‘The Right Stuff’ shows how military test pilots were the heroes America needed - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘The Right Stuff’ shows how military test pilots were the heroes America needed

A new Disney+ series is a throwback to an aspirational time in U.S. history that proved ordinary humans can achieve extraordinary feats.

“The Right Stuff” takes viewers back to America’s space race against the Soviet Union, with the U.S. placing its hopes on the capabilities of seven astronauts — all military test pilots. Two men at the center of the Mercury Seven are Maj. John Glenn (played by Patrick J. Adams), a revered Marine test pilot and committed family man, and Lt. Cmdr. Alan Shepard (played by Jake McDorman), one of the best test pilots in Navy history, according to a press release.


McDorman is no stranger to high-profile military characters. He previously played Navy SEAL Ryan Job in “American Sniper.” Though McDorman wasn’t looking for crossover in the two roles, he says there are parallels.

“What I got out of reading “The Right Stuff” and also reading “American Sniper” … was this relationship to fear. I mean these are people who have a very unique relationship to fear as far as any average person, like myself, could understand. To be able to act efficiently and make smart, calculated decisions under circumstances that would have any of the rest of us acting impulsively or recklessly or too reactionary is certainly a parallel,” he said.

The Right Stuff | Official Trailer | Disney+

www.youtube.com

“The Right Stuff” explores how the astronauts’ lives were put on full display, in a manner described as America’s first reality TV show — including with “government-backed PR and publicity” to elevate the Mercury Seven, McDorman says. He adds that a joy and a fear exist when portraying a real person from history.

“When you feel that real presence of people that knew this person, loved this person, along with the public perception of a person — you know it both can breathe down your neck but it can also really inspire you, because it’s just this great responsibility to have. And honestly, it really doesn’t change my approach to the work too much, and I think if you let it, it can just spin you out and kind of sabotage you. So, I kind of use it as just another layer of excitement to view into the research process,” he said.

McDorman and his fellow cast members had a wealth of research to lean on for the pre-production process, he says, but Alan Shepard was also a private man — he was among the astronauts that didn’t write his own book. The other component of McDorman’s preparation for the role entailed in-person experiences.

“As far as the physical training part of it [the role], none of us did as much as we wished we could have — there was probably an astronaut bucket list that we all have,” he said. “We didn’t get to do the most exciting parts of astronaut training physically but educationally, by far, we did. We shot in Coco Beach, we shot in Florida where all of this stuff happened. We got to meet real astronauts at Kennedy Space Center and tour the entire facility; we got invited to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing … and just kind of soak in this environment firsthand before we started.”

“The Right Stuff” takes viewers back to a unified time in history when Americans rallied behind a common goal of developing a space program. McDorman recommends adding it to the must-watch list for the intersection to strides made this year.

“I’d say directly, the historical aspect is fascinating and if you really want a bookend with this year, the first manned SpaceX launch that happened in 2020, and now this show coming out months later, which is the inception of the American space program. You really get to see the start and finish and scope of that entire timeline with this show. It’s a story that even though it’s a famous book and was adapted to an Academy Award-winning movie, I still think for a lot of people — myself being one of those people at first — it’s relatively untold. I think most people my age, and especially people younger, are familiar with Apollo 11 — Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, those guys — so learning about two space programs before Apollo, starting with Mercury and learning how the whole space program came to be and how far behind the Russians we were, you know we were reacting to them successfully putting satellites in orbit,” he said.

The Disney+ series also examines the astronauts’ families, who became instant celebrities. Among those under the microscope was Louise Shepard (played by Shannon Lucio), a wife and mother who refuses to let her husband’s [Alan Shepard] transgressions affect her home.

Lucio said she was attracted to the project because the story takes a deeper, clear-eyed look at this cast of characters who came together to try to do something that was dangerous and unheard of at that time. But the private nature of the Shepard family made getting inside of Louise’s head more difficult, Lucio added.

There is an effort by show creators to put the roles of the wives at the forefront, especially because Lucio points out these families were forced to present a “perfect Americana life to the public” while grappling with the realities of their lives privately.

“The show really focuses primarily on three astronauts: John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and Gordo Cooper, and then it also puts a good focus on their wives — and really what each wife was struggling with during this chaotic time when the spotlight was really on them. It does focus, not just on how they were there for their men to support them through this, but what was personally going on for them,” Lucio said.

Shannon Lucio as “Louise” and Jake McDorman as “Alan”

The couple’s relationship, as an example, was complex because it was born out of love, but “Alan was a known philanderer, almost from the moment they were married and throughout most of his life,” Lucio says. Still, Louise remained by his side so that the family could remain whole and he could continue being Alan Shepard.

Lucio says “The Right Stuff” offers an opportune message for current matters facing the nation.

“The story is an inspiring one because it takes these people who are deeply-flawed, but very ambitious and also noble and honorable, in some respects, and it throws them together and they’re all jockeying for this position to be the first. But at the end of the day they realize this is so much bigger than them. This is for America. This is for humanity. This is for trying to push what we are capable of further, and I think that right now, especially with what’s going on and how divisive our country in particular is in this moment, coming together and accomplishing something that is unthinkable is a story I feel needs to be shared and watched right now, for the sake of our souls,” Lucio said.

Other members of the cast include Patrick J. Adams as “Major John Glenn,” Colin O’Donoghue as “Captain Gordon Cooper,” Eloise Mumford as “Trudy Cooper,” James Lafferty as “Captain Scott Carpenter,” Nora Zehetner as “Annie Glenn,” Eric Laden as “Chris Kraft, Jr.,” Patrick Fischler as “Bob Gilruth,” Aaron Staton as “Wally Schirra,” Michael Trotter as “Virgil “Gus” Grissom,” Micah Stock as “Deke Slayton,” and Josh Cooke as “Loudon Wainwright, Jr.”

