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Burger begins work on new Bemidji documentary

Professional videographer Gary Burger, right, films a historical reenactment of two World War II soldiers returning home in caskets at the old Great Northern Depot, home of the Beltrami County History Center), on Tuesday morning. Helping with the historical documentary from the 1946-1963 era are actors, from left, Danielle McCallister, Wanda Hoyum and Skilah Hurd. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The success of the documentary "Bemidji Between the Wars," inspired by old film footage discovered by Bud Woodard, has prompted a sequel.

Gary Burger started filming Tuesday for the second chapter -- Bemidji from 1946 to Nov. 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Burger said the project is a collaboration between himself and the Beltrami County Historical Society. The scene he shot Tuesday is set in 1946.

"We're doing a re-enactment of returning dead sailors from the Pacific during World War II, right at the end of the war," he said.

Wanda Hoyum played the part of the mother of one of the sailors, Danielle McCallister played his widow and 8-year-old Skilah Hurd played his little sister.

Burger said he didn't know the name of one of the sailors in the pair of caskets unloaded at the Great Northern Depot, but one contained the remains of his father, Earl Richard Burger.

"He was on an LST (Landing Ship, Tank), and there was a bombing, and he was knocked off a ladder," Burger said. "He hit his head and died the next day. I was 2 years old. I didn't know him, but I met him."

The documentary will be developed as a combination of footage from home movies and Woodard's footage, still shots -- some of which have never been seen before -- and re-enactments. The timeline for completion of the production is not set yet.