Filmmakers interview local Vietnam Vet for documentary

by Anna Straight

'APACHE BLUES: Welcome Home' is the journey of two film-makers, born after the conflict in Vietnam, who are searching for the “truth” between what they have learned in school and from media versus what is a reality for the veterans once tasked with fighting that unpopular war.

It is no secret that Vietnam veterans did not return from the war to a hero’s welcome. As the symbols of this unpopular war, they were spat on, had trash thrown at them, and called names such as “Baby Killer.” While soldiers from World War II were considered heroes and they were most often greeted when they returned home with parades, that wasn’t the case for the Vietnam vets. They also learned that Vietnam vets returned “angry,” while vets from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from PTSD. Each group of war veterans came back home to different responses to them depending on how the American public was feeling about the war, even though each of the veterans in each of the wars was doing the same job that the American Government sent them all to do.

They are journeying across the country to meet with the men of Apache Troop to give them the chance to tell their stories - stories of courage and bravery that they have never been able to tell. The warriors are not the war.

Filmmakers Dave Merlino and Dustin Sweet, who own Rainbows & Unicorns Entertainment, LLC, have been filming a documentary about Apache Troop 1/9 Cavalry from the Vietnam War. Apache Troop 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry was the reconnaissance unit of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam 1965-1971, ac- cording to their Facebook page information.

The filmmakers and their cameraman, Charles Schaefer, left on their journey to document the veteran's stories on June 10, 2017. The group has been through 18 states on this journey. At one stop in Natchitoches, Louisiana, they were able to hang out with a group of Apache Troop 1/9-1st Cavalry Vietnam War Reenactors. The group arrived in Wisconsin on July 9, and made it to Hillsboro to meet up with Duane Bloor, who was a part of the Apache Troop. Duane Bloor was a heavy machine gunner, who received a Silver Star for his brave actions during a battle on March 19, 1970.

Duane Bloor’s niece, Mandy Bloor, invited The Messenger to Hillsboro Equipment who made a donation to the documentary from Hillsboro Equipment owner Donnie Slama. With the generous donation from Slama, it makes Hillsboro Equipment the very first corporate donor for the documentary.

Donnie Slama, Duane Bloor and Hillsboro Equipment employee, Dave Erie, all told stories about the gut-wrenching wait for the radio announcer to relay the draft lottery. They explained that birthdays dictated where and what position would be drafted into the war.

The Messenger spoke with filmmaker Dave Merlino and he said that he had been talking with Randall Wallace, who is an Academy Award nominated writer and director of several Hollywood Blockbusters, including 'We Were Soldiers', 'Braveheart', 'Pearl Harbor' and 'Hacksaw Ridge.' Merlino told Wallace about this project and Wallace had given him encouragement to do the project. Filmmaker Dustin Sweet told The Messenger that they are hoping that HBO will pick up the documentary, and if all goes well, he’s hoping that it will turn into a series like “Band of Brothers.”

Merlino, Sweet, and Schaefer all returned home on July 16, 2017, with a total of 8835.1 miles logged on their vehicle in the effort to document all of the veterans’ stories. Now the hard part for them begins with heading into post-production. The Messenger sends our best wishes.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to this documentary please go to: apachebluesfilm.com.

This is part 1 of 2. In an upcoming issue of The Messenger read about Duane Bloor's experience in Vietnam