Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 22:08:45 -0700
" From September 25-27 1998, a reinforced platoon of King Company descended upon Los Angeles and thoroughly routed the 'krauts' in the Battles of Simi Valley and Franklin Canyon. The victory was due to the excellent planning from the operational staff, and a battle plan that was executed with outstanding devotion to duty by the Recon leadership. The (less than) ordinary men and women of Combat! displayed exceptional bravery and coolness under fire. With complete disregard for their own safety, all the attendees of Recon 98 deliberately made sure that everyone had a great time. The Combat Recon Platoon was inspired by the heroic men (and women behind them) who, for 5 years, placed themselves in front and behind a film camera. "
In the words of WSC, "Never have so many owed so much to so few!" Thank you Rick, Pierre, Dick, Tom, Burt and A.D for this special weekend.........and we missed you Jack and Conlan!
......though my remembrances of this weekend will be primarily of being honored to met these actors, the BEST part of this entire event was making new friendships and placing a warm and friendly face to those I have 'known' on this list for almost two years.
I arrived Friday afternoon and immediately ran into Marty, and then met Jo. Jo moves a mile a minute and has unending energy and enthusiasm. In a way I had met Jo when I viewed the ComBoat tapes, but her true warmth and talent for organizing and running this type of event can only be experienced first hand.
Nancy Parker also greeted me and for almost two days I felt puzzled that I couldn't 'remember' when we had met. She knew all about me, yet I felt embarrassed that I was not able to connect her name in my mind. Finally on Saturday night I gathered the courage to admit my puzzlement and when she revealed her email address as 'movnmtn' the connection was made. It just shows how funny this email stuff is when you can recognize 'nicknames' before real names!
Chuck Schauer (GI Jive), introduced himself and would become a good friend and
companion for the next few days. At the Friday night social, Chuck, Marty and I went in
uniform or character and I was thrilled when Tom Lowell introduced himself and began
talking with us. Since Tom was wearing his field jacket given to him by the Japanese
attendees of Com Boat , the four of us were pounced on for a group photo..... anyone
with copies of the photo, please contact me ..I would like a copy.
Also attending in uniform were Kevin Derby and Bob Blair, from the local WWII re enactor group. I have recognized Bob at many re enactor battles and this was the first time he and I had a chance to meet. Bob disclosed that when he grew up in Culver City he had crawled under the fence at the MGM lot and played on the Combat and Man from Uncle sets. Bob was really enthused about the event and was encouraged to sign on to the mail list. Bob also has a great souvenir from Recon, he had the inside of his helmet autographed by all the actors....what a great item !
I had MP duty for 30 minutes and during my stint I met Michael Malone, who is on the list. Michael and I discussed various Combat stuff and then he and I talked a bit about railroad/railfan interests. Its funny how many people can share different and yet common interests.
I had always desired to attend as Braddock with his camo pants and I received more attention than I bargained for. Harold Hanley is a funny and dedicated fan, he came up to me and started quoted lines from Braddock episodes. Especially the dialogue between Braddock and Col Clyde (Keenan Wynn) "Dont just stand there sucking on a prune pit".... I have to admit that I am not good at remembering dialogue, but Harold could recite the lines without skipping a beat. All weekend long, even after I stopped wearing the outfit, Harold and I would crack up over the Braddock/Clyde dialogue. If there is another Combat Reunion, I want Harold to come as Col Clyde and I will learn the Braddock lines and we will entertain all of you with our version of "The Prisoner"!.......
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 22:04:48 -0700
The Recon tour of Franklin Canyon was conceived when Jo included me in the initial planning stages of the reunion. Although 'never volunteer' is the first axiom that a stint in the service taught me, I was flattered that Jo would include me. Marty and I had been doing a lot of private research tours at Franklin and I couldn't fathom a Combat fan coming to Los Angeles and not seeking out this fantastic location.
But this event would not have been successful if it weren't for the time, effort and energy of three special people...the "lost patrol'" as we were called. I am gratefully indebted to Marty Black, Janice Payne and Dorothy Spangler for their support and help in making this a success for all that attended.
Marty is enthusiastic beyond imagination. He spends his off time flying out to LA, to hike around Franklin Canyon or drive to some remote area to seek out filming locations. He constantly challenges me to research the episodes and then match the correct locations. We work well together, sometimes agreeing at the first proposed location. Then at other times, one of us will doubt the suspected site and we re watch the episodes over and over to prove to each other the correct spot. Many a time I could convince myself that a site would be correct only to change my mind after Marty challenges me.
