Raleigh, N.C. — Separated by nearly 70 years, World War II veteran Victor Spence and aspiring filmmaker Cliff Bumgardner share an uncommon bond.
On Friday evening at The Revolution, that bond came to life on the big screen with the premiere of "Vic Spence: A Documentary of Life and War," a 24-minute film that profiles Spence's life, time fighting on Iwo Jima and nearly 40-year career serving the law enforcement community in Wake County.
Bumgardner, 19, said he decided to make Spence's story his first production after learning more about his inspiring past.
"It was such an amazing story, I thought I really had to get it down on video," he said. "This isn't my documentary, this is Vic's documentary."
Spence, who attended Broughton High School before joining the military, said Friday he was "pleased that somebody wanted to know" about his life and the six weeks he spent fighting to help secure the tiny Japanese island.
Aside from chronicling Spence's military service, which earned him a Purple Heart, Bumgardner told the story of the 87-year-olds service to the Wake County Sheriff's Office and Raleigh Police Department, a career that spanned four decades.
Years ago, Spence trained Bumgardner's father, Wayne, as a sheriff's deputy.
"I'm blown away that the room is full," Wayne Bumgardner said of the crowd that assembled Friday. "But I expected that knowing who we're here to honor tonight."
Cliff Bumgardner said following the screening that he hoped the short film will help Spence's story last for generations.
"It's getting to the point where, unfortunately, it's not going to be too long until these guys aren't around anymore," he said.
Spence, who says he was almost a part of the iconic photo of six Marines raising an American flag at Iwo Jima, said he appreciated the turnout at Friday's screening.
"It means a lot to me," he said.
Bumgardner said he plans to post the video in its entirety on his website within the next week.