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Saving Private Ryan--Training

We were only required to perform in-depth training for eight actors in the first stages of this massive mission, but we knew that later evolutions would require training up to a thousand extras for the D-Day sequences, so we took a strong Cadre to England when the mission began. Our Warriors Inc. Cadre included the CO, 1stSgt. John Barnett, Sgt. Billy Budd, T5 Brian Maynard (Medic) and Cpl. Laird Macintosh as Platoon Right Guide. As we designed the WW II Ranger training schedule, we assigned each Cadre member a specific actor/trainee for special attention. Capt. Dye focused on Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks), 1stSgt. Barnett worked with SFC Horvath (Tom Sizemore), T5 Maynard taught T4 Wade the squad medic and Cpl. Macintosh worked with T4 Upham, the attached interpreter. We all pitched in to provide training and character building background for the remaining three Rangers in training.

We designed a seven-day, seven-night schedule that was to take place in the deep woods near Hatfield, England, an abandoned British Aerospace manufacturing plant where several of the major sets were being built. The weather typically turned English on us. It was raining most of the time and mud quickly became an infantry mobility problem. Regardless, we were up early each morning for PT, which included long runs to improve stamina and endurance. Weapons handling was a priority and we spent long hours firing and reloading M-1s, Thompson SMGs, carbines and BARs under simulated combat conditions. Weapons maintenance also became critical as the rain and mud were always getting into actions as the troops crawled or maneuvered through the rough terrain.

We taught land navigation, fire and maneuver, patrol formations and tactics for assault on fortified positions since all of these events were called for in the script. Also included in the curriculum were classes on comm. Procedures, field first aid, casualty evacuation, close-quarters combat and bayonet training. Many of our patrols took place at night and over extremely constricted terrain. Rangers in training ate British 10-in-1 rations in the field and slept under leaky canvas when they weren't running night patrols. By the end of T-3 (training day three) the Ranger unit was functioning under its own chain of command and the Warriors Inc. Cadre plus some locally recruited help from the production staff were serving primarily as aggressor forces.

One extremely valuable and interesting aspect of this training was conducted by Doc Bryan Maynard who obtained a partial sheep carcass from a local butcher to teach Ranger Medic Wade how to suture wounds and probe for bullets or shrapnel.

When we moved to southeast Ireland for the D-Day sequences, Capt. Dye was called away to consult with Director Steven Spielberg and the Warriors Inc. Cadre came into its own during an exhausting two days of getting 1,000 Irish Army Reserve soldiers into shape to portray American GIs on Omaha Beach. They did an outstanding job in a very short time-frame. Just prior to filming, we took all our available Higgins Boat Landing Craft to Wexford Harbor where Capt. Dye taught the actors and the Irish Army procedures for landing from these boats on a hostile shore.