Film tackles Vietnam vets' return
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
12/12/12 at 4:41 AM
Clark Wiens set out to make a documentary about a memorial for his brother-in-law and other Vietnam veterans, but through the experience he saw how those veterans were treated when they came back.
That led Wiens to chronicle not only how he got his brother-in-law's old fighter jet to Illinois, but also to tell the story of the service members from that era.
"You get shot at for a year, and you come back and get spit on," Wiens said about what he heard from those returning from Vietnam. "We just kept finding more people who wanted to tell their stories."
The documentary centers on a promise that Wiens, a co-founder of Circle Cinema, made to his brother-in-law, Air Force Lt. Col. Bill Pachura. As Pachura's health was fading in 2002, Wiens said he promised to get the plane that he flew over Vietnam and set it up as a memorial to all those who served in the war.
Pachura flew 129 missions in the large F-105 fighter-bomber he called the "Red River Queen."
The plane was located at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, where it had been used in training missions. Pachura was able to see the plane in 2002 for the first time in decades. That's when Wiens started his work to get the plane moved.
Pachura, who received two Distinguished Flying Cross awards, died Nov. 8, 2002, of cancer. He was 69.
The documentary shows the hoops Wiens had to jump through to get the plane.
"I wasn't going to say it was his plane if it wasn't," Wiens said. "Finally, one person listened to me."
The plan was to take the jet from Texas to Centralia, Ill., Pachura's hometown. With his own funds, Wiens had the plane transported on two tractor-trailer rigs. The two-day trip included a stop in Tulsa in 2006.
When he saw the reaction the trip received from veterans and the public alike, Wiens said, he wanted to explore the connections and experiences that these veterans shared.
"I was just making a film for my family," Wiens said. "It just became obvious there was something bigger than this."
The film features interviews with several Tulsa-area Vietnam veterans. The men shared their experiences in the war and what they saw when they returned.
"We didn't go over there by choice," one veteran said.
But they felt like they took the brunt of the public's frustration with the war, Wiens said.
The film also features veterans from other conflicts, including a World War II veteran who had a son who served in Vietnam. Wiens also spoke with someone who objected to the war and now he regrets his peers' actions.
Wiens said he showed the film on Veterans Day last month, and it evoked a powerful reaction from the veterans in attendance.
"A lot just couldn't get out of their seats," Wiens said. "It just brings back those feelings."
Another screening of the film is set for Sunday and will be free for veterans and active military personnel. The documentary is slated to be shown at several film festivals next year, Wiens said.
What: "Bill's THUD: A Journey Home"
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
Where: Circle Cinema, 12 S. Lewis Ave.
Note: Screening is free for all current and former military personnel.
Original Print Headline: Film tackles Vietnam vets' return
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Lt. Col. Bill Pachura stands in front of his F-105 fighter plane in Thailand during the Vietnam War. His brother-in-law, Clark Wiens, produced a documentary about the plane's journey to Illinois for a Vietnam War memorial and the treatment of veterans after the war. Courtesy