their shows on a Friday, once again for maximum binging results.

If Marvel and Netflix were to drop it on any Friday to get the best results, it would be over Veteran’s Day weekend. The day before Veteran’s Day is also the Marine Corps’ Birthday. What better way to celebrate the anniversary of the Corps than by having its favorite fictional son’s television show released on the same day?

I’m open to criticism if I’m wrong, but if I’m right this could be one of the best birthday gifts ever.

Articles

There was lots of buzz at Sundance for this dramatic slave story

Nate Parker’s film The Birth of a Nation won Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury and Audience prizes for a drama, just days after the production company signed a record $17.5 million distribution deal with Fox Searchlight. The film is about what happens to a former slave after he leads a liberation movement to free other slaves.


MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

The movie is based on actual events, and the uprising did not end well for the slaves or Nat Turner, the man who led it.

Turner was a slave from Southampton County, Virginia. He could read and write, which was unusual for slaves.  He was also deeply religious, devoted to fasting and prayer.

Turner would have visions that guided him through his life. He conducted Baptist church services and was dubbed “The Prophet” by his fellow slaves. While working in his owner’s fields one day, Turner heard “a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first.”

In 1830, a man named Joseph Travis purchased Turner. It was while under Travis’ ownership Turner would make his move. The next year, an atmospheric disturbance made the sun appear bluish-green in Virginia. Turner took this as a sign, and prepared to start his rebellion.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

On August 22, 1831, thirty years before the Civil War, Turner and an inner circle of trusted slaves gathered. They killed the Travis family as they slept, then went house-to-house freeing slaves and killing white people. His number soon grew to over 40 slaves, most on horseback.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

Sixty whites were killed before Turner’s rebellion was put down. Even then, it took twice the number of men in the responding Federal and Virginia militias, along with three artillery companies to defeat the uprising. His rebellion crushed, Turner hid around the Travis farm until his capture on October 30. He was quickly tried, convicted, hanged, and skinned.

Retaliatory attacks from white mobs killed 200 more slave and free black men, women, and children. The state legislature of Virginia considered abolishing slavery, but decided instead to keep it and its repressive policy against all black people in the state, especially enforced illiteracy among slaves.

The Turner Rebellion is one of the defining events in the lead up to the American Civil War, on par with John Brown’s raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Before this stuntman flipped trucks in Batman movies he fought the Vietnam War

WATM’s Ryan Curtis hits the streets with stuntman Jim Wilkey, a Vietnam War vet whose Hollywood credits include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “Rush Hour,” “Inception,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” and several others. Jim’s experience in the Navy working with a wide range of equipment gave him the knowledge to get started as a stuntman.


Now, watch as Jim gives our man Ryan a crash course in basic stunt driving skills.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Michael B. Jordan visited Fort Jackson to prepare for a movie

Fort Jackson, SC is a major hub of military education. The base hosts, Army basic training and AIT, the Adjutant General School, Finance School, Chaplain School, and the Interservice Postal Training Activity. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of people come through the base every year. This year, the base hosted a very special guest and assisted him with research.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Recruits attend basic training at Fort Jackson (U.S. Army)

Michael B. Jordan spent four days at Fort Jackson to prepare for an upcoming movie role. He was hosted by the base Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr. “Glad we could show him Army hospitality and the training excellence that we have here,” Brig. Gen. Beagle said.

Jordan previously appeared in the blockbuster hits Creed and Black Panther. Although it is unclear what movie he was preparing for, the actor is appearing in the upcoming action thriller Without Remorse. Based on the Tom Clancy book of the same name, Without Remorse follows a former CIA Navy SEAL who seeks revenge after his wife is killed by a drug lord and finds himself in a larger conspiracy. The book exists in the same universe as Jack Ryan.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
Jordan appears in a promotional image for Without Remorse (Paramount Pictures)

Recently, the Tom Clancy film franchise has been in a slump. Although older films based on the late author’s works like The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games are still widely popular, recent films like The Sum of All Fears and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit have been met with mixed reviews. The Tom Clancy name was reinvigorated with the release of Amazon’s television series Jack Ryan. Moreover, the titular main character is played by 13 Hours star John Krasinski. The show has been renews for a third season.

Without Remorse was originally slated to be released by Paramount Pictures. However, in July 2020, the studio began talks with Amazon who seeks to acquire the rights to the film.

Articles

8 awful songs that make combat camera troops want to die

You let us tag along on your convoy. You let us raid a house in the stack. You watched our ass while our head was in a camera viewfinder. You even let us eat your food. So when you ask us for some of the footage of the unit in action we’re happy to oblige.


MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer
You see how combat camera has to face the opposite direction of where all the grunts are looking? We kinda owe you one for stopping whatever comes that way.

When you want us to make a music video of it, no problem, even though we know using copyrighted music is illegal. We want you to keep letting us roll with you…and for you to keep saving our asses.

