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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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Hunting Hollywood for a GRATEFUL NATION [Radio Interview]

Posted on 25 May 2010 by Cork Graham

Tim Abell on assignment for GRATEFUL NATION
Tim Abell on assignment for GRATEFUL NATION in Namibia


With such a thick anti-hunting attitude delivered in so many films these days, except those written by hunters themselves, such as playwright and screenwriter David Mamet, it’s hard to think that Hollywood was once a hotbed of hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife management. This was when Clark Gable took David Niven up to Grants Pass for steelhead and then later studio public relations photos of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable often captured them with a string of mallards and snow geese proudly held up to the photographer. In a black and white studio promotional photo, Ginger Rogers lay seductively, with a cane pole and in cutoffs and flannel shirt, like a tomboy on a lush lawn, a full stringer of rainbow trout by her side—probably taken at her 1,000-acre Rogers’s Rogue River Ranch purchased in 1940, that I had the opportunity to see last week on a trip for steelhead and salmon with my friends Paul Winterbottom and Jeff Manuel, in a drift boat loaned by mutual friend, Dave Dedrick. Even interviews of Fred Astaire, included a reporter being told that he was going up to his duck club east of Los Angeles to take care of a coyote problem.

As a writer, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and become friends with those contemporary actors and stars who still shine not only as actors but also as hunters. Some I’ve had a long hunting and fishing relationship with, like my wild boar hunting buddy Patrick Kilpatrick. Some I’ve even had the help and endorsement of, like the dear departed Charlton Heston, who was kind enough to write a plug for the inside cover of my memoir that went to #2 for three weeks in 2004 on Amazon.com. Over the last couple years, I’ve come to know and admire an actor by the name of Tim Abell, who so reminds me of that dashing adventurous actor reminiscent of a time when Hollywood’s elite lived such amazing lives off the set themselves (Errol Flynn, David Niven, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, Audie Murphy, Clark Gable and directors John Ford and William A. Wellman quickly come to mind) that sometimes their film roles seemed to not even come close.

To say that someone like Tim Abell is a military veteran, hunter and member of the Screen Actors Guild is very refreshing. Haven’t you also gotten fed up with actors who are terrified of guns, or prominently tout their anti-gun or anti-hunting status, but hire well-armed bodyguards, eat meat killed by someone else, and make their millions off movies in which they kill people by the truckloads on screen? An ex-Army Ranger, Abell, knows exactly what those real bullets do in real-life. A hunter and solid conservationist, he understands clearly where his sustenance comes from.

One of many of Cork Graham's war memories: Las Aranas, El Salvador; 1986

Cork Graham’s Cold War memories: Salvadoran Navy SEALs — Las Arañas, El Salvador; 1986

Born and raised on the East Coast, near Quantico, VA, Tim Abell learned to hunt with his Marine uncle and even took his first deer on the Marine Corps base. And after reading the book that has inspired so many young American men since the Vietnam War, Robin Moore’s Green Berets (made into a film by John Wayne in 1968), Abell enlisted in the US Army and became a Ranger. While in university, seeking a degree that would offer him the opportunity to try for a full commission, Abell found a love for the arts, specifically theater. And the rest is history as many are oft to say of those who make it in Hollywood.

While putting in his dues, and not finding many willing to speak openly about their affinity for hunting or firearms, Abell’s hunting went by the wayside as he went through the required networking parties and dinners, keeping mum about hunting and shooting. But when called out on the floor about beliefs that don’t fit perfectly with the rest of the Hollywood-types programmed by the anti-hunting industry (PETA/HSUS), or more accurately unwilling to speak up for fear of ramifications to their own employment (doesn’t this remind you of the fear during the McCarthy years?), Abell speaks his mind when asked…even when it might not get him invited again to the same house…

It takes guts to speak up in Hollywood these days, the pendulum swing of the McCarthy Red Communist hunts of the 1950s gone completely to the other extreme: it’s not those who supported the Soviet Union during the Cold War who are blacklisted now; but instead, those who support the 2nd Amendment of The Constitution, hunting as a solid component of wildlife conservation,  the United States’s right (like every nation) to defend itself, and those men and women serving in that military action…Is it truly being patriotic, or military-friendly, when it’s convenient, as so blatantly with the change in attitudes in Hollywood after the recent sweeping win at the Academy Awards of a military movie: Hunt Locker?…It’s easy to be patriotic when the masses are with you; it’s courageous when they aren’t.

…As one who enjoys studying cycles of history, I’m very intrigued by how long it’ll be before that pendulum swings once again away from that anti-hunting, anti-military mass thought, it had swung to in an unnatural extreme during the 1970s and 1980s and back to the pro-hunting, efficient wildlife conservation practices it espoused during the 1920s to 1960s.

Surprisingly, Abell found his way back to hunting while working on his first break as a ex-Marine sniper Benny Ray Riddle on Bruckheimer Productions’s Soldier of Fortune for NBC. As they were filming in Canada, co-star Brad Johnson invited Abell on a hunt into Northern Canada for caribou and black bear. For Abell, the adventure was like breathing fresh air after too long a time submerged. From then on he was part of the small, but proud to be publicly recognized as those in the film business who also hunt and believe in the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution: Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston, Patrick Kilpatrick, John Milius, Steve Kanaly, Gary Sinise, Adam Baldwin, DB Sweeney, to name a few.

