• Set and costume designer Stev Taylor makes an adjustment to the costume being worn by New York Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph Murphy of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry,  during the filming of scenes for the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs," at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y., April 3, 2014. Murphy portrayed a Navy SEAL in the TV show.

    New York National Guard goes Hollywood

    Set and costume designer Stev Taylor makes an adjustment to the costume being worn by New York Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph Murphy of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, during the filming of scenes for the Universal Television TV show "State of...

  • New York Army National Guard Sgt. Dennis Raffanelo and Sgt. Herbert Gomezmaldonado, both members of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, on the set at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y., during the filming of scenes for the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs." Gomezmaldonado portrayed a Navy SEAL in the TV show, while Raffanelo drove a Humvee used to dress the set during the production.

    New York Army National Guard goes Hollywood

    New York Army National Guard Sgt. Dennis Raffanelo and Sgt. Herbert Gomezmaldonado, both members of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, on the set at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y., during the filming of scenes for the Universal Television TV...

  • New York Army National Guard Spec Evelio Garcia adjusts his Navy SEAL gear before filming a scene for the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs" during shooting at Republic Airport, in East Farmingdale, N.Y., April 3, 2014. Garcia and nine other Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, portrayed SEALs jumping out of a helicopter during the shooting.

    New York Army National Guard goes Hollywood

    New York Army National Guard Spec Evelio Garcia adjusts his Navy SEAL gear before filming a scene for the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs" during shooting at Republic Airport, in East Farmingdale, N.Y., April 3, 2014. Garcia and nine...

  • New York Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph Murphy, a member of Company F 427th Brigade Support Battalion, gets help from Sgt. Dennis Raffanello, a member of Company B, 1st Battalion 69th Infantry, as he gets fitted for a Navy SEAL Uniform and helmet during filming of the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs," at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y., April 3, 2013.

    New York Army National Guard goes Hollywood

    New York Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph Murphy, a member of Company F 427th Brigade Support Battalion, gets help from Sgt. Dennis Raffanello, a member of Company B, 1st Battalion 69th Infantry, as he gets fitted for a Navy SEAL Uniform and helmet...

  • New York Army National Guard Sgt. Herbert Gomezmaldonado, dressed in a Navy SEAL uniform, and Sgt. Dennis Raffanello, look through simulated helmets as they prepare to film a scene for the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs," during shooting at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y., April 3, 2014. Both are members of the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry. Gomezmaldonado portrayed a Navy SEAL during the filming.

    New York Army National Guard goes Hollywood

    New York Army National Guard Sgt. Herbert Gomezmaldonado, dressed in a Navy SEAL uniform, and Sgt. Dennis Raffanello, look through simulated helmets as they prepare to film a scene for the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs," during...

  • These four members of the New York Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, flew a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter used in filming the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs," during shooting at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y., April 3, 2014. (From left) Warrant Officer 1 John Seeger, Sgt. Matt Cordaro, Staff Sgt. Amy Klemm and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert Hansen.

    New York Army National Guard goes Hollywood

    These four members of the New York Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, flew a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter used in filming the Universal Television TV show "State of Affairs," during shooting at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale...

EAST FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (April 15, 2014) -- The Soldiers of the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry aren't Navy SEALs, but now they've played them on TV.

Nine members of the battalion were among the 18 members of the New York Army National Guard who supported a Universal Studios television show called "State of Affairs," during filming April 3.

The show is due to air on NBC TV this fall.

The program stars Katherine Heigl, who is famous for her roles in the TV show "Grey's Anatomy" and the movies "Knocked Up" and "27 Dresses," as a CIA agent. It will be a high-intensity thriller, heavily focused on operational maneuvers, said Sam Glenn, the show's military and technical adviser.

The pilot was being filmed in the New York City area, which is home to many TV productions.

Along with the infantry Soldiers, the TV production company used a UH-60 Black Hawk and four-member crew based at Army Aviation Support Facility 1 in Ronkonkoma, and four members from the New York Military Forces Honor Guard to lend reality to the TV story. The 69th Infantry also provided Humvees and Light Medium Tactical Vehicles to "dress the set".

