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Returning To Iraq To Screen 'Range 15' Was One Of The Best Experiences Of My Life
I still remember what was playing on my iPod as the helicopter lifted off the helipad of the Iraqi Old Ministry of Defense compound: Smile Empty Soul’s “Silhouettes.” It was the summer of 2007, and I was leaving the White Falcons and Blue Spaders behind and heading home after serving as a joint terminal attack controller with those units. The smells, the heat, the sounds of choppers, UAVs, and fast movers — all of it was too normal to me by that point. Baghdad had become home for a while.
When the helicopter landed at Baghdad International Airport, I was overcome with excitement seeing the familiar faces of my TACP team together again. It had been 10 months since we had all split for our respective combat outposts. Boarding the C-130 to Kuwait to catch the rotator home, I was filled with pride. I had just completed my first deployment as a solo JTAC, experienced real battles, and our whole team was going home in one piece. Looking out across the terminal ramp, I didn’t think I’d ever see Baghdad again.
Top left: Mat Best and Nick Palmisciano pose with soldiers assigned to a hospital in Baghdad. Top right: Jarred Taylor sits atop the roof of the old BAF building in Baghdad's Green Zone. Bottom left: Palmisciano and Best are escorted to visit soldiers unable to view 'Range 15' due to shift schedules. Bottom right: 101st Airborne soldiers anxiously await the screening of 'Range 15.'Photos courtesy of Offset Films, XR
Nine years later almost to the day, I step off the ramp of a Hercules and onto that very same terminal ramp. Now, instead of an ACU uniform, I am dressed in a t-shirt, cargo shorts, and Chuck Taylors. I am here to meet the troops and show them this movie project my friends and I have spent the last two years working on. It’s still very weird to me that people get excited to meet us. We’re civilians now, but still stuck in the enlisted mindset. Walking around the base, I half-expect to get yelled at by some sergeant major for what I’m wearing.
We immediately head to the chow hall for dinner. A tidal wave of flashbacks hit me just from the smell alone. Oddly, it feels good to be back. Less than two hours after we touch down in Iraq, the MWR has already set up for the first screening of RANGE. The room is packed, and there are quite a few soldiers standing in the back because all the seats have been taken. I can’t believe this. Here we are — Mat, Nick, and I — in Baghdad, in a room full of U.S. and Coalition troops who are all here to see this crazy thing we created. It’s overwhelming.
The next day we take a helo to the Green Zone for the next showing. As we transit from BIAP to another base, the cityscape rushes back to me. As a JTAC, I stared at the imagery of this area every day of my life for 10 months. It’s funny — I know exactly where we are the whole way. At one point, I catch myself searching for my rifle when I realize I don’t have it with me and start to panic. Then I remember they didn’t give one to me this time.
Top left: Baghdad. Top right: Nick Palmisciano, Jarred Taylor, and Mat Best await pick up from a helicopter to the Green Zone. Bottom left: Taylor prepares to board a C130 in Kuwait. Bottom right: Best sits aboard a helicopter en route to the Green Zone.Photos courtesy of Offset Films, XR
We spent a total of 10 days touring Iraq, Kuwait, and the Horn of Africa. The experience was a once in a lifetime type of feeling. That’s really the only way to describe it. The hospitality with which the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines welcomed us at every stop was nothing short of amazing. Seeing them laugh like hell at “Range 15” was all the return we needed on this project. So many people thanked us for coming over, but in reality, this group wouldn’t have it any other way. We will always make ourselves available for our deployed troops. In fact, we cannot wait to get invited back again.
Jarred Taylor is the president of Article 15 Clothing.
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.
Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.
With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.
The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.
That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.
The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.