The eight-episode series premiered on Oct. 9 and is available for streaming on Disney+.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here is how the Army-Navy game became so huge

The Army-Navy game is a big deal. That said, over the course of this 120-year rivalry, it’s been important for different reasons.


Through World War II, Army and Navy were two college-football powerhouses, able to hold their own against the likes of Rutgers and Norte Dame. Both Army and Navy have won National Championships, but that hasn’t happened for either team since 1946 and 1926, respectively. Currently, across the 117 meetings of these two teams, Navy leads the series 60-50-7, thanks, in part, to a 14-year winning streak that ended with Army’s 21-17 win in 2016.

A play from scrimmage during the 2002 Army-Navy game. Navy won, 58-12, after an incident where Army cadets stole the Navy’s mascot. (US Navy photo)

Times have changed: Today, Army and Navy aren’t regular contenders for the national championship. But even if these teams aren’t competing for a national title, the Army-Navy game, which has been played routinely since 1890, is still a big deal. In fact, it’s the only game played the weekend after conference championships.

Why is this game so fervently followed? There are a number of reasons outside of exciting football, two of which are unique to this match-up. First, while many Division-I college players eye professional football after graduation, those going to military academies are to fulfill a five-year service obligation. The fact is that most professional teams selecting players in the seven-round NFL draft don’t have the luxury of waiting for that service obligation to end.

Although this hasn’t stopped some of the greats in the past, including Roger Staubach, Phil McConkey, and Joe Cardona, it’s not very likely today. That means that the men on the field are playing purely for the love of the sport, not for a contract down the line.

Dallas Cowboys Hall-of-Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, who threw 153 TDs in a career that began after service in the United States Navy. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Second, what sets the Army-Navy game apart from other college football matches is the fact that the players in this game, at some point in the next four years, will be defending our country. Each year, first-class cadets and midshipmen storm Lincoln Field in Philadelphia, ready and willing to play for pride, while they’re just months away from joining a military still fighting a global war on terror.

All will serve bravely and, unfortunately, some of them may even make the ultimate sacrifice. In July 2010, former Army quarterback Chase Prasnicki was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. The Army-Navy game is just as much a celebration of the brave, young service members that defend our home as it is a celebration of sport. That is why the Army-Navy game is such a big deal.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘No Time to Die’ trailer revives James Bond

The first trailer for No Time to Die interrupts James Bond’s short-lived retirement when an old CIA buddy asks for help. Felix Leiter (played by Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright) reaches out to his old pal Bond (rumored to be played by Daniel Craig for the last time) to help locate a missing scientist.

Bond partners with a new 00 agent, Nomi, (Captain Marvel’s Lashana Lynch) who rocks some excellent and understated swagger in the trailer, and his ol’ buddy Q (with Ben Whishaw returning) and the team are off to face a new enemy and an old flame.

Check out the trailer:


NO TIME TO DIE Trailer

www.youtube.com

NO TIME TO DIE Trailer

The trailer kicks off with the possibility that Bond has been betrayed by a woman yet again. Léa Seydoux returns as Madeleine Swann, who is keeping a secret that will to lead them to Rami Malek’s villain, Safin.

“You gave up everything for her. When her secret finds its way out, it will be the death of you,” taunts Christoph Waltz’ Blofeld.

Leiter calls Bond “brother” so we know how close they are.

No Time to Die, Universal

After the reunion and the surprise encounter with Swann, the trailer cleverly plots the stakes: the woman — and the world.

“Your skills die with your body. Mine will survive long after I’m gone,” hints Safin. We can all agree that Malek was born to play a Bond villain right? Especially one that is armed with some kind of creepy technology?

There’s some kind of human experimentation going on here and I don’t care for it.

No Time to Die, Universal

“History isn’t kind to men who play god,” warns Bond.

Daniel Craig has been playing James Bond since 2006’s Casino Royale, and after five films, this will finally be his swan song. The film has every reason to succeed.

Directed by Cary Fukunaga (remember that incredible long-shot battle scene in the first season of True Detective? That was Fukunaga) and written by a team that recruited Killing Eve Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, this should be a new, fresh take on James Bond.

No Time to Die will open in theaters on April 8, 2020.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This journalist witnessed the rise of ISIS up close—and now he’s telling the story​

In 2007 I was a fresh-out-to-pasture journalist, trying not to lose my sanity as an Army wife and stay at home mom. I had worked most recently as a reporter for The Fayetteville Observer, but my husband, a Special Forces soldier, kept getting deployed. We couldn’t afford a nanny, and no daycare in town stayed open late enough to watch our son until I could get off work.


The Observer offered me an opportunity to write a blog and two weekly columns from home, and that’s how I came to meet Mike Giglio, a fresh-out-of-college writer for Charlotte Magazine, working on a story about military families at Ft. Bragg.

Giglio has written a book now, “Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate” – an open wound of a book, as raw and bleeding as the conflict itself.

But back in 2007, he came to my house, sat in my living room, made the requisite comments about the adorableness of my toddler, and interviewed me. He has since told me that I was the first person he had interviewed about war. He has interviewed many, many more people since. He wrote then:

Rebekah Sanderlin looks like an Army wife from a movie: the hero pulls out her picture in the opening scene, she has dark hair, engaging eyes, and a warm smile, she’s holding his kid, and you’re already hoping he makes it out of this thing alive.

