Kasserine: “The Price of Victory”

Hello all,

It has been way too long since my last entry, so I’m going to catch you all up. I’ve been extremely busy writing, both at work and at home. I feel the carpal tunnel coming on too. Alas, the trials and tribulations of an Addicted Screenwriter.

Since last September (where has all the time gone), I’ve stumbled upon a story that, as my wife tells me, “writes itself”. If it truly did, I wouldn’t be working on it, however; she isn’t too far off, and being one to never argue with your spouse, will never tell her otherwise (LOL). But I digress…

Kasserine. My latest screenplay project and is based on true events.

For those readers that don’t keep up on their war history, Kasserine Pass is located in Tunisia and was the site of one of the earliest World War II tank battles where American tanks fought the first real tank-to-tank battle with Germans in North Africa shortly after the U.S. threw their hat into the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, it did not turn out well for the home team, but then again neither did Dunkirk for the Brits.

In 1942, the U.S. sent troops to both the Pacific AND Europe to fight the Axis. It is during this timeframe that this amazing story unfolds. In September 2017, my wife’s cousin Sandy-Seely Harris posted a Facebook Tribute to her father (my wife’s uncle) Sergeant Harry C. Harris (see photo below), an Infantry Regiment musician (a horn player) who was shipped off to Ireland in one of the first American deployment to the European theater. From there he was later deployed in “Operation Torch“, the offical allied invasion of North Africa. It’s purpose? Draw German tank battalions away from the Russian front.


Sergeant Harris, along with most of the troops from the 34th Infantry Division “Red Bulls” and 168th Infantry Regiment are from the Midwest (e.g., Iowa, Minnesota). The 168th Regiment still sends troops in harm’s way to this.

Harry’s story takes a turn for the worse on 14 February 1943. Valentine’s Day.  Sidi-Bou-Zid. (pronounced: Seedy-Boo-Zid) is a small village in Kasserine Pass. Nearby, two observation hills (called “Djebels”) were manned by segregated 168th Infantry and artillery for the purpose of catching the German armor off guard as they were (based on conflicted intelligence) to roll through the pass. However, high-level commanders dictated tactics and dispersion of forces that failed from the start.

The famous and seasoned German tank commander, Erwin Rommel, with up to date intelligence, planned to circumvent these observation hills, encircle, and entrap them.

On the morning of February 14, 1943, in a blinding sandstorm to cover their movements, the Germans struck with such quick and devastating force, most of the Amercian tanks, artillery and infantry were either killed, captured, or forced to retreat.

Battle of Sidi bou Zid

Sergeant Harris was captured, injured from falling off a cliff, had his back further injured by a German rifle butt to the back, and then transported to a German POW camp, via Italy and train through German lines. He would spend the rest of the war (27 months to be exact) in at least three POW camps, suffer weight loss, and desperation.

During this time, he stole a German Compass, drew a map from memory (both of which his daughter still possesses), and escaped to Switzerland. It is believed he made a wrong turn (maybe somewhere in Switzerland) and was recaptured.

He was repatriated by the Russians in April 1945 and passed away in 1979. He brought back only what he could carry: His compass, Map, and a cloth portrait of himself painted in a POW camp by another POW (whom I’m having difficulty tracking down), and smuggled it under his uniform. Read on…It gets better.


Flash forward— Present day

As with any screenwriting project, I perform months of research before writing the words “Fade In”. With this one, it was long, tedious, but well worth the effort. After reading the Facebook post about Sergeant Harris and his POW, I felt compelled to learn more. Call it the veteran in me, war/history buff, or the fact that my grandfather served in both World War I and II. To me, it was personal. And that drives me to write this amazing story of faith and perseverance.

So, I hit the books (Kudos to the Orlando Library system for home delivery and Hoopla for the free online reads ) and found the best books on this important snippet of history.  After about 4-5 notepads of paper, I created a detailed timeline of events, analyzed war maps (from both sides), and read testimonies from other POW’s to understand the events, feelings, and desperation these war heroes faced.

Sergeant Harris left little writings other than notes his daughter made in recalling her conversations with him before he passed away.  He mentions two other compadres who were captured with him. I verified their names and reached out to see if they were even still alive (they would be in their 90s) without luck. I was able to reach out to one but unfortunately, this person had recently passed with Dementia. But I was not deterred.

With every search, there is that beam of light. That one piece that makes it worthwhile. Enter Private First Class Arch Shealy. Arch Shealy also fought in North Africa, in this battle as an Artillery Gunner, captured on February 14, 1943 (I told you it would get better), and spent 27 months in German POW camps.

