Starting the fall of 2017, I discovered and read the book “Cowboy Down: A WWII Marine Fighter Pilot's Story” authored by Cowboy's wingman, Glenn "Bud" Daniel and almost immediately flew out to Tucson to meet and interview him.
I spent a week hearing amazing stories from Bud and his VMF-114 days, and documenting an amazing career as a Marine Corps aviator. Realizing this was just the beginning of my research, I made mental plans to one day visit Peleliu, Palau where they all were based ...and where ultimately Cowboy lost his life.
My next trip was to the Stout farm and ranch in Ft. Laramie Wyoming. I went with Bud's son Tim who is a Wyoming native and a retired Army colonel. We interviewed a neighbor to the Stout's who used to work for Cowboy's parents, Ernie and Maude as a teenager. Both Jim and Jeanette were gracious hosts and offered a glimpse into the tough life of working the land there in Wyoming. I also visited and filmed the now abandoned Stout house on the ranch. A two-story home that Ernie built after homesteading the land, the remarkable countryside and vistas helped me understand the hard life these ranchers and farmers had, plus an insight into the drive that both Cowboy and his younger brother Jack must've had to pursue aviation.
More research and emails were to follow, then another trip to Tucson to visit with Bud and his wonderful wife Connie. Just missed his 95th birthday but had another few days to catch up, have a few drinks, and gain more knowledge from this humble hero.
Now about 9 months in, the info I have learned and the numerous people I've met along the way has encouraged me to continue telling this story, and my trip to Peleliu is fast approaching in a few weeks. I'm fortunate to have met Pat Scannon of www.BentProp.org and to have received their 20+ year collective Palau recovery missions knowledge and contacts, plus the thousands of VMF-114 documents and photos he's gathered from their reunions. I plan on filming what I can in the 12 days I'll be there - including Cowboy's last flightpath and mission over Koror and Battery Hill.
Once back, I still have quite a number of story elements, contacts, and places to film.. and hopefully by the end of 2018, I can start the real work - editing it all together!
I'll try to update here as much as possible, but check my Instagram feed for more up-to-date news blurbs and pictures.
A quick overview of the Peleliu footage I shot and will include in the final edit of "Cowboy Down."
Mangroves are a dense thick brush located in swampy areas and are near impenetrable. Cowboy crashed in these mangroves in 1945 and wasn’t found until 1947 by two local Palauan women. After his remains were found, his crash site was never recorded and the wreckage is still located somewhere within these swamps.
A Corsair & fighter pilot tribute...
Never made public, this rare color film was shot by Jack Conger of VMF-114, Cowboy's XO and friend. Edited to a Hemingway quote located in Bud's book, this is a glimpse into some of the footage I have available to use for the documentary.
I had the pleasure of being on WW2TV with Henry Sledge chatting all things VMF-114 and "Cowboy Down."