Emmy-winning Quad Cities filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films will premiere their new documentary “An Infantryman from Hero Street” during Veterans Day weekend, Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Putnam Museum’s National Geographic Giant Screen in Davenport.
“An Infantryman from Hero Street,” the fourth episode in the “Hero Street” documentary series, tells the true story of Pvt. Joseph Sandoval, who was born in a boxcar to Mexican immigrants in the Silvis rail yard.
In 1944, Joe — married with two young sons — was drafted and shipped to Britain with the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment. His unit helped fight the second stage of the Normandy Invasion in France. In April 1945, the Allied forces reached an agreement regarding post-war Germany, and Joe and his fellow soldiers were told the war was essentially over, according to a Fourth Wall release.
Joe was killed just days later (at age 26) during a German counterattack near the Elbe River in Schönebeck, Germany. In the two weeks that followed, U.S. and Russian troops shook hands across the Elbe, and Adolf Hitler committed suicide.
Only a block and a half long, Second Street in Silvis (renamed Hero Street) lost six young men in World War II and two in the Korean War, more than any other street in America. Hero Street has provided over 150 service members since Mexican-American immigrants settled there in 1929.
“The Frank and Joseph Sandoval family have cooperated with our ‘Hero Street’ documentary film project since it began in 2012,” said producer Tammy Rundle. “Our only regret is that Georgia Sandoval Herrara, heroes Frank and Joe’s sister, passed away unexpectedly last year and wasn’t able to see the film that focuses on Joe. It is good to see her and hear her voice in the film, and all of us will be very mindful of her at the premiere.”
Herrera, who died Sept. 26, 2021 at the age of 89 at her home in East Moline, “is one of the unheralded heroines of Hero Street U.S.A.,” Marc Wilson (author of “Hero Street USA”) wrote last October for Hola America News.
Wilson noted she kept extensive records of her brothers: Frank, who was machine-gunned to death in Burma (in 1944 at age 23), and Joseph, who was killed in combat Germany – one of the last men killed in the European conflict in World War II. Joe died the same day President Franklin D. Roosevelt died.
Kelly Rundle, director of the Hero Street films, said that brothers Manny and Eric Juarez play Joe and Frank in the new film. Rundle said they are “both natural performers, and Manny’s portrayal of Joe included on-location action in full combat gear in wooded areas in Moline and near the Rock River.
“We worked with Eric, who played Frank Sandoval in ‘Letters Home to Hero Street.’ It seemed right to have the Juarez brothers portray brothers on-screen,” he said.
“Hero Street,” a multi-part documentary series by Moline-based Fourth Wall Films, explores the compelling true story of eight Mexican-American heroes from Hero Street — Tony Pompa, Frank Sandoval, William Sandoval, Claro Solis, Peter Masias, Joseph Sandoval, Joseph Gomez and John S. Muños.
“An Infantryman From Hero Street” stars Emmanuel Juarez as Joseph Sandoval, Eric Juarez reprising his role as Joe’s brother Frank, and actor Matt Walsh as Lt. Frank Houcek.
The film features commentary by First Army Support Command Historian Captain Kevin Braafladt, Rock Island Arsenal; Dr. Yurida Ramirez, University of Illinois-Urbana; author Marc Wilson (“Hero Street, USA”); author Carlos Harrison (“The Ghosts of Hero Street”); and members of the Sandoval family.
The “Hero Street” theme music was scored by Emmy-nominated composer William Campbell of Davenport. WQPT-PBS provided its broadcast studio for filming portions of the documentary. WQPT’s Lora Adams assisted with production, and Chris Ryder created special visual and sound effects.
WQPT previously partnered with Fourth Wall Films in 2015 to co-produce the Mid-America Emmy nominated “Letters Home to Hero Street.”
On Nov. 12, the Crooked Cactus Band (a mix of Latin and classic rock) will perform for premiere guests from 1 p.m. until 1:50 p.m. in the Putnam Lobby. The event will include a special tribute to veterans, an encore screening of the award-winning documentary “Riding the Rails to Hero Street” prior to the new film, and Q&A with film participants.
“An Infantryman from Hero Street” was funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly; and, through its fiscal sponsor the Black Box Theatre, a Quad City Arts Dollars grant provided by Illinois Arts Council Agency, Hubbell-Waterman Foundation and John Deere.
Early ticket reservations for the premiere event are strongly recommended. The Rundles’ 2019 “A Bridge too Far from Hero Street” film premiere sold out a week prior to the event. Tickets ($9 adults, $8 for youth, seniors and military) can be purchased online HERE.