The first time we did a team recon, Marty introduced his metal detector to the project. It proved to be a valuable tool to verify locations. Much like detectives solving a case, we would view an episode, observe the landmarks in the background and then sweep the ground to find a cartridge case. When we find a cartridge case, we compared what type was found to the possible episode or character. If a match occurs, the location becomes a confirmed site. All of the cases given in the Recon packet were discovered in this manner.
As the tour concept developed and the number of attendees grew, it became obvious that it had gone beyond our ability to conduct it in a timely fashion. We needed additional tour leaders, but we had to teach that leader all Marty and I had learned from months of research. That tour leader obviously had to be someone in LA, who could be given a crash course in the locations. That is how we met Janice Payne and Dorothy Spangler.
I can't adequately say enough about Janice and Dorothy. They were given a crash course in Combat! episodes that had Franklin locations and at the same time needed to orient themselves to the areas in Franklin. This would be hard enough in such a short time, but both were actively involved in many other aspects of the Recon planning. Janice and Dorothy, the tour at Franklin could not have been a success without your help...THANK YOU so very much!!!!!!
Saturday morning was the Recon tour....Marty and I we were up and in uniform to lead the assault. We were in character again, this time Marty had changed from Kirby's BAR belt to a standard rifleman's belt and the field pack to play Jim Hummel from "The Letter". Again I assumed the character of Braddock. Marty left with the advance party to check on the conference room setup at the visitor center and rendezvous with others arriving separately.
I boarded the lead bus with Jo, Nancy Durgin and half the tour group. We led the way and were watching Chapel at Able Five for most of the way. Then those pesky krauts started jamming our VCR and Nancy tried valiantly, but vainly to keep it playing. At each VCR malfunction, Nancy would cry out in anguish...."Its not my fault!" and I was reminded of the Hans Solo bit in 'Empire Strikes Back' when he spoke the same words in similar situations.
The trip became a bit rougher as the bus swung off the '405' freeway and on to Mulholland Drive. Mulholland is a twisty - turning road traveling along the ridge top of the Santa Monica mountains that separate Van Nuys and the San Fernando Valley from Bel Air and Beverly Hills. To 'flat landers' unused to mountain roads, it is comparable to a bucking landing craft in a rough sea. A lot of 'oohs', 'aaahs' and "OMG's" were heard from the back of the bus as we rounded the curves or saw the sharp drop offs along the roadside. We arrived at the road down to Franklin Canyon and after negotiating three of four extremely tight and narrow corners, emerged into the valley below. A final joyride was made when I instructed our driver to take the perimeter road around the reservoir and give a preview to the site.
We entered the parking lot where Marty and all the other early arrivals awaited. Much attention was paid to a jeep driven from San Diego by a fellow named Craig Covner and to Pierre Jalbert. Forming up into squads, Braddock marched the lead squad to its point of departure.
I had the jitters, and at the first picture comparison location, the Claude Akins culvert from Nightmare on the Red Ball Run, I couldn't tell if people were recognizing the spot. I continued through to the first culvert spot (Vic in the Letter) and then saw that the fans were making the connections. Faces and names began to emerge as in my squad were Mike Malone, Nancy and others that I would met later. IIRC, Anzio Annie was in my group as well as Thomas and Andrea Cardinal, George and Barbara Norcia, Teri Dates and her mother, Nadyne Lioy, Greg Russell, Kevin Derby and Bob Blair. Bob was in his re enactor uniform and I christened his as Sgt O'Neill from the Point of View episode.
We had barely completed our second location when I noticed that Dorothy's squad was moving up fast behind us. I must have been too long winded and detailed in presenting the locations and I tried to speed up the process. But I found that at each location the Recon members were taking in the view and appeared to want to linger and look.
We had originally planned to be done in 90 minutes and the 'lost patrol' spent two dry runs in the months before to establish that time frame. Marty's first draft of the episode listing was over 20 pages long and it was hard for me to dampen his enthusiasm when I said it needed serious editing. Like the movies, we needed to tighten up the presentation and to narrow the episodes discussed to a few. I suggested the concept of a photo guide with the original version being 36 or so photos maximum, but the final project ended up with 12 pages and 90 + photos!!!!!
