The Norman Transcript

Columns

May 11, 2014

Finding family in war zone

NORMAN — America’s longest war — you know, the one we are still fighting in Afghanistan — hardly seems the place to piece together a movie about families and the shared experiences that tie them together.

Journalists Mike Boettcher and his son, Carlos Boettcher, traveled there to chronicle American soldiers and their missions. They ended up finally getting to know each other and the American men and women fighting on the front lines.

“The Hornet’s Nest,” which opened in select theatres including Moore’s Warren Theatre this weekend, is not a Hollywood-style movie where chiseled actors play Army and then retreat to their air conditioned trailers for a nap and massage each afternoon. This is storytelling at its best.

The Boettchers embedded first with Marines, then Mike with the 101st Airborne, to bring the war home to America. It should come with a warning: This is a movie with real firefights captured on hand-held and helmet-mounted cameras, soldiers pinned down by faceless Taliban fighters, snipers and IEDs. Make no mistake, this is a real war with real footage. Soldiers, six of them, are killed in action on the Boettcher’s watch.

———

Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Burgess was one of the heroes. He died with five others on March 29, 2011, in Kunar Province. His father, Terry Burgess of Fort Worth, said the movie’s producers, Christian Tureaud and David Salzberg, engaged the families early on in the film’s making.

“It’s indescribable the first time you see it,” Burgess said. Over the next three years, the producers sought out family input.

“I have to admit I had not heard the term Gold Star family until we became one,” Burgess said, adding his son’s fellow soldiers are now part of his extended family.

“He did not die alone. His men were right there with him,” Burgess said.

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