Facts Behind the Story
Thoughts on the Production
We were tasked with handling only the portion of the biographical TV film that dealt with Harry Truman's service as an artillery officer in WW I. Warriors Inc. XO Mike Stokey put together a small Cadre and commenced research on the French 75 howitzer as well as horse-drawn field artillery tactics of the period. Our research library paid effective dividends in this effort.
Since the military and combat sequences of the film were relatively brief, Lt. Stokey was forced to do most of his training of the artillery crews on the fly. Support from the production team in this area was understandably minimal. They needed to get the war sequences in the can and move on to other parts of President Truman's active political life.
Much of the training was done in cooperation with the wranglers who oversaw the teams of horses that hauled the howitzers and caissons into battle positions prior to the battery commencing fire. In the drills of that day, an artilleryman rode the lead horse and other men rode facing backward on the caisson. Just staying aboard while careening through the mud and rough terrain in this configuration was a real challenge for the actors involved.
Other preparatory work - all done on the fly by Lt. Stokey and his team - involved emplacing and digging the howitzers into firing positions. All of that was strictly muscle and grunt work. Crews were taught sighting, loading and firing procedures and the entire sequence was filmed in about one week.