Archive for 2023
On the program I discuss the story, which inspired my film and the co-written book, The Lost Eleven about the eleven black American soldiers from the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion and what happened to them during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII.
Shortly after the outbreak of Hitler's Ardennes Offensive or Battle of The Bulge in 1944, members of the all-black 333rd Artillery Battalion were just eleven miles behind the front lines. With the rapid advance of the Germans the 333rd was ordered to withdraw further west but C and Service Battery were ordered to stay behind to give covering fire to the 106th Infantry Division.
On Dec 17th the 333rd were overrun with most killed or captured. The remnants of the unit were ordered to Bastogne and incorporated into its sister unit the 969th Field Artillery Battalion. Both units provided fire support for the 101st Airborne Division in the Siege of Bastogne, subsequently being awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
11 soldiers, however, from the 333rd were separated from the unit shortly after they were overrun by the Germans. These men wound up in the little Belgian hamlet of Wereth, just 25 kilometers southwest of Malmedy, Belgium, site of another much more well known WWII atrocity.
At about 3 pm on Dec 16, 1944, the 11 men approached the first house in the nine-house hamlet of Wereth, owned by Mathias Langer. A friend of the Langer's was also present. The men were cold, hungry, and exhausted after walking cross-country through the deep snow. They had two rifles between them. The Langer family welcomed them and gave them food. But this small part of Belgium did not necessarily welcome Americans as “Liberators.” This area had been part of Germany before the First World War and many of its citizens still saw themselves as Germans and not Belgians.
In the official US Army report it was revealed that the men had been brutalized, with broken legs, bayonet wounds to the head, and fingers cut off. And It was apparent that one man was killed as he tried to bandage a comrade's wounds.
In 2001, three Belgium citizens embarked on the task of creating a fitting memorial to these men and additionally to honor all Black GI’s of World War II. With the help of Norman Lichtenfeld, whose father fought and was captured in the Battle of the Bulge, a grassroots publicity and fund-raising endeavor was begun. The land was purchased and a fitting memorial was created There are now road signs indicating the location of the memorial, and the Belgium Tourist Bureau lists it in the 60th Anniversary “Battle of the Bulge” brochures. The dedication of the memorial was held in 2004 in an impressive military ceremony.
It is believed that this is the only memorial to Black G.I.s, and their units, of World War II in Europe. Norman's goal is to make the Wereth 11 and all Black G.I.’s “visible” to all Americans and to history. They, like so many others, paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Please visit his site www.wereth.org where you can learn more about this dark and virtually unknown chapter from WWII.
Check out the interview on the Renegade's Rant Podcast.
In the last year of World War I, during the bloody British capture of French village Marcoing and the German retreat an encounter occurred that remains a mystery still today.
British soldier, Henry Tandey, who would become the most decorated private in the British army during the Great War had a limping helpless German soldier dead in his rifle sights,
Henry raised his rifle, paused a moment then lowered it again NOT taking the shot.The retreating German soldier nodded thanks and disappeared in the battle mist. The incident, forgotten.
Flash forward twenty years to British Prime minister Chamberlain on a peace mission to Germany and a meeting with Adolf Hitler, where a WWI painting on Hitler’s wall depicted British soldiers helping their wounded, Hitler who burned with anger at his country loss in that war surely would not have such a painting but he explained it was during the time where his own life was spared by British Private Henry Tandey.
Chamberlain, returning empty handed from his peace mission, carried a message from the Fuhrer of thanks to Tandey for sparing his life. Whether or not Chamberlain relayed the message is not known. But the story became known and Tandey confirmed during world war two that he did spare a German soldier’s life but was not certain it was Hitler’s.
Whether the much debated tale is true or not Henry Tandey had to live the rest of his life, with the label of the man who did NOT shoot the dictator who caused the darkest chapter the world has ever known.
Henry Tandey's decision to spare Adolf Hitler's life remains a haunting chapter in the annals of history. It reminds us that a single act can have profound consequences.
Step into the shoes of a young, fearless Alexander Hamilton, a penniless immigrant with a burning desire for freedom and glory. From the sweltering battlefield of Monmouth to the entrenched redoubts of Yorktown, you'll experience Hamilton’s unwavering determination, his heart-breaking separation from George Washington, and the sacrifices he made to forge a nation.
But this is more than a story of war; it's a tale of love, ambition, and the price of legacy. Discover the man behind the legend, the brilliance of his mind, and the intensity of his character.
