Documentary film chronicles friendship of two Iraq war vets, helps families

  • Kevin Mincio, right, hugs Herb Williams, father of fallen soldier Jesse Williams, as Sonya Williams, Jesse's widow, watches following a screening of The Long Ride Home during the Santa Rosa International Film Festival on Sunday, September 16, 2012. The movie tells the story of former Army Sgt. Kevin Mincio's bicycle trip from Santa Rosa to Ground Zero marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks and in memory of his fallen comrade Sgt. Jesse Williams.

Kevin Mincio spent 95 days bicycling across America in honor of his Army buddy, Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams of Santa Rosa, who was killed in 2007 in the war in Iraq.

It took Mincio less than five minutes Sunday to rumble across Williams' hometown on the back of a Harley-Davidson to watch the California premiere of the documentary film about the two men.

"Obviously, this is a very special place," said Mincio, 41, of Mercer Island, Wash., after taking the short trip from the Veterans Memorial Monument at City Hall to the Glaser Center. "It's Jesse's home and where the ride started."

Mincio was among the two dozen people, including Williams' widow and father, who attended an afternoon showing of "The Long Ride Home," which chronicles his wartime friendship and his cross-country trek from Santa Rosa to Ground Zero in New York City.

Viewers laughed and cried in the darkened theater as Williams' friends recounted the cut-up they knew as "Soupbone" and listened to the chilling video recording he made in the event of his death.

Staring into the camera, Williams urges whoever is listening to help care for his then-infant daughter, Amaya, and to make sure she remembers him.

"I love you very much," Williams said on the video. "I'm sorry that I'm dead. Goodbye."

They were tough words to hear for Williams' father, Santa Rosa political consultant Herb Williams, who sat in front of the big screen with his daughter-in-law, Sonya.

"I have difficulty listening to my son talking," said the father, maintaining his composure. "I still miss him."

Mincio, a former Wall Street banker who joined the Army after witnessing the Sept. 11 attacks, met Williams in 2002 during basic infantry training.

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