Hacksaw Ridge

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Hacksaw Ridge is the amazing true story of Desmond Doss, a United States corporal and combat medic during WWII. He was assigned to a rifle company of the 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division during one of the bloodiest battle of the war.

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He miraculously saved 75 men in 12 hours during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge, on the island of Okinawa. And he did it all without a weapon!

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Steve and Kati, from the Utalk crew were able to attend a private screening of the film. After a reception they were also able to attend an exclusive interview with the film’s director Mel Gibson.

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Hacksaw Ridge was a close combat fight with heavy weaponry. Thousands of Japanese and American soldiers were killed. Doss not only survived the battle, saving so many lives, but he continues to confound those who know his story.

Veteran Carl Bentley, who was also at Hacksaw Ridge, says in the documentary, “It’s as if God had his hand on [Doss’] shoulder. It’s the only explanation I can give.”

gallery-1-large                                                The Real Desmond Doss – Courtesy of hacksawridge.com

Desmond was a Seventh-day Adventist who wouldn’t touch a weapon or work on the Sabbath. His story couldn’t be told without talking about his faith because it undergirds his life.

He enlisted in the Army as a combat medic because he was committed to the cause, but made a vow not to kill. The Army wanted nothing to do with him because he didn’t fit the mold of what a good soldier should be. They saw him as a slacker. His commander Captain Jack Glover even tried to get him transferred.

But despite their efforts, the Army couldn’t force Doss to use a weapon. A 1940 law allowed conscientious objectors to serve the war effort in “noncombatant” positions, so Doss went with his company as a medic to the Pacific.

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In conjunction with the Salvation Army, Steve was invited to attend the press conference prior to the release of the film. It’s an important reminder of the veterans who struggle with PTSD and how important it is to care for them. The Salvation Army is at the forefront of creating awareness and caring for our vets in a variety of ways.

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Mel Gibson describes the film as a love story – not just between a man and a woman – but also the dramatic demonstration of a truth from the Bible that’s there’s no greater love a man can give for others than a willingness to give his life for them.

Andrew Garfield, who stars as Doss, initially had doubts that he could play the part because of the “unique spirituality” Desmond had. This was reflected by Desmond’s simple prayer uttered after each soldier he rescued, “Lord, just one more. Let me rescue one more.”

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After the press conference Steve had the opportunity for a private conversation with Vince Vaughn and Luke Bracey, two of the stars of the film. They discussed why the film is important for this generation to view and reflect on.

It’s a must see film. It comes out this weekend. Take the time to go see it with some friends. Discuss it and think of ways you can honor and reach out to our veterans who’s commitment and courage make our freedom possible.

Terror, Courage, Fear and Faith

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Deepwater Horizon, the action thriller film that opened this past Friday, sums up all these emotions and more. The Utalk crew had the opportunity to attend a special pre-release screening starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich and Kate Hudson and found themselves emotionally engaged throughout the film.
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It tells the story of what happened on the BP oil rig that exploded in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers died and the resulting oil spill became one of the costliest disasters in the US, polluting beaches and the gulf. It was an environmental and economic disaster for five states. But the saga of what happened on the oil rig that fateful night and the courage that saved many lives is a lesser-known story that was over shadowed by the enormous cleanup efforts and lawsuits.


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Deepwater Horizon’s script draws on a perceptive article that appeared in the New York Times in December 2010. In spite of the fact that crew members died and were severely injured because of the failure of all of the defenses of the floating Horizon, many lives were saved by simple acts of heroism.

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It’s a powerful film that’s without a doubt worth seeing. Check it out in your local theater. It’s definitely a movie you want to see on the big screen

Finding Purpose

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The Utalk crew – minus Larissa who was on the east coast for screenings of her award-winning documentary “Finding Cleveland” – attended the premiere of the new film “Discovering Destiny” in So Cal. This was a first for Kati (newly titled MS. California American Diamond) and Steve as this time they walked the red carpet and were interviewed.

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This documentary film is a compelling look at the life of Timothy “Teach” Jones – artist, actor and film maker. Timothy discovered an interest in music at an early age and went on to write, perform and produce several albums. “Discovering Destiny” chronicles Timothy’s journey of overcoming childhood abuse, gangs, and drug/alcohol abuse. Like so many today he had an urgency to find purpose in his life. Ultimately, he did find meaning and purpose in a spiritually powerful way.

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                                                             Steve with Timothy “Teach” Jones

Timothy is determined to help those whose lives have been derailed as his own once was, and to maximize media to magnify a message of hope to the world!