It is an immersive, narrative history that follows Hamilton’s life and military service from the Battle of White Plains through to the British surrender at Yorktown. There is much to be inspired by and learned from Hamilton’s life. He was a larger than life founding father whose blueprint for America is the world we live in today. It all begins November 1st, only on Point of the Spear.
This is an immersive type of history as the first hand accounts are woven together so that they unfold in a linear way. As you watch hopefully you will discover the battle wrapping around you with all the intense emotion, fear and uncertainty on both sides.
A Union victory was far from a foregone conclusion at Gettysburg and these words from two centuries ago bring you closer to that history and those times. Now travel back in time to a divided America and the gravely uncertain days of May, 1863.
In the annals of military history, few conflicts have tested the limits of human endurance and conviction as the American Civil War. A nation torn asunder, brothers pitted against brothers, and ideals clashed on blood-soaked battlefields. In this recent video we journey through the extremes of this epic struggle, where courage and cruelty, sacrifice and sorrow, tactical brilliance and wanton incompetence shaped the destiny of a nation. And we'll hear from a West Point historian who'll provide his take on two confederate Generals at either ends of the extreme – best and worst.
Listen to this fascinating episode on "Stories of Faith and Courage."
Witness the determination of both Union and Confederate forces, discover how key battles kept states in the Union's grip, and learn about lesser-known turning points that shaped the outcome of the war. We also highlight the contributions of unsung heroes, shedding light on the sacrifices and bravery of soldiers who played a crucial role in the conflict.
My plan is to release two episodes each week on Tuesday and Wednesday and we have shows coming on the Story of Joshua from the Old Testament, The Four Chaplains of WWII, The Sermon that Ignited the Crusades and many more.
The Jake Hamilton Series will wrap up in early September and the plan for Point of the Spear is to continue only with the D-Day in 90 Minutes series which will wrap in October. Stories of Faith and Courage is my primary podcast focus because that is my interest and I hope you will check out and subscribe to the show.
The first two episodes of the first season, Rogue Soldier. The remaining six follow each week to finish up season one.
LIsten on SPOTIFY
Listen on APPLE
EPISODE ONE (Released July 25th)
Burning Secrets: The Walter Reed Assignment
In a darkened apartment, former Marine Tom Stone excels in the online gaming world, but his real-life assignments are far more dangerous. As he awaits a new mission, memories of his past and his path into the world of Black Ops haunt him. Today, he is faced with an unprecedented challenge—erasing records from the secure Walter Reed Military Hospital. The gravity of the mission dawns on Tom as he realizes the true implications of his assignment. With his sister and her children's lives hanging in the balance, he must decide whether to carry out the CIA's ruthless plan or find another way out.
EPISODE TWO (Released July 25th)
Betrayal in Bethesda
Colonel Jake Hamilton receives a distressing call about an active shooter at Walter Reed Medical Center. Shocked to learn it might be one of his former team members, Tom Stone, a troubled explosives specialist, he recalls their intertwined past. Inside the medical center, Tom makes a fateful decision, leaving a tense standoff with the media waiting outside. The story continues with gripping uncertainty and danger, leaving everyone wondering how it will all unfold.
EPISODE THREE (Released August 1st)
LISTEN ON SPOTIFY.
LISTEN ON SPOTIFY.
Privileged to be a second-time guest on WW2-TV this past week the superb history channel on Youtube. Check out my discussion with Paul Woodadge on my book Immortal Valor, now out in paperback.
The remarkable story of the seven African American soldiers ultimately awarded the World War II Medal of Honor, and the 50-year campaign to deny them their recognition.
In 1945, when Congress began reviewing the record of the most conspicuous acts of courage by American soldiers during World War II, they recommended awarding the Medal of Honor to 432 recipients. Despite the fact that more than one million African-Americans served, not a single Black soldier received the Medal of Honor. The omission remained on the record for over four decades.
Youtube channel as we delve into the harrowing events of Operation Tiger, a tragic D-Day training exercise that took place on April 28, 1944. In this captivating video, we uncover the little-known details surrounding this disastrous event, shedding light on a dark chapter of World War II history.
Operation Tiger was designed as a large-scale rehearsal for the upcoming D-Day invasion, intended to prepare troops for the imminent assault on the beaches of Normandy. However, what was supposed to be a routine exercise turned into a nightmare that resulted in the loss of many brave lives.
