Archive for June, 2009

Dr. Forrest Bird & Pamela Bird – Inventors & Aviators

June 29, 2009

Dr. Forrest Bird & Pamela Bird — Inventors & Aviators

Dr. Forrest Bird & Pamela Bird

There are those moments in your life that stand out as Magical Moments. Those moments that change your life, or change your attitude about life. Well this past weekend we experienced one of those Magical Moments.

We drove over to Sagle, Idaho near Sandpoint on the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille to meet and interview the famous inventor and aviator, Dr. Forrest Bird. I first met Dr. Bird during the red carpet interviews for the Legends of Aviation ceremony in Beverly Hills last January.

We were met by the very attractive and enthusiastic Pamela Riddle Bird, a nationally known author and expert on Inventions and Innovation. Pamela has a Phd of her own, too. She is the founder and CEO of Innovation Product Technologies. Pamela graciously led us into the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center where a speech was underway by the daughter and wife of the inventor of Gatorade.

The museum was awesome. Tons of fantastic airplanes and automobiles and tons of great historical displays. After we had a chance to go completely through the museum, we followed Pamela over to the Air Lodge, a unique private lodge that the Birds have created to accomodate physicians and other visitors who come from all across the world to meet and learn from Dr. Bird.

Pamela told us to settle into our rooms. I got the John Wayne room and Bill and his daughter got the Lewis and Clark room. Each room is decorated with different themes. John Wayne is a true hero to me, so I was in heaven in the Duke Room.

After settling into our rooms, we met with the Birds and some other guests for a nice dinner. I got to spend some quality time talking with Dr. Forrest Bird about his love for aviation. Forrest is one of the five first pilots of helicopters in the world and he said he is the last one left of that first group.

I met with Dr. Forrest Bird for our interview the next morning. The interview lasted from 9am to 5pm. It was a remarkable experience for me.

Dr. Forrest Bird is not only a world recognized aviator, but more importantly he is the inventor of the respirator and ventilator and other medical devices. These inventions have saved possibly a million or ten million, and possibly over 100 million lives! Think about it. The infant mortality rate for pre-me births was 70 percent. His devices reduced that rate to less than 10 percent. His devices have also had tremendous impact on the success of anethesia and the ability to ventilate while doing operations like open heart surgery, and to keep people in comas alive all across the world.

I really enjoyed my interview with Forrest. He has an unbelievable photographic type of memory. He talked about his memories of meeting Orville Wright, Henry Ford, some Presidents, and even Howard Hughes. He explained how he came up with his revolutionary ideas. He kept saying that life is “fate, chance and circumstance.” I think that will be the title of our movie on Forrest Bird.

After my interview with Forrest, I was able to interview Pamela for about an hour. She did a super job in her interview, explaining how she met Forrest and how they became a couple. They are a truly wonderful couple who love each other very much. They have many things in common including love for aviation and invention.

I just took a look at some of the interview footage and it turned out great. I can’t wait to start putting this movie together.

This trip to meet Dr. Forrest Bird and his wife really had an impression with me. It inspired me to want to do more for others. To help inspire kids to be more creative and inventive. Like the name of our company.


LeRoy Nosbaum – CEO & Chairman of Itron

June 29, 2009

LeRoy Nosbaum — CEO & Chairman of Itron

LeRoy Nosbaum — CEO & Chairman of Itron
It was a beautiful day as we drove through Spokane, Washington on our way to Liberty Lakes. We were looking for the Headquarters to Iron, the world’s leading producer of electronic meters used by the utilities industries. We had an appointment to interview Chairman of the Board, LeRoy Nosbaum, for our new documentary “CEOs of Seattle.”
LeRoy and his team were very hospitable to myself and my crew. The interview went well.
LeRoy was very inspiring in his committment to excellence and his focus on doing the right thing. He told me about the importance of working hard for his investors, his employees, and his customers. LeRoy is a top notch leader who has successfully moved his company into huge positive growth over the years. I learned alot during my interview with LeRoy Nosbaum.
You can learn more about our new documentary “CEOs of Seattle” at