We had not made it to the halfway point in our tour when, as Dorothy narrates, she gave Braddock a chewing out. I felt I was cheating the members of the patrol as I picked up the pace and double timed them through the parking lot culverts, Eucalyptus Hill, Kangers Korner and the Firs and West Road. If we were to do it again, the lesson learned would be to plan a 4-6 hour stay at Franklin, we really could have done it more justice with more time but then we would need a 5 day program instead of the short 72 hours we had.
Just as we were completing our last location, near the road junction, Craig drove his jeep through the junction in a perfect duplication of the scene from Masquerade. I wished we had planned to have this sort of activity to occur for all, maybe it is in the fates for us to do this again in the future!
We climbed the hill to the Visitor Center and expected to be the last squad in for lunch. We weren't, as Marty still had his squad out in action somewhere. I went through the chow line, mess kit (real one) in hand and began to relax a bit. Concern for Marty's squad grew as Jo and I realized we only had about 45 minutes left before the buses had to depart. Just as we were preparing to send out a rescue patrol, Marty showed up and his squad was forced to wolf down their lunch. I don't think they cared since they had Pierre accompany them on their tour.
Time ran out as everyone had to be hustled down to the busses to return to Simi Valley. I stuck around, thinking we had to clean up the place. Carolyn Fansler had volunteered for clean up crew and we did a last minute policing of the room. The plan was that I would stick around with Marty and others who wanted to help clean up and then, as a reward, Marty and I would give them a chance to find and dig up some cartridges. Fans and I lingered around, exchanging conversation, but at the same time wondered what happened to the other clean up volunteers.
We casually walked down to the parking lot and luckily caught Marty leaving. Somehow we had our signals crossed and Marty thought we had left aboard the bus. A few minutes later and we would have been stranded! It looked as if the post Recon cartridge search was not going to happen, so Fans, Marty and I returned to Simi Valley.
All too soon, the tour of the shooting location at Franklin Canyon was over. But Franklin is still there for any and all Combat! fans to visit. We had tried to downplay this location in the months prior to Recon, but now the 'secret' is out. I later talked to Jo and we will collaborate to include the locations in Franklin on the Combat Web site and develop a self guided tour so that anyone can visit when you make your trip to Los Angeles. Stay tuned to the list and check out the web site for future developments.
Date: Sat, 03 Oct 1998 09:46:35 -0700
Here it is, one week later and I still cant believe it is over. The memory of the events of last week have been slowly eroding away, I have been forcing myself to keep as much in my mind as I can so I can finish writing this narrative. The day-to-day combat at the workplace doesn't help to keep my thoughts on track...Here are my recollections of the event from Saturday afternoon.
Marty, Fans and I returned from Franklin Canyon and during the trip we laid initial plans to return for a dig the next morning. If you read Carolyn's post about her experience, it is obvious that she was very determined to dig up a cartridge case. Marty and I had also wanted to take GI Jive (Chuck) as well. Marty and I have been there so many times that I failed to realize how exciting this could be.
At the Radisson. I put away the 'Braddock' gear and resolved to be just plain old me, Dodger. After cleaning up I returned to the ballroom to hear Rick's Q & A. I even volunteered a question, hoping to get a good story out of him. Everyone that was there knows that Rick just doesn't answer a question, one gets a story and sometimes several stories before any question is answered. My question .... I wanted to know more about his recollection of Denice Darcel who played in 'Battleground' and had a sexy scene with Rick in the episode "A Distant Drum". Rick, totally out of character, had nothing to offer in the way of a story or anecdote, I was disappointed to say the least!
I believe that I met Donna Callison and Ann Raymont during Ricks signing session. These two charming ladies introduced themselves, and unlike my memory lapse with Nancy Parker, aka Checkmate Blue, aka Movnmtn, I 'recognized' them immediately. At least their names and call sign alter egos! I loved Anns call sign, Anzio Annie, from the first time I heard it and I asked how she acquired the name. That old devil, John Roberts - Forward Observer, suggested she use that name. As most old-time list members know, John has a talent for christening some of us, I proudly wear the badge of "Mr. Encyclopedia-head"...more about that later.
