‘GUILTY’

November 8, 2011

Multimedia journalist Justin O’Brien reports from outside the Los Angeles Criminal Court House on the Doctor Conrad Murray guilty verdict. Dr Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in 2009.

Reported, filmed, written and edited by Justin O’Brien.

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‘EXTREME MAKEOVER’

May 17, 2010

Three years after their arrival in Australia – the American built Abrams tanks are getting an extreme makeover .. Australian Army style.

Newly painted Abrams tank tn the Australian camouflage colour

Australian Abrams Tank

“We do like a Leonardo De Vinci style thing, we have a picture in one hand and a spray gun in the other” – says Peter Boscato, owner of Boscato Panel Works who won the million dollar plus contact to paint the 41 Abrams tanks based at Darwin’s Robertson Barracks.

Only eight Aussie Abrams tanks have been painted in the Australian bush camoflauge design so far, covering over the original American sandy desert colour. If there was any doubt, ‘Tankies’ at the First Armoured Regiment agree it finally makes the Abrams’ – our tank.

“It’s fantastic that they are getting painted in the Australian camouflage” according to Captain Bec Marlow. She says “The guys definitely feel they’re their tanks now.”

Painting an Australian Army Abrams Tank

'An extreme makeover underway'

Peter Boscato – estimates it takes 120 hours or three days hard ‘yacca’ to rub back, wash and then spray an Abrams in a high tech infra red reflective paint. First two grey undercoats are applied – then a bush green, followed by a sprayed free-hand uniquely designed Australian camoflage. Painting Australian Army tank’s has become a family tradition for the Boscato’s. Peter’s father spray painted the former frontline Leopard tanks when they arrived in Darwin back in the 1980’s.

“The soldier’s are all very happy. It makes them stand out in the crowd, they don’t look like American’s anymore. You can tell the tanks are Australian” said Mr Boscato.


‘MEMORIAL DAY’

May 24, 2009

(VIDEO STORY ABOUT MEMORIAL DAY AT THE LOS ANGELES NATIONAL CEMETERY)

The best way to describe Memorial Day to an Australian – is to say it’s the American version of ANZAC Day without the pub crawl! A time to remember those who have fallen in battle, survived to come home and anyone who has served.

An American Flag

An American Flag

An American tradition on Memorial Day, is to place an American flag at the grave site of past soldiers, sailors and airmen. No small task considering the numbers. At the Military cemetery in Los Angeles an army of volunteers is enlisted to answer the call – usually Scouts, Cubs and Girl Guides.  

From a foreigners point of view – it’s a very powerful and moving sight .. thousands of kids, American flags in hand – following tradition and struggling to push a 50 centimeter long flag into the soil. 

One of the 58 thousand flags placed around the LA National Cemetery

One of the 58 thousand flags placed around the LA National Cemetery

I asked a mother dressed as a Scout Leader why are American’s so patriotic? She replied .. ‘American’s come from everywhere, we believe in what this country stands for  – today is about respect, honor and freedom. Australian’s have fought for freedom .. you are just like us’. I agreed. Although, patriotism seems easier for American’s .. the colour combination of ‘red, white and blue’ lends itself to self promotion – unlike Australia’s ‘green and gold’ and that ‘Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi’ chant which makes me wish I was Canadian!

Back to Memorial Day .. the Mum summed the morning up best in five words that followed our conversation – (referring to her son, hand on his shoulder) ‘.. his father is in Iraq’. You may not agree with the decision .. but you support the troops. 

America is at War – Waring at a level not seen since Vietnam.

Walking around the LA Cemetery and looking at the headstones, one name soon blends into another. Many of the men buried there lived long lives – into their 70’s and 80’s .. they fought for their Country .. and they came home. But, what jumps out

21 years old

21 years old

is the unmistakable difference between a new headstone and an old one. The faded weathered lettering .. compared to the black stenciled look. 

Private First Class Jin Su Ong stood out. Ong an American, born in 1987 was just 21 when he died in Iraq this year. It made me think .. in 1987 I was in College living life and at 21, I was traveling the world. What would you have missed out on if your life had ended at 21? No disrespect to the other veterans .. but Ong lived in my time. 

For all the symbolism of today, most of the Scouts who playfully raced to plant the flags at each headstone are too young to understand the meaning of Memorial Day – that’s a good thing. PFC Jin Su Ong was forced to grow up too early.

(BELOW ARE ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN AT THE LOS ANGELES NATIONAL CEMETERY – JUSTIN O’BRIEN, 5/23/09)

 

'The Scouts'

'The Scouts'

 

'Flags On Guard'

'Flags On Guard'