12 years and as many deployments later, my husband and I are still married and, indeed, he appears to have made it out of this thing alive.

I followed Giglio’s career from a distance after that, watching as his byline hopped up to the big leagues and then across the ocean, first to London and then to Istanbul, and then right into the heart of war.

Now a journalist for The Atlantic, he spent four years living in Turkey and Syria, interviewing members of the Islamic State, their enablers, and legions of others who were pushing back against ISIS’ terror quest for power, embedding with U.S. military units as well as low-level groups of resistance fighters.

(The Atlantic)

His book is part memoir, part chronicle. We see the early movements of ISIS in the form of sources and scoops that grow into defeats and victories. He is unflinching in the descriptions but avoids the war-porn tendencies lesser writers find irresistible. There are no heroes and no villains, only humans showing up, day after day. Characters come and go, lost to war and the swirling chaos of life. There are no neat and tidy endings. This is news – news never ends.

His sparse, direct, writing style is appropriately like chewing on broken glass. A book about ISIS shouldn’t be overwrought. There’s too much gore, too much horror, too much human misery, for a writer in love with adjectives. No one needs those adjectives.

Of an Iraqi Special Forces soldier, he writes:

“So when militiamen kidnapped Ahmed from a checkpoint in Baghdad one day, they didn’t just torture him. They put a circular saw to his forehead and tried to peel off his face. Then they put a hood over his head, shot him five times, and tossed his body in a garbage dump, thinking he was dead. Ahmed survived, though, and was found by an elderly man, who carried him to a hospital. When he recovered, he had gained his nickname – The Bullet, for what couldn’t kill him – and he returned to his turret.

These are not pages to read before bed.

Giglio is captured and nearly executed, and he survives being hit by a suicide bomber. He sets these encounters on the table, like an indifferent dinner party host, as if to say, “Here it is. Make of it what you will.” And, of course, there is only one thing to make of it: ISIS is even worse than you thought.

I read Mike’s book during the vacant, pedestrian, moments of my mom-life. Sitting in my daughter’s gymnastics class, reading about the young Syrian mother who watched helplessly as a wall collapsed on all four of her children during a bombing. In the front seat of my minivan, parked at the high school, waiting for that once-toddler-now-teenager, reading about a man whose seven siblings were all killed by ISIS. Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room while a friend’s wrist was being x-rayed, reading about ISIS fighters gathering body parts from numerous people into one duffel bag, only to leave the bag in the middle of a street.

I read about Mike, being zip-tied and beaten by a jeering mob in Egypt, before being thrown into a prison bus and carted to a sports arena, where sham trials and public executions were being held for political prisoners. And then the zip ties are cut from his wrists and he is inexplicably released. I think about the cub reporter I first met in my North Carolina living room, as eager for adventure as any young soldier.

He is in Iraq, embedded with a battalion from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force (ICTF) in Mosul when the results of the 2016 election are announced, and Americans of all political persuasions are melting down. He writes:

“I wondered if, when a country was at war for so long but only a select few ever waged it, the rest of society began to go a certain kind of crazy. Some played at civil war while others vowed to flee to Canada as political refugees, and too many Americans seemed to want to pull a bit of conflict into their lives just when so many people around the world were risking everything to escape from it.”

And then he finally escapes it himself, perhaps for good, writing this about then-new President Trump’s premature declaration of victory over ISIS: “As in the past, America was looking to move on from the region before the war was really over – leaving much of Iraq and Syria in ruins and ISIS still a threat. This was an impulse I embodied, too. As Colonel Arkan had once explained, the thing about going to war far from home is that you can always walk away from it.”

If you’re lucky, Mike. Only the lucky get to walk away.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘The Mandalorian’ episode 7 recap: Things get dark

The penultimate episode of season one brings us Chapter 7: The Reckoning, wherein director Deborah Chow returns — and brings along some familiar faces.

Here’s your spoiler warning:


Yeah girl.

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Our Mandalorian-of-honor receives a transmission from Greef Carga, who has a proposition that is clearly a trap. Navarro is now overrun with Imperial troopers and Carga wants them off his back, so he’s willing to team up with Mando to kill The Client.

Our Mandalorian seems to decide that this is the best deal he can get so he decides to take Carga up on his deal — but not without reinforcement. He returns to Sorgan to recruit Cara Dune, who’s brawling for credits in a bar (fun to see Gina Carano showing off some of her moves).

To my surprise, they leave Omera behind (I’m still waiting to find out why she’s such a good marksman) and head off to Arvala-7 to grab Kuiil instead.

RIP.

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Here we learn that the Ugnaught has spent the time since we last saw him repairing and reprogramming IG-11. For some reason that hasn’t yet paid off, this episode spends a lot of time on the montage of IG-11’s journey back to functioning droid. I feel like I got the gist the first time Kuiil said he reprogrammed the killing out of IG-11?

Kuill finally agrees to accompany Mando but insists on bringing IG-11 and three blurrg with him.

(Side note: I basically just ignore space and time in Star Wars otherwise I’ll get too distracted wondering how those blurrg fit in the ship? And how much time has actually passed? It only feels like a few days or weeks but I guess it’s longer?)

Silly billy! No Force-choking friends without their consent!

The Mandalorian, Disney+

During their flight back to Navarro, Mando and Cara arm-wrestle. Seeing this, the Yoda Baby misinterprets Cara’s actions as an attack against Mando so he decides to Force-choke her.

“That’s not cool!” Haha but it is hilarious. Little baby Force-choke! That’s impressive!