Tragically, the operation encountered significant difficulties. German E-boats, fast attack craft, launched a surprise attack on the convoy of landing ships, catching the Allies off guard. The ensuing chaos and confusion led to the sinking of several vessels and the loss of over 700 servicemen, both soldiers and sailors. Join us as we commemorate the brave soldiers who lost their lives during Operation Tiger and reflect upon the sacrifices made by those who fought in World War II. This video serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by the Allied forces in their quest for freedom and highlights the importance of learning from history to ensure a brighter future. Don't miss this gripping account of Operation Tiger, a forgotten chapter of World War II, as we bring you the untold stories and shed light on the disastrous D-Day training exercise that took place on April 28, 1944. Hit the play button and journey back in time with us.
Check out two new video releases below on our channel, which were produced specifically for YouTube and not adapted from my television programs or other media. Hope you enjoy them!
In the annals of history, there are tales of extraordinary bravery that transcend time and leave an indelible mark on the collective conscience. The story of the four chaplains who perished on the US.S. Dorchester in February 1943 is one such tale. Their selflessness and sacrifice in the face of adversity serve as a testament to the power of unity and compassion. Today, we remember these remarkable men and the enduring legacy they left behind, including the establishment of the Four Chaplains Medal.
The Journey on the US.S. Dorchester:
During World War II, the US.S. Dorchester, a military transport ship, embarked on a perilous journey with over 900 soldiers, sailors, and civilians on board. Among them were four chaplains representing different faiths: George L. Fox, Alexander D. Goode, Clark V. Poling, and John P. Washington. These men were committed to providing spiritual guidance and solace to those in need, regardless of their religious beliefs.
The Fateful Night:
On the night of February 3, 1943, tragedy struck as a German submarine torpedoed the Dorchester, sending it spiraling into chaos. Amidst the panic and terror, the four chaplains rose above the chaos, displaying unparalleled bravery and selflessness. They distributed life jackets to the frightened and struggling, disregarding their own safety.
In their final moments, the chaplains exemplified the highest ideals of their respective faiths. Their unity transcended religious boundaries as they comforted the wounded, offered prayers, and provided solace to the terrified passengers. Their unwavering commitment to saving lives, without regard for rank or background, was an act of unparalleled heroism.
News of the chaplains' heroic sacrifice spread, leaving a profound impact on the American public. Their story of unity and selflessness touched hearts across the nation. In 1960, the U.S. Congress established the Four Chaplains Medal to honor their extraordinary bravery and to recognize those who embody the spirit of interfaith cooperation and selfless service.
The Four Chaplains Medal:
The Four Chaplains Medal stands as a prestigious recognition of individuals who prioritize the welfare of others above their own. This medal is awarded to those who exemplify the virtues demonstrated by the four chaplains. It symbolizes unity, compassion, and selflessness in the face of adversity, and it serves as a reminder of the impact that a single act of kindness and bravery can have on the world.
Their Enduring Inspiration:
Today, the memory of the four chaplains lives on, inspiring generations to embrace the values of compassion, unity, and selflessness. Memorial services, monuments, and annual ceremonies commemorate their sacrifice, ensuring that their story remains etched in our collective consciousness. The Four Chaplains continue to be a source of inspiration and a shining example of the indomitable human spirit.
The story of the four chaplains who perished on the US.S. Dorchester in 1943 is a testament to the power of selflessness and the enduring impact of their sacrifice. Their heroism transcends time, reminding us of the profound difference one can make in the lives of others. Through the establishment of the Four Chaplains Medal, their legacy lives on, honoring those who embody their spirit of compassion and unity. May we forever remember the selfless acts of these remarkable men and strive to emulate their virtues in our own lives.
The exhaustive three-year, 200-page study became Exclusion of Black Soldiers from the Medal of Honor in World War II. The Distinguished Service Cross, America’s second-highest honor for valor, served as the minimum criteria for elevating deserving black recipients for the highest award. It was based on two precedents. First was General John J. Pershing’s order after the end of World War I that all DSCs be reevaluated for consideration for the Medal of Honor. By Armistice Day, only four had been approved. Second, in 1943, General Eisenhower asked his Fifth Army commander in North Africa to do the same. As a result, in both cases, the number of Medals of Honor significantly increased. In the Shaw study a single exception was added to the names of the nine deserving black candidates, who had received the DSC in World War II and that was Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers.