To say Tim Abell became a hunting enthusiast is an understatement, as I’m sure anyone can relate to, who is passionate about hunting, been away from it then once again renewed that bond with such an important part of the human psyche as well, because of fund from taxed hunters, so supportive of all animals. To correct all that anti-hunting malarkey taken for fact, all of hunting taxes and fees go to the buying and supporting lands for ALL wildlife, while most, if not all, of the money collected by anti-hunting groups such as PETA and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) goes to advertising…if these anti-hunting groups actually succeed in wiping out hunting in the world, it’ll be the wildlife that suffers the most!


Abell's succcess .338 RCM on wild boar on GRATEFUL NATION

Tim Abell’s succcess with a new .338 Federal on wild boar on GRATEFUL NATION

For many the idea of having combat veterans out in the field, hunting with a firearm, may seem out of place. As a combat veteran who attributes my own healing of four years in the Central America War, through the immediately following experience as a subsistence hunter, living with and learning from a Native community in Alaska, I am thrilled that people are beginning to get it…again.

Until the Vietnam War, hunting was an activity that a majority of combat veterans participated in upon their return home: it’s one of the reasons that the bolt-action and semi-auto rifles took over as the hunting rifles of choice in America after WWI, from the previously preferred lever-action-many of those returning young men were introduced to bolt-action rifles in the military (explains why presently so many black rifles have become hunting rifles with so many hunters introduced to firearms an assault rifle). The surge is what led to the megamillion dollar surge in business for hunting, fishing and camping products manufacturers from 1920 to 1970. As a combat veteran myself, I noticed how being in the woods with a rifle brought up memories of war that I was able to confront on my time as compared to a sudden sideswiping PTS (post-traumatic stress) flashback or nightmare.


Cork Graham healing war memories as a subsistence hunter in Alaska, circa 1990

Later, as a counselor specializing in helping veterans and other types of trauma survivors dealing with PTS and the symptoms of what I prefer to call the PTSR, I truly understood how going into the field, carrying that firearm, much as might have occurred only weeks and months before in battle, but now instead hunting game for the table, creates a new subconscious imprint, in the healing of the wilds, on an activity that if not dealt with, comes up weeks, month or even many years later in an uncontrollable event.

For some this uncontrollable event can be as benign as becoming completely overcome by a seemingly uncontrollable mega-wave of sadness and guilt, for others it can manifest as an uncontrollable rockslide of rage that ends in someone getting killed. For many though, especially those who’ve drunk the Kool-Aid disseminated by anti-hunting groups, the fact that hunting can actually help a trauma survivor confront and overcome the contemporary effects of conscious and subconscious memories and interpretations of the past trauma seems so contrary to what many think.

That Orion Multimedia, LLC. produced Federal Premium’s Grateful Nation was brave. That ESPN2 would broadcast a program that touches on the controversial subject of putting a firearm in the hands of a newly returned combat veteran (much less anything that brings the reality of a war nearing 10 years long into American public’s living room in addendum to daily news), and have them go through a form of healing and self-awareness spurred on by the host’s questions, on camera is amazing!

The premise of Grateful Nation is very simple and like we used to say when deep in a fierce fight: the quickest path to victory is a forward-moving straight line—keep it simple, stupid (KISS). Invited out on a hunt, the combat veteran is followed by the camera crew as Abell asks the right questions at the right time to open up a world that the majority of the viewing public have only learned of through the images and words, often distant from those combatants actually being reported on, to support a news producer’s theme.

Abell makes this much more personal, which actually might turn off many because of the graphic description. Personally, I’m very much for it. There has been a great avoidance in the world about dealing with the realities of the world, much of it starting with children led to believe their hamburgers and fish sticks come from a cellophane wrapping machine, instead of a steer getting a cattle prod to the brain, or a salmon a metal club to the top of its head and a quick evisceration.

There’s something very honest about knowing where your meat comes from, and knowing what your sons and daughters are getting themselves into when they go off to war. Do I think this stops war? No. Even with all the news stories, books, and broadcast over the last 50 years, there are more wars happening around the world now than there were during the Cold War. My hope is that the American public gains a better awareness of what a combat veteran has gone through and recognizes it, and lets them deal with it in a healthy and effective manner (and not only offer politically correct, and often, ineffective options) during their homecoming.

For those of us who remember vividly how unjustly military personnel, and especially Vietnam veterans (takes a lot of mass harassment for a veteran to not even be willing to mention military service on their job resume—the case for many returning Vietnam veterans, a historical fact forgotten by many), were treated in those 15 years after the fall of Saigon, Grateful Nation is a media and cultural waymark long overdue…something to ponder as we come upon Memorial Day, an annual event meant for remembrance of those we’ve lost in war, either those right next to us in combat, or far off in a distant land.

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Tim Abell’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:


Track 1: Tim Abell talks about Grateful Nation and next production at Flying B Ranch.

Track 2: Tim Abell reminisces about first times hunting, enlistment in the US Army and achievement of Rangers, paying dues in Hollywood, and return to hunting.

Track 3: Tim Abell chats about pro-2nd Amendment/hunting Hollywood players, and upcoming film projects he’ll be participating in.

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