But then one of your officers tells us to use one of these eight songs and it makes us die inside.

1. Drowning Pool — “Bodies”

This is by far the most overused song ever paired with combat camera footage (with “Soldiers” a close second). And it’s not just commanders asking combat camera to do this. Civilians do this ad nauseam.

That video has more than a million views. A MILLION. I don’t understand the enduring popularity of this song, but if there’s a better or more obvious song about killing a lot of people, I haven’t heard it.

2. Saliva — “Click Click Boom”

A full 20 percent of YouTube is probably the same video footage of the military with this Saliva song — this Saliva song about how great the lead singer’s childhood was and how totally awesome it is that he’s on the radio now.

I wish Beavis and Butthead were around to rip on this band. Still, it does make it pretty easy to edit a video fast, even if I feel like a complete hack afterward.

3. Outkast — “B.O.B.”

Civilians also like to make videos with this song. Which is understandable but, except for the title “Bombs Over Baghdad,” it’s not really about anything military related.

The only lyric the casual listener probably understands for most of the song is “Bombs Over Baghdad,” so when you send it to your mom, she gets the point of the video, and can’t really hear about the struggles of Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s pre-stardom struggle.

4. Chad Kroeger ft. Josey Scott — “Hero”

The singers from Nickelback AND Saliva. Enough said. Good lord this song was so big in 2002-2003. You’ll be just as proud of a video featuring you clearing houses to this song as you are your trucker hat collection and your flip phone.

This song was supposed to be an uplifting anthem for the first Spider-Man movie but it’s the most depressing song I’ve ever been asked to use in any video ever. I bet if you asked Kirsten Dunst what the low point of her career was, it would be that she didn’t have the choice to be excluded from this music video.

5. P.O.D. — “Boom”

Another band who sings about how they’re a band now. If you haven’t noticed the trend, guitar riffs and shouting “boom” were super popular in the early 2000s.

P.O.D. is the MySpace of metal. They’re still around but no one knows why.

6. Toby Keith — “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”

This song is so cheesy, I’m actually surprised Chad Kroeger didn’t write it, but maybe there are some things even Pop Rock Jesus won’t do. Some of you might think this song is awesome but I doubt you’d play it at a party in front of all your friends.

Also Toby Keith got more awards and plaques from military units just for singing this song than some people got for actually enlisting after 9/11.

7. Godsmack — “I Stand Alone”

Forget for a moment that the frontman sounds like Adam Sandler’s impression of Eddie Vedder. This song’s lyrics read like they were translated from Nepali by Google Translate. Also, unless your unit is the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae (it isn’t), you definitely don’t stand alone.

8. AC/DC — “Thunderstruck”

Ok, this isn’t an awful song. I mean, I get why you might want six minutes of your squadron or platoon blowing things up to AC/DC. But, aside from the opening minute and a half or so, this is could be any AC/DC song. All AC/DC songs sound like this. That’s why we love them.

Special Award:

Nazareth — Hair of the Dog

To be honest, this request only happened once, but do you really think any young Marine is going to love watching themselves on a dismounted patrol to this song?

Why not just have me choose something from Chicago’s greatest hits? If I gave any grunt a music video of themselves with this song, they’d beat my Air Force ass so hard.

There’s no joke here, I’d just get my ass kicked.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The first large crowd to gather after 9/11 will probably not surprise you

The days following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were a strange time for Americans. For the first time in most people’s lives, political divisions disappeared. Daily life became anything but routine, even if you lived far from Ground Zero. Even American pop culture was deeply affected by the events, unsure of when it would be acceptable to laugh again.

Leave it to America’s foremost experts in drama and onscreen conflict to show everyone it was okay to gather once more.


On Sept. 13, just two days after the attacks that shook the world, it was the WWE who gathered people together in (where else but) Texas. Houston, to be exact. Emotions were still riding high, not only among the people who create the WWE’s show twice a week, but the nation as a whole. Just like the rest of America, Vince McMahon and his staff had watched helplessly as planes flew into the Twin Towers, not once but twice.

But the WWE – its producers as well as its staff and the “Superstar” wrestlers who make the show happen – considered themselves lucky, lucky to be with the people with whom they spent a majority of their time anyway. They were with the people who were as close to family as they could get in those stressful hours.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

(WWE)

The show that night, just two days after the attacks, was supposed to be a Smackdown! taping in America’s third largest city. The WWE initially felt the taping should be postponed, that America had other things to worry about. They weren’t alone. Many shows, especially live-taped shows, were airing reruns instead of new episodes. No one knew exactly what to say.

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared with the cast of Saturday Night Live and told America is was okay to laugh again. Jon Stewart used his time on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to remind Americans that life had to go on, and that it was okay. But people and entertainers were still wary of getting together in large crowds.

Not the WWE.

