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Facts Behind the Story
The Pacific--Thoughts on the Production
We had an enormous professional and emotional investment in the making of The Pacific for HBO. Both XO Mike Stokey and I are proud veterans of combat with the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam. Our Cadre Gunnery Sergeant Freddie Joe Farnsworth was a 1st MarDiv guy in the first Gulf War as was our Mortar Platoon Leader Bruce Whitfield. We all needed to get it right for personal reasons beyond once again demonstrating what Warriors Inc. can do given opportunity and cooperation from the production to play it our way in preparation for and recreation of major battle scenes for war films.
Going in to this project we knew we would suffer in certain circles by comparison with the mega-hit mini-series Band of Brothers. As everyone involved envisioned it, The Pacific was as different from Band of Brothers as night is from day. The nature of combat in the Pacific Theater of WW II differed strikingly and startlingly from that experienced by soldiers in the ETO. We knew that and we were determined to feature it as a main theme in the production. We wanted audiences to understand that supply and replacement lines were less than 30 miles across the English Channel after D-Day in Europe but they stretched literally across thousands of miles of hotly-contested ocean in the Pacific. We knew from the literature and from surviving veterans that the inhospitable jungle, the rugged island terrain and an obstinate, often suicidal enemy who refused to surrender made the WW II combat experience at places like Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa a much more brutal and inhuman ordeal than what most GIs endured in combat against Nazi Germany.
What had me worried most and what turned out to be a recurring criticism once The Pacific was aired on HBO was a certain lack of focus forced on us by following the experiences of the three major characters we featured in telling the stories in each episode. While Band of Brothers from start to finish was about one company of paratroopers in one battalion of one regiment of the famed 101st Airborne Division in Europe, The Pacific followed three characters (John Basilone, Gene Sledge and Robert Leckie) who served in different regiments of the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific. It was much more difficult for audiences expecting to get to know a cast of characters when we were forced by the source material to bounce back and forth repeatedly as characters in parallel units fought through the same campaign. Many of our most ardent fans indicated they had trouble keeping up with the characters and would have preferred it had we focused on a single unit as we did in Band of Brothers.
All that aside, we got a very enthusiastic reception from Marines around the world and some of the episodes today are being used in various Marine Corps training programs. Were all very proud of the results and its truly rewarding these days to see the casts of both Band of Brothers and The Pacific get together to compare experiences and share war stories.