Nicole Gelpi – Yellow Mountain StoneWorks

June 29, 2009

Nicole Gelpi – Yellow Mountain StoneWorks

Nicole Gelpi – Yellow Mountain StoneWorks
We drove over the West Seattle bridge. It was a beautiful morning. You could see the incredible Seattle skyline to our right. Unbelievable view. We were headed to the West Seattle area to go interview Nicole Gelpi, the VP of Yellow Mountain StoneWorks for a testimonial video we are making for Artitudes Design.
We met Nicole at her office. Her office is like a showroom for some of the most beautiful rocks in the world. She said most of them came from Asia. Nicole did a super interview for Artitudes Design. Nicole was very enthusiastic about her happy relationship with Andrea and Michael and the entire team over at Artitudes Design. She talked about how she could trust them and depend on them to do what they promise.
I asked Nicole if we could also discuss some of her management and leadership philosophies for a new documentary we are making about business leaders in Seattle. She was kind and generous. Nicole is a very strong leader and she works hard to nurture the culture of her organization and her clients. She said that her clients are everything to her. Her goal is to take care of her existing client relationships for life. A client relationship for life is a fantastic vision. For Nicole it is reality.
I was very impressed with Nicole Gelpi. You can learn more about Yellow Mountain StoneWorks at
You can learn more about Artitudes Design at

Article about “Ship of Miracles” in Seoul Times

June 29, 2009

Article about documentary “Ship of Miracles” in The Seoul Times

Captain Leonard LaRue
SS Meredith Victory

June 16, 2009 “The Ship of Miracles”

SS Meredith Saves 14,000 Korean Refugees
“The Ship of Miracles” Turned into Book, Documentary
Written By Elsa Sherin Mathews
SS Meredith, also known as “The Ship of Miracles”
It is a tale that almost slips out of attention and, consequently history. But the mere mention of the rescue of 14,000 refugees in an American cargo ship designed for twelve during the Korean War seems to surprise historians, filmmakers and military generals alike.
So it is not a surprise when filmmaker RJ McHatton, stumbled upon the fascinating story of Captain Leonard LaRue and how his cargo ship saved 14,000 north Koreans during the Hungnam evacuation, he decided to make a film.
“It was a snowy day in Oregon and I happened to come across a newspaper obituary of Leonard LaRue. It mentioned how LaRue’s ship the SS Meredith (Victory), also known as “The Ship of Miracles,” had saved 14,000 Korean refugees during the Korean War of 1953 in which USA intervened,” says McHatton, “It was a piece of history I was unaware of.”
However, it was difficult for him to find books about the US intervention in Korean War. One reason was that the US intervention in Korea was considered to be a ‘forgotten war.’ Some considered it to be a police action rather than a war. Finally, McHatton came across the book titled The Ship of Miracles by Bill Gilbert and decided to base his documentary on it.
McHatton’s documentary, which took him five years to complete, features not only the historian Bill Gilbert but also marines who were involved in the rescue operation. It uses footage of the Korean War from the National Archives.
However, the main hero of this story is Leonard LaRue, also known as brother Marinus, captain of the ship Meredith Victory. He and his crew saved 14,000 people on a single voyage during the Korean War in 1950. A few years later became a monk in New Jersey, where he ran a gift shop.
The story of the Meredith Victory wasn’t known until author and historian Bill Gilbert started researching on the role of merchant marine during the Korean War. Author, Bill Gilbert, while researching the role of the merchant marine during the Korean War, was given a bunch of papers by Jean Mansavage, Deputy Director, Archive of Defense, documenting the incident during the Korean War. “A group of officers were discussing the event, some said it must have been 1,400 but when I said it was 14,000 they couldn’t believe it,” says Mansavage in McHatton’s documentary.
In 1950 at the height of the Cold War Communist North Korea was locked in a fierce battle with South Korea which was backed by the capitalist forces. The conflict arose from the attempt of the two Korean powers to re-unify Korea under their respective governments.

