News: HBO brings Marines' history to life
Story by Cpl. Aubry Buzek
SAN DIEGO -- Many local military leaders, members of the military community and veterans attended the San Diego premiere of "The Pacific" aboard the USS Midway, Feb. 25.
The event included a special screening of the 10-part miniseries and a chance to meet the actors, writers and producers of the series at a reception after the showing.
"The Pacific" is based on the true stories of three Marines fighting in the Pacific Theater during World War II: Sgt. John Basilone and Pfc.'s Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie. One of the Marines highlighted in the series, John Basilone, won a Medal of Honor for his valiant efforts during the Battle of Guadalcanal and is also honored in San Diego's Little Italy at "Piazza Basilone" and on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton at the "Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Memorial Highway."
John Seda, who stars as John Basilone in the miniseries, said that playing the famous Marine was a "huge responsibility."
"He was an incredible force. He loved to be a Marine and he loved to be in the fight," said Seda. "I tried to portray the humanity in who he was. I hope [Marines] will feel that I did a good job representing him."
Although the mini-series was filmed almost 68 years after the island hopping campaign, maintaining historical accuracy was important for the creators of the show. From the costumes to the set design, more than 18 months of research went into making the story, battle scenes and islands accurate.
"We try to get the best information we can get to respect the subject matter, to respect the Marines, of course, and to tell the story as truthfully as we can," said Gary Goetzman, executive producer of the series. "The truth is always much more amazing than any story you can make up."
Although the most common comment from former Marines after the screening was that "the actors needed a haircut," many of the veterans attending the event were impressed with the historical accuracy and realistic footage of the battle scenes.
"If you want to put it in one word, it was the best military combat scenes I've ever seen," said Raymond M. Owen, Sr., a former Marine and a Purple Heart recipient from the Korean War. "It was wonderful, it was very accurate."
For one veteran attending the event, the story hit very close to home.
Retired Navy Commander Herb Franck is a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which prompted the United States' entry into World War II and began the Marines island hopping campaign months later. He said the most important part of the show is enlightening younger generations.
"We have to remember our history," said Franck. "I thought it was terrific. For the first time on a screen they've shown how combat really was."
"The Pacific: Part One" debuts on HBO March 14 at 10 p.m. PST with the other parts debuting on consecutive Sundays through May 16.