By Jack Kelly
PORTSMOUTH -- USA Battle Buddies will host a Movie Night fundraiser on Friday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. at VFW Post 5390 at 822 Anthony Road, Portsmouth. The proceeds will be used to give a Service Assistance Dog to Brendan O’Byrne, an Afghanistan War veteran.
“Restrepo” is a feature-length documentary that was recently nominated for an Academy Award. The film chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, considered one of the most dangerous postings by the U.S. military.
The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost named after a platoon medic, Juan Restrepo, who was killed in action. The cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with diplomats or generals.
Viewers may feel as if they have just been through a 90 minute deployment. O’Byrne served with the unit chronicled in the movie and was filmed in combat situations.
Sebastian Junger, author of “The Perfect Storm”, spent months shadowing O’Byrne’s unit. Junger’s time with the unit is the basis of his book “War”. Junger has stayed close with the surviving members of the unit. Three copies of the book, one hardcover and two paperbacks, signed by Junger and O’Byrne, will be raffled off at the fundraiser. One hardcover copy of the book and a DVD copy of themovie, signed by both men, will be auctioned off after the movie is shown.
In addition to that, a package prize will also be auctioned off which includes: a large print copy of "War," signed by Junger and O'Bryne; a copy of the documentary; and dinner for two, accompanied by Founder and CEO of USA Battle Buddies and two combat tour veteran of the Iraq War with the 82nd Airborne Division Steve Frye and O'Byrne at Sardella's in Newport.
The doors open at 6p.m. Free will donations will be accepted. Due to the graphic nature of this film no one under the age of 16 will be admitted and those between the ages of 16-18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Free popcorn will be offered, and refreshments may be purchased through the VFW.
SSGT Laurie McGrath of the R.I. Air National Guard and the Yellow Ribbon Project will be in attendance. McGrath will be available to answer questions about service-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury issues with veterans and their families. U.S. Air Force combat veteran PTSD and TBI counselors will also be available.
O’Byrne and his service dog Brandy, a Dutch Shepherd, that is a four-legged angel and 70 pounds of pure and unconditional love, will be there to greet movie goers. If you can’t attend but would like to make a donation, go to; usabattlebuddies.org or write to USA Battle Buddies, P.O. Box 922, Newport, R.I. 02840 .
An earlier version of this story misidentified the post number of the VFW hall in Portsmouth. We regret the error.