Sun, December 16, 2:00pm
THUD: affectionate nickname for the F-105 Thunderchief, derived from the heavy, thudding sound it made when it hit the ground on landing.
- National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
“Bill’s Thud” is a story propelled by a promise from one brother-in-law to another – Clark Wiens to William H. Pachura, Lt. Col., retired, United States Air Force. It tracks the multi-year struggle to fulfill that promise — from an affectionate gesture of tribute by Wiens to his beloved “brother Bill,” to an inspiring Memorial Day reunion between the man and his old war plane, through miles of military red tape and logistical obstacles, to a dignified memorial that sits today in a peaceful park in the fighter pilot’s solidly middle-American hometown of Centralia, Ill.
There, “Bill’s Thud,” the decommissioned F-105D Thunderchief fighter-bomber that Bill Pachura piloted through 128 combat missions in the Vietnam War, rests as a testament to the man’s unassuming heroism, patriotism and dedication to service and country. And, by extension, the plane and its torturous journey home came to represent a too-long delayed “thank you” to all Vietnam veterans – those men and women who served honorably but came home to a country angry, divided and largely indifferent to the private torments of its returning warriors.
The twin journeys of Bill Pachura and his plane to their final resting places are the focus of this film. But from those passages emerged a clear mandate to express belated gratitude to all airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines who did their duty in that rancorously politicized and unpopular war called Vietnam.
Said Clark Wiens during a trip to research and conduct interviews at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial in Washington, D.C.: “After a day at the wall and time to reflect upon it, I now realize this isn’t about Bill, his plane or me. It’s about a lot more than that. It’s about the Vietnam vets. It’s about all of them. All of the Vietnam veterans.”
And so, as “Bill’s Thud” charts Clark Wiens’ quest to pay tribute to his brother-in-law Bill Pachura, it grows into a larger mission to say a simple and overdue “thank you” to all Vietnam veterans and to give them a voice to express their pride, their sadness, their anger and their sense of honor at having answered their country’s call to duty in a time when it was most daunting and unpopular to do so.
More information at billsthud.com