Conflict escalated on the 38th parallel before the war. Under the aegis of the United Nations, nations allied with the United States intervened on behalf of South Korea. On Nov. 24, 1950 Gen. Douglas MacArthur launched a major offensive in the Western sector with the intention of ending the war in Korea. But by November 28 the Chinese communists had entered the fighting in far greater force driving the UN troops back.
At the Chosin reservoir, the marines found themselves surrounded by Chinese troups. MacArthur ordered a retreatment of men and equipment to the port city of Hungnam and American troops started preparing for the largest military evacuation in military history.
Everything of military value in the city of Hungnam was to be destroyed. Huge shipments of military equipments had flown into the area for weeks to supply the expected military march to the Manchurian border. Hungnam was the largest amphibious evacuation in military history. It involved the evacuation of 105,000 soldiers, 17,500 vehicles and 350,000 tonnes of equipment. It was destroyed in December 1954.
The Battle of Chosin, which is considered to be the toughest military battles in US history after Iwo Jima, is central to the understanding of the Korean War in which 30,000 UN troops under the command of Ned Almond faced approximately 120,000 Chinese troops.However, during the evacuation, the refugees started to emerge as a problem. “There was a long line of refugees along the beach as far as the eye could see, yearning for freedom with their only access the sea.” says Joseph Stewart an American marine.
During this period of crisis one man emerged as the Schindler of Korea. This was Dr. Bong Hak Hyun, who died in 2007. In his interview to McHatton he says “I wanted the refugees to get out because many of them were my friends or my friends’ parents.” It was Dr. Hyun who convinced LaRue the captain of Meredith Victory, a cargo ship constructed during World War II designed to carry 12 people, to carry 14,000 refugees to safety as the communists started killing the people. “He made the decision himself and never asked any of the officers. Our job was to get them on board and pack them away,” says Albert Golembeski, second mate SS Meredith Victory.
But once on the deck, there was a different kind of battle going on. “We filled each deck with people standing up and then covered them with hatch beams and then fill the next deck. When we finished filling all the decks, we filled the main deck, which finally looks like Times Square on New Year’s Eve,” says Burley Smith, Junior third mate SS Meredith Victory.
Merl Smith Engineer USS Meredith victory was a witness to the Korean refugees’ desperation for food. “I opened the porthole and their arms were stuck out like spaghetti holding mugs. I poured a drink into one. I remember I filled one cup and that really started the stampede,” he says in the documentary.
The Koreans started fires to keep themselves warm and that posed a major problem as the drums on board contained jet fuel. There was also the risk of plague.Whatever were the challenges, the head count of 14,000 was increased by five by the time the ship reached its destination south of Pusan, for there were five babies born on the deck.
“Some new kids were born into this world, I wonder what they are walking around thinking,” Dino Savastio, Chief Mate SS Meredith Victory.However, when the SS Meredith victory reached Pusan, they were told that they couldn’t dock.
They then sailed us to an island south of Pusan and finally disembarked the refugees in the island of Koje-do(now called Goeje-Do). The US maritime administration termed it as ‘the greatest rescue operation by a single ship in the history of mankind.’
For Captain LaRue, this was a turning point of his life. Four years later he became a monk of the Benedictine order at the St. Paul’s Abbey in New Jersey after the incident.
In 1958, Captain LaRue and the crew of Meredith victory were recognized with a special presidential citation. Captain LaRue reluctantly agreed to accept this honour in NY city.
The SS Meredith Victory was conferred the Gallant Ship Award on August 24, 1960. The rescue operation was recently featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the greatest sea rescue in history.
RJ McHatton’s documentary “The Ship of Miracles” is available on DVD.

Melinda Partin – CEO of Worktank

June 29, 2009

Melinda Partin – CEO of Worktank

Melinda Partin – CEO of Worktank
It was a warm day as I carried my tripod, some lights, and a HD camera over to the Worktank office on the waterfront in downtown Seattle. I was there to interview the CEO, Melinda Partin, for a part in our new documentary “CEOs of Seattle.”
Melinda was great. She gave me a terrific interview. Melinda comes from a long heritage of family entrepreneurs. She started her company about ten years ago, specializing in creative advertising for small or big organizations. Melinda talked about her management philosophy of collaboration. She talked about her belief in total integrity and how she really cares for her people. Melinda talked about her proud moments as a leader and her true enthusiasm for the future. I was very impressed with meeting Melinda. She really cares about people.

Sharon Mooers – CEO Olive Crest Homes for Abused Children

June 29, 2009

Sharon Mooers – Olive Crest Homes & Services for Abused Children

Sharon Mooers – Olive Crest Homes & Services for Abused Children
It was a great experience meeting Sharon Mooers.  She came over to our studio to be interviewed for a testimonial about her positive experience working with Andrea Heuston and Artitudes Design.  Sharon is a director for the Olive Crest Homes & Services for Abused Children.   Olive Crest is a non profit who is dedicated to saving abused children.  I could not believe it when Sharon said that every nine seconds there is a child abuse report filed in America.  This is a truly shocking statistic.  To learn more about Olive Crest, go to

Andrea Heuston – CEO of Artitudes Design

June 29, 2009

Andrea Heuston – CEO of Artitudes Design

Andrea Heuston – CEO and Founder of Artitudes Design Inc.
I really enjoyed my interview with Andrea Heuston, the CEO and founder of Artitudes Design.
She is a fantastic leader who is breaking all records for referral business.  I have interviewed some of her clients and they cannot stop talking about Andrea and her team.  The Artitudes Design office seems like such a fun and creative place to work.  Everyone there was having a great time and they were laughing, too.

