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thedrifter
11-30-07, 08:52 AM
Filmmaker lets veterans speak for themselves
By Jason Gibbs Sun-News reporter
Article Launched: 11/30/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

To watch Larry Cappetto's recent interview on the CBS Evening News, click this site.

LAS CRUCES - He's been called brother by U.S. Marines, although he never served in combat.

If you ask him why, he'll shrug and, like someone more comfortable behind a camera than in front, he'll step aside.

That's one of Larry Cappetto's apparent strengths - getting out of the picture and letting someone's story pour out.

Thursday night, the military documentarian from Colorado hosted a screening of one of his seven films recording the stories of those who served in wars abroad.

"I don't want a lot of narration to clutter up the story," Cappetto told a room full of veterans at Getz Funeral Home. "I just want it to come directly from the veterans, and it does."

It does indeed. Cappetto steps behind his camera and hardened veterans - men and women - begin to pour out memories. During the screening of "Return to Iwo Jima," two Las Crucens were featured.

Eva Jane Bolents, who served as a Navy nurse in Pearl Harbor, Guam, Philadelphia and the Great Lakes, was in the crowd to see her screen debut - memories of her service captured by Cappetto during one of his previous trips to Las Cruces.

"It was wonderful," Bolents said of her interview experience. "We took to each other like ducks to water."

Bolents was joined in the audience by dozens of veterans, from World War II to those currently serving. Also among the audience was Frank Clark, a WWII Marine veteran who was included in the Iwo Jima documentary.

"I think it's nice," Clark said. "But I don't know why they'd have me in it. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary."

Cappetto disagrees. In the last five years, he has interviewed some 500 veterans for seven documentaries, with more in the works. All the stories, he said, are equally important. Important, too, is the urgent need to get the stories recorded before those who lived through the struggles for freedom pass away. Currently, some 1,500 WWII veterans are being lost every day.

One of those stories, to be recorded today, is that of Rex Carpenter, a Navy man with a long record of service.

"I'm a veteran of three wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam," Carpenter said as he and his wife of 54 years, Patience Carpenter, prepared to watch the video. "I guess I just didn't know when to quit."

Bolents encouraged him to share his stories during Cappetto's last visit, but the timing wasn't good.

"I've slowed down since then," he said. "It just seemed like this was the time to do it."

Cappetto, who began the award-winning project as a personal way to honor the service and sacrifice of all military veterans, said each story is unique, but they all have common threads.

"There's two common themes, two things I hear in these interviews," he said. "War is hell and freedom is not free."


Jason Gibbs can be reached at jgibbs@lcsun-news.com


War stories

- Larry Cappetto will be in Las Cruces to record oral histories today and Saturday from select military veterans.

- Veterans selected by Cappetto will have stories videotaped for possible use in future documentary films.

- Veterans who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq can call Cappetto at (970) 254-9262 to schedule interview appointments.

Ellie