SAN DIEGO, September 27 -- When John Kormann’s children and grandchildren gathered in front of the TV to watch a video one recent evening, they thought of Kormann as "Dad" and "Gramps." Forty minutes later, their eyes brimming with tears, they clustered about the veteran, reverently calling him "Hero." The video, "A Veteran’s Story -- John Kormann" was a personalized documentary of Kormann’s World War II service in what was then the 17th Airborne Division.
Kormann’s account is one of many immortalized in "A Veteran’s Story," thousands of customized, individual documentary films narrated by veterans and produced by the San Diego-based Tullamore Corporation. Historian and author Stephen Ambrose and former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite have teamed up with Tullamore on the project that preserves forever veterans’ personal accounts of their experiences in World War Two, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.
The History Channel cable network will broadcast the personal documentaries every Sunday at 9 a.m. in a program called "The Veterans Project."
"We believe this is the first time broadcast-quality documentaries have been produced for the families of American veterans," said Tullamore President and CEO Michael Downs, an Air Force veteran and one of the company’s founders.
Each film contains a veteran’s personal account of his or her tour of duty. The company hires researchers to locate films of the veteran’s military unit in the National Archives Film and Photo collections in Washington, D.C. Film school graduates work side by side with Tullamore’s veterans to digitize the film clips and load them onto computers, where the final film is edited to the veteran’s narration along with personal photos, an introduction by Cronkite or Ambrose, and a symphonic score.
Tullamore is also the strategic partner of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, which will present "A Veteran’s Story" films several times an hour to its visitors. The museum will also be a permanent repository of the complete collection of all the World War Two films the company will produce. Historians, researchers, and students will have access to the documentaries.
Ambrose, founder of the D-Day Museum, will write and videotape introductions for "A Veteran’s Story" documentaries covering the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Persian Gulf War, and any future conflicts. The prolific historian and author is considered the world’s foremost authority on the D-Day Invasion, and has penned more than 20 widely acclaimed books. One of those historic accounts, "A Band of Brothers," was produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, and is currently airing as a mini-series on HBO.
"Walter Cronkite videotaped a moving introduction for the World War Two and Korean War documentaries," said Downs. "His tribute, along with Ambrose’s for the later wars, brings great dignity and a sense of historic importance to each veteran’s story. Every film is a living legacy for the families, and an important piece of America’s military history."
Families’ reactions to the personalized accounts have been positive. "This video has allowed me to see a part of my grandfather that I never knew before. I am so proud of his strength and courage," wrote one woman. "Dad never talked much about his World War II experiences with his six daughters," said another. "My fear was that he would eventually die without ever telling the story. Thank you for making that story live forever."
Tullamore has hired veterans to conduct the interviews and record other veterans’ war stories. "This is a key reason our system works so well," Downs explained. "A veteran of World War Two who may be reluctant to talk about his or her tour of duty knows he or she is talking with another veteran. There is an immediate bonding and understanding which takes place, and the words and memories flow more freely."
The production system developed by Tullamore to produce "A Veteran’s Story" lets the company make broadcast quality, affordable custom films for individual families. There is a patent application pending on the process, said Downs. The company plans to produce at least 5,000 of the personalized documentaries in the next year.
Tullamore employee Dennis McKee is a former Marine Corps aviator who also flew Marine One, the helicopter used to transport President Nixon while he was in the White House. "This is one of the most important things I have ever seen concerning American veterans," he said. "It leaves a powerful legacy that fulfills a family’s need to remember important events, and it preserves a unique and significant part of our nation’s history."
Each film runs about 40 minutes, and takes between six and eight weeks to produce. For the $595 purchase price, Tullamore will ship three VHS copies to the customer. DVD format is available at an extra cost. To place an order for a documentary or request information about the company, call toll free, 1-866-I SERVED.
SOURCE: The Tullamore Corporation via PRNewswire