What’s most interesting is the reaction — no one in the ship talks about the Force after the incident. Kuiil is theoretically old enough to remember the time of the Jedi Order (he mentions to Cara that he’s lived three human lifespans), but none of the group seem to know firsthand about the Force.

Beware the intelligent adversary.

The Mandalorian, Disney+

On Navarro, the group meets up with Carga and his back-up. They decide to walk until sundown, camp for the night, then head into the city at first light. Unfortunately, they are attacked by some sort of pack of flying dragons or mynocks or wyverns. The creatures carry off two blurrgs (which was deeply unsettling — why do the innocents always have to die?) and rake Carga’s arm with poisonous claws.

Here we get to learn a pretty fun new fact about the Force — it can be used for healing. The Yoda Baby walks up to Carga, places his tiny little hand on Carga’s wounded arm, and closes the wound and eliminates the poison. Cool!

Carga thought so, too, because the next day he shoots his men and confesses that they were just going to turn on Mando. Now Carga is committed to saving the baby and killing The Client.

He suggests there will only be about four Stormtroopers guarding The Client and not to worry…

Only now, Kuiil will take the baby back to the Razor Crest and they’ll pull the ol’ fake-prisoner bit, bringing in Mando in handcuffs, and just pretend the baby is in the carrier.

Insert a “we’ve got company” quote here.

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Of course, the plan goes awry. Though The Client apparently believes the baby is “sleeping,” his boss doesn’t. Moff Gideon (played by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito) calls via hologram right before ordering an attack on everyone in the room. He shows up in a fancy TIE fighter to join his Death Troopers and trap Mando and Cara behind enemy lines.

Mando then decides to, for some reason, communicate with Kuiil over comms that are easily intercepted by Scout Troopers, who take off to capture Kuiil.

A very stressful race begins, with Kuiil and the Yoda Baby on a fleeing blurrg, racing toward the ship while the Scout Troopers speed off toward them. (I mean, how did the Scout Troopers know which way to go? Why didn’t Mando use clean comms — or at least some code?? Questions for another day…)

Honestly, I was waiting for IG-11 to burst out of the ship and save the day…but instead we cut abruptly to the Yoda Baby on the ground, scooped up by a Scout Trooper, leaving the dead blurrg and Kuiil in their wake.

With that, we’re left on an Empire-like cliffhanger waiting for the finale on Dec. 27.

You’ve heard of Elf On The Shelf but are you ready forpic.twitter.com/0dyFHkbkCR

twitter.com

Tweet of the Week

Happy Holidays, everyone.

MIGHTY MOVIES

7 common movie tropes that rely on military stupidity

Meathead generals just can’t understand what the brilliant scientist is trying to explain. Soldiers can’t get the job done without the help of the brilliant criminal. The only strategy the military knows how to use is a carpet-bombing campaign.

Seriously, we know that movie and TV writing is complicated, and that movie makers have to take some liberties in order to get their plots jump started, but these seven tropes that rely on military stupidity should really be used less often — if at all.


In Battlestar Galactica, the military got behind a plan to deploy thousands of immortal robot warriors over which they had little control. But, in their defense, the Cylons came back sexy. So… win?

(YouTube/Battlestar Galactica)

1. Military leaders use dangerous technology because science is hard

The Terminator movies are awesome. Arnold Schwarzenegger is swole, explosions are fun, and robots fighting robots is exhilarating. But does it really make sense that the U.S. military gives control of nearly all of its weapons, from nukes to stealth bombers to cyber defenses, to Skynet, a single computer program that they don’t understand? No human pilots? No man in the loop? No kill switch? Great idea.

The same issues exist within the Cylons of 2004’s Battlestar Galactica, the zombies in Return of the Living Dead 3, and the indominus rex from Jurassic World (yeah, supposedly, the military was secretly buying the data from that research in order to create dinosaur units).

Plots like these rely on the military looking at lethal weapons, over which they have no direct control, and going, “huh? Yeah, sure. We should deploy these things. Preferably, within easy range of our own troops and citizens with little or no real safeguards.”

Seriously, in Terminator Salvation, terminators physically touch John Connor, like, four times and don’t manage to kill him. I don’t think terminators need to eliminate John Connor to win. They need to figure out how to kill in the first place.

(YouTube/FilmComicsExplained)

2. Only one soldier can save us all

Remember when your entire battalion, squadron, or fleet’s mission revolved around one guy, and if he didn’t succeed then the entire battle would be lost? No? Maybe because that’s a horrible way to form a strategy. Nearly all military units spend a lot of time and energy ensuring that everyone can be replaced in case of battlefield loss.

And yet, only one Hobbit can deliver the ring to Mordor even though there are multiple armies standing by to do whatever needs done. John Connor is the only one who can stop Skynet, so much so that the factions fight to protect or destroy Sarah Connor’s womb rather than just promoting a new leader. Surely there’s some other small-unit leader that can fail to detect Terminators until they throw him across the room.

Snake Plissken is the only one who can get people out of dangerous, crime-ridden cities. Maybe because he’s the only one who is this calm while his helicopter is on fire.

(YouTube/Bookymydoor)

3. Recruiting the criminal

In the trope above, at least it’s a soldier that the military is relying on. In Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo is freed from prison to complete missions. Snake Plissken, a notorious outlaw, is the only person who can save the president in Escape from New York. Dirty Dozen sees an entire special operations unit constructed out of the Army’s hardest criminals.

It’s weird that the military doesn’t have any other special operators with, you know, more training — and discipline. And impulse control.

“Literally anything has happened. It’s time to bomb people.”

