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My Father's Brothers


The filmmaker interviewed his father and seven survivors of a horrific battle in the jungles of Vietnam. Following ill-conceived orders, one of the company's platoons is blindsided by Vietcong forces. Separated from the other platoons and far from rescue, they suffer an intense battle that would forever shape each of their lives.


Jack Kelley volunteered for Vietnam. As an army captain, he routinely led his company of 140 men on patrols in the jungles near Biên Hòa. Ill-conceived orders came down from higher command: On June 29, 1966, Capt. Kelley was to spread his platoons 1,000 meters apart in order to cover more area while looking for Vietcong forces.

During the patrol, the 3rd platoon stumbled upon an embedded Vietcong main force battalion. Outnumbered by nearly 10 to 1, the platoon was blindsided by a fierce attack. The triple-canopy jungle was dense and the terrain muddy, making rescue all but impossible.

Sgt. Charlie Morris, who took over the platoon once its leader was wounded and incapacitated, would ultimately earn the Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty.

The battle wasn’t well-known like Khe Sanh or the Tet Offensive. It was a firefight on a Wednesday morning in Vietnam that gained limited coverage in U.S. newspapers. But despite its relative obscurity, it was an important part of American history that could have easily been forgotten. For this group of survivors, it was a pivotal event that fundamentally shaped the rest of their lives.

After Vietnam, the survivors went their separate ways. They slowly reunited over the years, finding ways to deal with PTSD and reconcile with the past.

The film is a journey to understand what the filmmaker's father and seven survivors went through in 1966, and what they continue to go through today. Some volunteered for the army as teenagers. Others were drafted. Some went back to Vietnam years later with the hope of finding closure and peace.

  • Shawn Kelley
  • John Disher
    When We Last Spoke (post-production), Purple Dreams, Martin Hill: Camera Man, In the Footsteps of Elie Wiesel
  • Cristina "Trinity" Velez-Justo
    Grace in Training, Dear Veronica
  • Ross Wissbaum
    Audio Mixer
    Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Little Red Wagon
  • Jason Hausman
    Sound Designer
    Overdraft, In Good Faith
  • Joanne Hock
    Creative Advisor
    Just Grace, When We Last Spoke, Purple Dreams, Ice Cold Killers, Happily Never After, Trinity Goodheart
  • Shawn Kelley
  • Shawn Kelley
  • Patrick McLean
  • Jack Kelley
    Key Cast
  • Mike Thibault
    Key Cast
  • Terry Davis
    Key Cast
  • Bill Palmer
    Key Cast
  • Bob Lucas
    Key Cast
  • Bill Vose
    Key Cast
  • Mike Sturges
    Key Cast
  • Carl Fishburne
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 13 minutes 19 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 30, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 1080, Panasonic
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Beaufort International Film Festival
    United States
    February 18, 2020
    South Carolina
    Best Documentary (juried), Audience Choice
Director Biography - Shawn Kelley

After almost 30 years of telling stories for brands, Shawn Kelley realized it was time to start telling stories from his heart. Inspired by his father’s narratives from Vietnam, he began the journey into filmmaking. The documentary, My Father’s Brothers, is his first film, which has earned four Best Documentary Awards, three Audience Choice Awards, and is the official selection designation from eight film festivals.

Shawn is also the Executive Creative Director for HMH Agency, a branding and advertising firm. His agency work has earned awards and accolades that include National Addy Awards, Best of Show AAF Regional Awards, Telly Awards and numerous regional and local Addy Awards.

Shawn earned a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Visual Art from University of North Carolina Charlotte and a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Carolina.

While proud of his creative accomplishments, Shawn is most proud of his three children – Jessie, Dillon and Liam. Married to Aine Walsh Kelley, an Irish dancing school teacher/owner, Shawn lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and youngest son.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My Father’s Brothers is a journey to understand what my father and the men he served with went through during the Vietnam War.

The idea for the film started with a long car ride. My 82-year old dad rarely talks about his time in Vietnam. Since I had a few hours with him alone in the car, I decided to ask a lot of questions. And I found out there was a lot about my dad’s past I didn’t know. So I began interviewing him and survivors of a 1966 battle in Vietnam.

Originally the film’s main purpose was to highlight one day of American history that might easily have been forgotten. But it expanded to illustrate what these men continue to deal with, fifty years after their time in combat. The story is told by eight men, some who were just teenagers when they went off to war. I strove to share their humor and sadness, as well as their determination and heroism, to give a glimmer of what they endured during the war and still endure today.