Donna Callison, with the confusing call sign Esther & Bob, is from Northern California and I was surprised to hear that she took the scenic route via Amtrac's train service from the Sacramento area to Simi Valley. Her trip lasted 14 hours, but IIRC, she traveled the coast route and that is a most scenic journey. She didnt say how much of that 14 hours was in the Club Car! When we said goodbyes on Sunday, it was nice to know that she would fly back home.
Rick's autograph session was really dragging on, so I went to find Marty. I discovered him in the bar, entertaining Joy Jalbert, Pierres' wife. Or rather it was Joy who was entertaining Marty, Chuck and Greg Russell. Pierre was with Tom and Dick, doing promo interviews for the Encore TV people. BTW, Encore will be doing another Combat! Marathon on the Thanksgiving holiday and they were filming all the stars for introductions to the episodes.
When Pierre returned, it was decided that we should adjourn to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Eight of us were seated and almost immediately Pierre abandoned the group to seat himself next to Donna and (Anzio) Annie. While we looked over the menu, Pierre was entertaining his new companions; Donna and Ann, what did this handsome Frenchman say to you? To Joy Jalbert, this was nothing new. She ordered for Pierre and throughout the meal, she had to prod Pierre to stop talking and eat his food.
Reinforced when Donna and Anns table was moved over, the dinner group carried on in small talk for about 90 minutes. Due in part to the leisurely snail like pace of the restaurant service, we frittered the time away and subsequently missed the Tom and Dick Q&A session. We heard rumors of the Grenade scene, but we were unfortunately being held prisoner by Pierre and Joy. No one wanted to break the bubble of our Dinner with Pierre.
We returned to the ballroom as Tom and Dick were signing autographs. Marty had to conduct the raffle for the special cartridge cases found at Franklin Canyon. The gems were .45 cal from Vic's Thompson with a few .30 carbine and 9mm from German MP40s. Everyone received a .30 cal casing in their fan packet, all had beautiful Certificates of Authenticity made up by Othello.
I helped Marty with the raffle and everyone couldn't fail to notice this 11 or 12 year old young man named Matthew was winning many of the casings. He and his sister were working the Auction and Raffle tables and suspicions grew that there was some shenanigans afoot. A bit later I was told that his sister was none other than that mysterious fan we know as Chameleon. For almost two days Bethany had kept her identity a secret and she, Matthew and her mother had pitched in to sell raffle tickets and keep an eye on the Auction items on display. Bethany was doing a great job living up to her call sign!
Pierre's Q&A session came next and he entertained everyone. He has a charming way of sprinkling little gems and teasers throughout the conversation. He mentions something in passing and then uses the phrase 'but thats another story', obviously he wants to take us down another path and share more with us.
The Auction was next and Jo conducted the furious bidding wars with great skill and humor. Some fantastic items, including three directors scripts from Burt Kennedy went for more than I could afford, and I'm sure to some loving Combat! fans display case.
After the Auction the ballroom was closing down, so I went to the bar with Marty, Chuck and Greg Russell. During dinner Greg and I talked about interests we had in 'Before-and-After' research. Greg had also wanted to go to Franklin Canyon on Sunday morning and now we had a 5 person recon set to go. Pierre arrived and conversations again struck up.
I was on the end of the bar, the main conversation going on to my right. On my left were two ladies I recognized from my Franklin Tour squad. We introduced ourselves and I met Teri Dates, and her mother Nadyne Lioy. Both are avid Combat! fans, but not on our list yet. They live in LA and had no idea about Franklin Canyon, or the other areas such as Bronson Canyon. I shared a lot of information about other sites with them and encouraged them to spend time at Franklin and then watch the Combat! episodes again to pick up the locations.
They were even give a special recon mission. The episode 'Gadjo' has a final fire fight taking place in a culvert system and dam/reservoir area that has eluded Marty and I for over a year. We cant find that distinctive location and it remains undiscovered for some other eagle eyed researcher to ferret this one out.
The evening passed on, Nadyne, Teri and I finally broke up and I drifted over to the survivors of Pierres' discussion group. 15 minutes later the bartender announced Last Call. Shortly after that, Marty and I drifted back to our room, dead tired, but realizing we had to be up at 0530 to meet our special recon squad in the lobby at 0600. It was almost 2 am!
