World War II veterans share their memories

Barney Welton remembers his D-Day mission as co-pilot of a C-47 transport plane to drop paratroopers and gliders into Normandy, France for the June 6, 1944, invasion.

He remembers what happened later as allied forces penetrated Germany and his crew was called to pick up captured Nazi generals, shell-shocked soldiers and death camp survivors, who sometimes rode in the same plane.

Jack Leaming remembers flying in a dive-bomber with pilot Dale Hilton off the USS Enterprise on Dec. 7, 1941, to hunt for enemy boats south of Pearl Harbor. Two hours later Japanese pilots bombed the U.S. fleet in a sneak attack.

And he remembers the day, three months later, when their plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he was captured at sea and spent the next three years as a prisoner of war.

Those are only a few of the memories that Las Vegas World War II veterans shared with filmmaker Larry Cappetto in a documentary that will premeire 2 p.m. Monday in a free public showing at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road.

In all, Cappetto compiled more than 40 hours of interviews with as many World War II veterans, compressing their stories into a 70-minute film, "Lest They Be Forgotten — Las Vegas." The film is sponsored by Palm Mortuary and is the ninth in a series on veterans by Cappetto.

With World War II vets dying at a rate of about 1,500 a day, Cappetto wanted to capture their stories while he could. Two who appear in the documentary, Las Vegas D-Day paratrooper Dick Case and George Kostopoulos, died before the film’s release.

Cappetto said he chose Las Vegas for the documentary because there are a lot of veterans in Clark County. Combined with the metropolitan area, the cast "made a great fit," he said.

"This will be the largest group of veterans I’ve ever had at a film premiere," he said in a telephone interview this week from Grand Junction, Colo.

Later, he said he expects the film will air on PBS, Fox and Cox cable television although dates haven’t been announced.

Some copies of the documentary are available for the public at Palm Mortuary or they can be ordered from Cappetto’s Web site,

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at or 702-383-0308.

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