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara Martinez)

4. The military just wants to bomb everyone

The only way to defeat an enemy force is to bomb it into oblivion — at least according to some movie military leaders. General Brigham, leader of the United Defense Front in Edge of Tomorrow, is asked about what he would do if it turned out one of his soldiers could time travel and knows where the time-controlling hivemind of the enemy is. His reply? Bomb it.

That’s also the military’s response to a quarantine breach in 28 Weeks Later. In just a couple of minutes, they’re firebombing apartment buildings filled with civilians. “Well, about 20 sniper shots failed to solve the problem… I guess we should turn to firebombing civilians.”

Speaking of which …

Soldiers in zombie movies are just so bad. So very bad.

(YouTube/Operation Containment)

5. The military completely fails to enforce basic security measures

Why is it that the military can’t enforce a quarantine or lockdown in nearly any movie ever? The aforementioned 28 Weeks Later catastrophe occurs when the military decides to study the single human carrier of the dormant strain of the rage virus. They leave her locked behind doors that her husband, a glorified janitor at the facility, has the ability to unlock. Then, the now-zombified janitor is able to access the shelter where all the civilians have been sequestered, causing an outbreak.

Seems like they almost want the infection to spread. And then there’s that gum-chewing scene in 1998’s Godzilla, in which a gate guard lets a Humvee through because the occupants swear a sergeant called for them. He doesn’t check IDs, he doesn’t call the supposed sergeant — great job. I guess that barely matters when base walls in movies like The Hurt Locker are jumpable AF.

“Hey, this fight against these seemingly dead people is getting pretty serious. Think we should take off in any of our helicopters or drive any of our Humvees in either attack or retreat?” “Nah, that’ll screw up the ambiance for any unlikely survivors. Let’s leave them parked and get eaten.”

(YouTube/RickGrimes)

6. Military units are overrun by zombies and other slow monsters

Maybe that lax security is why zombies overrun mobile military units in shows like The Walking Dead and movies like 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. Sure, you need to get rid of the military for your zombie survivor story to make sense and have high stakes, but how did a helicopter unit and tanks get overrun by zombies that shamble no faster than 5 miles per hour?

Please, at least claim they ran out of fuel or something. (Yes, yes. We know the 28 Days Later zombies are fast, but still.)

A rogue commando officer armed with a rifle, a knife, and years of experience fails to take down a lab-rate chemical weapons specialist in The Rock.

(YouTube/Viper Supreme)

7. Trained killers can’t quite hit the hero or villain

In 28 Weeks Later (I love that movie, but, seriously, come on), an Apache chases a station wagon through the streets of London and is able to stick with it through some determined flying but, somehow, can’t make contact with a single round. An Apache attacks a station wagon and the station wagon survives — what?

It’s sort of like how Nicholas Cage’s character in The Rock, Stanley Goodspeed, survives numerous encounters with elite commandos who shoot at him with rifles and pistols in addition to attacking him with knives and grenades, but the worst damage he takes is self-inflicted when he uses a nerve gas capsule to poison one of the commandos.

Hollywood knows that Marines are really good at killing people, right?

MIGHTY CULTURE

Brian Chontosh on The Resilient Life Podcast: What you should be listening to

If you sometimes struggle with strength and optimism in difficult situations, keep reading.

I recently discovered motivational speaker and all-around role model Ryan Manion through her podcast, titled The Resilient Life. Honestly, I was hooked on Ryan’s story after learning about the foundation she started in her brother’s honor and name, following his death in Iraq. The Travis Manion Foundation strives to “unite and strengthen communities by training, developing and highlighting the role models that lead them.” Ryan has pledged to inspire others to improve themselves through service, and has done so through her work in TMF and, more recently, through her podcast.

In The Resilient Life, Ryan discusses how struggles shape people and the different ways we can face them. In her words, “Every human will struggle in this life. Our challenge is to struggle well.”


I think Ryan’s podcast is so impressive to me because I, too, am constantly struggling (and, subsequently, am always learning). It’s common for me to find myself thinking about the best ways to deal with pain and handle conflict. Listening to Manion’s podcast felt like hearing my own personal thoughts put into words that made sense, were inspiring, and additionally were directly applicable to my life. Through Ryan’s personal stories, dialogue with guest speakers and practical advice, aspects of my life that had previously seemed utterly cryptic are starting to make sense.

Something good happening during 2020!?

Manion dives further into the deeper topics discussed in the podcast in her book, The Knock at the Door.

The foundation of TMF in itself is the product of Ryan’s own productive struggling. Travis was killed in combat with other members of his battalion in the Al Anbar province of Iraq during his deployment in 2007. While many people use a life altering tragedy such as this one as a reason for pity and squander opportunities to learn from their own suffering, Ryan took the opportunity, or “knock at the door,” to grow and to improve herself. Her podcast and her book demonstrate her growth and put her wisdom into words.

In fact, The Resilient Life has a new episode airing today. In the second ever episode of the podcast, Manion and Brian “Tosh” Chontosh, a well-known force in the Marine Corps, discuss failure, discipline and more. Tosh is a retired Marine Corps officer who was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism and patriotism during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The most encouraging thing about the podcast is the reassurance that even successful, strong people such as Manion and Tosh can struggle and fail. Listen to the podcast to hear the details of Tosh’s struggles with the “ultra” marathon, taking place in Minnesota during wild blizzards.

Personally, I feel good about myself after running a 5K. We all have different definitions of success. And that may be why Tosh and Manion’s joint work is so amazing.

Manion’s podcast, work with and foundation of the TMF, and book are all examples of how we can use pain for productivity; suffering for efficiency. In a time where it’s so natural to be passive and let time pass us by as the world is shut down around us, it’s very easy to lose our sense of urgency in the doldrums of quarantine. However, with Manion’s inspiration, it’s a little easier to get up and get shit done.

