Stars and Stripes Foundation Celebrity Shoot: August 21, 2010—Be There! [Radio Interview]

Posted on 14 August 2010 by Cork Graham

(L-R) Gary Graham, Joe Penny, Melinda Clarke, Tim Abell, Joe Mantegna

As wars protract, especially counterinsurgency wars, it becomes much easier for a society to forget its warriors sent to fight that war—especially as other distractions come up, like corruption in the government, and an economy in dire straits. It’s happened many times in history, well-recorded in ancient Greece and Rome, and our own history.

Who remembers why my father’s war is still called “The Forgotten War”? Pick up a copy of Breakout to know why those who fought there and that war should never be forgotten or lost to history. And who remembers, contrary to what many who later protested against the war say they didn’t, that there was very large support in the United States for getting into the war in Vietnam in 1963 to 1965? Then, there was my generation’s war, “The Secret War”, that if you weren’t paying attention, you totally missed…it never ceased to amaze me how focused everyone was on making the big bucks during the Yuppie successes of the second term of President Reagan, when that very President, and we down there fighting The Secret War, were wondering if the greatest capitalist democracy in the world would soon have Soviet tanks parked on its southern border, revving their engines to bust across and take back ‘Old Mexico’, in the first of what would be two final campaigns for total world domination by Communist States.

Now, of course, times change and we’re in what’s called “The War on Terrorism”. This I consider a misnomer, as terrorism is just a tool of every force that doesn’t have majority support from the populace—and who in their right mind would support a front whose doctrines support stoning women for adultery and rape (it’s the woman’s fault, you know, according to these fanatic Islamic terrorists), forcing women to be subservient and cover themselves from head to toe while the man can walk around not only uncovered but checking out less clad non-Muslim women (any hints of mysogyny?), and much worse and actually most dangerous—a belief that everything they desire resides in the after life. At least when we were fighting the Soviets and Red Chinese, they were economically directed and didn’t want to destroy that which they could use once they won.

What we’re in is another counterinsurgency  (CoIn) war, just that we’re in one against a political front whose fighters have no regard for the environment or the people who walk upon the Earth. They’re just focused on subjugation and religious dogma…I could go on and on about CoIn, something I understand well from years of personal experience, introduced to it with my earliest memories of my life: The Tet Offensive of 1968 happening in the skies above, and just on the other side of the wall of our home, in Saigon. But, like why I hunt and fish, subjects so much more important than can be explained in a quick soundbite or even a single magazine article, they’re best left to all the information being dispersed at our other online multimedia magazine: GCT Magazine.

Let’s just say that I have many more life experiences than those that started with me becoming a traditional print outdoor magazine writer and newspaper columnist in 1994. And if I hear another antihunter say, “How would you feel if bears were armed and hunting you?” I’m gonna bonk them on the head in my frustration, because, YES–I do know what it’s like…and hunting and being hunted for a political cause, and hunting for food are like comparing apples and oranges!

Cork Graham and his Sgt. waiting for an evening helicopter ride

Assisting Those in the Battle Coming Home

I especially know what it’s like to come back from a war, with the rest of the populace going on about their business as if there were no war: one week in a full on firefight, both sides receiving heavy losses; and the next week, taking a break from a morning’s surfing and flirting with bikini-clad coeds…a surreal awareness of reality…most of all, never even being allowed, or, in the end, wanting to talk about “It”.  Thankfully, I was pretty lucky and came back with only 10 years of major migraines, shot knee and a few superficial wounds…nothing like what veterans the Stars and Stripes Foundation help came back with…

It’s knowing about what it’s like that makes me jump at every chance to help those warriors coming back from their call of duty. Men and women go to war for a number of reasons. The benefit of their service to us in a democracy is that when they go to fight in foreign countries, dealing with all the dangers and cultural conflicts, (even overcoming the setbacks of our own backstabbing budget-cutting politicians that sent them into the fire in the first place), to arrive at success, we as a result don’t have our sworn enemies slapping us silly on our own soil…is it too much to ask to just give a hand, when there’s a need?

These are men and women who go off to fight, so that their families and friends don’t have to experience on the streets of the United States, Canada and the UK what those in Third World nations experience every week…even those in the US and Europe, who naively go about their business, badmouthing those who protect them—defending your country can sometimes truly be a thankless job!

When these men and women comeback not completely whole, either psychologically, or physically, there’s definitely a responsibility of the people whom they defended to roger-up, to come to the call of their defense and well-being, after they’ve offered life and limb and so much more, for your continued life and lifestyle. Especially when these men and women who because of their strong character would prefer to just keep quiet and buckle up. It’s hard to come back from a traumatic experience and ask for help, even when it’s necessary.

…I remember when I came back after surviving almost a year in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s political prison system, and the look on my grandmother’s face. Men and women who come back from the Dragon’s jaws, don’t need nor want your pity. They just need a helping hand when it’s warranted. Missing limbs, blindness, and debilitating subconscious reactions to daily peacetime events fit into that category—that’s what Start and Stripes Foundation does; it provides assistance by filling in the holes left by federal inattention or lack of funding.

