Do we do what is ordered? Or do we do what is right?

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  • Script Sample
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Two Navy pilots with differing flight experience join forces in an attempt to save lives. (Based on a True Story)


The attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, brings together the crews of an Army bomber and a Navy seaplane. The attack causes confusion, blunders and miscalculations and the Army bomber crew is lost at sea for four days.

Spotting a signal flare, the Navy seaplane discovers two 2-man rafts containing nine crewmen from the missing Army bomber. The rafts are being tossed amidst 40-foot waves and 20 knot winds.

The seaplane commander’s limited experience nearly undermines the rescue attempt on his first wartime patrol. The odds of success greatly improve as he realizes the significant wartime flight experience of his enlisted interim co-pilot. Pearl Harbor orders, “Do not risk aircraft or crew!” “Do I follow orders or do I save lives?” Orders were given. Orders disobeyed. “Prepare to land!”


Guardian Angel is backed by interviews of both aircraft crew members and their families. We first published this story in the National Naval Aviation Museum’s FOUNDATION MAGAZINE, Fall of 2006.




          Frank sits at the navigation table relaxing after lunch and is handed an intercom

          headset by Cupps. Frank jams it over his ever-present red baseball cap.


                                                    Whaddya got?


                                                    White signal flare, two o'clock.

          Frank removes his headset and hurriedly moves to replace Gimber on the Flight Deck.

          Gimber moves aft to the starboard blister. Cupps secures the dishes.


                                                     Flight Deck, starboard blister confirms flare!


          Frank slides into the left pilot's seat as Snuffy banks the aircraft.


                                                       A trap?

          Snuffy searches the tumultuous waves below.


                                                      Hard to say. Awful messy down there.

          Frank flips on the aircraft intercom.


                                                     Crew to battle stations.



                                                     Rip. Contact Pearl. Radio our position. Tell 'em

                                                     we got signal flare contact.



            The distinct dit-dah tones of Morse code fill the cockpit.


                                                    Skipper, Pearl says "No known friendlies lost

                                                    in your area."



          On the open aircraft intercom.


                                                   Got 'em! Frank! 4 o'clock! Looks like a life raft,

                                                   maybe two. Hard to make out in those swells.


                                                   Starboard blister confirms rafts!

          Frank angles the plane in the direction Snuffy points.



                                                   Lookouts! Whaddya got?



                                                   Two rafts but can't tell who's in 'em. It's choppy.

                                                   We keep losing 'em behind the waves. It's crazy,

                                                   Frank, it's just nuts!


          Forbes squints into his binoculars.


                                                   A weapon! I see it! Somebody's got a weapon!

          He releases his binoculars, grabs the Browning, jams it into position.


          Frank rips his cigar from his mouth.


                                                  Gunners! Prepare to fire! Prepare to fire!

          Snuffy swings his binoculars to the right cockpit window. His sight is blurred, then

          he focuses. His hand shoots up:



          Frank whips his head toward Snuffy.


                                                    I can see...

          Frank tenses. He looks uncertain and fearful.


                                                   Wagoner, what is it?


                                                   Friendlies Frank! They're ours! They're ours! Stand

                                                   down battle stations! Stand down battle stations!


                                                   Confirming friendlies! Confirming friendlies! Do not fire!

                                                   Do not fire! I count nine!


                                                   Rip, radio Pearl and tell them we have nine friendlies,

                                                   dropping food, water, have heavy seas and strong winds.







                                                  Frank, Pearl said "Do not risk aircraft or crew. Ship en route,

                                                  48 hours."


                                                  Roger. That does it!


                                                  Yup, that's what Pearl said Frank, and still, they will die.

         Frank is quiet looking out the cockpit window. What do I do?




Guardian Angel

A True Story

(Click on image for the article)


The seed for the script was planted in the Fall of 2006 via the publication of “Guardian Angel” by the National Naval Aviation Museum’s FOUNDATION MAGAZINE. Our expanded research and interviews gave us details of the personal challenges the PBY crew faced while also detailing the hardships the B-17 crew endured.

This story speaks to that one question throughout history, still present today and will be forever: “Do I follow the law and obey orders or do I do what is Right, Moral and Ethical to make a difference?” Follow what is happening in Congress, the States, the World today. Leaders who create Immoral and Unethical laws expect us to follow “Orders!” Others, with good intentions, give orders without completely understanding the situation.