Rivers, who was killed in action in November 1944 had been awarded the Silver Star and it was only as a result of his dogged white commander, Captain David Williams’ tireless efforts that Ruben was added to the list of recommended candidates.
Rivers, who was born in Hotluka, Oklahoma, and joined Patton’s “Black Panthers” the legendary 761st Tank Battalion in January 1942 became part of Able Company commanded by
Williams. Captain Williams from a wealthy and liberal Pittsburgh family had high aspirations for training black soldiers for combat but was met with apathy from high command and indifference from his men. The black tankers had watched the war from afar and had determined by early 1944, based on endless training, that they would never see action overseas so why bother?
Angered, Williams decided to instill discipline and self-respect in his company if they ever saw action or not. He spent months getting them combat-ready and to the surprise of everyone they were called up. In May 1944 General Patton sent an urgent message to the
War Department requesting more tankers. Apparently, the response back to him was “that the only ones left were the Negro tankers.” Reportedly he said “Who the hell asked for color? I requested tankers."
As Able Company of the 761st got into action in Europe, Rivers emerged as fearless. In early November 1944 with Williams’ tank in the lead on the outskirts of Bezange Le Grange, about a mile from the town the column was stopped by a mined tree across the road.
Rivers in his turret far back in the column determined they were trying to get around an obstacle up ahead. He decided to pull his tank forward and past Captain Williams’ tank. Williams jumped on the radio and asked Rivers what the rush was, for Christ’s sake. Rivers responded on the radio that he was going to get them going on in a hurry.
Just as Rivers finished his response, German shells began whistling to explode around them, tearing up the road and throwing men, mud, and debris everywhere. Rivers took matters into his own hands. He told his gunners to cover him as he jumped out of the turret of his Sherman surrounded by exploding mortar and artillery shells and small arms fire.
Williams had not been watching Rivers’ tank but ended a radio call with Bill Griffin, who’d relayed a message from Colonel Colley asking about their status. Williams informed Griffin that intense enemy fire pinned down the infantry, and a mined roadblock held up their advance.
Williams, popping his head from the hatch, saw to his disbelief that Rivers was calmly uncoiling the tow cable on his Sherman and directing his driver. Rivers fastened the line around the large tree trunk studded with mines that made up the roadblock. Williams brought his field glasses up to his eyes, his mouth hung open, and he whispered, “Rivers, you beautiful son of a bitch.”
Rivers jumped back on the front of the Sherman and leaped in the turret, the tow coil secured. Williams saw the tank pull the tree trunk back slowly to the side. Several mines exploded as it cleared the road, but the column was able to resume the advance. Soon after this action Rivers became lead Able Company’s tanker and was informed he was being awarded the Silver Star for his actions.
Less than three weeks later after he had been injured in a teller mine explosion, Rivers in the lead tank encountered a German anti-tank battery near Guébling. Sensing danger, Williams yelled over the radio, “Move back, Rivers!”
“I see them. We’ll fight them,” Rivers responded as shells flew back and forth between him and the enemy. Just then, 75mm enemy shells came crashing down, exploding all around Williams’ tank, pinning his movement.
Rivers ordered his driver to roll forward as tracers ricocheted off the front of the tank. Rivers shouted to his gunner to steady on the target. They were 200 yards away from German guns. They would get no further.
According to a war correspondent witness, two German HE shells were fired point-blank at Rivers’ tank. The first shot hit near the front of the tank and penetrated. The explosion cracked the Sherman like an egg and killed Rivers and his crew instantly. A second high explosive shell followed the same path, slicing through the tank and emerging out the back.
Williams, devastated, had lost his best tanker, his almost irreplaceable “fearless fighter from Oklahoma.” At that moment, Williams didn’t care whether he lived or died. And worst of all, he blamed himself for not ordering Rivers to leave the battlefield once he’d been injured. The man could have gone home with the Silver Star. He had done his duty. Somehow, someway, Williams had to make this right. He headed back to his tank as the battlefield fell silent. Williams, exhausted, caught some shut-eye, but his mind still burned with anguish and torment.
Williams reported the next day to Colonel Hollis Hunt Able Company’s dead and wounded, and the Colonel responded with impatience and indifference. Col. Hunt informed him that Able Company was being relieved, and they were to pull back to Obreck with the battalion. As the Colonel turned away, Williams stepped forward to him and said he wanted to put Sgt. Rivers in for the Medal of Honor.
Col. Hunt responded with surprise, “What?”