Date: Sat, 03 Oct 1998 21:07:57 -0700
After less than four hours sleep, we woke around 0515 on Sunday to take our Combat! friends to Franklin Canyon for a cartridge dig. Marty showered first and I contemplated closing my eyes for a quick nap, but knew that if I relaxed I wouldn't wake again. We arrived at the lobby and waited for GI Jive, Fans and Greg to show up. Sometimes people make commitments to do things and then 'wimp out' , our three companions showed they were made of the right stuff as they arrived in the lobby.
By 0600, stiffened by some coffee, we were racing along the freeway toward the Canyon in the pre dawn darkness. The weather was overcast and cloudy, we didn't see the sunrise, only a gradual lighting of the gray skies. We drove down into the canyon and parked at the end of the Visitor Center lot.
Marty led the group into the Fir trees near the debris dam and started sweeping the ground with the metal detector. Soon he was clearing away the loose leaves, branches and debris and scraping at the ground with a small garden rake. He would scratch about a 12 inch square section of ground about 3-4 inches deep and then pass the head of the M/D over the hole. A few more locating sweeps followed by some additional earth moving would reveal a cartridge case.
Soon Carolyn was wearing gloves and scratching away at the loose, damp earth. Occasionally a false signal would produce no cartridge case, but Marty was already sweeping the ground off in another patch. The air was cool and damp and the anticipation of the hunt excited our three companions. Photos were taken when a treasure was detected, and each person patiently waited their turn as Marty located another casing. Several .45 casings were found which Marty said came from "The Ringer" episode. We moved on into the Debris Basin from this spot. We entered through a hole in the fence and crossed over to the Eucalyptus trees on the far side of the Basin. This location was a small fire fight from "One at a Time" and while the M/D worked over the ground I wandered around studying the ground, looking for the spot in the Masquers when the Frenchman holds off some Germans as Kirby and Nick Adams escape. Every time I visit Franklin there is always one more episode setting I want to locate, usually the more obscure and harder to pinpoint sites.
While this site yielded a few .30 cal cartridges, out companions wanted Vic casings so we moved off to the entrance to the Basin along the gate path. All of you walked through this path area and your guidebooks show the scene of Vic from "The Letter" as he falls wounded between two Eucalyptus trees. We spent about 20 minutes here, while the metal detector beeped and the group searched for cases, I looked at some comparison photos I had showing the sequence of the fire fight. Greg and I walked around near the metal grate from Point of View and could pinpoint trees and even the suspected camera setup.
We then climbed the steep side of Eucalyptus Hill and arrived at the top. This was the Sgt O'Neills MG position from Point of View. Marty took us down the slope to the south and showed us a spot he found on Thursday that he believed (and later proved to be ) the site where Saunders and Kirby rescue Caje, Corey and the German POW pinned down by a German patrol in 'Run Sheep Run". This was a 'bonanza' of .45 and .30 cal casings and each of us picked up more than a pair. We worked further down the slope in the tangled undergrowth and fallen tree trunks to another spot loaded with .30 cal, the 1st German MG in Point of View site.
We worked back down the slope and climbed into the car to move on to Sniper Hill. We parked the car in the small clearing at the knoll south of the Redwood Room. Marty went back to talk to one of the park staff removing the road barriers that were set up along the road. If you remember from out walk, these were along all the open area normally used as 'parking' for visitors. Marty found out that the SECRET SERVICE had asked that these barriers were erected on Saturday because President Clinton was visiting over in the next canyon. Good thing we didn't crawl over the hillside on Saturday afternoon, Kirby and Braddock may have been captured and held "Prisoners" and "The Long Way Home" would have been a definite story to tell.
I took GI Jive down to the foot of the reservoir to show him the large structure that is built over the surge chamber, where water once fed the reservoir lake.. There you could see how much water has been drained from the reservoir, leaving large chunks of rocks and concrete in a dry, reed covered area. Marty had climbed up Sniper Hill with Fans and I walked Chuck and Greg up to the culvert used in "The Letter'", where all of us climbed into the culvert, walked to the Vic Post at the road and climbed back out. We crossed the road and scrambled up the loose clay to a small clearing on Sniper Hill.
