Saving Veteran Voices
Filmperia November 9, 2023
I’m Luke Basso, an 18-year-old high school student in North Carolina, and I run a YouTube channel called Filmperia. On my channel I focus on interviewing veterans and historical witnesses of modern military history, with a particular emphasis on World War II and Korean War veterans. My goal is to preserve their stories and experiences through a combination of in-person and online interviews, as well as occasional mini-documentaries featuring original footage.
My interest in military and political history, especially World War II, started when I was about 9 years old. I grew up hearing stories from my British grandparents who survived the Blitz and V1/V2 rocket attacks. When I was 14 and living in upstate New York, I met World War II veteran Antonio ‘Tony’ Gagliardi, who served at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the U.S. Navy. This friendship sparked my passion for meeting veterans. In December 2020, I met another World War II veteran, Doug Brown, who served in the 9th Air Force. His family recorded our conversation and that inspired me to create the YouTube channel Filmperia. In the following months, I bought camera equipment and started interviewing veterans.
The most popular mini documentary on Filmperia features World War II veteran John Neggia. It covers his experiences from the beginning of his service to the end of the war. He was only 15 when Pearl Harbor was bombed and attempted to enlist in the U.S. Navy when he turned 17. However, he was disqualified due to being color-blind and was subsequently drafted into the Army. In January 1945, John was deployed to France as part of the 76th Infantry Division under General Patton’s 3rd Army. His journey as an infantryman involved heavy fighting as his unit advanced into Germany. John witnessed the horrors of war, from mortar attacks to tending to wounded soldiers. He recalls, “I cannot forget this. Every night, seventy-something years later, I still think of it.” He also recalls seeing his Sergeant wounded as he made his way to the front lines. Despite John’s insistence on staying with him until the medics arrived, the Sergeant ordered him to join the others. John later learned that he did not survive. He spent over eight months in Europe and was honorably discharged on May 22, 1946.
Another interview conducted for Filmperia was with Joe DeMarco. On June 6, 1944, shortly after turning 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After completing his training, he was assigned to the USS LST-800, where he assisted in transferring ammunition in the Pacific. During his service, Joe stayed at the hospital and witnessed the harsh realities of war. He vividly remembers a 16-year-old who had lied his way into the service and was dying from phosphorus exposure. Later, during the Battle of Iwo Jima, he played a role in unloading supplies for the Marines on the island. A few months later, when Japan surrendered, the ship’s crew were ordered to dispose of all their ammunition in the sea before heading back to the United States. Joe spent two years in the Navy and was honorably discharged on June 6, 1946.
Preserving the voices of our veterans is vital in our society to make sure that their stories are not forgotten. The Filmperia channel will continue to release new interviews weekly. If you, or someone you know, is a veteran interested in being interviewed, please contact me at LukeB.Filmperia@gmail.com