Williams continued that Rivers had already received the Silver Star and that the Colonel could put it through channels. The Colonel pursed his lips and adjusted his scarf as Williams provided even more details of Rivers’ leg wound and how his tanker refused to evacuate. Hunt remained expressionless.
Several days later, on November 23, Williams went formally to Colonel Hunt’s office and presented him with a typed document listing the reasons Ruben Rivers should be awarded the Medal of Honor. Colonel Hunt lifted the page and glanced over it and sighed and said it was not so easy but he would try. But Williams knew his recommendation would not be acted upon; he knew no black soldiers were being recommended for the Medal of Honor. It would be forgotten
about and ignored, and he made a promise that day: if he survived the war, he would not let this stand.
Forty-nine years later he made good on his promise to himself. Captain David Williams with unflagging tenacity, learning of the Shaw study, was determined to see his fearless fighter from Oklahoma honored as he originally intended. Williams was interviewed extensively for the Shaw study and even supplied the authors with photographs of Rivers from the war.
Professor Gibran acquiesced to make a single exception for Ruben Rivers. In the final recommendation to the military he wrote:
“Therefore this study recommends that the army evaluate, for elevation to the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Crosses earned by black soldiers during World War II and, in addition, consider whether Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers, who may have been officially recommended for the Medal for his heroic acts in battle in 1944 and who in any case died unrecognized for acts of valor that resulted in his death, also merits the award.”
In the end, the Army agreed. At the White House ceremony in 1997, David Williams accompanied the Rivers family to see the honor bestowed. Interviewed by the Baltimore Sun afterward, he spoke of the bond between soldiers, and for him, color never entered into the equation.
“You have to understand. In battle, you fight for each other. The pride in the unit. You have a cohesion,” Williams said, then paraphrased Shakespeare’s Henry V, “When men fight shoulder to shoulder and bleed and die for a just cause, they become brothers.”
About the long campaign he waged on behalf of Rivers, Williams said he believed God kept him alive for one reason: To see that Ruben Rivers was awarded the Medal of Honor. In tears at the close of the White House ceremony, Williams proudly proclaimed himself a “Black Panther” and said, “We did win, didn’t we? God can take me at this moment because the deed is done.”
This past weekend I had the pleasure of directing the Feature Trailer for a Revolutionary War film, Elijah and George. I had written the screenplay five years ago, and I wanted to share some video taken by a crew member on their phone. This is my directing the "fight scene" in the trailer. The intensity of the action comes through even in this grainy phone video.
We had an ambitious schedule with nine pages of script and 21 locations but my top-notch crew out of Richmond, VA brought their A-game. We wouldn't have gotten it all done if the crew were not complete pros.
We were filming on the property of Tuckahoe Plantation, which was the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson until the age of six. The property is virtually unchanged since that time and filled with history. It was a privilege to film at such a historic site. I recommend a visit as it is open to the public.
The series creator, Dallas Jenkins, went this route because he knew that Hollywood, in its current state, would never finance or support it… “a series about the life of Jesus? Who would want to watch that?”
Nearly half a billion people, that's how many people would want to watch a story on the life of Jesus. I just checked my Chosen app and the running total to date is over 466 million views. And if you haven’t guessed by now I am a huge fan of the series. I discovered it last year when it was less than the phenomenon it is now.
The Chosen series has achieved all this on a less than modest budget, which has also been the story of my career in creating films on small budgets and making them look high quality and much bigger budgeted. I’ve been in the trenches. I know the amount of work, planning, and long hours that have to go in when you have limited resources to produce something of quality. So I may have a deeper appreciation for what the series has been able to achieve.
The proof is in the pudding. The third season of the series launched on November 18, 2022 with the first two episodes in theaters across the country. It quickly soared to number three at the box office in its opening weekend. Achieving this box office position is beyond amazing because the production was only in 2027 theaters and the film at the number one position during that time, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was in over 4300 theaters.
What I enjoy watching as well are the fan video testimonials that viewers have posted on the Chosen app and other places, where they detail how the series has changed their lives, renewed their faith, and compelled them to dive deeper into the Bible’s teachings. I believe this was what the goal of the series was all along and I fully support it.
This divisive world has truly “gone off the rails” in my opinion where people with differing beliefs can’t even speak to one another. It is a recipe for a continuing disaster. With more and more people discovering truths in the teachings of Jesus, perhaps one day humans will heal their differences and come together as one. With faith-based messages contained in a series such as The Chosen, it's a very good start.