Alice Tsukuno – Video Biography

June 29, 2009

Alice Tsukuno – Video Biography

RJ with Alice Tsukuno and her son Steve

It was really a special day for me to meet Alice Tsukuno and her son Steve. We drove over to meet Alice at her new home in Seattle to record her video biography. Her son Steve had purchased the Video Biography for his mother at an auction benefiting the Eastside Domestic Violence fundraiser.

Alice did a super interview. I learned so much about how life was in Seattle in the years prior to World War II. Then Alice told me how she and her family were evacuated to camps during the War. Her parents lived in Seattle so they were sent to camps in Puyallup and then to Idaho. Alice got married to Junior whose family lived out of town, so she and Junior were sent to camps down near Fresno. Then she and Junior went to live in Chicago until the end of the war, working for a family for $45 per month.

After the war, Alice and Junior came back to Seattle and opened up a grocery store, which they had for over 28 years.

I was very inspired by my interview with Alice. She is a kind and articulate person who lived a wonderful life during some interesting times. She has no regrets and just appreciates her time spending with her children and grandchildren.

Jun Young – Director of Communications, Microsoft

June 29, 2009

Jun Young – Microsoft

Jun Young – Director of Communications, Windows 7 team

I really enjoyed my interview with Jun Young. We met him at his office at the Microsoft campus. We were there to interview Jun about his experience working with Artitudes Design for a customer testimonial video we are making.

Memories of My trip to Pakistan

June 29, 2009

Memories of my Trip to Pakistan

The following was taken from my journal in 2006 when I took a trip to Pakistan. Unfortunately since I was doing a work for hire, I could not ever show any of the great footage I shot to anyone. No one.

March 2006

Last Friday I returned from a great trip to Pakistan.

Here are some notes from a journal I took during my trip.

February 22, 2006—Seattle Airport– Getting ready to fly to Pakistan to film humanitarian aid being given to earthquake victims. Just got $300 cash from ATM. I don’t know if I will need it, but it makes me feel safer to have it with me. I am all packed up. Checked in two bags (one is my suitcase and the other my tripod). I am carrying a camera bag with a HDV digital video camera, a DV video camera, and a digital still camera. Plus wide angle lens, tons of batteries, rain cover for the camera, shotgun microphone, lots of cables, and a journal. First stop is Vancouver, BC. Then to London, then to Dubai, then to Islamabad. There has been a lot of news stories lately about the dangers of traveling to Pakistan and about how there are terrorists everywhere wanting to hurt Americans. This has me a bit edgy. Should be a trip of a lifetime.

February 22, 2006—On the plane, getting ready to leave Vancouver for London. The plane from Seattle to Vancouver was totally full. This plane is about half full. Big plane. Room to spread out. Still on my journey to Pakistan. This flight will be nine hours long. Then a two hour layover and then another eight hour flight to Dubai, then another flight to Islamabad after that. We are sure lucky we can fly. It would be a long walk. I brought 75 hours of videotape. You never know if I will use that much. Last year I only took seven tapes on my trip to Korea over a week. I probably took too many tapes this time. I am going to write in this journal all the time. Like when Werner Herzog wrote in his small, tiny notebook while making “Fitzcarraldo.” I need to see that film again. Or at least Les Blank’s film “Burden of Dreams.” Marc Castillo drove me to the airport. He is a nice guy. He talked about the spirituality of this new business, Inventive Productions. How we are helping people, giving them comfort. I think this is a noble quest. To help people tell their story. My cousin Dana emailed me yesterday. She said that my films are allowing people to say goodbye to their loved ones. I tend to agree with her. Some of the people on this trip brought their laptops and cell phones. I feel naked without mine, but it is allowing me peace and quiet and it is forcing me to take in all the colors and the sounds of this experience. It is allowing me to listen and learn. To feel the experience. To be.