The Travis Manion Foundation is inspiring people every day. Let yourself be one of them by listening to The Resilient Life.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s how you can see ‘Thank You For Your Service’ for free

Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres announced that on Oct. 26, 2017, up to 10,000 free movie tickets will be available to U.S. veterans and active-duty service members for DreamWorks Pictures’ “Thank You for Your Service” — at more than 400 AMC locations nationwide.


The first 25 service members (per location) with valid, government-issued ID who request a ticket will be issued one free admission to the 7:00 p.m. preview screening.

The promotion will be available at all AMC Theatres playing “Thank You for Your Service.”  Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and may only be picked up at the AMC box office on Oct. 26, 2017.

Each guest must present a valid government-issued military ID to receive their ticket, with a limit of one free ticket for each military ID presented, while supplies last.

This offer is only valid for the 7:00 p.m. showing of the film on Oct. 26, 2017

From the writer of “American Sniper” (Jason Hall), the film follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning home from Iraq and struggles to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield.

Check out the trailer for “Thank You For Your Service” — in theaters nationwide on Oct. 27, 2017.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is how video games are helping our returning veterans

Within our military community, the tools of rehabilitation and reintegration of veterans of our nation’s wars changes each year.


One of the most popular ways to take a mental break for the post-9/11 generation comes from video games. They’ve become an interactive hobby that allows you to turn your brain off for a while, focus on the story, and receive positive stimuli as you progress through the levels.

Simple mobile games like Candy Crush reward the players with in-game text that display positive messages or the opposite end of the spectrum; Dark Souls, where the challenge is the reward. These are all benefits in a world where some veterans live in constant fight-or-flight mode.

(Image via Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital)

Many studies have been done on the topic of video games and stress reduction for the general population. Not only stress, but depression, social anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder (mood swings), and substance abuse recovery — all conditions associated with post traumatic stress.

Gaming also provides an outlet for those who suffered brain trauma. Rhythm games like Guitar Hero or puzzle games like Portal are an excellent tool used by Army Therapists to work on and measure progress.

Related: This Army therapists is using video games to help wounded warriors

But do shooter games that take place in the setting of modern conflict played by those who fought there help?

YouTuber “Clients Incoming” — an Army combat veteran whose channel is dedicated to digital marketing strategy — said it best. In his video “Treating PTSD with Video Games” he says, “The adrenaline rush of being in the fight, knowing that death hangs in the balance, is not something you can recreate outside of combat.”

(Image of Call of Duty Modern Warfare remastered. Video Game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision)

“More importantly, what I get out of the gaming experience in games like [Battlefield 3] is the team aspect,” he adds. “And if you’re with a group of guys that know what they’re doing and know how to approach the situation tactically and they communicate really well. That’s an awesome ride.”

Online gaming provides a platform for our veterans to interact with each other again. I’ll admit I don’t call the guys from my old unit as much as I’d like, but I’m always able to catch them online for a round or two of Playerunknown’s Battleground.

Things always pick up just like it was the last day we were all drinking in the barracks together.

What are your thoughts? Do you use video games as a therapy or a way to reconnect with your buddies? Let us know in the comment section.

Articles

Gary Sinise supports vets by walking the walk and rocking the rock

Lt. Dan Band featuring Gary Sinise on bass guitar. (Photo: Gary Sinise Foundation)


“Going to the war zones and visiting the troops . . . and being able to pat them on the back and support them . . . has been a great joy, a great personal reward because you can see that you’re providing a service for somebody who’s providing a service for us, and it’s lifting them us in some way,” Gary Sinise says. “I make my living as an actor and all of this is simply something I do with the resources . . . and time that I have.”

Sinise started working with working with wounded warriors primarily as a function of his portrayal of Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump,” a vet who lost both legs during the Vietnam War. “That movie came out in ’92,” Sinise explains. “Then we had September 11, that terrible event, and we started responding to that in Iraq and Afghanistan — deploying to those places — and our people started getting hurt. And we had this whole new generation of Lt. Dans coming back from those wars. I wanted to very much get behind them and support them in some way.”

That desire wound up manifesting itself in myriad ways including the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Lt. Dan Band, which got its name from the fact all the troops were calling Sinise “Lt. Dan” when he’d visit them in theater.

Sinise pushes back on the idea that he’s living out some sort of rock n’ roll fantasy at midlife by playing bass guitar in a touring rock band, pointing out that he was a rocker in high school, which is, ironically, the thing that got him into acting. “I was standing in a hallway with the band members and we were looking kind of raggedy, sort of grubby band guys, you know. And the drama teacher walked by, and she told us to audition for ‘West Side Story’ because we looked like gang members. Two of us ended up going, and I got in the play.”

The Sinise family has military heritage, most notably that of his uncle Jack who was a navigator aboard a B-17 in World War II. Sinise arranged for Jack to have a ride in a vintage B-17 almost 70 years after his final war sortie in 1945, and the event was made into a short documentary that premiered at the GI Film Festival a few years ago.

Watch Gary Sinese talk to actor and Navy veteran Jamie Kaler about his support of wounded vets and the Lt. Dan Band:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/164658974

Don’t miss Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band as they kick off the 10th annual GI Film Festival in Washington DC on May 21. Check out more information and get your tickets here.

