Alum Recounts Bond Between American and Japanese Hiroshima Survivors

October 3, 2014


Any advertiser — or fan of “Mad Men” — will tell you that it’s the story that sells the product.

And Barry Frechette ’92 knows how to tell a good story.

An Emmy Award-winning advertising producer, Frechette said he “started on the road to advertising” while he was a senior at Stonehill.

That was the year the Mass Communications major interned at Ingalls, Quinn & Johnson, “which, at that time, was one of the larger independent advertising agencies in New England,” said Frechette, now Director of Integrated Production at Connelly Partners, an advertising agency in Boston.

Passion For Storytelling
“Stonehill helped me find my passion for storytelling. My communications classes, along with the film studies classes, helped spark that fire to ask questions and figure out ways to create and share stories with others,” Frechette said.

Over the years, Frechette has produced TV ads, radio spots and content for Web site and digital platforms for a variety of companies, including McDonald's, Titleist, Four Seasons Hotels, Samsonite, TJ Maxx and CVS among others.

In 2006, he earned a Public & Community Service Emmy Award for work on thetruth.com, an interactive Web site that educates teens in an entertaining way about the dangers of smoking.

But the Billerica resident has never made a full-length documentary — until now.

In 2012, Frechette read a newspaper article about Normand Brissette, a WWII air man from Lowell, Mass.

Surviving Hiroshima
Normand BrissetteIn July of 1945, Brissette was shot down while flying a bombing mission over Japan. He was captured and held as a Prisoner of War. The Japanese moved Brissette and 11 other U.S. POWs to the closest city, which was Hiroshima.

On Aug. 6, the POWs were 1,500 meters away from the Atomic bomb’s ground zero. Miraculously, Brissette survived the blast. 

“I read that story and was amazed — not only that it actually happened, but that very few people knew about it,” said Frechette, who grew up a quarter mile from Lowell and had never heard of Brissette.

Frechette knew there was a story there — but he didn’t know how big until he starting digging.Normand Brissette

“After some research online, I was shocked to see that very little was written about these (POWs). The one real connection was actually from a Japanese man,” he said.

Shigeaki Mori, of Japan, was 8 years old when the Atomic bomb was dropped on his hometown. Now 77, Mori has spent his life trying to get the 12 U.S. POWs recognized by the Japanese government as fellow victims of the bombing.

Normand Brissette“He petitioned the mayor of Hiroshima to have all 12 names on the register in the Peace Museum there. He sends the (American POWs’) families Christmas cards each year,” Frechette said.

“This man in Japan knew more about Normand than most of his hometown of Lowell. I felt compelled to tell their story.”

So in 2013, Frechette met with Brissette’s family in Lowell. He flew to Japan to interview Mori in February 2014.

Frechette hopes to film and edit the project next year, with a tentative debut by the end of 2015.

Fore more information about all aspects on Frechette's documentary, visit here www.paperlanternfilm.com

 by Lauren Daley '05