Documentary about WWII prisoners of war to be screened, with guest stars, in Las Cruces

From the Las Cruces Sun-News and El Paso Times - By S. Derrickson Moore - LAS CRUCES >> Two Emmy Award winners — filmmaker Jan Thompson and actress Loretta Swit (of "M*A*S*H" fame) — will be in Las Cruces this week to present screenings of Thompson's documentary "Never The Same: The Prisoner of War Experience" at the Rio Grande Theatre.
     The film is narrated by Swit and features the voices of Alec Baldwin, Ed Asner, Jamie Farr, Mike Farrell, Robert Loggia, Kathleen Turner, Robert Wagner, Christopher Franciosa, Christopher Murray and Sam Waterston.
     Thompson was inspired by the experiences, journals and artifacts of U.S. servicemen held as POWs by the Japanese during World War II. She said she worked to convey their use of "ingenuity, creativity and humor to survive one of the most notorious times in history."
      It's particularly appropriate to show the film at the same time as an annual event that honors soldiers who were involved in the Bataan Death March, said Thompson, whose late father, Robert Thompson, was a prisoner of war after his capture on Corregidor.
      "The film tells a story we all should know," said Jerry Schurtz of Las Cruces, whose father and uncle, Deming natives, were both on the Bataan Death March. His father, Paul W. Schurtz, died. His uncle, Gerald B. Freeman, survived and became a surrogate father to Jerry and his siblings.
     "It's a really outstanding documentary, based on the experiences of Jan's dad and other guys who were prisoners of war and slave laborers in Japan, and it also talks about their travel in what they called the Hell Ships, two of which were sunk en route to Japan," said Jerry Schurtz, who thinks the film is especially significant "for those of us who are POW kids. Almost everybody knows something about Bataan, but they don't know about the other 3½ years when these men were starving and brutalized at the whims of the Japanese. They don't realize a lot of these men watched the Nagasaki (atomic) bomb from a distance in unmarked hospital ships and prison ships."
     Swit, Thompson and Schurtz all expressed concerns that the returning World War II POWs have never really had a chance to come to terms with their experiences. More


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