The only difference between Sergeant Harris and Private Arch Sealy was that Arch was still alive.  And he lived not two hours away from me. Talk about a gold bar hero. I had to get in touch with this hero, this vast historical source of information. He had a story to tell and to hear it first hand, made it much more special. Time for our World War II heroes was running out. ROAD TRIP!

After reaching out to family members, I was able to coordinate a most memorable meet and learn about what happened, some of the events in his POW life, and how he survived.

It is their story I want to tell, that I feel obligated to share with the world.

God has designated me a “storyteller”, the writer of this amazing story of two heroes who probably didn’t even know each other, but fought bravely together for their brethren and their country under dire circumstances, then to suffer years of containment at the hands of a dictatorship, desperation, and fear.

Their only saving grace was faith in their country, God, and their family. Before I left our interview, I asked Arch a pointed question.

If you had one take away from this whole experience, what do you believe allowed you to survive?” After a few seconds to reflect, Arch simply replied “Faith. Faith in yourself, your country, and your God.” 

They all kept the faith and survived.

I need to keep the faith in myself and finish what I started.


Update: It is with great sadness that my dear friend and esteemed patriot, Arch Shealy passed away in March with family by his bedside. He was 98-years old. My sincere condolences go out to the Shealy family and a sincere thank you for allowing me into their lives. This honorable hero will be sorely missed. Rest In Peace, my friend. See you on the other side.  




Tools! Tools! Screenwriting Tools!

Hey, all!

Just a quick line today. Been really busy. Had a 4-day weekend to spend with two of my granddaughters; Makayla and Megan. (My Cheer Girls Champions!).

They have the tools to cheer, tumble, and throw themselves into painfully contorted positions. We addicted screenwriters need our tools of the trade as well.

I subscribed to Screencraft.org many months ago and pleased with some of the screenwriting advice and links. If you haven’t checked them out, click the link.

I recommend this article below. This is how I learned to pre-plan my first screenplay. Hope you get some use out of it.

Keep writing!



What Happens Next? The Scene Mashup

Image result for what happens next?

Source: http://todayilaughed.com

Hello,  Screenwriters and Readers alike!

So, I’m in a creative mood, right? Fingers dancin’ with the keyboard as the creativity flows through my Mt. Dew-fed veins.

Then it hits me.! A scene out of the blue. In my head. And it doesn’t tie into my current project. Where did this come from?

So I remind myself to always capture the moment.  I hastily open a new project in Final Draft and go to work in the Index cards layout. For the next 30-45 minutes I’m puking out a funny scene (read below) that could be used anywhere, but what’s interesting is the characters created themselves. All I had to do was ask them “What happens next?”

What starts out as a simple house delivery, turns into something more long-winded.

And I would love for my followers or readers to comment and help me determine “What Happen’s Next.” If I get a bunch of good ideas, you never know, this could be the next comedy. So all you prankster’s out there, this is the time to give me some funny ideas.

Right now, I’m capturing them in my Scene Mashup file.

Thank so much for reading,

JC Leach



A Flower delivery man walks up to the front door, rings the bell, waits.  A dog barks from inside the house.


TAD MARKEL (40s), sporting extra tonnage. yells at the barking dog, scratches himself, as he shuffles in his slippers and soiled white undershirt to the front door.

He checks the peephole,. sees flowers hiding some guys face, opens the door

The DELIVERY GUY (20s), not his dream job, struggles to read the name on the tag.


“Delivery for Thad–de–us Markel?”

Tad grimaces at the guy who butchers his name.


It’s Tad. Silent H and shorten it.


Mom must have been pissed at you, man.


Does insulting my heritage cost extra? Cus’ you can keep that shit.

The Delivery Guy. shuts up, reads the delivery receipt.


Says you MUST read the gift card C-O-D. Says here sixty bucks and change. Delivery tip expected, but not included.

Delivery Guy hands over bouquet, Tad reads the attached note.


“Happy Birthday, brother! I’ve been down on my luck at the Casino lately, but I just wanted to wish you the best today. Can you pay the delivery guy? I’ll get you back. — Tom.”

Tad is stunned, glances at the Delivery Guy, gets irate, rips off the card.


Sure he will.

(to Delivery guy)

Wait right here.

Tad backs up with the vase in his hand.


Baby, who is it?

Tad turns and closes the door on the Delivery Guy’s face.


Dude, what about my sixty bucks and the tip?


My brother sent flowers for my birthday.


Aw.w How nice was that?




C-O-D? Cash. You’re kidding, right? Is he–

ALISHA MARKEL (40s), a hot vixen, opens the front door to a confused Delivery Guy. Tad stands behind her unsure of what to do.



