"Mr. Hanks has kind of changed when it comes to the veterans."
That's what Vietnam Veteran and retired Air Force Colonel O.P. Ditch told me on the other day as we spoke about Academy Award-winning actor and "Game Change" producer Tom Hanks.
Col. Ditch, who retired from the Air Force in 1983, now runs Vets4Sarah.Net and was part of the group of Maryland volunteers who descended on the March 8 "Game Change" premiere in DC to hand out "Showbills" to the attendees that contained accurate information about former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin -- who was the target of that evening's now-discredited HBO docu-drama. Copies of Stephen K. Bannon's "Undefeated" were also handed out.
Dressed in a "Vets for Sarah" shirt and wearing what he calls his "uniform," a US Air Force Retired baseball cap, Col. Ditch handed out his "Showbill" to those coming in the front door and told me, "People were accepting the material quite readily, and early on I was telling people 'this is the truth about Sarah Palin.'" Then the volunteers decided to get mischievous and say nothing in order to silently imply the material was a part of the event. "Many people accepted it," he said while laughing at the memory. "Hundreds of them, and those that took them assumed it was part of the program."
The Colonel wasn't expecting any VIPs to arrive through the front door, especially Tom Hanks. In fact, other than Joe Scarborough, Col. Ditch didn’t see any other familiar faces. Then…
But lo and behold, all of a sudden someone said, 'Oh, who is that?' And I look over and a Towne Car and a black SUV pull up, and out of the Towne Car comes Tom Hanks. He had his entourage with him; some security people, I assume. He was in the middle of the pack, so I worked my way down there. I said to myself, 'I'm not going to be bashful.' I had my 'Vets for Sarah' t-shirt and my military cap on. So I walked up and said, 'Hey, Tom, how would you like to have some information about your show here?' And of course his security guys were putting their arms and hands out to keep me away. So I reached towards [Hanks] with one of my 'Showbills' and might have touched his hand. I was certainly close enough to touch him and when I looked up he turned away from me, as the security guards were saying, 'No, no, no.' They were polite about it, not rough. But [Hanks] knew I was there.
I kept talking to him as he went walking towards the entrance. I told him he should be ashamed of himself for producing a false movie like this -- or words to that effect. Then another volunteer tried to hand him 'The Undefeated,' but he refused and disappeared inside.
Undaunted, Col. Ditch then persuaded Mr. Hanks' driver to give the star the "Showbill" on the way home. "The driver didn’t want to talk to me. I guess they're trained not to talk or respond to anyone. But I said, 'Here's a showbill about the movie. This is something he might want to look over when he comes back.'" Col. Ditch chuckled recalling how the driver accepted it. "He was a little confused as to what it was, but he took it."
After it was over, everyone felt that the mission to get the truth out was more than accomplished. Still laughing, the Colonel recalled the feeling after it was over. "We really did a good job getting this material out, even though many of them probably didn’t want it or didn't read it. But it was quite an operation. We felt good on the way home. We kept thinking about how we had handed out two or three hundred of these things."
Interested in the fact that Tom Hanks, who has done some undeniably wonderful things for this country's veterans, would snub a man who he must've know was a veteran, I asked the Colonel if it was fair to say that Hanks chose not to acknowledge him. "I think he was avoiding me," the Colonel said. "I kind of got the impression, after I thought about it, that maybe he was thinking I was after an autograph. But I know he saw my 'Vets for Sarah' t-shirt, and I suspect that's why he looked away. He probably wanted to avoid a conversation with me. But Tom Hanks knew I was there and avoided me. He looked away from me, looked over me."
I told the Colonel that it bothers me that Hanks would snub someone who, based on how the Colonel was dressed, he had to know was a Veteran. The Colonel said he didn’t feel snubbed. That putting it that way would "over-dramatize things." But he added, "[Hanks] has done some veteran movies, actually. So you would think he would be a little different than most Hollywood guys. He's kind of changed when it comes to the veterans, I think. He's gotten infected by the Left."
On this point, Colonel Ditch couldn’t be more right. No doubt, in the past, Hanks has done impressive things for America's veterans. But starting with his description of the War on Terror and -- quite incredibly -- WWII, as wars of "terror and racism," Hanks has "kind of changed." I guess he now sees the men and women who protect his freedoms through some sort of ideological prism.
When Colonel Ditch approached Hanks it was as an unmistakable Palin supporter and a Veteran. And whether Hanks thought the Colonel was approaching him for an autograph or to hand him a "Showbill," to blow a veteran off like that is disrespectful.
I don’t know about you, but I really miss the good old days when Tom Hanks was still Tom Hanks.