Seventy-five years after an Italian-American trona miner from Rock Springs was taken prisoner during World War II, his grandson, Rock Springs-based filmmaker Mark Pedri, retraced his steps across Europe. Pedri chronicles the experience in the new documentary “Dear Sirs.”

Sgt. Silvio J. Pedri during WWII. (Courtesy/U.S. Army/Silvio Pedri personal collection)

After Sgt. Silvio J. Pedri of the 95th Infantry Division returned home, he kept the experience of being a prisoner of war to himself. He never shared those details with his grandson while raising him in southwestern Wyoming.

A photograph of Mark Pedri, sitting with his grandfather, Silvio J. Pedri, on his porch in Rock Springs. The original photograph was taken by Elizabeth Pedri. (Courtesy/Mark Pedri)

When the younger Pedri discovered a cache of photographs, letters and other documents a decade after his grandfather’s death, he felt called to embark on a journey to better understand the quiet man who raised him. 

For five weeks, Pedri and his collaborator and wife, Carrie McCarthy, biked through France and Germany in the midst of winter. Long, cold stretches by bicycle felt truer to the story than driving in warmer months, according to the filmmakers. Along the way, the two of them pieced together the story of Silvio J. Pedri. 

Filmmakers Mark Pedri and Carrie McCarthy with their bikes at the end of a five-week trek across France and Germany, retracing the steps of Pedri’s grandfather. (Courtesy/Mark Pedri)

Today, on Veterans Day, the two filmmakers will participate in a Q&A following the film’s screening on the University of Wyoming’s campus. 

Maggie Mullen

Maggie Mullen reports on state government and politics. Before joining WyoFile in 2022, she spent five years at Wyoming Public Radio.

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  1. After reading this article I decided to watch the film and was left in absolute awe at the story that unfolded, especially watching it on Veteran’s Day, a day I hold dear to my heart. As stated by Major General Jim Archer, 95th Infantry Division, on the landing page for the screening, this truly is “A ‘must-see,’ to understand the generational impact of the trauma of war and the importance of knowing and preserving these stories.” Tears streamed down my face throughout this very well researched and magnificently edited film by the grandson of a silent WWII hero who took his own journey, following the same path as his grandfather after becoming a POW. Heart wrenching, emotional, yet profoundly touching, this is an amazing story by a Wyoming filmmaker. May we never forget the sacrifices of any of our veterans, their stories need to be heard and shared.

  2. I saw this film when it was shown at Casper College. It recounts an amazing journey and captures a piece of history that would otherwise have been lost. Mark and Carrie document the path of one of our nation’s unsung heroes, adding the personal touch of the love of a grandson and his desire to know more. Don’t miss the chance to share in this experience.