Alisha stares at the Delivery guy, examines the vase in Tad’s hands, makes a deduction.


Your brother Tom has some imagination. And a screw loose. Funny though, I’ll give him that. I’ll take these.

Alisha holds her laughter, smiles instead, revokes the vase, pats Tad’s chest, and locks eyes.


Making you pay C-O-D on your birthday? Classic dick move. When are you and Tom gonna stop this? Pay the man.

Head down, eyes closed in defeat, Tad cracks a wryly smile as he reaches back for his wallet.


Dead Hand

Hello all, just wanted to drop you a line about one my many screenplays. This one is a Cold War thriller. “Bridge of Spies” stuff. Cloak and dagger.

If you are interested in reading the screenplay, give me a shout. More to follow.


Dead Hand – Historical Action – “When a rogue Russian General takes over a secret Doomsday system, the scientist who built it risks allegiance, family, and friends to avert nuclear Armageddon.”


Dead Hand is the name of a doomsday system that the Russian Federation has not publicly acknowledged. This system allows Russian nuclear missiles to be launched after a decapitation strike on the Russian ministry. The system works when conditions consistent with a nuclear blast occur along with the loss of communication with the Russian High Command. If these conditions are met, communication rockets then launch and transmit the launch codes to the rest of the nuclear missiles in their silos.

During this story, Dmitri Yarynich (Protagonist), the developer of Dead Hand, struggles with the horrible death of his wife, his decision to send his daughter way, the economic strife of his Cold War country, and Dead Hand’s secrecy. His goal is to make Dead Hand public to halt nuclear weapons development.

General Koslov (Antagonist), a Rocket forces commander, has other nefarious intentions:  Acquire Dead Hand and keep it secret, control the nuclear arsenal so he can avenge his Chechen brother’s death at the hands of the Russian military, and kill anyone who stands in his way.

To do this Koslov and his band of militants kidnap Dmitri’s daughter (Zina) for information. Dmitri retorts by revealing Dead Hand to a CIA Agent friend in exchange for help to recover his daughter.

In the showdown, Dmitri relinquishes Dead Hand to Koslov after Zina is about to be shot. In a crazy turn of events, Zina is released, but turns on her father for the “cause”, as she has been brainwashed by the militants.

Koslov launches the communications missiles and attempts to leave when Special Forces intervene and take down Koslov’s thugs.

Zina finally accepts that Koslov killed her mother and militants killed her best friend. She goes on a maniacal killing spree to save her father.

Dmitri and Zina are granted asylum in the United States and catch-up on their relationship. Their efforts pay off as the two countries agree to reduce nuclear weapons, as history goes.

Dead Hand, or “Perimeter”, by its popular name, has never been publicly acknowledged.



JC Leach — Addicted Screenwriter

Hello All!

I have finally taken the plunge into the Blog world.

So this is how what a blog looks like! *As he ponders about to what to write next*.

For those that don’t understand the text in between asterisks (*) above, they are “personal thoughts” I inject in my writings. Fellow screenwriters should understand. It provides depth in my entries. Consider it a personal touch and feel.

As I write this first blog entry, I can’t help but reflect how my writing addiction started.

I had to go all the way back to the 1970’s. It started in high school. English class homework, snowballed into reading various books (mainly historical documentaries), and of course Sci-Fi movies. It Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” that inspired my first effort: “Mayan Space.”

The outline alone was 300 college rule pages long. All hand written; scene for scene, dialogue–the works. No word processors in the 1970’s. Bill Gate was just inventing software back then.Man, I’m dating myself.

Regardless, I researched Mayan Prophecy, examined the connection between alien life and Mayan intelligence in astrological events. It was fascinating. It drove me to keep writing; to find that answer. A series of life changing events (20 years of military service), kids, and marriage, put an indefinite hold on that.

But the bug ate its way out over my military years. As I matured, I became infatuated in Training. As an instructor or supervisor, I always enjoyed the moment the “clue light” turned on in a young student. It was inspiring to know that I was “making a difference” in someone’s life.

Eventually, I graduated into Instructional Design. Developing the training was an angle that brought forth the “creative” side. Being able to develop analogies allowed me to fine-tune descriptions to ensure the end-user (the reader of screenplays) understood what it was I was trying to convey; whether it be a simple task, to a full blown concept. I truly believe those experiences have unlocked the writing bug that I enjoy today.

Screenwriting is not my full time job. No way. As a budding Screenwriter (*addicted*), my day job is a technical writer. Ina nutshell, I write better versions of those one page manuals you receive with IKEA furniture that provide no simple way to assemble that computer desk you desperately need to house computer equipment and business material to eventually collect dust.

