Three members of the cast of "The Unit," Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick and Michael Irby, visited Victory Base Complex May 11.
In the TV show the actors portray members of an elite special operations unit that execute covert operations around the world on the orders of the president.
The show is based on the book "Inside Delta Force" written by (Ret.) Command Sgt.Maj. Eric L. Haney. For more than 20 years, Haney served in the United States Army's most demanding positions as a combat infantryman, a Ranger and he was a founding member and eight-year veteran of the Army's super secret counter-terrorism arm, Delta Force.
However, the show isn't just about the missions that characters have to face. It shows the effects on the members' lives at home.
Each member of "The Unit" has to face his own problems that arise from being torn between defending the country and living his life.
The trip to Iraq gave the actors a chance to see how servicemembers really cope with being deployed. "I'm flabbergasted, for lack of a better term," said Haysbert. "I'm just so moved and inspired."
"It's been amazing," said Patrick. "Their willingness to give up so much to serve their country gives me a greater appreciation of the men and women of our armed forces."
"Honestly, this was never a world that I was interested in," said Irby. "However, once I got here the experiences of those around me went straight to my heart."
In this typhoon of emotions a greater sense of meaning struck the actors. "I had a group of mothers come up to get pictures with me," Haysbert said. "Despite that it was Mother's Day and they haven't seen their children in months, there was no despair, no anger, just a sense of duty."
"I've had a lump in my throat since I've been here," Irby said. "You look at us with a sense of respect, and we look back at you with the same respect."
With this new sense of meaning came a greater understanding of what it really is to be a servicemember in the U.S. armed forces. All of the actors agreed that, though it might not be noticeable, their visit to Iraq will greatly affect their performances in "The Unit."
"It was all just play for me on the set," said Irby. "Now, I'm more grounded. My work will definitely change."
"Everything I do now will have a military subtext to it," Haysbert said, "not just my performance, my life."