On Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m, The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center will screen The Last Full Measure for an audience of veterans, free of charge, ahead of its wide release.

Written and directed by Todd Robinson, the film recounts the true story of William Pitsenbarger, a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman, who continually faced danger throughout more than 250 combat missions in Vietnam. During a rescue mission on April 11, 1966, he was offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone, heavily under fire, but he stayed behind to save and defend the lives of his fellow soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, and he was killed. 

Thirty-two years later, Pitsenbarger’s father seeks the help of a Pentagon investigator and other surviving veterans of Operation Abilene to procure the Medal of Honor to honor Pitsenbarger posthumously. 

The film stars Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Alison Sudol, Diane Ladd, Amy Madigan, John Savage, and Bradley Whitford. 

For writer/director Todd Robinson, whose family has been deeply rooted in Westhampton since the 1600s, making this film has been a labor of love for twenty years.

Originally hired to adapt a book by Jack Brehm for the big screen, he traveled to many air bases to conduct the research (including the 106th at Gabreski). As he spoke with the airmen on these bases, it became clear that Pitsenbarger was their patron saint.

A chance encounter with Pitsenbarger’s father, who was a speaker at a Kirtland Air Force Base’s graduation proved to be transformative for Robinson: “He was speaking about the loss of never seeing his son fall in love or have a child of his own – that William would never know first-hand the love he had for his son. Then it became personal for me, and I saw the movie in my mind.”

Mr. Robinson knew he didn’t want to make a movie about battles, but rather, a meditation on how our veterans are not the only ones carrying the burden of war.

The screening of this powerful film is free for all veterans, and tickets can be reserved by emailing Allison at allisonf@whbpac.org or calling the box office at 631.288.1500. 

The film will be in wide release on Jan. 17, 2020.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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