Bruce Sundlun featured in WWII documentary
Most of us have seen the dramatic footage from World War II, but former Rhode Island governor Bruce Sundlun lived it.
Like many World War II veterans he said we weren't heroes. We had a job to do.
Sundlun died three years ago at the age of 91 but he left behind his amazing stories from the war. In interviews done before his death and through stories he's told to family members and friends over the years, he's stories were amazing.
"When you hear stories like this they seem so unbelievable," said Kara Sundlun House, Bruce's daughter.
But through a new documentary, "Above and Beyond", narrated by Sundlun's daughter, it becomes quite clear, his amazing stories were, indeed, true.
It started when his B-17 plane was shot down over Nazi-occupied Belgium.
"So I gave the order to bail out," he said.
"Being the pilot of the plane, he was going to go down with the plane. He jumped out and his parachute caught at tree top height. He literally hit the ground and he hid himself," Kara Sundlun House said.
Sundlun hid his parachute under a pile of manure. Kara spent some time in the very field where her dad stood back in 1943.
"It really brought the stories home for me and it was really emotional when I was standing in the field," she said.
And Kara got to meet the men, boys at the time, who helped hide her dad.
Over the next six months, Sundlun managed to evade the Germans, stealing more than 150 bicycles along the way to get around.
"Every time he'd go to a new town and the license plates changed on the bicycle. He'd wait for the women to go, park their bicycles, get their bread and steal another bicycle and go to another town. So he says in the movie that he became one of the greatest bicycle thieves ever," Kara Sundlun House said.
Along the way, Sundlun took refuge in Catholic churches, even though he was Jewish, and fought alongside the French resistance.
"So he's fighting with the resistance and Alan Dulles finds him and hears about this crazy life that he's lived and recruits him to be part of the OSS which was the precursor to the CIA," Kara Sundlun House said.
Codename Salamander, "because a salamander is an animal that can walk on fire."
Six months after being reported missing, "his mother got the news on Mother's Day that he had lived."
The hour-long documentary was produced by the World War II Foundation, headed by filmmaker and NBC 10 alum Tim Gray. Jim Karpeichik, was the photographer and it is narrated by Kara Sundlun House.
The documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Providence Performing Arts Center. It's open to the public and free. The movie will eventually air on PBS.