From gridiron to battlefield

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The immediate memory of Sept. 11, 2001, served as a stark reminder to the players in the 2001 Army vs. Navy football game that more serious, consequential duties awaited them.

The film “From Philadelphia to Fallujah” follows the stories of three players — Navy’s J.P. Blecksmith and Brian Stann, and Army’s Omari Thompson — documenting their move from the playing field to the front lines.

Blecksmith was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and commanded a platoon  that was the first to enter the city of Fallujah. He was hit by sniper fire on Nov. 11, 2004, and died the same day. In the film, Blecksmith’s father, Ed, details his son’s life and sacrifice.

Thompson, a star wide receiver in the 2001 game, became a tank commander for three years in Iraq until he found himself in the middle of a firefight in Fallujah. It was then, during the firefight, Thompson said he was called into the ministry. He is currently an Army chaplain in Afghanistan.

Stann, a middle linebacker for Navy, was commissioned into the Marine Corps and became a platoon leader. Stann earned the Silver Star for actions coordinating air and tank support that allowed his platoon — then under a barrage of gunfire — to be relieved. He retired from the Corps in 2008 and is currently a middleweight mixed martial arts fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

You can download the film for $2.99 or rent it for $1.99 direct from the film’s website.

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