David atop Briggs' Outpost pointing towards Mount Austen. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, October 2018. Photo Credit: Bryan T. Stefancyk
NOTE: This is the first of four parts introducing the WAR HISTORIAN BATTLEFIELD EXPEDITIONS team for our upcoming expedition to the Solomon Islands.
David currently lives and works on Guadalcanal, and he is one of our key contacts on the island. He is a former US Marine and is an active battlefield explorer and researcher of the Guadalcanal Campaign. He is currently in the midst of working on several survey and research projects on the battlefields. When not working, David spends his free time on the Guadalcanal battlefields. Without further ado, lets get into the Q&A with David!
A new television series of interest to hardcore WW2 battlefield explorers began airing the end of October 2019 on the National Geographic Channel in the USA (link to the show in the UK). Ultimate Survival WWII consists of six episodes and is presented by adventurer/survivalist Hazen Audel. The show is an interesting, refreshing, and redefining take on the WW2 television documentary genre. Of note and pleasant surprise, the subject of one of the episodes, Desert Island Manhunt, is..., which is an area of our expertise and destination on our Solomons expeditions... Sentence about our team members mentioning the filming to us and they served as local handlers/assisted with filming of this episode. Instead of reviewing the series as a whole, I will comment and give my feedback on each of the six episodes. The official synopsis of the show reads: 'Hazen Audel travels across the globe to relive some of the most astonishing stories of wilderness survival from World War II. During this brutal conflict, soldiers, sailors and airmen became lost behind enemy lines in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth, beginning epic battles to stay alive. Now Hazen will retrace these journeys in the same locations and armed with the same supplies, to see if he has what it takes to make it out alive.'
1. POW Jungle Escape
2. Death in the Outback
3. Frozen Nazi Escape
We Die Alone, a classic of WW2 literature
4. Desert Island Manhunt
5. Death Railway Escape
6. Nazi Island Manhunt
Bryan T. Stefancyk is the founder/owner of WAR HISTORIAN BATTLEFIELD EXPEDITIONS, a division of WAR HISTORIAN, LLC.
in Q&A go into two distinct branches of War Historian, LLC
nothing like the rush of discovering a WW2 memoir just when you thought there is nothing new out there that you'd not heard about, or uncovering new research that changes entire perspective
Q: What is your favorite WW2 documentary?
A: Hands down my favorite is Hell in the Pacific (2001), followed by The Color of War (2001) as a close second.
Q: What is your favorite Vietnam War documentary?
A: think about this one but chose something like Anderson Platoon or something about the French
Q: What is your favorite WW2 movie?
Q: What is your favorite Vietnam War movie?
A: Hmmm this is a tough one... I don't have a favorite as most play off of the common tropes of the Vietnam War, but I appreciate aspects of Go Tell the Spartans (1978), The Odd Angry Shot (1979), Platoon (1986), Hamburger Hill (1987), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Platoon Leader (1988), Bat 21 (1988), Casualties of War (1989), The Iron Triangle (1989), 84 Charlie Mopic (1989), The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989), Tigerland (2000), We Were Soldiers (2001), The Quiet American (2002), Rescue Dawn (2006). The Vietnam War scenes in Forest Gump (1994) are well done. I really want to see the French films Patrouille de Choc (1957), The 317th Platoon (1965), Le Crabe-Tambour (1977), Charlie Bravo (1980), and Dien Bien Phu (1992).
Q: What is your favorite movie in the history genre?
A: This is another tough one... I can't possibly narrow it down to just one! But the movies that have most influenced me/impacted my life are the following (listed in order of release date NOT preference!): Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape, Zulu, The Charge of the Light Brigade, March or Die, Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, Das Boot, Bounty, Pirates, The Lighthorsemen, The Beast, Glory, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Last of the Mohicans, Geronimo, Gettysburg, The Thin Red Line, Legionnaire, Master and Commander, Black Hawk Down, Alamo, Kokoda, The Proposition. Disney movies?
The recent film, The Last Full Measure (released in the US on 24 January 2020), dramatizes the 11 April 1966 Medal of Honor action of USAF pararescueman Bill "Pits" Pitsenbarger during the Battle of Xa Cam My and of the 30+ year effort to upgrade his posthumously awarded Air Force Cross to the Medal of Honor.
'Airman First Class Pitsenbarger distinguished himself by extreme valor on April 11, 1966 near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, while assigned as a Pararescue Crew Member, Detachment 6, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On that date, Airman Pitsenbarger was aboard a rescue helicopter responding to a call for evacuation of casualties incurred in an on-going firefight between elements of the United States Army's 1st Infantry Division and a sizable enemy force approximately 35 miles east of Saigon. With complete disregard for personal safety, Airman Pitsenbarger volunteered to ride a hoist more than one hundred feet through the jungle, to the ground. On the ground, he organized and coordinated rescue efforts, cared for the wounded, prepared casualties for evacuation, and insured that the recovery operation continued in a smooth and orderly fashion. Through his personal efforts, the evacuation of the wounded was greatly expedited. As each of the nine casualties evacuated that day were recovered, Pitsenbarger refused evacuation in order to get one more wounded soldier to safety. After several pick-ups, one of the two rescue helicopters involved in the evacuation was struck by heavy enemy ground fire and was forced to leave the scene for an emergency landing. Airman Pitsenbarger stayed behind, on the ground, to perform medical duties. Shortly thereafter, the area came under sniper and mortar fire. During a subsequent attempt to evacuate the site, American forces came under heavy assault by a large Viet Cong force. When the enemy launched the assault, the evacuation was called off and Airman Pitsenbarger took up arms with the besieged infantrymen. He courageously resisted the enemy, braving intense gunfire to gather and distribute vital ammunition to American defenders. As the battle raged on, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to care for the wounded, pull them out of the line of fire, and return fire whenever he could, during which time, he was wounded three times. Despite his wounds, he valiantly fought on, simultaneously treating as many wounded as possible. In the vicious fighting which followed, the American forces suffered 80 percent casualties as their perimeter was breached, and airman Pitsenbarger was finally fatally wounded. Airman Pitsenbarger exposed himself to almost certain death by staying on the ground, and perished while saving the lives of wounded infantrymen. His bravery and determination exemplify the highest professional standards and traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Air Force.'
good addition to the genre