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Questions & Answers « North Carolina's WWII ExperienceNorth Carolina's WWII Experience

Questions & Answers

NORTH CAROLINA’S WWII EXPERIENCE, a UNC-TV original production examines the myriad of roles North Carolina and its citizens played in the Second World War. Recently, the documentary’s filmmakers spoke about the production.

Brenda Hughes

Producer and Co-writer

On my connection to the era:
“The World War II generation is my parents’ generation so I felt a strong connection to the times and the people we interviewed who, in many cases, were just like the neighbors I grew up with. It is such an honor to be able to help tell their stories – there will never be another generation like this one and we owe them so much.”

On what I learned from the project:
“Being a native North Carolinian, it was so exciting to delve into the history of this state and realize how all encompassing the war effort was. People from every corner of the state rallied to do their part. For example, it made me so proud that the textile mill in my little hometown of Swannanoa made blankets for the Army and that ladies I knew had knitted hats and scarves for soldiers overseas.

I’m a strong believer that we must learn from history. So, having the opportunity to hear stories about World War II from people all across North Carolina deepened my appreciation for the price that has been paid for our freedom and the generation that paid it. I’m not sure we could do it today but if they hadn’t rallied to fight against the Nazi machine, there is no telling what the world would look like today. When you hear about the carnage on the beaches of Iwo Jima, about careening out of an airplane into the darkness over Normandy – bullets flying all around – and about a Burlington mother burying her only son, it really hits home that we have so very much to be thankful for.”

On our interviewees and what impressed me about them:
“These are down to earth North Carolinians—simple, hard working, not expecting anything in return, honest and sincere. That’s the way they told their stories. In this reality crazed star-driven world we live in, these are the true reality stars—people who lived through such tough times—the depression, the war—and survived with their spirits and resilience intact. The country and our world is so much better because of them and what they did in the name of freedom.”

Scott Davis

Director, Editor, Co-writer and Executive Producer

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World War II was fought abroad, but more servicemen stayed in North Carolina during the war than in any other state. North Carolina boasted the biggest Army camp in the country, one of the largest Coast Guard stations and the nation’s largest glider base. WUNC State of Things radio host Frank Stasio talks about the state’s role in the war with Scott Davis, director of the new UNC-TV documentary NORTH CAROLINA’S WWII EXPERIENCE.

Excerpts from that interview:

On what we learned during the making of this documentary:
“It’s been an amazing journey. It’s been a three year process…Many of the other public television stations that did these kinds of documentaries they focused on the veterans stories….the veterans went away to war and then they came home. It turned out in North Carolina, North Carolina itself played a major role in the execution of World War II…Fort Bragg, and many bases and camps across the state sprang up and we learned really that North Carolina played an essential role in the execution of World War II.”

On choosing veteran stories for the documentary:
We did a lot of research, we talked with a lot of people, we pre-interviewed many, many people, to try to find people who were articulate and who could share experience that could tie in with the story we were interested in telling. You know part of this was we tried to craft a story that would take us through the whole war, but take us through it from the North Carolina perspective. And so we tried to find individuals who could actually kind of lead us through this along the way and we were very fortunate in finding 25 people to talk with. Fifteen of them were veterans, 10 of them were homefront civilians, and we wove that into our two-hour documentary.”