MiG-28: ‘Top Gun’s’ fictional Cold War killer

(WWE)

After Vince McMahon was assured by government officials that regular WWE programming would actually be more helpful in getting people’s minds off the tragedy, they went ahead with the show. WWE Superstars crowded the ringside as their boss, the wrestling mogul, entered the ring to an enthusiastic crowd, chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”It was McMahon giving a speech just like the ones a WWE Superstar would give as part of the plot of any given Raw or Smackdown! episode, challenging a rival to a grudge match.

“The spirit of America lives here in Houston, Texas,” McMahon said, as he began a speech that sent condolences to the victims and families of 9/11 and condemned the terrorists. “Our nation’s leaders have encouraged us to return to living our lives the way we normally do… the American way… Make no mistake about the message this public assembly is sending to terrorism tonight. That message is simply we will not live our lives in fear.”

“America’s heart has been wounded but her spirit shines as a beacon of freedom,” he said, “that will never be extinguished.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

Army veteran and Fox & Friends Weekend co-host to present 2nd annual Patriot Awards

Pete Hegseth is set to host Fox Nation’s 2nd annual Patriot Awards on Friday, celebrated virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s not all he does. 

Although well known as the co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend, he is also a proud Army National Guard combat veteran with a passion for service and holds a deep love for his country. “I love the Patriot Awards because it’s the one award show in America that celebrates what we should be celebrating,” he explained. Hegseth shared that the show honors people like service members and law enforcement but also unsung heroes — ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 

One thing that Hegseth feels really sets this award apart from others is the highlighting of values and honoring of everyday Americans serving their communities. “These people didn’t do these things because they thought they would get an award or because they thought they would get recognition which I think makes it all the more special,” he said. “We think it’s exactly the kind of thing that people want to be hearing right now.” Not only does the Patriot Awards want to showcase these stories but they hope to inspire viewers to recognize that they too can make a difference. 

Hegseth hosting the Patriot Awards on Fox Nation.

Hegseth appears to be a complete natural in front of a camera but his path to becoming one of the most recognizable faces on television started with wanting to serve his country. The seed was planted within him as a young boy watching small town parades showcasing veterans but it kept growing as he got older. After graduating from Princeton in 2003, he was commissioned into the Army National Guard as an infantry officer. A year later, he was called to active duty and deployed to Guantanamo Bay where he was an infantry platoon leader. Despite finishing his deployment and being able to return home to the states, he volunteered to deploy to Iraq. 

When Hegseth returned from that deployment in 2007, he spent a lot of his time as an advocate on veterans issues. He was a frequent commentator on national talk shows and even testified before Congress. Hegseth was one semester away from completing his master’s degree in 2011 when he deployed to Afghanistan. 

During his time in service, Hegseth was awarded the Bronze Star twice. After 12 years, he left the Army National Guard as a major, although he still remains part of the Individual Ready Reserve. “What motivates me is love of country and wanting to fight for it. It’s why I signed up to join the military in the first place… when I got out, like a lot of vets, I was like, what do I do now?” Hegseth said. Looking for purpose, he spent some time running advocacy groups and continued to speak on veterans issues. 

Slowly, Hegseth began gaining traction and recognition for segments he was involved in on television. “Eventually some producers at Fox & Friends said, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about asking questions instead of answering them?” Hegseth said with a smile. Although not sure how it would pan out, he gave it a shot. “It’s not the same but once you’ve been shot at or been there on missions, you can handle a couple of tough questions on live television.” The rest is history. 

Hegseth poses with a fellow soldier in uniform.

Being a combat veteran in television is a rarity, but something that Hegseth takes pride in. “I never wanted to be on TV; that was never my goal. But here I am and I want to use it to serve the country that I love so much,” he explained. He does this through his continued advocacy and co-hosting the Fox & Friends Weekend show, but even more so on the streamed special series Modern Warriors, airing on Fox Nation. Modern Warriors highlights the experiences and lives of post 9/11 veterans, giving them the opportunity to truly share their truth. Although it really allowed him to dig deep into their stories, Hegseth wanted to do more. So, he wrote a book.

Modern Warriors will be out on shelves on November 24, 2020 and it’s a body of work that Hegseth is excited to get out into the world. “The book is really a series of interviews. It’s 15 chapters, 15 modern warriors. It’s mostly in their own words,” he explained. “You meet the human side of these guys…They were really honest in the challenges they’ve seen and how our country takes regular dudes from regular places and gives them extraordinary training. Then they send them off to the most dangerous places in the world and bring them home and effectively say ‘good luck’…you know you are signing up for that, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Hegseth was very vocal about recognizing the impact that being a soldier had on his life. It’s his hope that his story will inspire others to step forward and use their voice, even when it’s uncomfortable. Hegseth’s words of advice are simple — in those moments of overcoming adversity and stepping out in courage, other patriots are just waiting to support you. 

To watch the Patriot Awards live on Friday, November 20 at 8pm Eastern, subscribe to Fox Nation. You can also catch the encore presentation on Fox News Sunday, November 22.

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