For the purposes of the TV show, the Army Guard infantrymen portrayed Navy SEALs exiting the helicopter instead of an Army unit.

"It was really cool to work on a show that's going to be on an actual TV network. All of the guys had a good time, especially since a lot of them have never been in a Black Hawk before," said Sgt. Herbet Gomezmaldonado, a member of B Company, from Central Islip, N.Y.

The Honor Guard team, which portrayed a military color guard during a funeral, was filmed at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale. The bulk of the shooting involving New York National Guard members took place during a 12-hour session at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale.

The Guard Soldiers worked closely with production crews and costume staff as they meticulously tweaked details to ensure accuracy.

For the Army Guard aviators it was business as usual. They were asked to fly the UH-60 into a hover, do a 180-degree turn, and taxi into position. They also shot a third scene in which they landed at night and the 69th Soldiers, costumed as SEALS, exited the aircraft.

This is something they'd all done before in Afghanistan or Iraq, said Chief Warrant Officer John Seeger, a pilot from Center Moriches, N.Y.

The infantrymen executed a standard air assault drill as they exited the helicopter.

"It was fun to use what I learned in Air Assault School for something other than the military. It's good to know that some of the skills they give us here can apply to the civilian world," said Sgt. Anthony Olivari, a member of Company F, 427th Forward Support Battalion, from Brooklyn.

Television production companies come to the Department of Defense, and the National Guard in particular, for assistance in providing equipment and personnel because "there is nothing more authentic than using the real thing," explained Russell Maheras, the National Guard Bureau's expert on working with TV and movies.

The military wants to help Hollywood get it right, but the rules about when the military can provide equipment and personnel are strict, Maheras said.

"We do our best to be very selective," he said. "Support must not interfere with the unit's mission, must come it no additional cost to the government, and must be accurate -- even for programs that are primarily fictitious."

"In addition, visible National Guard portrayal is also an important deciding factor, as is whether or not the production is fully funded by a studio or network and is scheduled to have national distribution," he added.

Before the National Guard Bureau, and the New York Army National Guard, agreed to support the TV show, Mahares negotiated with the studio's lawyers and producers to ensure that the New York National Guard was reimbursed the $25,000 it cost to support the TV show. This covered the cost of three hours of helicopter flight time, Soldier pay, and additional supporting cost.

He also insisted that the New York National Guard gets mentioned in the script.

In the scene leading up to the helicopter landed, one of the actors will mention New York's 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation.

"I have the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Commander) on the phone with command center. Tell them, his guys and the third of the 42nd are RED CON 1."

The sequence culminates in the SEAL team being airlifted into Somalia to execute a daunting night rescue of a key figure (or figures), whose identifies are left purposefully undisclosed to maintain suspense.

The helicopter's tactical maneuvers were dead on. They were accurate and looked good on film, Glenn said.

This type of work is nothing new to the show's director Joe Carnahan, whose work includes NBC's current thriller, "The Blacklist."

"The movie business is just like being in the Army," joked Spc. Evelio Garcia, a Soldier from D Company, 1-69th, who lives in Selden, N.Y. "You spend a whole day waiting to get something productive done."

"It was a pleasure to be a small part in the filming of 'State of Affairs,'" said Chief Warrant Officer Robert Hansen, a 3-142nd member from Patchogue. "It was great to showcase some of Army aviation's capabilities, especially on prime time TV."

Being on TV and in the movies is nothing new for New York National Guard members. Soldiers from the 1-69th appeared in the Will Smith science fiction thriller "I Am Legend," and Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing are portrayed in the movie "The Perfect Storm."

And of course the 69th Infantry itself is one of the stars of the 1940 Jimmy Cagney movie "The Fighting 69th."

"Knowing that I was a part of an event like this, that millions of people are going to see, is really exciting and exhilarating," Seeger said.

Page last updated Mon April 14th, 2014 at 00:00