Aired Monday March 8th, 2010 at 7:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
They offered up their lives, many enduring unspeakable horrors. Utah veterans share their compelling and very personal memories in "Untold Stories" - the fifth and final episode of KUED's award-winning series, Utah World War II Stories.
The documentary airs Monday, March 8, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 21, at 7:00 p.m.
After KUED's original broadcast of the four-part series, dozens of Utah veterans and their families contacted the producers to share their own very personal experiences. So compelling were the stories that KUED created this extended new episode to share them with viewers and document them for future generations.
"The response to our first four documentaries - - The Struggle, Europe, The Pacific and The Home Front -- was tremendous, not only with near record-breaking fund-raising drives, but with letters, e-mails and phone calls," says Producer Elizabeth Searles. "The floodgates opened. From those personal responses we learned of many dozens of other fascinating, untold stories of heroism and bravery."
Men and women we now know as our neighbors, grandfathers, fathers, mothers, public servants and common laborers once fought on soil in far off lands with names now near-mythic to the American identity: Iwo Jima, Omaha Beach, Bastogne, Midway, Kasserine and Anzio. The danger, fear, and relief of survival they experienced come vividly to life in "Untold Stories."
The film reunites the production team of producer Elizabeth Searles, associate producer, Sally Shaum, host Rick Randle and historical consultant Geoffrey Panos. The two-and-a-half-hour documentary includes the stories of a ground-zero survivor of Hiroshima, a volunteer Navy Frogman originally rejected as physically unfit for military service, a WASP (Woman Airforce Service Pilot) who helped train American ground troops, bombers who flew into battle knowing they had only a 50 percent chance of surviving, a radio operator called in as a replacement with very little training Battle of the Huertgen Forest, a young Germany boy pulled into the Hitler Youth, and combat photographers who photographed concentration camps after they were opened. Their first-hand accounts are combined with archival film and photos in three to 18-minute segments.
One of the film's most powerful stories is told by Jack Tueller, a P-47 pilot sent on a mission to take out German tanks after the Normandy invasion. When he saw that the Germans had created human shields by tying French women and children to the tanks, he turned back. His commander ordered him to return and take out the tanks anyway. The experience was so devastating that Tueller did the only thing he could to release his stress- he took out his trumpet, went out into the field and began to play. Other soldiers warned him to stop playing so the sniper wouldn't shoot, but Tueller kept playing.
The next day, Tueller was told that the German captives on the Normandy beach were asking about the trumpeter who had played "Lili Marlene" - a much-loved German song. Tueller drove to the beach, where he met the young German sniper who told him, "when you played 'Lili Marlene,' that was the song my wife and I were married to, and I just couldn't shoot."
"From flaming ships in the Atlantic to plummeting bombers over Germany; from island jungles to the razor-rocked Himalayas, they fought with unrivaled courage," writes historical consultant Geoffrey Panos. "We must never forget the men and women who held the line and never wavered. As Americans, their heroic deeds tell us who we are as a nation and what we must always live up to."
See the web site at www.kued.org/productions/worldwar2
Utah World War II Stories: Untold Stories is made possible in part by the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation and the C. Comstock Clayton Foundation.
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