"Silver Star," the episode of The Unit [Tuesdays at 9 pm/ET, on CBS] that airs Dec. 12, has Jonas and Molly going home to Jonas' parents. The occasion is Jonas' father finally being awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions in Korea. While at the family gathering, Jonas' nephew - a soldier recently returned from combat and suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder - acts cowardly in beating his pregnant wife. Jonas steps in with some rough justice and tough love. In the process, he shares his dad's story, taking us back to the hero who did not receive a hero's welcome, as Jonas' father, a colored man in uniform, travels with his son down south in the US of A, 1952.

At the TOC, Mac tries to help a mysterious passenger ( Ed O'Neill) on a private jet in restricted airspace, who is trying to land the plane after the pilot dies at the control board.

The Jump
This past month, Michael Irby, Robert Patrick and Scott Foley jumped with the U.S. Army parachute team, Tthe Golden Knights, from 13,500 feet. I want to know if anyone had second thoughts or lost any bodily functions on the way down. The guys respond with enthusiastic bravado that they had no fear. Michael with his thick black tangle of hair and coals for eyes says that it was "great" - like flying. It's a tandem jump with the neophytes harnessed to the experienced Golden Knights. Scott says that he was relaxed on the way down. He says that it was trusting his partner that allowed him to enjoy the ride. All of the cast had been invited to jump. The Maxter/MacDaddy/Mad Max Martini who is usually down for most everything didn't go up. "Done it," he says with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "Used to work out of a drop zone called Sky's the Limit in upstate New York. I started packing parachutes and was trying to get enough jumps together to get my tandem instructor license. Almost got there but was summoned by the biz. Lived with my dog, Mona, in a 1972 Dodge Sportsman camper van behind the hanger at the airport along with the rest of the adrenaline junkies. Good times." When I'm asked why I didn't go, I tell 'em that in my life I've jumped out of enough airplanes - metaphorically. Done it. Know how it feels. The rush of the fall, then suspended in mid-air, flying, slowly descending and then the gratefulness of touching ground.

Scott is about to take another fearless trusting tandem jump. Falling in love, he has finally proposed to his beautiful Marika Dominczyk - now ready to jump the broom.

Gumbo Love
Gumbo is an aromatic stew. It's a Louisiana Creole mix of African, American Indian and European. Gumbo is the African Bantu word for okra - the vegetable that gives the dish its body. It starts with a simple roux, fat and flour, slowly browned over low heat. The ingredients are layered in and are varied. Add to the pot onions and various vegetables, hot chilies and various herbs and spices, then usually shrimp, then throw in some crab, oysters and or chicken, rabbit, pork or any variation of the above. What goes into the pot is determined according to your own taste. It's spooned over a bowl of rice to absorb the juices and to temper the spiciness of the dish. Made with love, the longer it simmers the more complex and better it gets.

I figure Molly and Jonas have been married and simmering for over 20 years. Their juices have combined - thick as blood, now. And blood goes deep. Family is deep and complicated and rich.

Home Is Where the Heart Is
We shot the Jonas' family scenes in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. Most of the homes there were built between 1880 and 1925, and the district boasts of the largest collections of historic homes west of the Mississippi River with architectural styles that include Queen Ann, Gothic Revival, Spanish Revival and Neoclassical. This one is a warm Craftsman. Hand-carved dark wood. Rich-hued wallpaper. There is a swing on the front porch. The tree from which I was gifted with my first persimmons grows through the back porch. The owners are like their house - carved of warm, dark wood. They have lived here since the early '60s.

When the West Side and Hollywood opened up for development in the 1920s, upper-class whites moved out and upper-class blacks moved in. West Adams was very popular with black celebrities in the '40s and '50s. Hattie McDaniel to Joe Louis to Ray Charles lived here. Today the district is racially diverse, with more white families moving back.

Films and TV shows such as The Shield, Monk and CSI often use the West Adams district. The house we filmed in was also used as the home of Morgan Freeman's character in Along Came a Spider.

It is here that we see Molly and Jonas' daughter (Angel Wainwright), as well as Jonas' father ( Willie Carpenter) and mother ( Emily Yancy). I talked to the actors about their connection to their characters. Willie Carpenter remembers some dark moments growing up in Bessemer, Alabama, but says, "We try to put that behind us." Emily Yancy understands the maternal instincts of her character in "wanting to hold your child close." "Whether the child is 5 or 50, the instinct to protect never stops." Angel has two brothers in the service, and her aunt, who served in the Gulf War, has a son who served in Iraq. "Someone strapped a bomb to a 7-year-old," one recounted about having to kill the child. "Killed the boy and killed myself." All returned home with post-traumaric-stress disorder. Angel says that she wishes we took better care of our returning vets.

All Heart
Dennis Dexter Haysbert is the eighth of nine children. He states, "The eighth child is a lucky child." Born with a hole in his heart, his mother - all heart when it came to her eighth baby - protected him but didn't smother him. As he grew up he grew stronger. She knew that she'd have to let him go - to fall in order to fly. When she finally let him play rough-and-tumble in sports, she did so on the condition that he also take an interest in the arts. By high school he was defensive end in football, ran track and played basketball while at the same time performing Shakespeare and lifting the girls in dance classes. Today, Dennis is, at a solid 6-foot-4, fully embodying the role of Jonas Blane. He also gives generously of his time and efforts to causes such as AIDS, education and the environment, about which he's very passionate. Whether being a good dad to his two children or embracing his acting roles, he throws himself wholeheartedly into everything he does.