A new documentary just released tells the story of a man with deep local roots, fighting a war far from his home in Covington.
"World War II on an LST" is a one-hour documentary film that uses interviews, diaries, military records, letters and photos to let the audience experience firsthand just what the war was like for those on USS LST 491. The experience is told through Marion Adams, who served as a radioman on the ship during World War II.
Producer Diana Spitler of Bradford, Technical Advisor and Host Tim Roberts of Greenville and Researcher Ann Adams of Piqua have been working on the documentary since October 2005 when Spitler go the inspiration to put history to film.
"I remembered my uncle had fought in World War II. I asked him about it and saw all the things he had. I wanted to make a movie rather than just publish his log books because I want it to be educational and entertaining and informative. I thought if an eighth-grader went to the library and saw all these books about World War II, they will remember it better and it will impact them more if they see it on film." Spitler said.
Although the documentary took a lot of work and effort, the task was made easier due to the impeccable records Adams kept while fighting.
"It helped that he kept a log book and wrote everything down the day it happened. We did a two=hour long interview with him and then compared what he said to the log books and everything was incredibly consistent," Spitler said.
Everyone who worked on the film is in some way related to Adams. Ann Adams is his daughter, Robertson his grandson and Spitler his niece. Through the long days and nights at the camera and editing machines, they have seen a nice change in the family.
"For this family it has brought out the patriotism needed to keep memories alive," Robertson said.
Adams was one of a few to serve a tour of duty in the European Theater of Operations as well as the Pacific Theater of Operations, totalling more than 100,000 miles traveled. In fact, of the 1,051 LSTs , or landing ship tanks, built, only 37 served in both operations. Adams kept one log book while on the European tour and one on the Pacific tour. He also kept addresses from the president and other important military papers.
Now in his 80s, because of the close records he kept, Adams can recall every moment from when he enlisted on May 8, 1942, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, to the day he was discharged, Feb. 2, 1946, with vivid detail.
At 17, Adams knew that the Army soon would draft him, so wanting a dry bed at night and a warm meal when it was time to eat, he chose to join the Navy. However, due to his young age, a permission slip had to be signed by his father before he could enlist.
"My brother Dale was one of the survivors on the WASP. He had just returned with both hands badly burned, so Dad refused to sign my paper," Adams said.
Just nine days later, he got his notice from the Army and went directly to his father.
"I told him, 'They are going to make me go in the Army if you don't sign this.' So he signed it and said 'I feel like I just signed your death warrant," Adams said.
His brothers, Dale and Melvin Adams, both fought in World War II as well. Throughout the movie, viewers hear Adams wonder about his brothers and farm life back home in Covington.
"I bet by this time of year the wheat is in the ground. I sure wish I was there to help," he said in a letter to his parents.
Audiences also see the many close encounters Adams witnessed and hear about those picked up by his LST.
"We pulled survivors and corpses that hadn't been so lucky onto the LST," he said.
In the movie, Adams says that one of the greatest fears a World War II veteran has is that the younger people will forget and that the truth about the war won't be learned by all Americans. The crew hopes this documentary helps to make sure that doesn't happen.
"We dedicate this to the veterans because it's your sacrifice that lets us do this, and we truly thank you," Spitler said.
In fact, all of the crew members said they made this film to honor veterans, and at Saturday's release party at the VFW Post 6557 in Pleasant Hill, many showed up to receive their honor.
Jerry Coate of Pleasant Hill, is a veteran of the Korean War. He was happy to see the effort the family put in to pay their respects.
"It was a lot of time and energy. It means a lot that they did it," he said.
The documentary will air at 10 a.m. today on Access Piqua Channel 10 as well as several other times each day this week. It also will air at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Memorial Day, May 28 on Troy Access Channel 9.
DVD copies of "World War II on an LST" are available at Wild Willy's Farm and Pet Drive Thru, 4700 W. State Route 36 in Piqua.