February 23, 2006—It is 2:30am Pacific time, but it is 11:30 local time in London. We are about 45 minutes from London. They just gave us a nice breakfast on the plane. Fruit yogurt, muffin, coffee, and oatmeal bar. It feels exciting to be in Europe for the first time even if only for a few hours. I can’t wait until Victoria and I can come back for a real vacation with the kids. Even though I have only been gone a few hours, I really do miss Victoria and the kids a lot. I wish I was a better father and husband. We need to get the family reunited. I need to find a home. And get everyone moved to Seattle. ASAP. I hope I can grab some post cards in London.

February 23, 2006—Here I am waiting at Gate 7 in Heathrow Airport in London for my flight to Dubai. I bought ten postcards with London pictures on them. I will write notes on the plane. Next stop Dubai. London is all foggy. Like a giant white cloud. I was hoping to be able to see the London skyline. No such luck today. Maybe when the airplane gets up in the air. Or on the way back.

February 23, 2006—Just had a giant, exotic meal on the flight from London to Dubai. Marinated shrimp, chicken, bread, cheesecake, crackers & cheese, and salad.

February 23, 2006—Finally we are on our flight to Islamabad. We had to wait a long time for seven missing people to arrive on the plane. Each seat on the airplane has its own TV with 500 movie channels, including a camera view from the front and a camera view from below the plane. Plus email and lots of video games. I was playing hangman on the last flight. I am watching “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler and Burt Reynolds. Plus also reading a book by the director John Huston. I can’t wait until we get to Islamabad. Long day.

Friday, February 24th—Night—Pakistan. It’s been a long day. 30 hours in flights and layovers. I was a little scared when we got off the plane. The airport was full, I mean full of men, women, and children dressed in very strange clothes. Strange to me, but normal for them. Over the past two weeks all I ever heard on the news and on the internet was stories about the terrorists and the dangerous climate for Americans over here in Pakistan. I was hoping that we would get into our Toyota Land Cruisers fast and get on the road. Our group was made up of 24 people, including security. We loaded up into the SUV’s with two or three in each rig. The weather seemed warm and nice. A little bit muggy. Once everyone was in place, we started a convoy of SUV’s, headed north. We took a four hour drive to the base camp. We were greeted by incredible townspeople and children. It was awesome. I videotaped lots of people who are going through extreme hardship. The funny thing was that they all had kindness and smiles and gratitude. They are really nice family people. We took a caravan of Land Cruisers from Islamabad. There was a lot of climbing, so I got a lot of exercise today. I am real sweaty and tired. I miss my wife and kids. I will try to email them. I will send postcards. I really enjoy taking trips, but this was a real long day. I am bushed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006—9:30pm—Pakistan. It was a very rainy day today in Pakistan. Got up at 6:30 and called Victoria and the kids. Packed up the gear. Had a quick breakfast then drove in SUV convoy. The townspeople from the village greeted everyone with hugs and clapping. Started following Richard, the leader of the humanitarian group around with the camera. I got some great footage of the townspeople. Our goal was to show how well the local people interacted with the Americans. Richard wanted to create a video he could show to other CEOs in America, to see if they might want to sponsor another village like this one. He said that America needs to see this. I agree. Then Richard led a group straight up the mountain. Then another mountain and another. I really started getting out of breath. Never that much out of breath before. It really showed me how much out of shape I am. The entire group had to wait for me while I tried to get up the mountain. I had to stop several times to try to get my breath. But I still kept gasping for air. Finally I made it to the top. It was very embarrassing. Then we went back to the little village. Got lots of shots of the villagers thanking Richard and the group. Then they all started up another straight up hill. I decided to stay at the bottom with another guy who was just like me, out of shape. The group was gone a long time. The rain never stopped for a moment. I could tell they were disappointed in me. I guess I let them down. We then went to the hospital area that they had set up with temporary shelters. I got some great shots of the medical doctors and patients. Then we came back to the hotel. I am real tired tonight. I sent a couple of emails. Now I’m gonna give Victoria and the kids a call. And go to bed. I hope I can climb the mountains tomorrow.

