When WWII broke out in Europe in 1939, Glenn Kappelman was a 16-year-old living in Lawrence, Kansas. His interest in the war was fed by news reports and information from pen pals who lived in Europe. Just four years later, with his camera hidden in his gas mask, Kappelman went to war. By the time Germany surrendered in May of 1945, Kappelman had accumulated over 400 photographs of his travels as an armored car gunner for the 106th Cavalry Group.
THROUGH MY SIGHTS: A Gunner's View of WWII is based on this collection of unofficial photos. This documentary covers a period of war history from February 1, 1943, when Kappelman was inducted into the army, through May of 1945 when the war ended. Cameras and film were rare among the troops and Kappelman had access to ammunition boxes hung on the armored car. He was able to stash his film in the ammunition boxes and he shot nearly 100 rolls during his tour of duty. Kappelman and his buddy Art Barkis, who served as radio operator in the same armored car, candidly narrate THROUGH MY SIGHTS. Their recollections, triggered by the events and scenes of life pictured in Kappelman's photos, capture a unique view of WWII - alternately humorous, sobering and compelling.
THROUGH MY SIGHTS follows the route of the 106th Cavalry Group through France, Germany, and Austria. As the group hunkered down in trenches along enemy lines, Kappelman snapped photos during one of Europe's coldest winters - December of 1944. Kappelman describes a picture of himself wearing 3 pairs of wool socks with boots, several pairs of long underwear, two pants and shirts, a field jacket, a wool sweater, an overcoat, a wool cap and two pairs of gloves on New Year's Eve 1944. It's images like these that draw the viewer into THROUGH MY SIGHTS: A Gunner's View of WWII. Images of the troops crossing the Rhine River into Germany, the white flag salutes from German civilians, the up-close views of downed enemy fighter planes, all add meaning to the journey through the sights of this gunner.
— ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Linda Haskins is an independent producer with over 25 years experience in documentary, public affairs, and educational programs. Her films and videos have received top awards in numerous national and international competitions and festivals. In 1987 she founded her own production company, Take Ten, Inc. Linda writes, directs and edits most of her productions. She has directed a diverse range of talent from children to celebrities. Documentaries exploring personal stories are among her credits such as Through My Sights, a program about World War II aired nationally on PBS; and Crawfish & Freys, a depiction of an intergenerational Cajun family in Louisiana. Her work also covers children s television including producer/director credits on the acclaimed PBS Reading Rainbow series, and documentaries for Kansas Public Television, Kansas Kids: Make It Matter, and Deadly Fumes. Most recently, Linda completed a documentary about a 98-year old Russian Mennonite immigrant s message of hope for children, Henry D. Remple: Finding Hope in Troubled Times; and a video drama on women s reproductive rights, Words of Choice. Her current production is a baseball history program for public television.
Through My Sights: A Gunner's View of WWII (1999)
Duration: 56 minutes
Directed by Linda Haskins
Produced by Take Ten, Inc.
"...an interesting, spontaneous glimpse into a soldier's life that likely would not have been captured by official Army photographers."
— Rod Bustos, Atlanta -- Library Journal, November 15, 2000
"Haskins directs with a real appreciation not only for the photographs but also for the huge personal adventure they represent."
— Robert W.Butler, Movie Editor -- The Kansas City Star, March 31, 2000
"Of very high quality, these pictures show the 'life of the dogface' in vivid detail...the selection is outstanding."
— The Cavalry Journal, March, 2000
"This video provides an unusual perspective on the Second World War, presenting it through some remarkable photographs taken by Glenn Kappelman of Lawrence, Kansas. Altogether, Kappelman took around 400 photographs, purposely avoiding scenes of death or dying. A couple of years ago, Kappelman and his old radio man, Art Barkis of Liberty, Texas, sat down near the US Cavalry Museum and talked their way through the war, using these photographs as the starting point of their stories. If you want blood and guts, please look elsewhere. If you want to get down to the level of the fighting men and roll across the battlefields and sacred places of the "Big War," you will enjoy this video. Art Barkis, who provides more of the comic element to the stories, passed away in Liberty, Texas on August 20, 2001."
— Kevin Ladd, Hardin, TX