CASPER — For Bill Bustard, it's about honoring the dead and taking care of the survivors.
So it makes perfect sense to the third-generation funeral home director that he is the sole sponsor of Tuesday's "Lest They Be Forgotten — Omaha Beach D-Day Volume Two," documentary film at Highland Park Community Church at 6:30 p.m. The film is free, and Bustard hopes, as for last year's showing of the first film in the series, the church is packed.
"I feel like these veterans have done such a great job — who knows where we'd be without D-Day?" Bustard said last week.
Both last year and this year, the films have shown in Casper on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day.
Bustard said he works with "so many of the guys" who served our country, specifically in World War II, honoring deceased veterans by scheduling appearances from the Natrona County United Veterans Council at either the funeral or grave site or both.
"I think they've been forgotten. I think we need to thank them now, before there aren't any left to thank," Bustard said.
Bustard said he is "really proud of the project," and he intends to continue showing documentary filmmaker Larry Cappetto's movies on D-Day in Casper as long as there are films to show.
Cappetto wants to be sure folks understand that although today's film is centered about Omaha Beach, it is the second part of the inaugural movie, not a repeat.
"It's a new film," he said.
Cappetto will attend Casper's showing, as he did last year, and brings with him 83-year-old Normandy veteran Lewis Johnson of Denver, who is in both the first and second movies.
The Bustard family has served Casper in the funeral business for 70 years. Bill's father, Tom, who died in 1999 at age 61, was a U.S. Army veteran.
Cappetto foots the financing for the films himself, and the resident of Grand Junction, Colo., said it has not been an inexpensive project.
"It's really my thank-you to veterans," Cappetto said. "These films have become a platform for communities to come out and support our servicemen, both those on active duty right now and the veterans."
Cappetto will remain in Casper on Wednesday and Thursday this week to interview veterans for upcoming films.
He is specifically looking for air mobile division (helicopter) veterans from Vietnam, Chosin Reservoir veterans from Korea, those who were on Normandy on D-Day, Iwo Jima nurses and Bataan Death March survivors from World War II.
"Please help me convey the urgency of talking to these people while there is still time," Cappetto said. About two dozen veterans who appear in his films have died since he began the project, he said.
Cappetto said Bustard has "a big heart and is a wonderful man. He spends a lot of money to bring these films to Casper."
Cappetto has conducted 250 interviews in the last 3½ years, and said the grass-roots production is what makes the films so dramatic.
"It's the veterans telling their stories. There is no editorial comment," Cappetto said. "There isn't a lot of fancy stuff. It's just them, sometimes telling me things they've never talked about before."