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 MOVIES

‘Midway’ movie takes war in the Pacific seriously

This Veterans Day, moviegoers everywhere can witness the most pivotal Pacific battle in World War II: “Midway.” The production reminds viewers just how precariously America’s future teetered in the early 1940s, and what cost, sacrifice and luck was required to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot, White House Down, Independence Day: Resurgence) waited ten years before embarking on the heroic story, written by U.S. Navy veteran Wes Tooke. The ambitious storyline begins in earnest in Asia the 1930s, and follows the war in the Pacific through the Midway battle that ultimately changed the tide of war.


The narrative chiefly follows the experiences of two principal characters: Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Layton (the U.S. Pacific Fleet Intelligence Officer) and Lt. Dick Best (naval aviator and commanding officer of Bombing Six squadron). As with the actual war, numerous other characters help the story take shape. Historic figures like Nimitz, Doolittle, Halsey, McClusky and others played critical roles in the war, and resultantly in the movie.

Actor Woody Harrelson observes flight operations with sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, Aug. 11, 2018, as aircraft trap, or recover, while returning from a mission.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Miller)

The movie timeline has a fever-pitch parade of battles from the attack on Pearl Harbor through the the climactic fight at Midway a mere seven months later. Those portrayed are originally imperfect versions of themselves, who grow personally and professionally. Along the way they are confronted with unimaginable challenges and choices, often with historic consequences.

“I wanted to showcase the valor and immense courage of the men on both sides, and remain very sensitive to the human toll of the battles and war itself,” said Emmerich.

Hallowed grounds

Just as the project was being “green lighted,” Emmerich visited historic Pearl Harbor in June 2016. While there, he saw first-hand the historic bases, facilities and memorials that remain some 75 years on. Home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Oahu was the target of the infamous Dec. 7 attack. The island also hosted the headquarters where much of the early Pacific war planning occurred and where information warfare professionals partially broke the Japanese code. Ultimately, this was the location from which Adm. Chester Nimitz made the decision to risk what remained of the Pacific Fleet in the gamble at Midway in June 1942.

Emmerich personally toured the waterfront, including Battleship Row and the harbor where much of the fleet was anchored that fateful Sunday morning. He went on to visit the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, which includes a dedicated Battle of Midway exhibit. His visit was curated by the facility’s historian and author Mr. Burl Burlingame, who has since passed away. Burlingame provided rich accounts of the opening months of the war, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. Emmerich also got a behind-the-scenes look in the historic aircraft hangar there.

More than 200 extras in period dress on location during the filming of the major motion picture “Midway.”

(U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Dave Werner)

The tour continued along Ford Island, which included stops at the original USS Arizona Memorial; a Navy seaplane ramp (with Pearl Harbor attack bomb and strafing scars); the Army seaplane ramps (also with strafing scars); and the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials.

Emmerich and his party then conducted windshield tours of the USS Missouri; the Pacific Fleet Headquarters compound at Makalapa – which included the historic Nimitz and Spruance homes; the temporary office space from which Adm. Kimmel watched the attack on Pearl Harbor unfold; and the famed Station HYPO, profiled throughout the movie Midway, where its operators broke enough of the Japanese code to enable the ambush at Midway.

The visitors were able to glimpse the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Dry Dock One. In the of Spring of 1942, a battered and bloodied USS Yorktown aircraft carrier limped back to Pearl Harbor following the Battle of Coral Sea. Despite extensive damage, the ship remained in dry dock only three days as shipyard works swarmed aboard to get her back in the fight. Initial repair estimates actually forecast three months to get her operational. The “Yorktown Miracle” resulted in the aircraft carrier being available to join the Midway fight a few days later.

After a full day of exposure to the places and legends who won Midway, the task of pulling it together for one movie might intimidate even the most seasoned directors. Not Emmerich.

“I was really impressed with his enthusiasm for the history and his determination to get it right. You could see the wheels turning in his head with each visit – it was like the movie was coming alive in his mind,” said Dave Werner, who escorted Emmerich and his group during the visit.

Script reviews

Once the Department of Defense approved a production support agreement with the movie’s producers, the writers got busy working to get the script as accurate as practicable. Multiple script drafts were provided to the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). Those same historians viewed the rough and final movie productions.

Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, left, and actor Woody Harrelson discuss the life and career of Adm. Chester Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander during World War II.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki)

The “Midway” movie writers and producers worked tirelessly with the Navy in script development and during production to keep the storyline consistent with the historic narrative. In a few small instances, some events portrayed were not completely consistent with the historical record. Revising them would have unnecessarily complicated an already ambitious retelling of a series of complicated military battles. The production was representative of what unfolded in the opening months of WWII in the Pacific and does justice to the integrity, accountably, initiative and toughness of the sailors involved.

The naval historians who reviewed the production were impressed.

“I’m glad they did a movie about real heroes and not comic book heroes. Despite some of the ‘Hollywood’ aspects, this is still the most realistic movie about naval combat ever made and does real credit to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in the battle, on both sides,” said the director of NHHC, retired Rear Adm. Sam Cox, who personally supported each phase of the historical review.

The commitment to getting it right matriculated to the actors honored to represent American heroes.

Harrelson as Adm. Chester Nimitz

Woody Harrelson plays the role of Adm. Chester Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander who assumed command after the attack on Pearl Harbor, through Midway and remained in command until after the end of the war. Harrelson bears an uncanny resemblance to Nimitz in the movie.

In preparing for the role and while in Pearl Harbor, Harrelson called on Rear Adm. Brian Fort, who was (at the time) the commander of Navy Region Hawaii. Harrelson wanted to understand the decisions the fleet admiral took in those critical months, and also wanted to get a sense of the type of naval officer and man Nimitz was. Calm and understated, and renowned for his piercing blue eyes, Nimitz was a quiet, confident leader. And he demonstrated a remarkable threshold for taking calculated risks. Committing his remaining carriers to the Midway engagement was chief among them.