Sunday, February 26, 2006—3:30 am—Pakistan. I woke up, couldn’t sleep. I am very frustrated about the work here in Pakistan so far. It’s just been convoys. A giant crowd following Richard who seems a lot like “Fitzcarraldo” to me. He runs from mountain to mountain then doesn’t stop. No one here has given me much communication. He told me at the beginning that it wasn’t about him. It was about the people. So far all we are shooting is the people thanking him for his work. He has told me that he doesn’t want interviews. It’s only about the people. Maybe I am just frustrated with myself. For not standing up for my ideas. But mostly for not being in better shape. I have thought that I should quit. But I am not a quitter. I know that I will not overdo it to the point I will die. I don’t want to be that out of breath again. I can sense and tell that they are disappointed that I am not keeping up with them. They should probably fire me and just have their team take the footage with their cameras. One of their people brought a nice HDV camera. That person should do all of the shots. We will see how it goes. Only three to four more days. I will just make the best of it. Try to get some awesome footage. Try to help these people tell their story. I better try to get some more sleep now.

Sunday Evening, February 26, 2006—Pakistan. Today was a very productive day. I stuffed my pockets with water bottles to keep me from getting dehydrated. It really helped. Plus there were some fantastic Pakistani kids who helped me through the rough times. I got two hours of incredible footage. I think this team likes me now because I never gave up. I just kept on going. Had one time when I really lost my breath but the water helped me. I fell one time in the mud but luckily the camera did not get too muddy. I am very impressed with the performance of the HDV camera. It has been doing a good job in the pouring down rain. Luckily I got a rain cover for the camera before I left. It has been a life saver. Tonight I ordered room service and am going to bed early. I am going to do postcards to the family. The hotel did my laundry. Thank goodness. It’s been a real mud ball. We saw numerous, and I mean numerous ruined homes. I don’t think a single home was not destroyed by the earthquake. Very sad. A lot of new graves everywhere. I am so surprised and moved by the friendliness and gentle kindness of the Pakistani people. Today one family had us over for tea. The children are so smiley and kind. They have the best attitude I have ever seen. So cute. No homes left anymore. But they smile and shake your hand respectfully and they wave at the camera just like American kids do. Cameron is one of the leaders of the humanitarian group from Seattle. He is a real cool guy. Moved from Pakistan to the US after high school. Went to Oregon State. He was one of the founders of a Pakistani-American group from Seattle who spread the word about the devastation from this earthquake. Real nice guy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006—5am—Bhurban, Pakistan. Yesterday we had a great day. We met a convoy of trucks loaded with 283 shelters and supplies. It was a warm day with blue skies. This was very exciting to see because of the lousy weather we had experienced the whole trip. One thing I did not realize was how sun burnt I was getting. I was getting toasted and roasted. I took some great shots of the convoys and the scenery. When we got to the site, my SUV was the first one in and there was a giant crowd of people lined up the streets. As we entered the village, the crowd started cheering and applauding. I was fortunate to capture this moment on tape. Then I captured them shaking hands with Richard and the entire team. Then I shot a speech given by Richard to the locals. He said he was doing all this because of God. Then I captured the unloading of the materials from the trucks. It was awesome to see the villagers working together with the Americans to unload the trucks full of shelters. Everyone was smiling. I then captured a scene where a group of people from another nearby village approached Richard, and asked him if he would be kind enough to bring them shelters, too. Then we jumped into the SUVs and drove them about an hour up to another mountain village. We met lots of kids. Saw tremendous devastation. Every home destroyed by the earthquake. Then we took some panorama shots. Then back in the convoy, headed back on the road to Bhurban. At one time I felt overheated. Didn’t realize that I was so sun burnt until I got to the hotel. I wrote some postcards and checked my email. I did room service again while recharging the camera batteries. I called the kids, took a shower, and went to bed early. I was bushed and very tired. Today we are headed back up the mountain to watch the shelters being erected. I am supposed to stick by Richard at all times. I will do my best to keep up and do a good job. I think my footage has been fantastic. Hopefully Richard and his team will like it too. They are real nice people. Trying to make a difference in the world. It’s hard to believe these Americans have come all this way to help people they never knew.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006—9:30pm—Bhurban, Pakistan. It was a very busy and life-changing day. We drove up to Bugna Village to see how the shelters were coming. The crowds of workers were there and everyone was happy. Kids were taking school classes in the shelters. We then drove down the mountain and headed North to the city of Muzzafarabad. It’s a big city with lots of people on the streets and lots of cars, bikes, motorcycles, and animals. The city looked like Saigon during the Vietnam War. All the buildings were rubble from the earthquake. It looked like a war zone. The city is surrounded by tent villages. Full of refugees living since October in cities of tents. We drove North to the center of the earthquake. It was unbelievable. Thousands of people in tents. As far as the eyes could see. We saw giant hills that once were villages, now they are swept clear except for rocks and glass and rubble. Then we went to a tent city. We stopped and visited with the children. It smelled awful and there were bugs everywhere. The children were still smiley and trying to have fun. I felt heart broken. Watching children playing marbles in the dirt. It was great to see the kids get excited when one of the Americans pulled out a Frisbee. I videotaped the entire day. I captured some incredible images that I hope I never forget. Then on the way back to the hotel we came upon a bus that almost went over a cliff. Finally a big crowd pushed the bus back onto the road. I got it all on tape. Everyone cheered, Americans and Pakistanis together. It almost seemed like a miracle. What a strange, wonderful, sad, emotional, exciting experience. I am going to bed early so I can feel fresh tomorrow. It will be our final day in Pakistan. Should be a thriller. Might be some hiking again. I have been getting sun burnt a lot. A trip of a lifetime. One I will never forget. It really makes me appreciate life more. I wish I could do something for those children.

