I grew up on “Call of Duty” and “Medal of Honor,” and after I beat the games I’d go outside and pretend to be those soldiers.
We were taught to respect the military in my household. My dad and older brother introduced me to HBO’s “Band of Brothers” when I was 13, and it’s still a common topic of conversation after all these years.
When I went to college, I studied theater and acting (much to my mother’s dismay). The degree I earned doesn’t do much by way of guaranteeing financial security, but I did learn how to tell a good story.
Of course, I also got to act in some good stories, and one of the best I encountered in my collegiate career was the tale of the Bedford Boys.
It was my good fortune to be cast in a lead role.
To research my role I read books, listened to interviews, visited memorials and talked to people of the town of Bedford, VA. In the process, I fell in love with the men from the 116th infantry regiment Company A of the United States 29th Division of the US Army.
The men of Company A weren’t saints. They were just small-town folks. Amongst their ranks were farmers, factory workers, grocers, husbands and fathers.
Most of those boys had never been beyond the borders of the county they were born in, and their limited life experience was reflected in the nature of their aspirations. Most aspired to marry their high school sweetheart, raise a family and provide for the people they loved.
None of them aspired to become iconic figures in a global war, but that’s exactly what happened.
The national D-Day memorial is located in Bedford, Va. because that small rural town lost more soldiers per capita in the Normandy invasion than any other town or city in America. And not only were the lives of those brave soldiers destroyed, but the community of Bedford had a generation of young men torn from the fabric of their tight-knit society.
As I spoke with family members of the men who died on D-Day, I heard in their stories and their voices the still poignant loss of men like Ray O. Stevens, Bedford Hoback, and Jack Powers. This group of country boys put their lives on hold to fight for their friends, families, and their country.
And in doing so, they made the world a freer and better place. But in doing so, they and their beloved home town made a staggering sacrifice.
In the four years that have transpired since I was privileged to play the part of a Bedford Boy and learn the details of this story, I’ve had a growing desire to honor them by telling their story to a wider audience. Along with my dear friend Joel, who also played the part of a Bedford Boy, I am co-writing and producing a short film about the Bedford Boys.
“The Boys of Bedford” will be shown to producers and investors for the purpose of getting the greenlight on a mini-series that will allow us to fully explore the incredible sacrifices made by these men and their community.
We are asking you to help us tell their story. In order to raise the funds needed to produce our short film, we have launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the project a reality.
Your donations will help cement the legacy of a courageous community and the valiant Boys of Bedford.
Josh Reed is from Danville, Va., the youngest of three. His parents are pastors at a local church, and he graduated from Liberty University in 2020 with a degree in theatre performance. He’s been working on the “Boys of Bedford” script with his friend Joel Hadden, another Liberty grad. Please follow him on Instagram and Twitter.