But after work? Enter “JC Leach – Addicted Screenwriter“. (*Insert kick-ass superhero theme here*).

My weapons? Asus Laptop (high speed, low drag), semi-comfortable couch (*My Command Center*) , earphones (cheap, and effective in sometimes tuning out too much and always at the wrong time), various Screenwriting programs, and my addiction–a plethora of ideas ready to spew forth through my fingertips.

So here I am. James “JC” Leach, marketing myself, giving form and function as a dedicated screenwriter who constantly hones (with a military work ethic, I might add) the Screenwriting craft.

With that being said, I’ve been busy since 2008 when a simple Genealogy search turned into my first screenplay effort. With a few rewrites, I felt it was a good first effort. But there is always room for improvement. My addiction demanded it.

So, I read “Screenwriting For Dummies” (*Hey– small steps, baby*). It gave me the foundation and showed me basically what’s involved in the craft. Okay….I needed more.

Then I read my first screenplay–“Shawshank Redemption”. The addiction was feeling great. The flow of creativity through my veins was overwhelming. That was 2008.

Flash Forward – Present Day

Today, I am on my 8th Screenplay. Fully addicted, unable to stop. All full-length features, some public domain book adaptations, and I even brought that high school effort (Mayan Space) out of mothballs (now named Pakal’s Secret).

*You didn’t mention TV Pilots*.

TV pilots and series efforts are on my radar screen, but I am enjoying Feature writing so much now, they can wait. My addiction is wonderful.

But there are setbacks. Last year, I took a step to enter one of my Scripts into the annual

PAGE International Screenwriting Awards

Although, I didn’t make the 2016 quarter finals, it was a great experience.

I also took a stab at Writing/Directing a small (very small) production. I wrote and assisted in the direction (mentored with the help of experienced friends) of a Doritos Superbowl Contest ad. We (my Director mentor Andy Darby, and creative director, Bob Summers, along with a fantastic cast and crew shot this in one day. Even my pet superstar Cat (Charger) made his cinematic debut. It was total fun and a great experience in film-making.

Current Projects

For those that are still reading, I thank you for hanging on.

Below is a consolidated listing of current screenplay projects . They are in various stages, contest ready, or in a marketable state.

Please (*I humbly beg*) comment on which ones you would like to see in a theater, or read the script:

The Lost Despatch – Genre: Action/Drama (1860s) – “Framed for a murder she didn’t commit, a confederate spy races to fulfill her father’s dying wish before life, love, and the law catch up with her.”

Poverty Island – Action/Adventure – “Hunting down a 150-year mystery, treasure hunters confront thieves to honor a man’s last wish, and find the truth behind the gold of the Poverty Island legend. ”

Pakal’s Secret – Action/Sci-Fi adventure – Dogged by dangerous and nefarious cartels, an archaeologist unlocks a complex mystery hidden beneath a Mayan temple. After black suits get involved, he takes matters into his own hands.”

Dead Hand – Historical Action – When a rogue Russian General takes over a secret Doomsday system, the scientist who built it risks allegiance, family, and friends to avert nuclear Armageddon.”

The Variable Man – Sci-Fi (Public Domain Adaptation) – “A 20th century handyman, pulled into the future, slews the odds against a celestial turf war and is forced to repair their secret weapon in return for a ticket home to the past.”

Savage Grant – Historical Drama – “A frontiersman’s family, massacred by Indians and daughter taken, conducts a rescue mission, and befriends the squaw who cared for her.”

Invisible Wounds – (In Work) – Biopic/Drama – “A young child, surrounded by the daily terrors of World War II England, endures a lifetime of post-traumatic stress over the tragic loss of his first love at the hands of the German Luftwaffe.”

Justifiable Revenge – (In Work) – Action/Horror – “On the 20th anniversary of a bully victim’s death, surviving victims team up to execute revenge only to discover they’re gonna have to take a number.”

Confession in Bottle – (In Work) – Drama – “While grieving her daughters loss, an infatuated mother searches Tsunami debris for answers. After finding a 40-year old confession in a bottle, she finds inspiration to get closure for another mother.”

Protecting Providence – (In Work) “After a hurricanes shipwrecks Jonathan Dickinson’s plans, he and his crew must shepherd survive brutal Indians, injuries, cold, and starvation as they trek the Florida coast.”

Well, I think that is enough text for today. It’s Labor Day. Why am I working?

Thought you’d never ask. It’s because I’m addicted. *As he takes another sip of Mt. Dew*

Keep writing!