A 92-year-old New York man is giving back to the troops in the most creative of ways. Hyman Strachman bootlegs newly released movies and ships them to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Known as “Big Hy” to the soldiers, the NY Times reports that Strachman has been copying hundreds of thousands of DVDs from his Long Island apartment since 2004.
A war veteran himself, having fought in World War II, Strachman said he doesn’t accept payment for any of the movies he sends – which is estimated to have cost him roughly $30,000 since he began. He does it because he wants to connect the troops with the rest of the world, and they are extremely grateful.
The walls of his home are covered with American flags, pictures, and letters sent to him by the soldiers.
Jenna Gordon, a specialist in the Army Reserve, said, “It was pretty big stuff — it’s reconnecting you to everything you miss.”
And every time he receives a letter of thanks, he places a new movie disc into his $400 professional duplicator to prepare a new package.
“Every time I got back an emotional e-mail or letter, I sent them another box,” Strachman said.
In February alone, he said he sent 1,100 bootlegged films, labeling that as a “slow month.” At his peak times in 2007 and 2008, he estimated about 80,000 DVDs were sent and more than 300,000 since 2004.
Last month, he packaged up 84 disks — 12 titles, 7 of each, with films like “The Artist,” “Moneyball,” and “The King’s Speech.”
Despite the illegality of his actions, Strachman has never been approached by the police and he thinks it’s because he’s an “old-timer” and also made clear that he does not keep any of his bootlegged copies for himself.
Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America, said that the movie studio was not aware of Strachman’s actions, but “we are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to [the troops] while they are away from home.”
Strachman receives handwritten notes and thank-you cards from the troops after all of his packages. One was accompanied with an American flag with these kind words: “I can think of no one more deserving than you, and no one who understands what this flag stands for and means to our veterans.”