Miami, FL - On April 14, 2015 at 9pm, WPBT2 will air A Wing and a Prayer, an hour-long documentary that tells the virtually unknown story of World War II aviators who raced against the clock in 1948 to prevent a second Holocaust. An encore presentation airs on April 19, 2015 at 4:30pm.
A Wing and a Prayer, narrated by William Baldwin (Hawaii-Five-O, Backdraft), features firsthand accounts of daring escapes and heart-pounding action from operation leader Al Schwimmer, retired South Florida pilot Shelly Eichel and other members of the group, including chief pilot Sam Lewis and Christian radio operator Eddie Styrak. Exclusive interviews provide rich detail on Schwimmer and the men who helped reshape history, yet have been forgotten by the history books.
University of Florida College of Journalism Dean Emeritus Ralph Lowenstein, who has archived the American participation in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and was an Israeli Defense Forces infantry volunteer, served as the film’s historical consultant. WPBT2, in partnership with Boston-based American Public Television (APT), is releasing the film on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Nearly 100 PBS stations around the country, including most of the Top 20 markets, plan to air A Wing and a Prayer, which was written, directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Boaz Dvir (Jessie’s Dad, Discovering Gloria).
Styrak, Eichel, Lewis and the rest of Schwimmer’s recruits thought they were done fighting after WWII, which ended in 1945. Yet Schwimmer convinced them to risk their lives and U.S. citizenships to give the newborn Jewish state a fighting chance in the 1948 Arab-Israel War, the stage for which was set six months earlier when the United Nations voted to partition British-controlled Palestine. The Jews accepted the deal. The Arabs had good reasons to reject it: Although the British had promised them all of the land, the UN offered only half, an insult considering Arabs made up two- thirds of Palestine’s population.
Vowing to “push the Jews into the sea,” the Arab League anticipated weak opposition, since Israel had a sparsely armed military, wingless air force and no allies. Even the United States joined the worldwide embargo that threatened to strangle Israel as soon as it took its first breath. In fact, America went as far as barring its citizens from helping the Jewish state.
The morning after Israel declared independence, five Western-equipped armies invaded. The Jews’ return to their ancient land appeared short-lived. Only a miracle or an ingenious plan could have saved them.
What followed was a little bit of both. Schwimmer’s plan would call for eluding the FBI, outsmarting the U.S. State Department, the creation of factitious airlines, and the smuggling in surplus Nazi weapons from behind the Iron Curtain.
South Florida’s premier public broadcaster, WPBT2,is a community-licensed, not-for-profit media enterprise serving communities from the Treasure Coast to the Florida Keys. WPBT2 provides high quality content from PBS, independent acquisitions and its own original productions. WPBT2’s digital media platform, offers: 2HD, a 24-hour high definition channel; Digital 2.2, Create, a cooking, arts & crafts, gardening, home improvement, and travel channel; World, a nonfiction documentary, science and news channel; Digital 2.3, V-me, a 24-hour national Spanish-language network and www.wpbt2.org, the WPBT2 website including the WPBT2 Video Player.