Two military-themed documentaries – one honoring the forgotten warriors of the Vietnam War, the other saluting the fast fading veterans of World War II – will be screened on Monday, Veterans Day, at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Noble Theater, 415 Couch Dr.
The films are “Bill’s Thud,” documenting the quest by Tulsan Clark Wiens to place a special F-105 fighter-bomber aircraft in a place of honor, and “Honor Flight,” tracking the final journey of four aged veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. “Bill’s Thud” will be shown at 3 p.m., and “Honor Flight” will screen at 5:30 p.m. Both programs are free.
“Bill’s Thud” was produced and narrated by Wiens, co-founder of Tulsa’s Circle Cinema, and directed by veteran Tulsa director Leo Evans.
Program notes for the 77-minute video documentary, which has screened previously at the Circle Cinema, Chicago’s Siskel Center and at New York’s Village Quad, describe the documentary this way:
“A dying Vietnam veteran, memories of an unpopular war, and a man’s promise add up to an unexpected final journey for one scuttled F-105 Thunderchief aircraft, affectionately known as the Thud. When Tulsan Clark Wiens discovers that his beloved brother-in-law Bill Pachura has only months to live, he forms a plan to track down his old fight-bomber and move it to the former Air Force pilot’s hometown of Centralia, Illinois, where it will stand in a park as a long-awaited public monument to the sacrifice of Vietnam veterans. The project becomes both more difficult and more rewarding than Wiens had originally envisioned.”
Today, “Bill’s Thud,” the decommissioned F-105D Thunderchief fighter-bomber that Bill Pachura piloted through 128 combat missions in the Vietnam War, rests as a testament to the man’s unassuming heroism, patriotism and dedication to service and country. And, by extension, said Wiens, the plane and its torturous journey home came to represent a too-long delayed “thank you” to all Vietnam veterans – those men and women who served honorably but came home to a country angry, divided and largely indifferent to the private torments of its returning warriors.
“Honor Flight,” directed by Daniel Hayes, concerns a nationwide campaign by volunteers to fly thousands of WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. to view the memorial constructed for them in 2004, almost 60 years after their monumental heroism. The heartwarming documentary charts the efforts of one midwestern community to give four of its vets, who are in their late 80s and early 90s, one last trip to view the memorial and receive their nation’s thanks. The 24-hour journey is filled with surprises and emotional moments for all involved.