Beyond Valor, by Jon Erwin
AUGUST 22, 2020
Check out: BEYOND VALOR: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love, and a Race against Time, by Jon Erwin and William Doyle
NASHVILLE, TN (August 18, 2020) –
On April 12, 1945, as a fleet of eighty-five American B-29 bombers flew over the Japanese coast, disaster struck: a phosphorous bomb detonated inside the lead aircraft. Staff Sergeant Henry E. “Red” Erwin absorbed the blast of burning phosphorous and threw the still-flaming bomb overboard, then collapsed from the third-degree burns over much of his body. The plane, badly damaged, aborted its mission and raced against time to land at Iwo Jima in a desperate bid to save Erwin’s life. Amazed at his heroic actions, Erwin’s superiors approached the newly-sworn-in President Truman to award the Medal of Honor to Erwin before he died. Erwin, however, did miraculously survive his burns, and the recipient of the nation’s highest military honor would spend the rest of his life as a loving husband, dedicated to serving America’s veterans, and driven by his strong Christian faith.
This August 18, 2020, Red Erwin’s grandson, top-grossing film director and producer Jon Erwin (I Still Believe, I Can Only Imagine), along with New York Times bestselling co-writer William Doyle, will publish the dramatic biography of Red Erwin in BEYOND VALOR: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love, and a Race against Time (Nelson Books).
Supported by 15 years of research, which includes interviews with fellow crewmen, oral histories, Erwin family correspondence and press interviews, readers learn about Red Erwin’s exceptional life, from growing up as the son of a coal miner in Birmingham, Alabama, becoming the man of the house at age 10 when his father died, to joining the army reserve as an aviation cadet. His dream was to become a pilot, but he struggled with landings and instead accepted a reassignment as a radio operator, which led to the fateful journey.
At the same time, readers follow as Erwin meets Martha Elizabeth “Betty” Starnes at church, the woman who would become the love of his life – the woman who stayed by his side for fifty-seven years, through more than forty surgeries, through Erwin’s pain and despair, his reentry into civilian life and the start of his career at the Veterans Administration, where he dedicated himself to helping veterans for the next thirty-seven years. Readers discover that, despite his broken body, Erwin lived the rest of his life to the fullest. He thrived personally and professionally, raised four children, was patriotic and cherished representing the Medal of Honor, and he remained strong in his faith.
“Today my brother and I are partners in a thriving entertainment business, and we strive to be of service to others by telling stories that have the power to uplift and inspire people,” writes Erwin. “In our day-to-day work, the memory and lessons of Red Erwin inspire us with the ideals of endurance and perseverance, of pushing ourselves toward something that we believe is right and worth fighting for. The difference between success and failure can be when an individual chooses to quit. And I’ve found that the people who are successful are the people who can go above and beyond. I learned that from my grandfather.”
Beyond Valor is the miraculous true story of a soldier’s unspeakable heroism, a woman’s unfailing love, the faith that secured them all, as told through the lens of his loving grandson.
Jon Erwin is the grandson of Medal of Honor recipient Henry “Red” Erwin. Jon and his brother, Andrew, are film directors and producers whose four feature films have all opened in the top ten movies in America and collectively grossed more than $100 million at the US box office. They are also among only eight directors to receive the incredibly rare A+ Cinemascore twice, joining a list that includes Stephen Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis. Their 2018 film I Can Only Imagine shocked the entertainment industry to become the number-one independent movie of 2018 and is the highest grossing film in the history of its distributor, collecting more than $83 million in box office revenue on a production budget of just $7 million. Jon and Andrew seek to tell stories through a variety of platforms that appeal to the American heartland faith-and-values audience and showcase themes of hope, heroism, faith, and redemption.