By Jennifer Hartwig, Hunter Army Airfield Public AffairsJuly 27, 2011
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division " about 450 of them " were treated to an advanced screening of “Captain America: The First Avenger” at the Carmike Wynnsong 11 in Savannah, July 21 " the day before the movie’s theatrical release.
Not only were the Soldiers able to see the movie before just about anyone else, but they were the first-ever to see a movie in the Carmike Wynnsong’s “The Big D Experience” in Savannah " just the fifth theater of its kind in the nation.
According to the director of marketing for Carmike Cinemas, Terrell Mayton, “The Big D” is a theater experience unlike any other. The state-of-the-art theater features a redesigned and expanded auditorium with 500 leather seats and a wall-to-wall screen that is nearly 80 feet wide and more than three stories tall and the latest in 7.1 Surround Sound.
“The reason we call it an experience is because you’re really experiencing the movies now, it’s not just a presentation on a screen,” said Mayton. “Its total immersion in the sound, the sight and the comfort " it’s the best there is in movies.”
To mark the opening of the “The Big D” in Savannah, Carmike invited the Marne Soldiers to be the first to experience the theater.
“In Savannah, what more deserving group do you have if you’re going to do an event to entertain people?” said Mayton. “We’re opening a new theater but we’re really excited to have [the 3rd ID Soldiers] as our guests. We’re so proud of them, the commitment they make and the sacrifice they make.”
For two Soldiers in the audience, seeing “Captain America: The First Avenger” was the chance to “be kids again.”
Sergeant Steven Melton, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, has been a Marvel Comic fan all of his life; and in the Melton house, no one was cooler than Captain America. During the screening of a movie he’s been waiting years for, Sgt. Melton sat next to a fellow Marvel Comic fanatic " his brother, Spc. Justin Melton, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd ID, stationed at Fort Stewart.
The brothers have been separated by thousands of miles since Novovember 2007, when Spc. Melton, 21, went to basic training and then was stationed in Alaska. In November 2010, he moved to Fort Stewart and just three months later, Sgt. Melton, 25, arrived at Hunter Army Airfield; suddenly, brothers who were previously separated by 3,000 miles were just 35 miles apart.
For men who grew up running around their house wearing Capt. America gear, who both entered the Army after high school and have spent the past four years separated " including deployments for each " watching this particular movie together was something special.
“It was a lot of fun because, really, I’ve only seen him for about three weeks in the last four years,” said Spc. Melton about his older brother. “It was like being little kids again.”
As the Soldiers filed into the theater, each was given popcorn, a soda and a gift bag, which included commemorative 3D glasses and a “Marvel Comics” Captain America t-shirt, courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
For those Soldiers in the audience who are huge Marvel Comic fans " like Sgt. and Spc. Melton " the experience was one to remember.
“I think this was the best movie out of all of [the Marvel comic movies], probably the best movie I’ve ever seen,” said Sgt. Melton. “It was awesome to get to see the movie a day before everyone else, and the 3D was awesome.”
“Captain America: The First Avenger” is the story of Steven Rogers, a 90-pound asthmatic who is turned down from enlistment in the U.S. Army four times during World War II before being accepted into a project intended to enhance U.S. Soldiers to the height of physical perfection.
Once he is “reborn” a super-human, Rogers becomes known as “Captain America” and helps the U.S. fight off the Nazis.
The elder Melton said he has been reading “Captain America” comics since he was a kid and loves it because he identifies with the lead character " namely, before he becomes the hero.
“I’m a little guy so I can relate to [Rogers] being able to do things people say you can’t do,” said Sgt. Melton, who said he’s 5’3”.
As the house lights dimmed, Chris Evans, who plays Steven Rogers/Capt. America, came on screen and thanked “the Soldiers from Fort Stewart” and said he hoped they would enjoy the movie. The personal message was met with thunderous applause.
Also invited to the screening were volunteers of the Savannah USO. The USO plays a large part in the film, as Capt. America goes on a nation-wide USO tour to drum up financial support during the war.
“Our guests tonight are also the USO of Savannah, who are tremendous volunteers who make life easier for Soldiers and their Families,” said Mayton. “They’re always there to help Soldiers when they deploy, when they’re changing planes and sitting at the airport and of course the USO is prominent in the feature film.
For the Soldiers, the screening wasn’t just a chance to get to see a movie a day early or to get free popcorn or a t-shirt " it was a chance to see the community’s support in action.
“It’s great that this organization and this theater invited out a bunch of Soldiers to come out and enjoy this new movie that’s hasn’t even come out yet,” said Sgt. Justin Jennings, HHC, 3rd CAB. “I think it means a lot to see the support of [the community], looking out for the Soldiers.”