Soldier Tribute Documentary to Play at Film Festival This Weekend
Retired Sgt. Kevin Mincio salutes the photographer as he passes during his 4,000-mile bike ride to Ground Zero in honor of his friend Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams. Courtesy photo.
This Saturday, the Plaza Classic Film festival, organized by the El Paso Community Foundation, will feature the Soldier documentary tribute “The Long Ride Home”. The movie follows the journey of retired Sgt. Kevin Mincio as he ventures on a 4,000-mile bike ride to Ground Zero in honor of his fallen friend Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams.
Mincio used to be the vice president of Goldman Sachs, an investment-banking firm located in lower Manhattan. After the 9/11 attacks, he enlisted in the Army and later deployed to Iraq and became close to his fellow Soldier SSG Williams. Before Williams deployed to Iraq for his second tour, he asked Mincio if he could take care of his family and start a foundation for wounded Soldiers and their families if he didn’t survive.
Retired Sgt. Kevin Mincio pauses at a freedom memorial along his 4,000-mile bike ride route to Ground Zero. He is riding in honor of his friend Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams.
Unfortunately, Williams was killed in action in 2007 in Balad, Iraq. In 2010, Mincio and his friend Matt Corry founded the Team Jesse Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that assists the families of fallen Soldiers through fundraising and promoting awareness. Mincio decided to take it 4,000 miles further with his cross-country bike ride in time for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“The movie is called the Long Ride Home, but the question is: how far would you go to keep a promise?” said Janyce Leone, Williams’ mother. “Kevin went clear across America to keep that promise.”
Cher Poehlein , who is the Army Community Service Relocation Readiness Manager at Fort Bliss, met Leone while taking her military spouses on a tour of Mesilla in Las Cruces, N.M. and they stopped by Leone’s shop Solamente de Mesilla. She noticed the picture of Williams with a sign that read “Team Jesse” and asked Leone about it. She learned about Williams’ story and later approached EPCF program director Doug Pullen and asked if the foundation would play the documentary.
“Kevin sent me a copy. I watched it and was moved by it, not only because of what he did, but the way it gave you a sense of what Jesse was like and the void he has left behind,” Pullen said.
The documentary also covers some other topics dealing with Soldiers, such as PTSD.
“[The movie is] not about the promises he made to my son; it’s about Soldiers and their wonderful bonds,” Leone said. “They are all brothers and they’re there for each other and that’s a special tribute.”
Leone will be at the screening of the movie to answer any questions about her son’s story and the Team Jesse Foundation.
The festival, which film expert Charles Horak and EPCF President Eric Pearson started in 2008, will also feature other military-related films this year.
“Military-themed movies, particularly World War II stories, have long been a part of the festival and this year is no exception,” Pullen said. “In addition to ‘The Long Ride Home,’ we’ll show ‘The Longest Day’ in honor of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and we’ll show ‘Judgment at Nuremberg,’ which, like ‘The Longest Day,’ shows an aspect of World War II from various perspectives.”
Film star Robert Wagner, who was also in “The Longest Day” will make several appearances at the festival, including before the films “A Kiss Before Dying” and “Towering Inferno” and for the autograph signing of his book “You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age.”