Wally King, far left, Rondo Scharfe, center left, and Bill Casassa, far right, pose with faux fellow veteran "Hank" during filming for The Final Send. Photo by Dave Reardon/Black Rifle Coffee Company.
Black Rifle Coffee Company’s latest project, centered around honoring veterans and encouraging them to live life to the fullest, was released Wednesday, Nov. 9. A massive media production that shut down the streets of Boerne, Texas, for three days, The Final Send is a tribute to military veterans just ahead of Veterans Day.
With the help of Hoonigan, Travis Pastrana, “Texas Dave” Carapetyan, and the Best Defense Foundation, BRCC created a story meant to highlight the sacrifices of service members and spread a message that no one knows better than the BRCC community.
“The message we want to get across is that veterans have done so much for us, and they come back to this [civilian] world, and they should have that fun too,” said Ron Zaras, vice president of brands for Hoonigan and the director of The Final Send. “They should be able to enjoy what they’ve made possible for [all of] us.”
Thanks to the Best Defense Foundation, World War II veterans Rondo Scharfe, Wally King, and Bill Casassa took part in the production of The Final Send. Not only did they get to hang out on set, but they were all included in the filming as the main character, Hank, burnt rubber down the streets of Boerne. The gravity of having three WWII veterans literally along for the ride was not lost on any of the crew. Especially given that the storyline for The Final Send is written with a World War II veteran as the main character.
"Texas Dave" Carapetyan as Hank during The Final Send filming. Photo courtesy of Hoonigan.
Carapetyan plays the role of Hank, an aging World War II veteran who carjacks a Hoonigan-modified Jeep after receiving a life-changing diagnosis from his physician.
Pastrana plays the role of Sheriff Pastrami, the local lawman who takes to the streets in a customized Subaru Brat-turned-police cruiser in hot pursuit of Hank.
Bill Casassa, Travis Pastrana, and Wally King take an RTD break during filming of The Final Send. Photo by Dave Reardon/Black Rifle Coffee Company.
The two drivers make the Texas small town their playground with a full-throttle, “full-send” exhibition of drifting, donuts, and tire-burning action, while a host of actual war heroes and Black Rifle Coffee Company military-veteran influencers make cameo appearances.
“Putting these amazing Hoonigan vehicles through the paces with Dave was a blast, but to shine a light on these war heroes and Best Defense Foundation made this project extra special,” said Pastrana. “The Black Rifle Coffee Company team is doing incredible things for the veteran community. It was an honor and a privilege to tear up the streets of Boerne for such a worthy American cause.”
Veterans Day is typically a “thank-you-for-your-service” day. There’s no doubt that BRCC is intent on sticking to that principle, but why just say it when you can create a film about it? After all, actions speak louder than words.
Photo courtesy of Hoonigan.
The ability to hone a message as simple and clear-cut as living life to the fullest is one that BRCC, Hoonigan, and the Best Defense Foundation can all support. What better way to tie the production together than with an organization focused on caring for the veterans from the “greatest generation”?
Founded by former NFL linebacker Donnie Edwards, the Best Defense Foundation honors and celebrates veterans from past conflicts, including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, with the primary mission to “take care of the ones who took care of us.”
Bill Casassa, Rondo Scharfe, and Wally King sit on the side of the street in Boerne, Texas, watching The Final Send shoot. Photo courtesy of Lauren Warner/BRCC Blog.
“As a veteran myself, I’ve been longing for that military comradery and a sense of purpose that we form with our units and in our mission,” said Cori Russell, volunteer program coordinator for the Best Defense Foundation. “Volunteering with the Best Defense Foundation has reignited my sense of purpose in a new mission of serving the veteran community. Taking these WWII heroes on special events like The Final Send shoot is an immense honor.
“The entire BRCC community, which is also stacked with veterans, treated Wally [King], Bill [Casassa], and Rondo [Scharfe] like total celebrities. Veterans serving veterans, it doesn’t get more epic than that!”
Scharfe, Casassa, and King served in the Navy, Army, and Army Air Corps during World War II. These members of the greatest generation graduated from the Depression into World War II, eager to serve and willing to sacrifice in a way that makes you proud to be in their presence.
Rondo Scharfe in the passenger seat of the BRCC Bronco before burning rubber and doing donuts in the middle of Boerne, Texas. Photo courtesy of Dave Reardon/Black Rifle Coffee Company.
“I was in high school, and I just thought, I really should be doing something for my country; I just gotta get in,” said Scharfe, who was honorably discharged from the US Navy as a petty officer first class. “So we took our birth certificates, we got bleach and doctored them up to make it a little bit older. [That didn’t work] so I snagged six or seven baptismal certificates off the altar of the church my sister was getting married at.”
Once Scharfe doctored the certificate to make him a convincing 17-year-old, his parents signed the paperwork so he could join in 1943. King enlisted in 1942 at age 18, and Casassa volunteered for the Army Specialized Training Program in 1943 before being called to active duty in 1944.
From liberating the Hannover-Ahlem Concentration Camp with the 84th Infantry Division to the invasion of Iwo Jima to flying 75 combat missions and surviving time as a German prisoner of war, the stories of these three men highlight the selfless service that Americans envision when they think of the military.
Rondo Scharfe, Logan Stark, Jonathon Blank, Wally King, King's granddaughter Kara, and Travis Pastrana. Photo courtesy of Lauren Warner/BRCC Blog.
Veterans Day is meant to honor American veterans of all wars and thank everyone who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. The Final Send is a salute to some of our greatest and oldest living veterans who may just need a reminder that we, as a nation, are grateful for them for allowing us to have the freedoms and ability to live in a free country.
“Every Veterans Day, we try to do something extraordinary to honor and champion the cause of military veterans. This year, we were thrilled to collaborate with the incredible team at Hoonigan to create something truly special. If you couldn’t tell from the video, we all had a lot of fun with this,” said Evan Hafer, CEO of Black Rifle Coffee Company. “It’s one thing to showcase the amazing skills of Travis and Texas Dave, but we're most proud of promoting Best Defense Foundation by featuring actual war heroes and veterans throughout the video.”
Full disclosure: In case you didn’t know, Coffee or Die Magazine is wholly owned by Black Rifle Coffee Company.
Lauren Warner is the managing editor of the BRCC Blog. She's only slightly connected to the military community, growing up as an Army brat before serving in the Army herself as a public affairs specialist, then becoming an Army spouse and caregiver. With degrees in English, journalism, and a master's in marketing, to say that she enjoys reading and writing might be an understatement. She spends her free time drinking too much coffee and going on adventures with her husband and three dogs (yes, they're all rescues).