Episode 105 – Richard Fitts Jr’s Family at The Wall that Heals
Richard Fitts Jr. and the Abington Color Guard
I had first met Richard Fitts Jr. when we were talking about his documentary 21 Years a Folded Flag. ( Episode 92 – 21 Years a Folded Flag ) This is a labor of love for a father he could not remember because SSgt Richard Fitts was killed in Laos during the Vietnam War. He reached out recently because he wanted me to meet the crew from the Abington VFW when the Fitts Family joined them to do the Colors Ceremony for The Wall that Heals.
One of the take aways from the film is how Abington, Massachusetts wrapped their arms around the Fitts family. I got a chance to see this in action for the ceremony. Richard, his mother Valerie and his son Austin joined the guys from the VFW for this special ceremony. I got to spend time with Richard talking about everything from Joe Satriani to bass guitar styles to aspects of parenthood. I enjoyed how Mrs. Fitts was the “den mother” for all the Abington VFW crew. It was more like a family event than anything else.
After the ceremony, Richard and his son Austin talked with me about the film. He is almost done with it. He was able to interview a General who in Richard’s view adds a lot to the project. There is a lot of movement going on with another entry into a film contest, and he is finalizing the sound.
Seeing a Gold Star family like the Fitts participate in the color guard brought a different kind feeling out in me. It shows that family in the military can mean those who haven’t served as well as those from different branches of service.
Abington VFW & Mrs Fitts – Richard Fitts Jr is on the far left
Richard Fitts Jr. invited to come watch the pre-release version of “21 Years a Folded Flag” at the Bridgewater, MA Public Library. I was pleased to see how many people came to support Richard and Rudy’s labor of love. It was standing room only by the time Richard and Rudy got up to introduce the film. They were happy and honored to see everyone.
It was clear to see that they were very proud of their work. No small amount of sacrifice and effort has gone into getting the film to this point. I feel that this a unique experience that you can’t miss if you had family members who served in the Vietnam War or want to know more about our country during that time.
As I watched this film, I was drawn into the story in Laos and here in Abington, MA. Not to give away all the good parts, but there is a scene about a third of the way into the film that stopped the room cold. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing and it set the tone for the remainder of the film. You will need to watch and see if you agree with me.
A thought occurred to me as I watched Richard Fitts Jr. recount his memories. Many times children are left out of the conversation when it comes to the grieving process. Watching Richard at all stages of his life until there is closure was a stark reminder that everyone pays a price for the life we enjoy in America today.
Keep checking back here and on Richard’s Facebook Page for more information about this project. You don’t want to miss this story about a son honoring is father’s service and his family’s sacrifice.
A big thanks to Mistress Carrie from WAAF for having Richard Fitts Jr. and Rudy Childs on to talk about this project.
I got a Facebook Message a couple days ago from Ben Patton of Patton Veterans Project. He wanted to speak with me about his organization Patton Veterans Project. JJ Bennett, who was a guest on Episode 76 (Episode 76 – Power Breathing & Meditation Interview), had spoken with Ben about this podcast and we talked for a few minutes.
Ben is the grandson of Army General George Patton. According to the website, (https://pattonveteransproject.org/) the mission “is to help veterans coping with posttraumatic stress reduce social isolation and strengthen family, community, and professional bonds. We accomplish this mission through intensive filmmaking workshops enabling participants to collaborate with peers to process their service experiences. We also incorporate screening events that validate veterans’ experiences, advance community dialogue, and educate the public about the mental health challenges facing veterans and military families.” I love this kind of outreach that taps into the creative side of veterans. Ben wanted me to come out this (May 18-20) weekend to take part.
The thing is I had previous commitments and will not be able to make it. I also was not going to be able to do a podcast about the workshop since I had Episode 93 – #impactfulathleteinteraction ready to go. I wanted to do something to get the word out because JJ liked this experience and could not wait to share his video. You can check out his work here: (Major General Zation).
So the following is a livestream from YouTube from yours truly about Patton Veterans Project
The next film workshop is scheduled for May 18-20 2018. Location TDB in the greater Boston Area, MA, and is open to all veterans who have served after 9/11/2001.An additional workshop is also scheduled for later in the Summer. These workshops are part of our ongoing study to support post-911 veterans.
This workshop will run Friday, 6PM-9PM; Saturday and Sunday 9AM-5PM. The workshop is free with meals provided. Participating vets must attend all sessions of a weekend workshop. TO APPLY, CLICK HERE. Also, you can email Javier@pattonveteransproject.org for more information.
18-21 MAY, Bronx VA Medical Center, Bronx, NY
A workshop at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, NY is scheduled for late June 18-21 and is open to all veterans. Choose between AM and PM sessions. To register, contact Efrion J. Smith at (718) 584-9000 ext.5432, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I met with Richard Fitts Jr. and Rudy Childs on a cold April Sunday. Believe it or not it can get really cold and nasty during Spring in New England. We were meeting to talk about his documentary, “21 Years a Folded Flag”. Looking at the trailer got me interested in this story because I feel that Vietnam Veterans and Gold Star Family Members still get shut out compared to other wars and conflicts.
This documentary is about Richard Fitts Sr. who was a Green Beret in the Army. He lost his life in Laos on November 30th 1968 during a top secret, classified mission.
Richard was two years old at the time, and never got to know his father. Sitting there listening to him talk, I couldn’t imagine what that must have been like. It wasn’t until over 20 years later that the Fitts family got to find out what had happened to Richard Sr.
Richard wanted tell this story to keep his father’s memory alive. Rudy Childs started working on this film project and it became a labor of love. Richard and Rudy entered this film into a festival in Maryland and it almost won. They are proud of their work and I am looking forward to seeing the finished product. Check out their fundraiser (Fund my story/”green beret father”), and consider donating to help get this story told.
Check out the Sneak Preview to “21 Years a Folded Flag” on YouTube