The view from this point is on your guidebooks, the little film strip sequence from 'Jonah'. I also narrated the sequence of events of the sniper ambush from "Nightmare on the Red Ball Run". Carolyn and Marty had found a .30 cal case just lying uncovered on the ground, but that was all that this place yielded. We carefully picked our way back down the slope and to the car. The excursion up Sniper and Eucalyptus Hill made it clear to Chuck, Carolyn and Greg how rugged the site could have been for the actors and stunt doubles to be running all around to get the scenes needed for the episodes.
We drove over the dam and then turned south to the lower reservoir. We stopped about 1/4 mile down the road to show our party the opening scenes from "Masquerade". The encounter with Cpl Kanger and his party of saboteurs with Saunders squad was narrated by Marty and I; even the road where Kangers jeep hits the mine could be seen (though not used and wildly overgrown). We drove to the end of road where a few truck scenes were shot for 'Nightmare on the Red Ball Run" and then turned back to the Upper Reservoir locations.
We stopped at the large metal pipe from 'The Letter' and then stepped into the culvert where Jim Hummel and Saunders overlook the German checkpoint. We decided to walk down the culvert toward Wild Pond and we snapped a picture for Greg as he climbed under the pipe that Vic climbed under. As we traversed the culvert, we came to a point at the east side of Sycamore Meadow where we left the culvert and descended into a small clearing.
This is in the opposite side of the field with the giant 6 foot plants growing, and was the location for the showers in "The Long Way Home". From there we connected to the path to Wild Pond and went to the far hillside where Kirby and Johnson return fire from "The Letter". Marty found a few .30 cal Kirby casings and each of us received one. We left this area by climbing up the path used by Lt Douglas in "Command" and took another route back to the car.
As we arrived in the clearing, everyone had a feeling of satisfaction that our special recon was a success. We also were hungry and left the Canyon to return for the Sunday breakfast buffet at the hotel. I'm sorry that each of you could not enjoy the type of tour we were able to give GI Jive, Fans and Greg, but remember that Franklin Canyon awaits any of you who decide to make your own special Recon to the area. Believe me, the most fun I had in Franklin Canyon was discovering for myself the little details from the episodes and then seeing them in person. If you decide to re-visit Franklin send Marty or I a line and we may just decide to meet you there as well!
Date: Sun, 04 Oct 1998 18:24:53 -0700
After our early morning recon, we returned to Simi Valley to enjoy the great food at the breakfast buffet. Our early morning workout had given me a tremendous appetite and I took advantage of all the goodies offered by the cooks.
After breakfast I wandered into the ballroom and where Othello was organizing her Combategories game. Teri Dates, Nadyne Lioy and Anzio Annie immediately drafted me into their group. In the preliminaries, Jo and her partner did very well as did Andrea and Tom Cardinal. The group I was
in decided to follow Napoleon's maxim "God is on the side of the big battalions" and all 6 of us competed at the same time. Nadyne, Teri and I were given suggestions from Ann, Tom Bores and Donna and we swept into the finals where we handily dispatched Cardinal.
As the ballroom filled up before the Q&A for AD Flowers and Burt Kennedy, I gave away my share of the cartridge cases to some of my new friends. Bethany (Chameleon) received a Kirby casing from "The Letter" area at Wild Pond, Teri Dates a .30 cal from Eucy Hill-"Point of View", and Ann (Anzio Annie) a Saunders casing from Eucy Hill -"Run Sheep Run".
Ann and Donna (Esther/Bob) were seated together and I felt bad about not having a casing for Donna. So Donna, since you are in No. Cal and we both are near the Korbel/Hop Kiln sites I will offer you an invitation to meet me up there when I go looking for the filming sites. We can sample champagne together at Korbel and I will show you the bridge site from "The Losers".
Speaking of the "Losers", A.D. Flowers had created the effect of blowing up the bridge in that episode. During Fridays get together I asked him what he remembered about the bridge demolition. When I first found what I suspected to be the site there were several problems that caused me to wonder if I really correct. The bridge is seen in "The Losers" but also in the motorcycle escape/pursuit scenes of "A Walk with an Eagle" The bridge is of wood construction, including the support piers.
But the bridge site I discovered had concrete piers, look at the photos on page 31 of the Recon booklet. This has always bothered me so I posed the question to A. D. First he confirmed that the old wood bridge was going to be replaced and the officials let him help it along with his demolitions job. So scratch one wooden bridge, courtesy Combat! special effects. And the most positive confirmation came when, unprompted by me, he named the bridge as the "Odd Fellows Bridge". That is the small road that crosses the Russian River at the edge of the Korbel vineyards.
