Captain America, Reserve Soldiers share big screen
November 7, 2011
CLEVELAND, Ohio, Nov. 7, 2011 -- As Army Reserve Soldiers barreled down a busy downtown street in several Humvees, they fired their crew-served weapons and dumped thousands of rounds of ammunition and grenade casings onto an already littered pavement.
It was scene straight out of a Hollywood movie -- literally.
Twenty-five Soldiers assigned to the Columbus, Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion were battling bad guys with Captain America and his Avengers superheroes during an intensive battle scene that will soon play out in movie theaters worldwide in 2012.
The Soldiers, who fall under the Fort Meade, Md.-based 200th Military Police Command, recently spent a week with Hollywood cast members and an Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, Los Angeles military liaison officer to give more realism to the movie role of the military police.
"The combat scenes had great realism," said Lt. Col. John Clearwater, deputy director for OCPA-LA. "It's a tribute to the U.S. Army Reserves and the veteran 391st MP Battalion. They rocked the streets of Cleveland with their 50-caliber machine guns and Mark-19's. The film crew was blown away by their firepower and teamwork."
Staff Sgt. Michael T. Landis said he hopes the Army Reserve brought realism to the set and movie goers get a sense that all Armed Forces service members are heroes, not just those in the Army.
Landis said for the director to use actual Soldiers in a movie is a winning experience for everyone involved.
"It's easy for us to make on-the-spot corrections to tactics and uniforms," he said. "The director actually took our recommendation on one scene and let us all engage the enemy as opposed to only the gunners in the trucks engaging."
Landis said it made the scene more realistic and helped portray the Army in a more positive light.
Spc. Michael Eiring said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a driver and foot Soldier during the scenes.
"Our participation not only brought life and excitement to the movie but gave moviegoers a look at Army Reserve Soldiers and who we represent," Eiring said.
For Spc. Daniel Lee, going to the movies can be frustrating when it is obvious that non-military actors are representing the Armed Forces.
"We used actual tactics that we know," he said. "Instead of trying to teach civilians the same thing, we were able to accurately portray the fighting warrior."
Lee said being an Army Reserve Soldier is something he always wanted to do while growing up.
"I can't think of anything else I would rather be doing than serving my country," he said. "We learn a lot about ourselves and each other while in the military."
One Soldier fighting aliens and saving innocent civilian lives was Spc. Felicia Scarbro.
She said moviegoers will watch the movie and see that Army Reserve Soldiers are highly trained, prepared and ready to deploy in support of operations around the world.
Scarbro said it's time to end the "weekend warrior" caption placed on reserve-component Soldiers.
"We may meet as a unit one weekend a month, but every day we do things to strengthen not only our civilian skills but our military tactics and techniques," she said. "We consolidate what our active-duty counterparts do in a month into a single weekend battle assembly."
Scarbro said the life of an Army Reserve Soldier is not easy, but it's extraordinarily rewarding.
"We know our mission and give our all into completing that mission," she said. "When it comes to completing a difficult or new task, we don't waste time complaining or making excuses. Instead, we jump into the mission and complete it with nothing less than complete success."
For one huge movie fan, being able to see the behind-the-scenes efforts from the production crew was extra special.
Spc. Michael Harvey portrayed a medic during the filming and said he had a great time being able to watch how a movie goes from an idea, to a script to shooting on a live location. He can't wait for the international release of the movie.
"It was our time to show the world the Army Reserve Soldier," he said.
Harvey said the experience is one he will never forget, but also said he hopes the actors and production staff left with a positive experience working with the military police.
"Hopefully, they had just as much fun working with us as we did with them," he said.
Spc. Steven Sargent said he hopes the movie will help build new-found respect for the warrior citizen.
From the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of Army Reserve Soldiers have lost their lives during combat operations. Although no lives were lost during the magic of movie making, Sargent said it's important to never forget Soldiers mobilized overseas are in harms' way.
"We put our lives on the line for our country," he said. "We really appreciate the opportunity to take a break from life (overseas) and have the chance to be able to do something fun like making a movie."
Sargent said he hopes the Soldiers did not disappoint the actors or director.
"We took on this challenge the same way we would take on any military task," he said. "We were punctual, professional and always prepared."