The Story Behind SILENT VICTORY This web site is dedicated to the memory of Col. William C. Maus, Jr. (1928 - 1998)
Husband-and-wife team Don C. Hall and Annette R. Hall were determined to tell the world the story of F/51st LRP. Vietnam was a taboo subject for many years. Like many Vietnam combat vets, Don Hall and his fellow F/51st Lurps had all been subjected to scorn, ridicule, and disbelief when they tried to describe their experiences to friends, acquaintances, and even family. Many had ceased talking about it completely. In the early 1990’s, the men of F/51st LRP began to get together for reunions. Shared experiences that had been pent up inside for years came pouring out. Don, one of the unit’s original team leaders, came away from the first reunion he attended in 1991 filled with determination to tell their story. Don and his wife Annette had already been working on Don’s personal memoir and had completed a 23-chapter first draft. After the reunion, they added seven more chapters. Their book I SERVED describes Don’s personal experiences growing up in a Catholic orphanage and then serving in Vietnam. In October 1992, they signed a contract with Ballantine Books (a division of Random House). In May 1993, they received the first third of their advance. Later that year, they backed out of the contract and returned the advance because, among other reasons, they decided it was in their best interest to retain full copyright ownership of the story. They also wanted to control all creative aspects of the project. They had quickly learned after signing the contract that the Ballantine editor had plans to do severe edits to reduce the scope of the story in order to make it fit into the strict format of their LRP/Ranger genre. The Halls could not abide the evisceration of the story, so they got out of the contract. This is a gutsy act on the part of first-time authors, but they never looked back, or regretted it. In 1994, they self-published a limited hardbound collector’s edition of I SERVED, which sold out. Copies of it are selling on the web as collector’s items, for far more than it cost in 1994. In 2001, the Halls released a trade-paperback edition  through Trafford Publishing, with a lot of additional material in it. Having produced a high-quality book about Don’s personal story, the Hall’s felt that they had what it took to produce the documentary about F/51st LRP. With the assistance of his former commanding officer, Colonel William C. Maus, Don located the hard-to-find after-action reports and other archival film and documentation about F/51st LRP in the National Archives. These materials were critical to telling the story of F/51st LRP accurately. Don and Annette pitched the project to a variety of companies, hoping to get outside funding. They received a number of positive responses from various companies, but were told each time that their lack of experience made their personal contribution as producers and director unlikely. Several of these companies wanted to do the project, but without the Halls’ participation. Determined not to compromise their creative vision, the Halls decided to take a risk and fund the project themselves.  Kiren DeVerniero, one of the documentary’s music composers, introduced them to director/producer Virginia Hashii. They realized very quickly that they had found the perfect person to guide them through the perilous battlefields of documentary-making. A woman possessing integrity and great story-telling talent, Gini Hashii became a believer and poured her heart and soul into the project. With the encouragement and support of many of the men with whom Don had served in F/51st LRP, and the assistance of producer/director Gini Hashii and the rest of their crew, they began shooting the first interviews at Ft. Benning, GA. They also shot at Ft. Bragg, NC, Tampa and Orlando, Florida, Wilmington, NC, and finally in Washington State. In addition to many of the men who served in F/51st LRP, the Halls were very fortunate to have interviewed General H. Norman Schwarzkopf (U.S. Army, retired) and author Michael Lee Lanning. After they finished shooting, they found a talented editor, Jim Golingo, through a friend. They completed editing of the rough cut and submitted it to several festivals and award competitions. They held a sneak preview for the 2nd Battalion Ranger team-leader trainees at Ft. Lewis, WA, and then a second sneak preview for an invited list of 100 guests on Veteran’s Day at a local community college. It was also shown at the 2001 Telluride Indiefest film festival. Based on audience feedback, they edited the documentary to its present 73-minute length. They were invited to screen SILENT VICTORY as a World Premiere at the 2003 Sedona International Film Festival. They also produced a one-hour version designed for TV broadcast. They showed the documentary at other festivals. (Click here for a full list of the festivals.) The Halls’ determination to tell the story their way has resulted in an award-winning documentary unlike any other of its kind. Click here to see what audiences have to say about SILENT VICTORY. Together, I SERVED and SILENT VICTORY set a new standard for nonfiction military storytelling. ***
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The Story of Company F, 51st Long Range Patrol (Airborne) Infantry