Thursday Morning—Dubai Airport—Getting ready for our flight to London. On Wednesday, we had a great day. We drove to a tent city and interacted with the people. I got a lot of cool shots. Then we followed a truck with a live Pakistan villager band up the hill. Everyone was in a grand mood. I jumped up on the roof of a SUV to get the shot. At the top of the hill was hundreds and hundreds of children and villagers who applauded and cheered. They had placards and signs everywhere, saying THANK YOU to the Americans who had brought them shelters. They gave each American a form of a lei similar to what I’ve seen in Hawaii. They had a long, powerful presentation of thanks to the Americans. Then the little girls began to sing. The men formed a giant circle and they began to dance. The Americans gave out some books to the teachers. It was a fantastic, moving experience to see these people from different cultures singing and dancing in joy together. Laughter and smiles were everywhere. Some of the children were coughing, but they looked fine in the school uniforms that were donated by the Americans. The children looked proud. Then we all jumped back into the SUVs and drove straight up the mountain to another village. Then we all started hiking. Once again I did okay for the first mountain and the second mountain and the third mountain, but finally I got out of breath on the fourth. Three other guys and myself were all in a similar out of breath situation, so we headed back down the mountains to the SUVs. It was fortunate for us, because down at the SUVs gathered a nice group of Pakistani kids. I was fortunate to get some terrific footage of a Hispanic-American showing the kids how to dance, rap, and to shake hands. This Hispanic-American had the kids in stitches with laughter and joy. It was a fantastic experience. After about an hour, the rest of the group came down the mountain. The kids started playing tag and running around with the Americans. Several of the Pakistani girls clinged to the American women. They had a unique, almost surreal bond with each other. The Americans did not want to leave and the Pakistanis did not want them to leave. It was a sad departure. We drove the convoy back to the hotel. Then we packed up our stuff and headed to the airport. We made it in time for a 3am departure. The airport had tight security because President George W. Bush was scheduled to arrive at the Islamabad airport the very next day.

Friday, March 3, 2006—11am—London—Our flight came in two hours late from Dubai, so we have to spend the night in London. They put us up at the Radisson Hotel near Heathrow Airport. It is a nice place. I had dinner and went to an English pub. It was very cool. I bought a crystal momento for Victoria, a couple Cuban cigars for a friend, and a couple London T-shirts for the kids. I went to bed early. I had not slept for almost 40 hours straight. I went out like a light. Now I am at the airport, waiting for the plane. I am looking forward to getting back to America. Its been a long week for me. But I can’t wait to show everyone my footage.

Overall, this was a very exciting and moving trip for me. I learned a lot about another part of the world and about myself. It made me appreciate life in a new way. I learned that people are people wherever they may live. They still are families who are looking for food on the table, a roof over their head, and a safe home for their loved ones. I learned that people are strong under adversity, and that children love to smile and play and have fun, no matter what the situation.

Thanks for reading my journal. Let me know if you have any questions about this trip.


RJ McHatton
March 2006

Note: The above was taken from my journal in 2006 when I took a trip to Pakistan. Unfortunately since I was doing a work for hire project, I can not ever show any of the great footage I shot to anyone. No one.