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to Michigan, Nebraska,
Illinois and Iowa to
record other voices.
They gathered additional information at
the National Archives
in Washington, D.C.,
and Marine Corps Base
Quantico in Virginia.
Though Bravo! offers a
glimpse into some of the
bloodiest fighting of the Vietnam
War, most memorable are the stories of
the men of Bravo Company, like Marine
Corporal Steve Wiese, who describes how
his unit was ambushed during a patrol and
how it took him all day to retreat about ;;;
yards to the besieged American base.
“This is part of the history of the Uni-
ted States,” says Rodgers, “... the personal
stories of the people who served and its
long-term costs in human terms.”
Adds Betty, “We needed to preserve
this—their history, their story.”
—Pamela Kleibrink Thompson MICH
Top, Ken Rodgers and
wife, Betty. Above, Ken
Rodgers at Khe Sanh.
;;;; MARKS the ;;th anniversary of the
;;-day siege at Khe Sanh, where Marines
endured constant rocket and artillery
bombardment from the North Vietnamese
day and night.
As he left Khe Sahn, recalls USMC
Lance Corporal Ken Rodgers, “I looked
back to the west at the mountains where
Khe Sanh sat, and I said to myself, ‘That’s
a hell of a story.’ I’ve been wanting to tell
that story ever since.”
Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor
is the award-winning documentary film
made by Costco members Ken and his wife,
Betty, about Ken’s unit, Bravo Company, ;st
Battalion, ;;th Marines, during the siege at
Khe Sanh and about the effects of that experience on the men involved.
The Rodgerses hired cinematographer
Mark Spear, who filmed interviews at a
reunion in San Antonio, Texas, and traveled
A Bravo story
“WE ALL TALK about how much these
men and women sacrificed, but when you
actually see that sacrifice up close, you can
really see how much they gave,” says Mike
Johnston, owner of Montana River Guides
( montanariverguides.com). “It is an honor
to give something back to those who gave so
much of themselves for this country.”
To thank veterans for their service and
sacrifice, Johnston, a Costco member,
offers veterans free, guided “riverboard-
ing” (a whitewater activity in which veter-
ans run the rapids on their bellies with a
buoyant boogie board-like shell)
excursions through the rapids of
the Alberton Gorge, near Missoula.
In ;;;;, Johnston partnered
with the founder of Xsports;vets
(xsports; vets.org), Janna Sherrill.
What started as a project for her
doctorate turned into a program
for combat veterans living with
post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD). Xsports;vets is a nonprofit orga-
nization dedicated to helping combat vet-
erans heal some of their emotional wounds
through extreme sports.
“Riverboarding is the backbone of the
program,” says Sherrill, a Costco member.
“[The veterans] are outdoors, being chal-
lenged. The sport is empowering and
requires them to be fully engaged. The
sport helps take the edge out of civilian
life. Some of them have visible wounds left
over from combat; other wounds can’t
necessarily be seen.”
“The best thing veterans can do is hang
out with each other,” says Jeremiah Mercer,
;;, a combat veteran who lives with PTSD
and participates in Xsports;vets. “Veterans
are each other’s best support system.”
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch a trailer for Bravo!
(See page 9 for details.)
Left: Riding the rapids of
Alberton Gorge, Montana. Below: Gearing up for a rapid run.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch veterans riverboarding. (See page 9 for details.)