Cambria teen Kyle Plummer is helping shine light on a long-forgotten story — the Korean War.
Plummer, 16, will head to Washington, D.C., next week to present his short documentary, “Korea Remembered,” at the GI Film Festival.
The five-minute movie was one of five winners of the “Heroes Remembered: Voices of Korean War Veterans” filmmaking contest, which challenged high school students to capture the experiences of American Korean War veterans on video.
Also selected were movies by Meagan Arnold of Stephens City, Va.; Dakotah Thrall of Milwaukie, Ore.; Aaron Long of Findlay, Ohio; and Jan Domingo of Santa Rita, Guam.
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Before entering the contest, held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense’s 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, Plummer said he didn’t know much about the war waged between North Korea, South Korea and their allies between 1950 and 1953.
Although his history textbook dedicated two or three chapters to World War II, the writers “only had one paragraph dedicated to the Korean War,” he recalled, confirming that conflict’s reputation as “The Forgotten War.”
Through the American Legion Post No. 432 in Cambria, Plummer reached out to veterans and their families to share their stories. He interviewed 12 veterans on camera, including retired members of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as Shirley Vega and Delphine Vega Paulsen, the widow and daughter of deceased PFC Delphino Vega.
“I really see how much the Korean War has been overlooked and how it has affected the soldiers coming back,” Plummer said. “When these guys came back from the Korean War, they got nothing. It was really sad.”
“I’m glad that now they’ll be able to be recognized and have their stories told,” he added.
Plummer edited the footage he shot into three short films featuring music by Cambria composer Jeff Mar.
According to Plummer, the toughest creative challenge he faced was finding a narrative thread.
Unlike his previous film projects, “there was no script. I had to figure it out on my own,” he said. “It’s like a Rubik’s Cube. There’s an infinite amount of ways you could solve the puzzle of putting it together.”
Plummer and his younger brother, Carlos, have crafted several short films in recent years, including three narrative shorts: 2009’s "Indiana Jones and the Crystals of Eternity," 2010’s “The Magic Hat” and 2012’s “The Second Mission.”
The Plummer brothers won "Best Local Film" in the Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase at the 2010 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival and a first-place jury prize at the 2010 Chicago International Children's Film Festival.
Plummer, who currently attends California Virtual Academies, an Internet-aided charter school, said he’s eager to rack up more filmmaking experiences. “What (I’m) doing right now is really beneficial,” he said.