CLERMONT, Fla. - A Central Florida teen has spent the past five years interviewing World War II Veterans, determined to preserve their stories for future generations.
Benjamin Mack-Jackson of Clermont recently completed his documentary, "Normandy Revisited," featuring over a dozen brave American soldiers who fought on D-Day.
“I hit the ground and actually laid there for almost 2 hours- right there on the edge of the water… the Germans shooting at us... because if you stood up, you got hit," Staff Sergeant Harley Reynolds said, recounting his experience on Omaha Beach.
On June 6, 1944 Reynolds made it through the barbed wire lining Omaha Beach.
An estimated 4,700 men were killed along that stretch of beach in Normandy, France.
“I did what I was supposed to do, and that was to lead those men off of that beach... and that’s what I did," Reynolds said.
Reynolds is one of the fourteen World War II veterans featured in "Normandy Revisited," a documentary created by Benjamin Mack-Jackson, 18.
“When I was in 5th grade, there were only two pages about WWII in my history textbook and I knew there had to be more and I went to the library… and I got books and documentaries and I just learned and learned from there," he said.
Mack-Jackson has interviewed more than 100 World War II Veterans, creating a non-profit, "The WWII Veterans History Project."
“It’s remarkable how much they remember," Mack-Jackson said. "The youngest veteran I interviewed was 92 and the oldest 105, and they remember nearly every detail from their wartime service, from down to the weather- to the combat conditions to their friends in the service."
Mack-Jackson's documentary follows one veteran back to Normandy, flies over the thousands of graves along the shoreline, even takes viewers inside a German bunker still there today.
“Now the mission has really become to share those experiences with more of my generation because I recognize the importance of learning history and respecting our Veterans, and I think it's critical for the survival of our nation to have a better understanding of our past," Mack-Jackson said.