In 1930, W.D. Ross, a Scottish philosopher, published a book and asked the question, “The Right and The Good?” Ensign Frank Fisler read this book while in college and on December 30, 1941 had to confront himself and Ross’ message “Do I follow orders or do I do what is Right and make a difference?” “Do I have the talent and my crew’s commitment to make that difference?” The rest is history.

Each of us face this question every day, when we Vote, Lead and Decide. “Guardian Angel” is a moment in time where orders are given …


PBY Crew

This is the PBY crew’s first mission into a war zone searching for the Japanese invasion fleet December 30, 1941.

Leonard H Wagoner:

As a First Class Naval Pilot, 32 year-old Leonard Wagoner (nicknamed Snuffy) is a calm, confident, and commanding young man with a Clark Gable thin mustache. Highly respected within the squadron, when Snuffy talks, the crew listens. As Co-Pilot on this perilous, life and death mission, his challenge is to convince the outwardly headstrong, yet inwardly insecure Pilot-in-Command – Frank Fisler -- to do the right thing. This would entail disobeying orders from their superiors back at Pearl, an act that could get them court-martialed.

Frank M Fisler:

Twenty-five years old and movie star handsome, Frank Fisler (nicknamed Fuzzy), is the Pilot-in-Command on this flight. Admired by his crew, Frank is brassy and bold, often hiding his self-doubts with acts of bravado. Command at Pearl has concerns about his judgments but pilots are in short supply, so Fisler is brought on board for this mission. The relationship between him and Wagoner are akin to “student” and “teacher” -- Frank resents this.

Charles Gimber:

A basketball player in college, Gimber is almost too tall to fit in the confines of a PBY. Smooth-faced with a quick smile, his leadership skills are recognized by the crew.

William Watson:

A serious, cautious man, 35 year-old Flight Engineer Watson has concerns over Fisler’s sometimes-reckless piloting. He takes care of his PBY.

C. C. Forbes:

Ready to shoot first and ask questions later, beefy 24 year-old Forbes would rather sit down to a good meal than risk his life for others.


Wilbur Warlick:

Lead Radioman, Warlick is 22 years old and married with a young child. Sharp, intelligent, a good heart.

Howard Cupps:

Never bothering to use one word when he could say it with ten, 2nd Radioman Cupps is what we now call ADD. Southern and wiry.

Army B-17 Crew Lost at Sea

This B-17 crew left Hamilton Army Air Corp Base, north of San Francisco, December 6, 1941 and flew into the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7 at 8:00am local time. No usable weapons or ammunition. December 26 they went on patrol and ditched at sea.

Lt. Joaquin Castro:

He is the first Native American to become a pilot and officer in the US Army. Castro is 25 and going places. Hitchhiker on this patrol to gain “stick” time to transfer into a B-17 Squadron.

Lt. Earl J. Cooper:

Pilot-In-Command: Strong leader, college educated. 25 years old.

2Lt. Richard Ebrenz:

Co-Pilot: 24 years old with the persona of a priest. Family wanted him to become a priest.

2Lt. Jim Buchanan:

Bombardier: Intelligent and brave.

2Lt. John (Davey) Crockett:

Navigator: A bit of a joker, secretly smart. He was kicked out of flight school because he buzzed the nurse’s quarters. A very good navigator; has more confidence in his work than in others’.

Priv. Don McCord:

An awkward hothead. 20 years old. Lost his Capt. America comic book in the ditching. Always carried his 45. He shot his 45 at Japanese planes Dec 7th during the attack while crew was attempting to land. The crew stopped him.

Corp. Mac Lucas:

20 year-old with medical issues. He was last minute replacement to the crew because the regular radioman became ill. He was never to go into a combat zone.

Tech. Sergeant Jesse Broyles:

35 years old. Tall, weathered face, strong. Crew Chief and he looks after “his” B-17.

Sergeant Lee Best:

Concerned for his mother. He is afraid if he is killed, who will look after her? He has no brothers or sisters and his father is dead.



In the process of creating our feature film script, Guardian Angel, A True Story, we wrote a 30 minute version to test some things out. We submitted it to multiple festivals including the well-respected Austin Film Festival and Page International -- the following are some of the comments we received from the judges.



Guardian Angel -- The Movie


Nimitz Awards Guardian Angel Heros:Ttrue story of how our PBY pilots were among the first soldiers to receive the Navy Cross at the start of WW2.


Memorial Service - Commander Leonard H. Wagoner, "Snuffy," USN: Moving tribute to the man behind The Guardian Angel story.