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What is the Combat Aircrews' Preservation Society, or CAPS?
How is the B-17 documentary coming along?

Why will it cost so much to produce this series?
Why will it cost so much for post production?
What kind of programming does CAPS offer?
Are there any more projects in the works other than the 13 Episode Series?
Are my donations to CAPS tax deductible?
Is CAPS a 501(c)3 Non-profit entity as recognized by the IRS?

Q: What is the Combat Aircrews' Preservation Society, or CAPS?

A: In the “A” concourse at Midway Airport in Chicago, there is a memorial to the sailors and airmen who fought in the Battle of Midway in WWII. One of the quotes engraved on this memorial is from PFC Edgar R. Fox, USMC, Ret., whose words remind us of the importance of preserving our rich military history. PFC Fox wrote:

“For all the guys that never returned, for the men that gave that last effort and could not
get back to be as fortunate as I, I will tell the kids about what you did and why.”

No other words could better sum up the mission of Combat Aircrews' Preservation Society (CAPS). Our mission is to preserve the oral first person histories of those who served our Country in all wars by professionally recording these stories on broadcast-quality video tape. Many thousands of valiant men and women died preserving our freedoms. We at believe it is important to keep the memories of these heroes alive, through the first person accounts of those who were fortunate enough to survive those same wars. Let’s tell our future generations what sacrifices and efforts it took to keep our freedom alive. Hopefully this education will move them to respect and honor those things our veterans fought, bled and died for, for generations to come.

Since 1995, CAPS founder and president Jon Cermin has been professionally videotaping first person stories from WWII Army Air Corps personnel; primarily those associated with the B-17 Flying Fortress. It was the original intent of CAPS to produce a thirteen-part documentary on the B-17, from its inception prior to WWII, all the way through its many roles in aerial combat, to its many post war roles.

While this project is still in the works, other projects have since taken priority in the time line as interviews continue to be taped of airmen from a wide variety of aircraft.
We foresee interviewing aircrews as an ongoing and almost daily process. A number of B-24 crewmembers have already been interviewed in anticipation on producing a B-24 documentary.

The purpose of this Society is to preserve history through education. Today’s children are growing up in an age of microchips, memory sticks, and real time information access. While it was considered cutting edge at the time, aircrews from the early 20th century operated with primitive equipment by today’s standards. There were no pressurized cabins, ground radar, electronic targeting systems, GPS navigation, and so forth. These combatants relied only on their skills, talent, instincts and fellow airmen to complete their military objectives.

These first person stories will inspire future generations with tales of dedication and service to the profession of air combat in an environment void of modern technology. This cause isn’t meant to glorify war, but rather to honor those who worked, fought and died in the unforgiving environment of the stratosphere.

Q. How is the B-17 documentary coming along?

B-17A. The B-17 documentary is still in the works, albeit at a slow pace. CAPS president Jon Cermin continues to interview B-17 crewmembers for the 13 part documentary series, “In Their Own Words: The B-17 Flying Fortress”. He is searching for Luftwaffe pilots and flak gunners to complete the interview process. While there are enough interviews “in the can” to complete this project (with the exception of the Germans), we are in dire need of funding to complete this project. A one hour pilot episode on B-17 Aeromedical Factors (Episode VII) has been completed, but it will take approximately $780,000 to complete this entire 13 part series.

Q: Why will it cost so much to produce this series?

A: Typical programs for the History Channel, Travel Channel, Lifetime, etc. start in price at about $2,000 per finished minute. The “In Their Own Words” series will cost about half of that price, mainly because Jon has been working on this project since 1995 at his own expense and in his spare time. Much of the production work has already been done. The expensive part now is the post-production work (editing, graphics, music, etc.)

Q: Why will it cost so much for post production?

A: Post production is expensive because CAPS has to outsource nearly all of this work. While CCPI owns and has donated all of the production equipment to date (cameras, lighting equipment and microphones) and most labor needed to shoot the interviews, CAPS has to rely on outside vendors for a majority of the post production elements. These include editing, custom music, 3-D graphics, errors and omissions insurance, archives combat footage and duplication to name just a few of these expenses. And while we can amortize most of these expenses over the entire thirteen episode series, it still comes to about $78,000 per episode. At this time, we have planed for each episode to be one hour in length, so this is still way under the $ 2,000 per finished minute quoted earlier. In fact, we have so much material, we may even stretch each episode to two hours.

Q: What kind of programming does CAPS offer?

A: At the recent board meeting it was decided that CAPS should focus more on education at the intermediate and high school levels. It seems that today’s schools’ History classes are focusing more on pop-culture rather than real history.

While CAPS covers a small niche of our war history (that of aerial combat), it is felt that there are others who are adequately covering other niches from WWII, i.e. Tom Hanks and his documentation of foot soldiers, and Steven Spielberg and his documentation of Holocaust survivors. Our niche is a very important part of the overall story of combat and world history.

All CAPS programming will include a brief lesson plan for History teachers. Several board members are currently working on locating History class programming opportunities. If you, our readers, have any ideas or contacts for this endeavor to provide History lesson modules on aerial combat from WWII, please contact Jon at the address on the back page.

Q: Are there any more projects in the works other than the 13 Episode Series?

A: Jon is currently editing some of the interview tapes into one-hour radio shows (note that a one hour show is actually only 44 to 54 minutes long when you take into account commercials, station breaks, and promos). The reason for this move is that 1) it can be done rather inexpensively (around $ 3,564 per show), and 2) there is at least one local AM talk radio station that is interested in airing the shows, and 3) if the shows are popular, we can start selling commercial time and/or show sponsorships, which will provide much needed revenue to the CAPS entity. See accompanying article “Air Combat Journal” Radio Show.

If the shows really take off in popularity, they could then be edited into “biography” style videos that we could potentially air on cable or broadcast TV. This would only occur if we were able to operate this financially the black, as editing video is much more expensive than editing just audio, i.e. a radio show.

Q: Are my donations to CAPS tax deductible?

A: Yes, your donations to CAPS are fully deductible to the full extent of the IRS tax code. CAPS is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. Kirk: Link to IRS Letter.

Q: Is CAPS a 501(c)3 Non-profit entity as recognized by the IRS?

A: CAPS operates as a 501©3 non-profit corporation. Our corporate charter is from Texas, and our home office is located in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. CAPS derives a substantial amount of it’s operating capital from charitable donations and memberships.

These donations are deductible to the full extent of the law. CAPS can now also take gifts of real estate or stocks. Please contact us for more information on charitable gift giving.

Also, if you know of an organization or charitable entity that supports historical preservation/education projects, please contact us!

Our IRS approval letter can be viewed by clicking ::HERE.

The Combat Aircrews’ Preservation Society is dedicated to recording
and preserving the first person stories of military aircrews for the purpose of distribution to the educational and broadcast media markets.

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