Vietnam Center and Archive Officials Help Filmmakers in Television Documentary about Vietnam War

Written by Michael Castellon

Date: Feb. 8, 2006
CONTACT: Michael Castellon,

LUBBOCK – Officials at the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University played a key role in assisting award-winning documentary filmmakers Patrick and Cheryl Fries of Arrowhead Films on their latest project examining the Vietnam War.

"An Ocean Away" follows the return of U.S. Marine Donald Matocha's remains, missing for three decades, to his Central Texas family, and the subsequent journey of his sisters to the battlefield in Vietnam where he died. Their trip to Vietnam included a meeting with the former North Vietnamese soldier who buried Lt. Matocha and later reported the location of his grave to U.S. officials.

Filmmakers contacted Vietnam Center and Archive officials for assistance in working with the Vietnam Embassy to enter the country. The center also assisted with translating interview footage that is captioned in the film.

“We felt this was an especially important project for us to be involved in because it’s vital that the Matocha story be told,” said Stephen Maxner, deputy director of the Vietnam Center at Texas Tech. “We have a duty to assist in telling and preserving the stories of those who served and sacrificed so much for our nation.”

“What is so compelling about this film is that it documents the plight of the family who waited at home and endured so much for three and a half decades and the plight of the Vietnamese people who also endured pain and terrible hardships. This is a powerful story of healing and reconciliation for both the individuals involved as well as for our two nations,” Maxner said.

The film will debut on The Military Channel at 7 p.m. CST Thursday.

Since it was founded in 1989, the Vietnam Center and Archive has become one of the largest repositories of its kind outside of the U.S. government. The center offers a Virtual Archive containing more than 2.3 million online pages of searchable materials, including documents, photographs, slides, negatives, audio and video recordings, artifacts and oral histories.

For more information, visit;; and

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CONTACT: Stephen Maxner, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Center at Texas Tech,, or (806) 742-9010.