Bravo! tells the story of the 77-day Siege of Khe Sanh, one of the most brutal and deadly battles of the Vietnam war. Its creators, Ken and Betty Rodgers of Boise, Idaho, will present a special screening of the film Monday, Aug. 13, 6 p.m., at the Douglas McArthur Academy of Freedom in Brownwood.
Admission is open to the public and free of charge.
The Siege of Khe Sanh began in the early morning hours of January 21, 1968, when 20,000 North Vietnamese troops closed in on an American base manned by 6,000 Marine troops in a hilly, desolate part of the country.
Seventy-seven days later, when the horrific and unrelenting bombardment finally ended, 703 American and South Vietnamese troops had been killed, 2,642 wounded, and seven were missing. North Vietnam casualties were estimated between 10,000 and 15,000.
One of the survivors of the Siege of Khe Sanh was Ken Rodgers, who grew up in Casa Grande, Arizona, and who joined the United States Marine Corps right after his freshman year of college. He was one of the Marines of Bravo Company, First Battalion, 26th Regiment, who fought at Khe Sanh. He was barely 21 years old.
Since then, he and the other Marines of Bravo Company who survived Khe Sanh have gathered regularly to commemorate and pay homage to the battle and their fallen comrades. At the 2009 Khe Sanh Veterans' reunion in Denver, Colorado, Ken and his wife Betty decided the individual stories of Khe Sanh needed to be recorded and preserved.
Ken is a published author and teacher of creative writing. Betty is an accomplished photographer whose work is displayed in homes, businesses and galleries throughout the American West. A book seemed an obvious choice.
But they both agreed the story they wanted to tell needed a different medium. They decided to produce a documentary film.
Two years of exhaustive research and a learn-as-you-go crash course in film making resulted in Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor. The two-hour documentary film is made up of archival film and photographs, a stunning sound track, and the heart-wrenching stories of 15 former Marines who fought with Rodgers at the Siege of Khe Sanh.
It has been described as "the most profound film ever made about war."
Now in the film festival circuit, Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor has been screened privately at various locations across the nation. Rodgers and Betty are personally hosting screenings this summer in Dallas, Memphis, Boston and Washington, D.C.
As they travel, the Rodgers are visiting friends along the way. One of those visits will bring them to Brownwood, and they offered to host a special screening while here. With the help of Billy Murphey, Brown County Veterans Service Officer, and Dr. Justin Murphy, director of the HPU Academy of Freedom, Bravo! will be shown Monday, Aug. 13, 6 p.m., in Constitution Hall at the Douglas McArthur Academy of Freedom, 1320 Austin Ave. Admission is free and parking is available behind the Academy building.