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New war documentary promises to be a real warfighter's flick

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

War movies are a dime a dozen but only a few pass muster with real Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Sailors. Gunner Palace, a gritty documentary that tells the story of the 2-3 Army Field Artillery Regiment after the liberation of Baghdad may have the right stuff, said director Michael Tucker.

Free tickets to an advanced screening of the film have been distributed around MacDill. Mr. Tucker and former 2-3 Captain Jon Powers will be at the screening Tuesday at the AMC Westshore 14 in Tampa and will answer questions from the audience.

The film, being released around the country by Palm Pictures in March, is an up-close and personal look at the war from the perspective of the warfighters, said Mr. Powers, now retired. It's "real" and he (Tucker) was jumping onto the back of Humvees and getting right in there to tell the story.

An ex Reservist, Mr. Tucker said his highest hope is that an accurate portrayal using the images and words of the troops on the ground will convey the emotion and reality of the experience, and open dialogue between soldiers and civilians about the experience of war in Iraq. He made a point to steering clear of politics, he said in a phone interview during a brief respite from a whirlwind, nationwide promotional tour.

"There is a lot of yelling going on in the country about Iraq, but my aim wasn't to get into the right or wrong of it but to show soldiers being soldiers," said Mr. Tucker. "The point is showing as much of the real experience as possible."

Mr. Powers, who is on the road with Tucker promoting the film from town to town, said the film helps bridge the gap between what people think they know about our warfighters and Iraq, and what it really is like to be in the heat of a battle which is being watched by the entire world.

Mr. Tucker agreed. After spending several months there on the ground and even in the line of fire, he notes that only the "firefights, bomb explosions" and other sensational happenings make the nightly news. He said too little of the positive and more peaceful filters through.

"There are some violent scenes in the film but that's only a small part of it," said Mr. Tucker. "They (TV news watchers) don't see Soldiers finding a baby on the street and taking it to the orphanage, visiting schools and playing with children; there are house raids but most people don't realize that there are more where they just knock on the door and go in - not kicking the door down."

A good portion of the film takes place in and around a palace formerly occupied by Uday Hussein, the deceased son of Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq, starting about the time terrorist and insurgent activity was on the rise. Members of the 2-3 are known as Gunners, hence the title of the film Gunner Palace.

Seating is first-come, first-served at the screening Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. There is no open admission and only those presenting free tickets distributed around base through the 6th Wing Public Affairs office will be admitted. Tickets distributed exceed seats so be there early. If you miss the showing, you can get details about the whole experience online at www.gunnerpalace.com.




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