VVAW Silent March to Fontainebleau Hotel (Nixon Bunker), RNC, Miami, Fl (1972, photo VVAW File)

LMU Monday Night Series: Operation Last Patrol (1972) with Ron Kovic and Frank Cavestani

This edition of LMU SFTV’s Monday Night was very special.

We had the honor and privilege of attending a screening of the 1972 documentary Operation Last Patrol and spending the evening with the subject of the documentary, Ron Kovic, and fellow Vietnam veteran and director Frank Cavestani.

Most of you are probably familiar with Ron as the author of Born on the Fourth of July, his autobiography turned into an epic motion picture event by Oliver Stone, starring Tom Cruise as Kovic.

Operation Last Patrol follows Ron Kovic and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War on an heroic journey to the Miami Republican Convention in 1972 to protest the USA involvement in the war and Richard Nixon’s Presidency.

Immediately following the screening, where the final scene shows Kovic’s opposition to Nixon and being drowned out by the louder Nixon supporters at the Convention, we watched the same scene from Born on the Fourth of July. As a filmmaker, it was a very powerful parallel to observe. And, even Ron said that while he’d watched both films several times before, seeing those scenes presented so closely together was very moving. Ron also told us that he’d given his bronze star to Tom Cruise for his performance in Born.

We heard an excerpt of a 2009 letter Ron wrote to President Obama addressing his own personal challenges (as well as those of other soldiers) and asking the President consider them when establishing policy regarding war. Ron talked about his continuing participation in the antiwar movement and encouraged all of us to get involved in things we feel passionate about.  When asked about the apathy of my generation, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him say that he didn’t see apathy, and that he had worked and marched with many college students.

It was a great night and I was very grateful I had the opportunity to be there.

(Photos courtesy of LMU SFTV, VVAW)


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