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Jan-20-2011 00:20printcommentsVideo

Filmmaker Honors Highly Decorated Oregon National Guard Unit

Shepherds of Helmand: the true story of one of the most decorated units in Oregon's history.

Shepherds of Helmand
The screening is Thursday, February 3rd, at 7:00 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater in NE Portland.

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - In his second documentary, filmmaker Gary Mortensen captures the stories of six National Guard soldiers from Oregon and their 2008 mission to Afghanistan.

A group of 17 volunteers from the Oregon National Guard deployed to Afghanistan to train a battalion of the Afghan National army. Their mission was to conduct counter narcotics patrols in the deadly Helmand Province, a region notorious not only for its opium production, but as a Taliban stronghold.

Shepherds of Helmand is the story of one of the most decorated units in Oregon National Guard history.

There will be a screening of the film on Thursday, February 3rd, at 7:00 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater in NE Portland. The event will feature an introduction by the director and a Q&A session with the soldiers following the film.

Shepherds of Helmand is narrated by Donald Trump Jr. who flew out last fall from New York to meet several of the soldiers in person during the editing of the film.

Mortensen’s motivation for the making of Shepherds is his desire to honor the troops who leave their families and risk their lives to enter into a world that is “seldom what it appears to be on the evening news.”

“My goal is not to make a political film,” he said. “This is about what the soldiers face in the field, how it affects them then, and what they face when they return home. These are their stories; not mine.”

The film also features two songs by the Grammy award winning Zac Brown Band. Zac Brown was eager to contribute to the film and has long been a supporter of the men and women who have served overseas.

Benchmade Knife Company is presenting the film, and all proceeds of the sales of the DVD will benefit HAVA, Honored American Veterans Afield. HAVA is a national organization committed to working with disabled veterans to help them transition back into a healthy and active life.

Benchmade spokesperson Rob Morrison said that the company offered to support the making of the film because “these stories help us understand what the soldiers go through on a daily basis, bringing us closer to their personal sacrifices.”

Shepherds of Helmand and Mortensen’s first film, the award-winning This is War: Memories of Iraq, are available on DVD through the HAVA website.

Tickets for the February 3 screening of Shepherds of Helmand are available at the Hollywood Theater for $5 at the door, or online at The Hollywood Theater is located at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland.

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