To honor Marines and the 84,000 troops missing in action, celebrities recognized the military on Memorial Day at the premiere of “Until They Are Home” in Hollywood. This memorable event was held at the Directors Guild of America, and the room was packed with Marines. To bring you the inside scoop on this documentary, we captured Tamara Henry “Until They Are Home”, Patrick Kilpatrick “Minority Report”, Tommy Davidson “In Living Color”, Ed Lauter “The Artist” and Major General Stephen D Tom (JPAC), among others in this HD Video: Until They Are Home – DGA Premiere and Goody Awards Shout Out to Marines.
While interviewing Major General Stephen D. Tom on the red carpet, he explained his team’s role in the search for missing, “I have the honor and pleasure to command a unit called the Joint POW MIA Accounting Command (JPAC.) What we do is look for all the remains of the fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen from past wars, World War II, Korea and then Vietnam, and in foreign countries where they fell and never got returned home.”
The Major General expanded on their process and how his team played a role in the movie, “We’re digging for them, and bringing them to our laboratory in Honolulu for identification. And if we identify them, then we reunite those remains with the family members who are waiting for their loved ones to come home. And we’ve been doing this since 1973. This film is a wonderful film about one of our typical missions to recover remains. In this case, it is for some very proud Marines that lost their lives in 1943 in the Battle of Tarawa.”
We also spoke to Patrick Kilpatrick, “Minority Report”, who told us with great pride, “I’m here because my father got a Silver Star at Okinawa and a Purple Heart, and I’ve always been very deeply involved in Veterans Causes. It’s Memorial Day, and we have a lot to remember today from Valley Forge right up to Afghanistan.”
When we interviewed Tommy Davidson, “In Living Color”, who spent a month in Afghanistan last year over the holidays entertaining the troops, he reflected, “Anything that promotes awareness for military personnel or veterans is good for me. It doesn’t seem like there is a good support system when they come back….I’ve been given a lot, and now it’s time for me to give back.”
To kick off the premiere, Tamara Henry, shared, “I’m the Co-Founder of Vanilla Fire Productions. I’m also a Producer on ‘Until They Are Home.’ I’m very honored to be a female filmmaker in the military genre because my father, William W. Henry, served our country for 20 years in intelligence at the Pentagon, and he received a Bronze Star for ground operations against hostile forces.”
Tamara then introduced the Director, Steven C. Barber, who gave shout outs to recognize his team, celebrities and many military heroes in the house, “We are on fire. This is our third feature film. We want to thank Clint Black and Kelsey Gramer. Both of those guys came out pro bono, and didn’t ask me for a dime. Both patriots….Ladies and gentleman, the US Marine Corp is in the house. We are all here today because of you.”
After the documentary premiere, there was a Q and A with the JPAC and “Until They Are Home” teams. Captain Nordman, who was in the movie, shared, “I’m a team leader with JPAC….I want to send a hoorah to all my brothers and sisters in the house…. It’s been absolutely one of the greatest rewards to go out and work with all these fine individuals.”
Major General Stephen D. Tom, expanded on the JPAC numbers and goals, “We would love to recover 84,000. However, realistically, many of those missing were lost at sea, and the Navy has declared the ocean their final resting place. So when you peel back the onion, the wars that we are looking for the missing are focused on World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the First Gulf War….The amount of folks that we think we can realistically and possibly recover to bring back home is between 20,000-30,000.” The JPAC team currently identifies remains for about 100 MIAs a year, and has been asked to step it up to 200 a year.
Deputy Commander Johnie E. Webb Jr, also spoke about our collaborative work with Korea. He explained, “We’ve been working with the Republic of Korea. It was at the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, they actually came to us and said we’d like to begin to recover our war dead…They have 130,000 unaccounted for from the Korean War…They’ve now put together a group similar to JPAC with great cooperation.” They’ve assisted in finding witnesses, and have found the remains of two Americans that were identified and sent back home in the past few years.
In closing, 93-year-old Lou Tirado, a former P.O.W., whose B-17 was shot down over Germany, played taps. Lou traveled to the premiere with several guests representing The American Legion Post #257 in Orange County. And then the Marines were given gift bags when they left the theater. Wow, what a memorable way to spend Memorial Day! For more information, visit the JPAC website and for information on the film, visit http://untiltheyarehome.com. Let’s do this event every year on Memorial Day!
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist, Sunrise Road Media, http://sunriseroadmedia.com