LOS ANGELES – The Discovery-owned Military Channel is just days away from debuting its new look and new name. On March 3, it will become the American Heroes Channel (AHC).
While the channel will continue to present military-themed specials, executives hope the new name will reflect their desire to focus on a broader range of American heroes and helpers.
"When we launched a few years ago we were engaged in two wars overseas, and we wanted to really acknowledge the acts of valor that were going on," the channel’s general manager, Kevin Bennett, told FOX411. "But these stories of heroism aren't solely reserved for the battlefield.
“With the rename, we hope to expand our audience. We are still going to have that same action feel as our military programs, but also look at heroes in things like the space race and first responders to tragic events. It's a natural evolution for us."
Bennett said space seems to be lacking these untold stories of heroism, so the expansion is a crucial one.
"There has been a misconception with the Military Channel that we were all guns and ammo all the time, but we are about all sorts of heroes on and off the battlefield."
AHC, currently in 63 million homes, will debut 17 new series and specials, including "CIA: Declassified," which reveals stories of America's top-secret Cold War missions, and "Codes and Conspiracies," which reveals the history of the world's most clandestine institutions and mysterious symbols.
But perhaps the most hotly anticipated show is "Against the Odds," a six-part series Bennett calls the "most powerful" program they've aired to-date.
Narrated by Rob Lowe, the series unveils the harsh realities of war, using archival footage and first-hand interviews to illuminate U.S. troops who banded together during battle.
March 3’s premiere episode, "The Marines at Hue," focuses on the three U.S. Marine battalions that, along with two Army battalions and South Vietnamese troops, beat the odds to defeat entrenched North Vietnamese troops and the Viet Cong in the South Vietnamese city in 1968.
"People deal with the fog of war and combat situations differently,” said John Ligato, a Marine who fought in Vietnam . “[Recalling] some moments were somewhat difficult – these were things I really hadn't thought about in many years – but this is a story that had to be told. It is a story a lot of people need to know ... the tremendous odds that the Marines were up against. And for the first week, because of the weather, we had no other ground or air support."
Each episode of "Against the Odds" zooms in on a different battle, including "A Chance in Hell," which looks at U.S. Army Col. Sean MacFarland's Ready First Combat Team's victory in Ramadi, Iraq, and "The Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill," which explores the fight on the island of Okinawa during World War II.
Ligato says young Americans need to be exposed to moments like these.
"They need to see the brotherhood and the sacrifices people make,” he said. “They'll learn that the most ferocious fighting machine is a pissed-off 19-year-old Marine. But we're proud of who we are. We are the greatest fighting nation."
"Against All Odds" debuts on American Heroes Channel March 3 at 10/9c
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