Hollywood’s Best

(L-R) Dan Reeves, Robert Duvall, Mark Christianson

When Hollywood stands up to help, it’s truly the cream of the crop! Sadly, Hollywood historically lost its way jumping into the back pockets of tyrants and murderers like Joseph Stalin, Daniel Ortega, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and Che Guevara, not respecting the difference between understanding free speech, romanticism, and being avant-garde; and just being a pawn toward a murderous tyrant’s aims…

(L-R) CSM Mark Christianson, Nana, Dan Reeves, James Woods, Mern

Not everyone in Hollywood is that lost…One of my personal joys was receiving an endorsement from Charlton Heston for the title pages of my 2004 Amazon TopSeller Vietnam prison memoir, The Bamboo Chest. This was from a man who, even long after his passing, I still think of dearly when I think of all that is and was good in Hollywood: producing films that emulate Mankind’s higher aspirations, taking story-telling of heroes back to what Homer did around a campfire, sharing myths and tales about characters overcoming challenges to make a better society…not films about anti-heroes that have no beneficial emotional reward and only leave the audience running through the Yellow Pages in search of a good therapist.

What seems to be a common thread through all of Hollywood that I respect is a stand for what’s right and honorable. It’s what in the past has stirred actors like Frank Stallone, James Woods and Robert Duvall to get involved with the Stars and Stripes Foundation, along with longtime supporters such as Michael Gregory, Leslie Easterbrook, Joe Mantegna, Joe Penny and Michael Dudikoff and my friends Patrick Kilpatrick, James Partee, Tim Abell and Steve Kanaly.

(L-R) Joe Penny and Patrick Kilpatrick

Celebrity guests attending this year will be: Joe Penny; Leslie Easterbrook; Michael Dudikoff; Michael Gregory; Tim Abell; Joe Mantegna; Marty Kove; Michael Rooker; Steve Kanaly; Peter Sherayko; Lilly Sieu; DB Sweeney; wildlife artist James Partee; Frankie Anne; John Fasano; Richard Edlund, A.S.C.; and Patrick Kilpatrick, along with a few others like myself who haven’t been as yet listed on their website’s homepage.

Special guests will include world-renowned action-thriller novelist and past commander and founder of US Navy SEAL Team 6, Commander Dick Marcinko, Medal of Honor recipient Jon R. Cavaiani, and legendary Vietnam Sniper Chuck Mawhinney, whose record tops legendary Gunny Carlos Hathcock’s by ten.

The Stars and Stripes Foundation Celebrity Shoot

Founded and organized by shooting personality Dan Reeves, Command Sergeant Major (California, Nevada, Arizona) and retired Special Forces operator Mark Christianson and his wife Lisa, foundation treasurer and business affairs director, the Stars and Stripes Foundation has been building revenues for a number of organizations that provide direct assistance to wounded military veterans since 2006. The existence of the Stars and Stripes Foundation arose out memories of the shameful treatment homecoming United States and the Free World’s defender’s received from the late-1960s through to Desert Storm—those that forget the lesson of the past are doomed to repeat them…

Every year the Stars and Stripes Foundation reviews the direct assistance organizations out there, and focuses the funds for that year on the chosen organization. This year, the monies collected through the celebrity shoot and raffle will go toward a group that provides therapy and assistance dogs to veterans. If you’ve read my article on my PTSR site, you know how important this is: Puppy Love

The cost the Stars and Stripes Foundation will offset is $1,800 per animal this year—doing good by doing right!

My therapy dog, Ziggy, no longer a pup, with my trout-fishin’ birthday brother, and Rock Legend, Ronnie Montrose last week.

Looking Forward to Seeing You There

I’ll be arriving at a bit before the 8 a.m. start and will be bringing a box of The Bamboo Chest to personally sign for patrons that day, with all the proceeds going to the Stars and Stripes Foundation.

The event is open to spectators to observe and cheer on the competitors in a supportive family-style event full of camaraderie. If you want to shoot trap and skeet you’ll be assigned a team. One celebrity will be assigned to one veteran, and these two will be assigned to a shooting team totaling five.

There will be trap and skeet, rifle and pistol competitions with 9mm pistols provided by Ruger and Smith & Wesson, along with AR-15 forms of the present military issue M4 from Colt and Smith & Wesson with necessary ammunition. Though you’ll have to bring your own shotgun for the trap and skeet (I’ll be bringing my Browning over-n-under 20 gauge for the skeet and my Remington 11-87 for the trap), all the 20 and 12 gauge ammo will be provided by Fiocchi along with support from the National Rifle Association.

There will also be free .22 caliber rifle events for children and young adults to participate in.  Very much a come out and enjoy a great sunny day at the Oaktree Gun Club in Newhall, CA on August 21st, starting at 8 a.m.

Visit the Stars and Stripes Foundation website, sign up and come on down to the Oaktree Gun Club in Newhall, CA to show your support—and have a great time doing so!

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Star and Stripes Foundation founder CSM Mark Christianson’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

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