Later in the autograph session Marty and I asked A.D. more questions about effects, especially about 'hits' on vehicles. He told us holes would be drilled in door or fender panels and then a small indentation hammered near the hole gave the 'pock mark' effect. A small charge would be placed and then aluminum foil cemented over the hole and the area repainted, ready to simulate a bullet hit.
Marty had spied a fire hose lying across the grassy area in a scene from "A Little Jazz". He had figured out that this was how they provided water for the mill wheel on the set built into the parking lot. So he asked A.D. where they got the fire hose. A.D. informed us that at every scene that used explosives, they were required to have the fire Department on hand in case of fires. Franklin Canyon can be very dried out by the end of summer and the fire hazard could be great.
Burt Kennedy was really funny and told some good anecdotes. I had two questions for him. First I was interested in how much time elapsed from when the production shooting was finished till the episode was broadcast. He said that it was 3 or 4 weeks, which helps me establish a time frame to view how Franklin or the various episodes would look on screen. While going through 1st season episodes for locations I noted that except for the pilot, all the first few were shot at MGM and the back lots. Burts episode "The Celebrity" was the first to break out from the studio sites and I asked how that came about and where it was done. Burt recalled that it was done at Gene Autrys property near Saugus. He had heard that there had been a fire on the property and decided to shoot the episode using the burned over areas. Watch the episode with that story in mind. Doesn't the camp scene at Avranches have a few chimney skeletons and piles of debris? And the assault on the MG position on the burned hillside certainly make sense now!
After the Q&A session, Steve Rubin arrived to set up his Combat Jeopardy game. Steve and I talked a bit about his movie projects and I had a copy of his book that he kindly autographed for me. At the same time Mr Encyclopedia-head sized up his competition, Tom Cardinal and Tom Bores. Tom Cardinal did well in Combatigories, but Tom Bores I reckoned to be the sleeper. Tom Bores did fantastic on Othellos 'Name the Pinup Girl' Friday night, he obviously knew his WWII movies.
As the game began, Mr Encyclopedia-head launched a blitzkrieg and stormed through the categories with a 'take no prisoners' battle plan. Steve Rubin conducts a thought provoking and great game of Combat Jeopardy, I really was stumped by more than a few of his questions. But the only competition I feared would have been John Roberts, and luckily for me he couldn't make the event. If ever we do make an event, stand by for a furious game of WWII movie trivia.
The Recon now was officially closed and all those attending the party at Rick Jasons house arrived there by 5PM. It was a beautiful afternoon with a fantastic view of the distant mountains and was the fairy tale ending to this magic weekend. Everyone had a great time, Rick Jason, Marty and Fans exchanged jokes and the punch flowed freely among the guests. Darkness fell and with the fading light, the fairy tale ended. The school bus arrived and we all had to leave before it turned into a pumpkin.
As we returned to the hotel, we bid farewell to some who had evening or early morning departures. Again, a few die hards managed a 'last stand' in the restaurant. I remember GI Jive, Russell's, Fans, Marty, Red Three, the Jeep guy and myself and maybe a few others having dinner with Dick and Tina Peabody . Soon even that was over and we departed to spend our last night at the Radisson.
The next morning found only those going on the cruise still lingering around the hotel. Marty said Fans was in the lobby ready to leave, and I ran out to bid farewell to my new friend. I noticed a new wave of business people in their suits and ties had invaded the restaurants and lobby. I recalled how much fun we had experienced in the last few days and now these poor people were there to listen to dull lectures or seminars. How lucky we were!
Marty and I made a last Recon, checking out the area in Thousand Oaks that Tom Lowell had said the Albertson Ranch was located. It is now a gated community built on a golf course. There is a possibility that in the months ahead the area might be invaded by two strangers, with a metal detector hidden in the golf club bag, wandering around the links.
With a final farewell to Jo, Chuck , Harold Hanley and Marty, I loaded up the trusty Nissan special for the long trip back to Northern California. It had been a very special weekend and the only regret is that so many of you reading these words weren't their to share it with us. I missed meeting Goldbrick, Forward Observer, Maple Leaf, Wild Card and countless others who have been a great deal of fun to chat with about Combat!
Maybe in 2000 we will get a chance to get together again!