Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan

Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan

$15 (*Film Block)

Documentary Short

58 Minutes

Brian Kallies Productions

HEROES ON DECK reveals the little known story of a bold and innovative response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Following that catastrophic event, the U.S. Navy was desperate for aircraft carrier qualified pilots. With enemy submarines patrolling both coasts, Commander Richard F. Whitehead, of the Ninth Naval District – Chicago, proposed a radical idea. Why not train pilots in the safety of Lake Michigan? Two Great Lakes passenger steamers were immediately converted into makeshift aircraft carriers, the USS Wolverine and USS Sable. Between 1942 and the end of the war, more than 15,000 aviators – including future President George H.W. Bush — were trained aboard these “freshwater flattops.” Crashes and “water landings” often led to serious injuries and occasionally deaths. As a result, more than one hundred fighters and dive-bombers sank to the bottom of the lake. To date, more than 40 aircraft have been brought to the surface. HEROES ON DECK captures some of the key recoveries and restoration efforts, and celebrates the stories of the brave pilots who survived this large-scale training operation. Narrated by legendary CBS and A&E newsman Bill Kurtis,HEROES ON DECK brings to life a vital chapter of World War II history.

John Davies – Director

John Davies (Executive Producer/Writer/Director) is a multi-Emmy® Award-winning writer/producer/director who has created series, specials and documentaries for almost every network and cable outlet, including NBC, ABC, FOX, MTV, AMC, TRU-TV, BRAVO, VH-1, A&E, LIFETIME, ESPN, & COMEDY CENTRAL. His SHOWTIME documentary Phunny Business, about Chicago’s first black-owned comedy club, was hailed as “one of the best documentaries of 2012” by film critic Roger Ebert. 

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