NEW: Film Chronicles Late Gov. Sundlun’s WWII Story
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Sundlun, who died last July at the age of 91, has “a story of perseverance and courage worth preserving for future generations of Rhode Islanders,” according to Tim Gray, Emmy Award-winning producer and Chairman of the WWII Foundation. "It is an incredible story of survival, especially when you take into account that Sundlun was Jewish and had to make his way through occupied Europe. If he was captured there was a very good chance he would have been shot or sent to a concentration camp."
In World War II, Bruce Sundlun’s plane, a B-17 bomber named the “Damn Yankee,” was shot down over Nazi-occupied Belgium in December of 1943. For Sundlun, the plane’s pilot, it was his 13th mission over Europe. After six months time cooperating with the French Resistance under the code name “Salamander,” he made several attempts to enter neutral Spain. He decided there was too much danger of capture or loss in the snowy Pyrenees, so he made his way on stolen bicycles across France and escaped into Switzerland in May of 1944.
Before escaping into Switzerland, Sundlun was engaged with the Maquis--the French underground--in acts of sabotage against the German Army. Later, he was recruited by Allen Dulles working out of the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland to reenter France under the auspices of the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner to the CIA) to act as a bombardment spotter for the Allied invasion of Marseilles in August 1944. Later in the war, Sundlun would also fly missions over the Himalayan mountains and in the Pacific theater of war. The documentary film titled “Above and Beyond,” will chronicle Sundlun’s thrilling tale and include a never before seen and candid interview with Sundland conducted by the WWII Foundation in 2006.
The WWII Foundation
"The mission of our WWII Foundation is to preserve stories like this so that future generations understand leadership, initiative and what lengths that generation went to to preserve the freedoms we have today. We have chronicled many stories of WWII veterans throughout the world and this story in particular just has it all," Gray said.
The Foundation's films air nationally on PBS affiliates around the country. It has already produced five documentary films to date and is currently in post-production on its sixth and seventh film projects.
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