Filmmaker Visits Oklahoma To Keep Legacy of Famous World War II Hero Alive

Sunday, June 22nd 2014, 7:09 pm
By: News 9

A New York City filmmaker visiting Oklahoma is planning to retrace the footsteps of a famous World War II hero, but her journey to the sands of Iwo Jima isn't just any other trip.

Her name may not ring a bell to some people, but to others, Diane Hawkins is the niece of Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone.

Hawkins was in Tulsa to share her uncle's story. She wants to keep his legacy alive and to remember the men who fought with him, while there's still time.

It all started with the award winning six minute short film. The documentary, "Going Back, Basilone" tells the story of her uncle as told through the eyes and ears of the brave men who knew him. But the story is far from over.

"Everybody was totally impressed with what he had done and as a very young child, you don't understand where or what's going on," said Hawkins. "It was so interesting to walk around and people say, oh, you're the niece of John Basilone and it happens until today."

Hawkins never got a chance to meet her famous Uncle John.

Basilone enlisted in the Marines in 1940 and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.

He returned home, got married, and sold war bonds, but decided to return to war. He died in battle in the sands of Iwo Jima.

"I had the opportunity to film the veterans who were going back after 65 years to a place where they fought at battle," said Hawkins. "It was such an emotional experience."

Hawkins said she's working on another documentary at the moment. It's a continuation of the first, but this time following every second of her journey as she traces the footsteps of her war hero uncle.

She still has yet to visit Australia, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Cuba.

"It's a legacy of my Uncle John, but it's also a memorial and memory to these men, the World War II veterans," said Hawkins.

Hawkins has plans to release the follow up documentary "Legacy of a Hero" by March of next year in time for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Click here for more information on the Sgt. John Basilone Foundation.

Click here for Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone Facebook page.