Actor Woody Harrelson, second from left, poses for a photo with sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) while observing flight operations with sailors.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Miller)

“Adm. Nimitz came in at an extremely difficult time for the Pacific Fleet. It was really important for Harrelson to understand not just the man, but the timing of his arrival and the urgency of the situation for the Navy and nation,” said Jim Neuman, the Navy Region Hawaii historian who arranged the meeting between Rear Adm. Fort and Harrelson. Neuman also served as the historical liaison representative on multiple sets during the filming.

Harrelson also got underway on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in August 2018 while the ship operated in the eastern Pacific Ocean. While embarked Harrelson got a close look at air operations at sea. He observed the launching and recovery of various naval aircraft, as well as seeing the navigation bridge and other areas critical in ensuring the ship operates safely. Harrelson was also exceedingly generous with his time to interact with sailors, stopping to talk with them, sign autographs and even played piano at an impromptu jam session.

During the visit, he saw first-hand what “Midway” depicts throughout: Navy teams work very closely together to make the impossible become possible.

The Midway battle pitted four Japanese aircraft carriers against three American carriers. Preparing, arming, launching and recovering aircraft from a ships at sea is no easy task. Adding the uncertainty and urgency of war only complicates an already highly complex operation.

Having credible combat power win the fight was only one aspect of winning Midway. Having them in the right location, at the right time, was the work of the information warfare professionals.

Wilson as Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Layton

Patrick Wilson, who serves in the role of Lt. Cmdr Edwin Layton, the U.S. Pacific Fleet intelligence officer, took great care in accurately portraying his character. He called on the Pacific Fleet’s intelligence officer, just-retired Navy Capt. Dale Rielage. The two toured an unclassified area outside of the still highly-classified offices at the Pacific Fleet. The outer office space is adorned with storyboards that remind the Navy information warfare professionals there just how critical their work was in winning Midway and the war in the Pacific. Also located there is the Pacific Fleet intelligence officer portrait board – with Layton’s picture being the first in a line of dozens of officers who have served in the 75 years since.

Patrick Wilson, right, who portrays U.S. Pacific Fleet intelligence officer Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Layton in the upcoming movie “Midway,” tours U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters. Here he tours an unclassified outer office dedicated to heritage of the World War II information warfare specialists who helped win the war in the Pacific.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Dave Werner)

After the brief tour, the two sat down and compared notes about Layton’s education, his experiences in Japan and elsewhere before the war, his relationship to Nimitz, and what the relationship was like between the Pacific Fleet staff and the code breakers in Station HYPO. No detail was too small, including typical protocol concerning how staff might have reacted when a senior officer such as Adm. Nimitz entered the office. Wilson’s command of Layton’s history was impressive and exhaustive, and his portrayal in the movie reflects it.

In fact, the research he and others put into the script and portrayals made “Midway” a compelling and believable representation of how information warfare professionals literally helped save the world 75 years ago. In today’s connected 21st-century information landscape, the importance of naval information warfare professionals are even more important to today’s security.

“We were thoroughly impressed with the amount of research he had conducted on his own, and it’s evident he is committed to honoring Layton’s legacy. Besides that, he was a really just a good guy and earnestly interested in learning more about Layton and the history,” said Werner, who escorted Wilson during the visit to the staff.

“Midway” opens in theaters everywhere on Nov. 8, 2019.

This article originally appeared on United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s what Tom Selleck would have been like as Indiana Jones

Prior to filming Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1980, director Steven Spielberg and writer George Lucas really, really didn’t want to cast as Harrison Ford as Indy. Instead, they wanted that guy who your mom thought was hot in the ’70s, Mr. Magnum P.I. himself, Tom Selleck. Selleck famously screen-tested for the character of Indiana Jones, but because he was locked into a contract with Magnum P.I., he couldn’t take the role! Spielberg and Lucas brought in Harrison Ford just a few weeks before filming. (Lucas didn’t want to, because he’d already cast Ford in the Star Wars movies.) The rest is history, and Harrison Ford’s (other) famous franchise was born.


But what if Selleck had been cast? A new “deepfake” video created by YouTube user Sham00K is answering that question and making the rounds on the internet. It digitally plasters Selleck’s ’80s face — including the famous mustache — over Harrison Ford’s. It’s basically a way to see (but not hear, Ford’s voice is still audible) an alternate dimension in which Selleck played Indy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD5qDnk2wVw
If Tom Selleck had said yes to ‘Indiana Jones’ instead of Harrison Ford

www.youtube.com

You can also watch Selleck’s screen test for Raiders with actress Sean Young below. This has been around for a while and is relevant to this thought experiment because Tom Selleck’s voice is super-distinctive in a way that is totally different than Harrison Ford. (It’s also interesting because though Karen Allen, not Sean Young, ended up playing Marion, Young did star opposite Harrison Ford in Blade Runner a few years later in 1982. So many roads not taken in these ’80s movies!)

Raiders Of The Lost Ark – Memories of the casting

www.youtube.com

The new “deepfake” video also assumes that there would have been Indiana Jones movies after Raiders of the Lost Ark; it features digitally altered scenes of Tom Selleck in both Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. But, let’s get serious. Tom Selleck is fine, but the reason there were sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark is because of the singular charm and deadpan coolness of Harrison Ford. Meaning, the idea of digitally inserting Selleck into Temple of Doom and Last Crusade is anachronistic, twice.

We’re still a long way out from a new Indy movie, but most of the old ones are still on Netflix!

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