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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

Jon Erwin out with New Book

The Christian movie director profiles his grandfather's death-defying service in World War II.

Jon Erwin, left, together with his brother, and filmmaking partner, Andrew Erwin at a media event in 2019. Image: Kingdom Story Company/Instagram.

Best known as half of the Erwin Brothers filmmaking duo, Jon Erwin has temporarily turned his attention from movies to a literary endeavor, writing a book called Beyond Valor. The biography tells the amazing true story of his grandfather, Henry Eugene "Red" Erwin, and his heroics during a 1945 bombing run over Japan.

Red Erwin was a staff sergeant aboard a B-29 Superfortress at the end of WWII when a phosphorus smoke bomb went off inside the airplane. Grabbing the flaming munition, Erwin - himself aflame - ran to the front of the plane and threw it out the co-pilot's window, very likely preventing the follow-on detonations of eight tons of other bombs aboard the aircraft.

"Beyond Valor," the new book from Christian filmmaker Jon Erwin. Image: Thomas Nelson.

Badly burned and temporarily blinded, he would endure dozens of painful skin graft operations and hours of grueling physical therapy. Though scarred for life, he ultimately recovered and his courageous deed earned him the Medal of Honor. His personal story would have a profound impact decades later on his then young grandson, Jon.

In an interview with the Nashville Tennessean, the co-director of faith-based movies like I Can Only Imagine, Woodlawn and I Still Believe admits that for many years he ran from his grandfather's story because he "didn't want to be overshadowed by it." But that changed after Red Erwin died in 2002 and Jon found himself wanting to know more about the man and his life.

Years of research and interviews culminated in this biography, written together with author William Doyle, which is being put out by the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson. Actor Gary Sinise, who starred in the Erwin Brother's most recent movie, I Still Believe, calls the book "a thrilling and poignant story of patriotism," so it would seem Jon Erwin is a man of many talents.

Moviemaking, however, is his first love and he says he also plans to bring his grandfather's story to the silver screen. That, though, likely won't be for quite awhile, because he and his brother Andrew are already working on a movie about Hall-of-Fame Christian quarterback Kurt Warner and another one that focuses on the so-called Jesus Revolution.

If you'd like to learn more about Beyond Valor, we suggest you check out the article by the Tennessean: it's a good read. Or you can simply purchase the book, which is available in both hardcover and an electronic version.


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