Benjamyn O’Connor didn’t believe that he would be awarded a payment-free home through the Homes4WoundedHeroes program. He didn’t even initially sign up for it; his late wife was the one who submitted his name and information. When he received the key to that home, he thought it was one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences, and chalked it up to being lucky. Then he got another call from Military Warriors Support Foundation.
O’Connor, a Purple Heart recipient and former Marine Corps Corporal, entered an online contest through MWSF social media. The Bennett’s War Red Carpet giveaway gave entrants the opportunity to attend the movie in Los Angeles. It meant a chance to fly to California, walk the red carpet like a star, watch the world-premiere of the movie, and attend the private after-party. When he found out that he had won, he was ecstatic.
“I was absolutely surprised, I couldn’t believe I won a trip out to Cali,” said O’Connor. “I’ve never been here and it’s a beautiful place, so the opportunity to come out here, meet the people and have a good time is phenomenal.”
After arriving in Los Angeles, O’Connor had plenty of time to enjoy some of the local sites before heading to the Warner Brothers Studio lot for the premiere of the movie Bennett’s War. It’s a movie about a U.S. Army soldier, played by actor Michael Rourke, who is injured and returns home to face the daily struggles associated with that. One of the key themes of the film is learning to overcome that combat injury and succeed after coming back from combat. O’Connor is all too familiar with this as he sustained multiple shrapnel wounds from an improvised explosive device while serving as a turret gunner on patrol in Iraq. Through it all though, he remains positive about his experience.
“I joined because of 9/11, and it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, to tell the truth,” said O’Connor. “I got to travel all over the world. I got to see Okinawa, Thailand, South Korea, Iraq, and trained all across the United States.”
So for this movie to bring O’Connor somewhere he had never been before was truly a special occasion in his eyes. While on the Warner Brothers Studios lot, he rubbed shoulders with some of the hard-working men and women from Forrest Films, the production company behind Bennett’s War, and even got a shout out in the opening remarks before the film premiere.
“This movie speaks to the warriors out there, the veterans that go overseas and risk their lives to protect this country,” said Scott Kennedy, the President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for Forrest Films. “I know that Benjamyn O’Connor really touched my heart when I got here.”
After it was all said and done, O’Connor said he enjoyed the entire experience and was looking forward to spreading the word about the movie and his trip in general.
“I had an amazing time, everyone was so friendly and they took care of me from beginning to end,” said O’Connor. “The movie was great, I would recommend all of my friends go see it. It was a good mixture of dirt biking and the military.”
True to form as a former Marine, he mentioned one of the best parts of the trip was all of the amazing food. Then he had a few words of thanks for everyone involved before driving to the airport to head home to Rhode Island.
“I just wanted to thank Military Warriors Support Foundation for everything they’ve done for me up until this date,” said O’Connor. “I wanted to thank everyone at Forrest Films for putting this all together for me and the other contest winners, and all of the actors for making such a spectacular movie.”
Sending O’Connor on this trip was only possible thanks to the contest held by Forrest Films, who asked Military Warriors Support Foundation to help get the word out about a movie that tackles issues that relate to the combat-wounded community. Bennett’s War will be released in theaters on August 30th. For more information about Military Warriors Support Foundation or our programs, visit our website today!