Brewster Native Helped Craft D-Day Documentary: Jack Sherman Edited ‘Unknown Heroes’

by Alan Pollock

BREWSTER – On the night before D-Day, a mysterious force of commandos landed in occupied France and quickly began to sow mayhem behind the German lines, paving the way for the historic Allied invasion of Normandy — and creating the force that would ultimately become the Green Berets.

The story of Operation Jedburgh is not widely known, but that’s something that Brewster native Jack Sherman is helping to change. Now an editor and sound designer in Hollywood, Sherman recently edited a half-hour documentary called “Unknown Heroes — Behind Enemy Lines at D-Day.” It will be aired locally on June 2, just before the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Before joining the project, Sherman admits he didn’t know about Operation Jedburgh, which apparently received its code name from a town in Scotland where many of its members trained.

“They did sabotage and hit-and-run, and they would disrupt radio communication lines or telephone lines,” he said. Often working in three-man teams of French, English and American paratroopers, the Jedburghs were highly effective despite their small numbers because they partnered with the French Resistance. Damaging enemy infrastructure proved key to the success of the Normandy invasion.

“It disrupted the Germans from getting to Normandy from two days to up to two weeks in certain areas,” Sherman said.

The documentary will air locally on Sunday, June 2 at 3 p.m. on WSBK-TV 38, which is available on Comcast channel 814.

“It’s kind of a history lesson, but we bring it to the present day,” he said. The American paratroopers who served in Jedburgh teams became the nucleus of a new fighting force: the U.S. Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets. That’s where the documentary “Unknown Heroes” began.

Telco Productions, the company that Sherman works for, produces a large number of programs that are sent to more than 100 stations; one of the shows is called “Hiring America,” which tells stories of veteran-owned businesses. Through that program, Telco Founder Alex Paen connected with Fran Racioppi, a former Green Beret from Weston, Mass., who hosts the Jedburgh Podcast for the Green Beret Foundation. They decided to create a short documentary to tell the story around the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“That was the impetus of the show,” Sherman said.

It’s one of many videos that Sherman has helped assemble in his accomplished career, which began when he was a student in the Nauset High School Class of 1984.

“I loved photography and video and was part of the video club there,” he said. “I was also in a band. I was playing music, so I was always kind of creative.” He earned his degree in television production from Fitchburg State College and moved to Cambridge, where he worked at a production company that generated all kinds of shows, from C-SPAN videos to tapes of college commencement exercises. He was assigned to cover former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s 1995 speech at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“I was the only camera guy they let in,” Sherman recalled. “He was carrying a gun,” he said with a chuckle. He also once found himself on stage with Bono, taping a college commencement speech. “That was another brush with fame,” Sherman said.

When Sherman’s studio closed in 2003, he and his wife had to choose between living in New York or Los Angeles, the two hubs of video production. Because of the good weather and year-round video shoots, he chose to go west to Hollywood, “with no real connection” there, he said. They’ve lived there happily for more than two decades now.

For Sherman, the culmination of so many hours editing “Unknown Heroes” will come when it airs early next month.

“The reward, for me is when the viewers get to see it,” he said. Sherman also has a personal connection to the program: his cousin, Jon, is a Green Beret who was familiar with the story of the Jedburghs and who is looking forward to seeing the documentary.

“So for me, it comes full circle,” Sherman said.