On a recent hiking expedition to the Fort Bowie National Historic Site in south-eastern Arizona, I took some time to explore the nearby town of Bowie. Lying adjacent to the busy I-10 freeway between Tucson and El Paso the quiet little burg tags itself as the gateway to Fort Bowie and the Chiricahua National Monument; but that’s not what it is most famous for.
While cruising around the beautiful farm land and the ghostly, dilapidated old buildings, a painted mural on the side of a roadside “Jerky” shop caught my eye. It was a depiction of the Arizona flag and of Bowie’s most famous fictional son, John Rambo, with the tagline, “Bowie, AZ. No place like home.”
I had to smile, because I had completely forgotten that Bowie was, in fact, the hometown of America’s most famous fictional action hero, “Rambo, John J., born 7/6/47 Bowie, Arizona of Indian-German descent” (as read from his Army file in 1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II.)
It’s no wonder that one of the toughest action heroes ever would hail from what was once one of the most dangerous and hostile areas on the Earth. Bowie and its namesake, Fort Bowie, are in the heart of old Apacheria and where the Apache Wars began back in 1861.
Sadly, it does not appear that the new film, Rambo: Last Blood, which takes place at least partly in Bowie, Arizona, was not shot on location, where I’m certain the town could have greatly used the revenue the film would have brought to it.
Nevertheless, that Hollywood slight hasn’t stopped the Bowie Chamber of Commerce from declaring Sept. 18 “Rambo Day.” Per the Bowie proclamation:
“Rambo has long fought against the injustices & cruelty throughout the world, defending the powerless and standing up for his ideals, his country, his brothers-in-arms, and now his family.
The message carried by Rambo is a timely and cautionary one, showcasing the true cost of battle, the dilemmas faced by those who seek vengeance, and the virtue of protecting the downtrodden.”
Lions Gate Movies has even released a “Rambo Day” trailer wherein the holidays Halloween, Independence Day and even Christmas (yes, Christmas) are blown up in deference to “Rambo Day.”
So grab your bandanas and Bowie knifes (be careful) and get your best stone-cold grimace on to celebrate almost 40 years of First Blood. (And consider making a road trip to the real town of Bowie and exploring some of the area’s beautiful countryside, farmland, wine vineyards and historical landmarks – you’ll be glad you did.)
Rambo: Last Blood images courtesy 2019 Lions Gate Entertainment
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