Crew 713 tells the story of 11 men who flew 30 bombing missions over occupied Europe during the latter stages of WWII. But more than that, it is a story of discovery. Writer/Director Alejandro Mena’s father, Nemesio, served as the crew’s Radio Operator. A proud Mexican American with an unwavering faith, Nemesio served his country through three wars. WWII would be the first and the toughest. Through the course of his research, Alejandro would discover new and remarkable stories about his father’s early life. Growing up in the tough neighborhood of Segundo Barrio in El Paso, Texas or picking fruit with his siblings on the migrant farms of distant California. These early experiences would shape his world view for the rest of his 84 years.
The film also aims to restore the “original” 492nd Bomb Group to its rightful place in military history. The true story of the original 492nd was all but lost, due to its swift and unceremonious end, and the subsequent re-purposing of the Group’s designation to the far more lauded 492nd/801nd Carpetbaggers. Only the hard work of a few dedicated historians and former 492nd bomb group members has kept the memory of this hard-luck outfit alive. Crew 713 picks up the reigns from these founders to bring this original history back into the light, restoring honor to the men who served and died during those fateful 89 days at North Pickenham, Norfolk.
Utilizing a combination of animation, modern music, filmed re-enactments, graphics, archival footage and veteran accounts, Crew 713 is bringing a new and fresh vision of the history of this crew, their bomb group, and the European air war of WWII. With this film we are also trying to revive this dying, (but intensely important) history, and make it accessible to a new generation.
Crew 713, in many ways, is not your average documentary film, least of all in its use of animation as a storytelling tool. While animation as a medium is common in documentaries, Crew 713 is taking it to a very different level. Not employing photo real reconstructions, rather we are bringing an illustrative, graphic novel style and sensibility to the animation as we tell the pivotal moments in the crew and group's combat missions.
Using a mix of traditional illustration, 2D and 3D animation, Crew 713 will bring these moments to life in a unique fashion. All to breath new life into the subject in a way to grab the attention and interest of a new, younger audience raised on Xbox, Twitter and TikTok. Our goal is to present this important history in an entertaining and memorable way to inspire further interest.
There are two major re-enactment scenes in CREW 713. One is Nemesio Mena climbing the Holy Mountain in El Paso, TX after the crew returned stateside upon completion of their combat tour. He had made a promise to God that he would climb Mt. Cristo Rey 30 times for 30 missions, if his crew was spared. They were and he did.
The second re-enactment was shot in Dallas, TX with the cooperation of the Commemorative Air Force B29/B24 Squadron. This will be the 30th mission completed and the awarding of the Distinguished Flying Cross medals given to the men by their commanding general.
The El Paso shoot was completed in December of 2019. The 30th mission re-enactment was filmed in October of 2022.
The Mahoney Film:
One of the historians we interviewed was Brian Mahoney. His father was the late Lt. Colonel James Mahoney, who commanded the 859th Bombardment Squadron in the 492nd Bomb Group.
Lt. Colonel Mahoney smuggled a 16mm camera with him and shot footage of life at the base in North Pickenham and of the missions themselves. Spectacular, often breathtaking footage was shot on these flights.
The Mahoney family has kindly allowed us access to the use of the footage in our film.
The producers were able to interview 11 veterans for the film. Their testimony forms the framework around which the story revolves. We were also able to access an interview with Nemesio Mena, and several oral interviews with CREW 713 members Barney Edwards and Gildo Gregory. An oral interview with 467th BG crew chief, Joe Haenn also helps to move the story forward. In addition, we have secured interview footage filmed at the 2004 492nd Bomb Group Reunion in Salt Lake City. These interviews were conducted by the late Jim Lipscomb and permission has been granted for their use in Crew 713.