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Memorial Auditorium to show Hacksaw Ridge this weekend

WORTHINGTON -- It was 30 years ago that Don Hensel of Heron Lake read Booten Herndon's book, "Unlikeliest Hero", the true story of Private Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who served as a medic in World War II, and returned home a war hero ...

WORTHINGTON - It was 30 years ago that Don Hensel of Heron Lake read Booten Herndon’s book, “Unlikeliest Hero”, the true story of Private Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who served as a medic in World War II, and returned home a war hero for his efforts to save nearly 100 men stranded atop Hacksaw Ridge during the battle of Okinawa.

Last November, Doss’ story reached the big screen in “Hacksaw Ridge,” a Mel Gibson-directed movie that earned two Oscars, as well as the Screen Actors Guild Awards’ outstanding action performance by a stunt ensemble in a motion picture.

Hensel and his wife, Kathy, were so impressed by the film that they made it their mission to bring it to theaters in southwest Minnesota. The movie is being shown at Worthington’s Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The first 100 people to attend the movie this weekend will receive a free copy of “Hero of Hacksaw Ridge,” an abridged version of Herndon’s original 1982 release of “Unlikeliest Hero,” as a gift from the Hensels. One book will be given per family, but once they are gone, Hensel will have more copies available for the cost of a monetary donation. Thus far, he’s given away dozens of copies of the book.

“We were so impressed by that film that we just thought we had to do something about this,” Hensel said. “We said we’ve got to order 100 books and share them with people.”
Doss, a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, was raised a Seventh Day Adventist with a strong belief in the Ten Commandments, especially, “Thou shalt not kill.” When he enlisted as a conscientious objector in World War II, it angered not only his superiors but his fellow soldiers because he refused to carry a weapon.

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Doss served in Leyte, Guam and Okinawa as a member of the 77th Infantry Division, and it was during the battle of Okinawa that he performed his greatest heroics. During the course of 12 hours, Doss used a specially-tied rope he’d learned to make as a child to lower between 50 and 100 of his fellow soldiers down the 40-foot cliff known as Hacksaw Ridge. Many of the men had already been injured in the Japanese attack, and some did not survive after they were lowered to safety.

“Some of the ones he saved were the very ones who tried to kick him out of the service,” noted Hensel.

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented Doss with the Medal of Honor. He is the only conscientious objector to have ever received the medal.

The movie is nearly 2 hours, 20 minutes in length. Doors to the Memorial Auditorium PAC open one-half hour before showtime.
“The young people today have no memory of World War II,” Hensel said. “They don’t know the sacrifices our forebears went through.”

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