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Calendar >  Take One….Action! Thomas Calabrese

Take One….Action! Thomas Calabrese

By   /  March 17, 2024  /  9 Comments

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My Next Movie

Thomas Calabrese – Clint Malloy was a retired Marine who served 23 years in the Marine Corps with nine combat deployments to Afghanistan. Being a member of Force Recon, he was often required go behind enemy lines on special missions. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during Operation Python. The primary focus of the mission was to clear insurgents from their stronghold in Seyedadad in the Helmand province while regular Marine Corps units from the 5th Marine Regiment attacked Taliban positions in Northern Marjah. The operation was supported by the Joint Aviation Group that included Apache and Cobra Attack Helicopters, Chinook and Merlin Fixed Wing air assets.

When Clint’s squad was surrounded by an enemy force three times their number, the Marines were thrust in a serious situation and were about to be overrun. They held out until the sun went down then took cover among the rocks on the hillside under the cover of darkness, but it was a temporary respite. Their ammunition was running low and being airlifted out was not an option.

Corporal Louie Owens verbalized what everybody was thinking, “They’re going to hit us with everything they got come first light.”

Sergeant Malloy wholeheartedly concurred, “That’s for sure, unless I hit them first. If I don’t make it back, I’ll see you in Devildog Hell,” and left the area without further discussion.

Wearing night vision goggles, Sergeant Malloy silently worked his way toward the Taliban fighters’ position and began killing them with his KA-Bar combat knife. When he saw a group of men sitting around a fire, he tossed three fragmentation grenades that exploded in rapid succession then sprayed the area with bullets from his Heckler&Koch M27 5.56mm automatic rifle. Clint inserted another magazine and repeated the process before returning to his squad. Come morning the surviving Taliban fighters had retreated because the odds were no longer in their favor. Another factor in their decision was the precision like extermination of their fellow terrorists. It sucked the will to fight out of them. The Marines found 16 dead fighters as they moved to their designated extraction point.

After retiring from the Corps, Clint decided to stay around Oceanside until he could figure out what to do with his life. Rents were extremely expensive in the area so when he had the opportunity to buy a mid-sized motor home with low mileage at a good price from an officer, Clint made the deal. He alternated staying at the Del Mar Beach, Lake O’Neill and San Onofre Beach RV campgrounds on Camp Pendleton. The cost of staying on base was about half of what it would cost to live in town. Clint kept in shape by working out at the base fitness centers and running on the beaches and numerous trails on base.

There was a job fair at Veterans Center on Mission Avenue and Clint attended it. One of the companies that was there manufactured medical devices and they were looking to fill several positions including a truck driver. A female human resources employee explained, “The truck driver position’s duties include making deliveries to our suppliers and distributors in the San Diego and Orange County area. It’s part time, but could lead to full time.”

Clint politely interrupted, “I don’t need benefits, I’m retired from the military so I get medical through the VA and I have my pension so I’m looking for something to supplement my income. When you say part-time, how many hours are we talking?”

            “Twenty to twenty-five hours,” The woman stated, “We’re trying to watch our bottom line so when we’re slow, people go home early and when we’re busy we stay longer. We’re a family business and most of our people have been with us for you. We want to be successful, but not at the price of sacrificing a positive work environment.”

            “I like that philosophy, I’ve always hated standing around trying to look busy. If I’m not needed, send me home and if I can’t do the work to your standards…fire me. I like to keep things simple.”

The woman asked, “Do you want to know what the pay is?”

            “Is it a fair wage? Clint asked.

            “I’d say it is,” the woman replied.

            “Your word is good enough for me.”

\           “You’re the most unusual job applicant I’ve interviewed today,” the woman said.

Clint started working the following week by training with one of the lon time employees of the company. Once he became familiar with routes and delivery schedules, he was on his own. It was a good job with a positive environment and two months after starting, Clint decided to use GI educational benefits by enrolling at Mira Costa Junior College and taking two courses, World History and Philosophy. This qualified him for ½ time and 862 dollars per month. With his Spartan lifestyle and some of income from his pension, job and schooling, Clint invested a considerable amount of money each month into an aggressive stock portfolio.

Six months into his job, Randy Carver, one of the Marines from Clint’s squad showed up at his place of work with some surprising news, “I wrote a short story about the mission in Afghanistan when you won the Navy Cross. A producer read it and he wants to make a movie about it.”

Clint responded, “That’s great news! Congratulations.”

            “The producers want to meet you and discuss what happened that night,” Randy said.

            “I’d rather not,” Clint said.

            “These guys are the real deal. We’ve both done a lot of things in the Corps that we didn’t want to do, but we did them because we knew it was the right thing to do. Our country is in desperate need of heroes and like it or not, you’re one of them.  Just meet with these guys, if you don’t like what they have to say, we’ll walk out and I’ll never mention it again.”

            “I guess I can do that much.” Clint sighed.

A week later, Clint and Randy met producers Mike Holston and Jim Wolf at 333 Pacific, a high end steak and seafood restaurant near the Oceanside Pier to discuss the plot of the movie. After dinner, Mike said, “Have you ever considered being an actor?”

            “No…never,” Clint said, “I’m a former Marine and a lowly truckdriver.”

            “Don’t forget that in 1955, Audie Murphy played himself in the movie, To Hell and Back. We’d like you to do a screen test…there might be a part for you,” Jim suggested.

            “You’d be wasting your time,” Clint protested, “I’m a little familiar with Audie Murphy’s history and the film To Hell and Back was his 15th movie so he was a lot more experienced than me. Another thing to remember is after he got back from World War II, he took acting lessons and had James Cagney to advise him.”

