Local Film Remembers WWII Heroes

John Ross of Georgetown, who passed away last weekend, is one of the local heroes featured.

When former Georgetown resident John Ross woke up on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, he enjoyed a short stack of pancakes and a hot cup of coffee before casually making his way to the deck of the U.S.S. Selfridge with some buddies.

They were discussing their plans for the day and enjoying a warm Sunday morning in Hawaii when it happened – the world, as he knew it, would never be the same again.

Bombs suddenly came raining down on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor by the hundreds – America was under attack by the Empire of Japan, an official entry into World War II quickly followed.

It was, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said during an address to the nation the next day, a “date that will live in infamy.”

Ross passed away on Saturday, Oct. 9, but his recollections of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor will be forever remembered through a special documentary being produced by award-winning writer James Diehl and Milford’s Watermark Productions.

“Vanishing Voices of World War II; Southern Delaware’s Humble Heroes” will feature 25 of the 100 veterans included in Diehl’s two books, “World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware,” released last year, and “World War II Heroes of Coastal Delaware,” scheduled for a May, 2011, release.

The film will premiere on Nov. 11 in the theater of Delaware Technical & Community College’s Georgetown campus.

“As a 1991 graduate of Delaware Tech, I’m very excited to show the film for the very first time at the college,” says Diehl, a native of Seaford. “This should be a very special day for our veterans, as we honor them with this important film.”

While many of the recollections in the documentary can be read about in Diehl’s book project, the film will allow viewers to put faces to the names, to see the very real emotions etched on the faces of those involved in history’s grandest war.

Told from the perspective of men, and one woman, who served during that time period and today call Sussex County home, this film will allow their voices to be heard forever. Their stories are emotional, they’re real, and they’re very candid. From Pearl Harbor, to Iwo Jima, D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, among many other parts of the war, they are told with passion and an enormous amount of pride.

“More than anything, what comes through in these video accounts is the pride these men and women have in their country,” says Diehl. “They gave so much, and really asked for nothing in return. If I can help preserve their stories, even in a small way, then it is my distinct honor and privilege to do so.”

A two-and-a-half minute video trailer of the documentary can be viewed by visiting Diehl’s website, www.ww2-heroes.com. The site also features brief bios of the first 50 World War II veterans, several of whom have already passed on, as well as much more information about southern Delaware’s humble heroes of World War II.

United States Senator Tom Carper is the narrator for the film. Himself a veteran of the conflict in Vietnam, the senator is the son of Richard Carper, who served in the United States Navy during World War II. Sen. Carper’s uncle, Bobby Patton, was killed at the age of 19 when a Japanese kamikaze pilot crashed into the U.S.S. Suwannee, an aircraft carrier in the Pacific.

“I am honored that James asked me to narrate this film,” said Sen. Carper. “As the son, cousin and nephew of brave men who fought in World War II, helping tell the story of Delawareans who were there is a humbling responsibility. Their stories speak for themselves; I will simply provide context so their stories may be understood and shared by all of us who are so indebted to them for their service.”

More information about Diehl’s ongoing project honoring Sussex County’s World War II veterans can be obtained by visiting www.ww2-heroes.com.