(CBS4) – The service of Felix Sparks, a World War II hero who became a Colorado Supreme Court Justice, is at the center of a new Netflix miniseries called “The Liberator.” The animated four-part series was released on Veterans Day and features characters who are based on real soldiers as well as a few fictional characters that the show’s creators feel accurately represent the historical context. It stems from a book by Alex Kershaw.
“The Liberator” tells the tale of soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 45th Infantry Division, which became known as the Thunderbird Division. It included Sparks as well as other soldiers from western states. As Smithsonian Magazine recalls, it was “a disparate collection of Native Americans, Mexican Americans and Southwestern cowboys.” The racially integrated fighting unit took part in battles in Italy, France and Germany.
Sparks was injured early on in WWII but returned to the battlefield and rose through the ranks of his division. He was eventually awarded the Silver Star for valor. Kershaw says he worked hard to reverse the poor treatment that most of the minorities he fought with received. At the end of their time fighting in the war they “participated in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp,” according to the Veterans History Project.
After the war, Sparks attended the University of Colorado Law School and became a lawyer and a civil rights advocate. He also served in the Colorado Army National Guard. Later in life he served as a justice in Colorado’s highest court. Felix Sparks died in 2007.