            “True… but humor us anyway,” Mike said, “Elvis Presley was a truckdriver before he became a rock star.”

Randy encouraged, “What have you got to lose?”

            “If it you helps you out, I’ll do it,” Clint said.

The two producers met with Andy Brent the director to discuss Clint’s screen test.  Mike asked, “What do you think?”

Andy responded, “He’s definitely got screen presence and the camera likes him. You could surround him with more experienced actors, but it’s still a big risk putting an unknown in a leading role. It’s your money and I’ll do whatever you want.”

Jim prodded, “You’re part of this…money aside, do you want to direct Clint Malloy or not?”

            “Yeah, I do, but my dad was a Marine so I’m more than a little a biased.” Andy smiled

Pre-production meetings took place and a shooting schedule was set up.  Clint worked with an acting coach to help him prepare for his role playing himself. Some of the Marines who were in the squad during that fateful battle and were now civilians were offered some minor roles in the film. The title of the movie was Six Hours to Sunrise. Some of the scenes were filmed on Camp Pendleton and in Oceanside, but the battle scene was filmed in Yucca Valley in the Little San Bernardino Mountains at an elevation of 3,300 feet. Crisp air, starry skies and the incomparable beauty of the high desert help to create a unique atmosphere. Director Andy Brent and cinematographer Chris Callen worked diligently to get the perfect balance between the environment and the battle. The crew and cast had a great working relationship and shooting was ahead of schedule. Everybody felt they were part of something special and the longer the filming progressed, the more Clint impressed Andy and the crew with his work ethic and natural acting ability.

Thomas Martinez, his daughter Vanessa and several family members operated a catering business and they were given the contract to feed the cast and crew of Six Hours to Sunrise during the filming. Their culinary excellence was deeply appreciated by the hardworking men and women on location.

The final scene was shot and the sound of applause echoed through the desert from the cast and crew. There would be a ‘wrap’ party to celebrate before heading back to San Diego. Clint and his buddies were hanging out in the lobby of Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Joshua Tree when a frantic and bloodied Thomas Martinez entered and stammered, “They took her!”

            “Who was taken?” Jerry Olander asked.

            “Vanessa,” Thomas stammered.

            “By who?” Clint said.

            “Yaqui Castellano Cartel,” Thomas sobbed.

Clint thought for a moment then asked, “Do you where they might have taken her?”

            “Back across the border to their fortified hacienda,” Thomas sighed.

Thirty minutes later, Clint and his former Marines came to the conclusion that if they were going get Vanessa back, they were going to have to do it themselves. They met with Andy Brent, Chris Callen and the armorer, Alex Woodson.

Clint explained the situation, “We’ve got plenty of guns and it won’t take long to make them operational for a mission. Can you get us some ammunition?”

            “All you want?” Alex answered.

Thomas Martinez led the former Marines, Chris Callen and Andy Brent to where Vanessa was being held hostage on the Mexican side of the border. He was overcome with emotion and said, “Thank you so much for doing this.”

The Marines took time looking at the building with binoculars. It was heavily guarded with patrolling sentries. Andy asked, “What’s your plan?”

            “We could wait for them to give up, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Clint said.

Randy took a closer look at Clint and commented, “I’ve seen that look before…you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking?”

Chris asked, “What’s going on?”

            “Clint is going in?” Randy responded.

            “You’re not serious,”

Clint suggested, “After dark, I’ll move in for a closer look and if I’m not back by sunrise then you’d better figure out another plan.” The former Marine leaned back in the seat of the car and closed his eyes, “I’d better get a little sleep, it could be a long night.”

Andy, Chris and Randy and got out of the SUV and walked over to where the other SUV was parked. Andy asked, “Is he really going in there by himself?”

            “Clint Malloy is the kind of man that every boy wishes he could be when he grows up and wishes he had been when he’s an old man. He goes where angels fear to tread.” Randy said with great admiration.

Come nightfall, Clint turned to Andy and quipped, “Action…take one,” and made his way to down the hill to the hacienda as vivid memories of Afghanistan flashed through his mind. Clint comrades waited nervously by the vehicles through the night for a signal and when the sun came over the horizon they heard a burst of gunfire and cautiously moved in. When they got closer, they saw seventeen dead bodies of Mexican cartel soldiers lying on the ground.

Thomas Martinez nervously looked around for his daughter. Moments later, Vanessa came running out of the front door to embrace her father. Several other captive girls were standing right besides Clint.

Andy walked over to Clint and commented, “You continue to impress me. I’ve got the inspiration for my next movie.” The End

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9 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Enjoyed your story. Thanks

  2. John Michels says:

    O.K Iwill wait for the sequel to this story around Memorial day or July 4th.

  3. Skip says:

    Thanks for the story. I want to see that movie, and the sequel.

  4. bob wolf says:

    Enjoyed it.

    Luckily there was live ammo on site.

    the armorer Must have been trained by
    Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer in charge of the weapons In Alec Bal Baldwin movie.

    if Holly wood starts running out of Scripts, they could always hire Tom.

  5. Joe says:

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Bill says:

    Not as much of a fan of this one as I was for your other stories.
    You really front-loaded the story bro.
    Anyway, it’s a nice idea though.

    b

    William Goins

  7. Tom says:

    A marvelous tale you have woven here. Audie Murphy is a great American fighting man and historical figure. He has been an inspiration for many young men…myself included. Clint Malloy has filled some huge shoes…and done it admirably! As I’ve often said, I wish your stories were not fiction, but everyday true tales! Exit, stage left!

  8. marty says:

    Thanks Tom. An easy read.
    Marty

  9. Stephanie Boren says:

    I love a good hero, thanks Tom

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