Eighty-six-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor Clifton Dohrmann described it as "a portrayal of the true American spirit."
D-Day co-pilot Barney Welton, 89, liked hearing how soldiers on the beaches survived the Normandy invasion.
And ex-POW Jack Leaming was impressed with the various experiences filmmaker Larry Cappetto captured from the memories of those who served on different fronts in World War II.
"There was a common thread to it," Leaming said after today’s premier showing of Cappetto’s 70-minute documentary on Las Vegas World War II veterans, "Lest They Be Forgotten."
The film, which is expected to air later this year or next year on local cable and public television stations, featured interviews and photographs from 40 World War II veterans from the Las Vegas Valley. Sponsored by Palm Mortuary, it was a tribute to those in the Great Generation who are dying at a rate of 1,500 a day.
"This is to educate our younger generations," Cappetto said before the premier showing. "It’s a very patriotic message that freedom is not free."
Leaming, 88, who was flying a dive-bomber with pilot Dale Hilton when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, said he could smell the smoke from the USS Arizona before he saw the devastation to the Navy’s battleships.
He, too, knows first-hand how precious freedom is. Their plane was shot down three months after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack. He scrambled to get their rubber raft afloat only to be captured a short time later and spend the next three years in a prisoner-of-war camp.
"I think it was excellent," he said about Cappetto’s film.
Dohrmann described how he watched Japanese warplanes strafe 33 Catalina flying boats that were lined up wing-to-wing like sitting ducks just over the hill from Pearl Harbor.
"We were wiped out in the first few minutes," he said after the showing. "I wish that more of the younger generation would see it. This is a portrayal of the true American spirit."
The film covered many major events in the war, from D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge, Iwo Jima, concentration camps and the Pearl Harbor attack. The stories were told through the eyes of the men and women who experienced them and their aftermaths.
Ned Phillips, vice president of community relations for Palm Mortuary, said he thought Cappetto "did a wonderful job of feeling the emotion, the patriotism and the cause. I thought it was fabulous."
Others in the cast were equally impressed.
"It made me cry," said 84-year-old Larry Bauer, who was in the 1st Infantry Division and in the first wave of soldiers to hit the Normandy beaches on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
"In 15 minutes I lost 43 comrades who I had served with for two years," said Bauer, who was 18 at the time.
Cappetto said he was stunned by the turnout at the Clark County Library theater on East Flamingo Road.
"These guys are stars," he said, describing the cast as his "role models."
"Not one said they were a hero," Cappetto noted. "The real heroes never came home."
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at email@example.com or 702-383-0308.