HeroVet: Dale Dye An Advocate for Vets in Hollywood

Dale Dye

Captain Dale Dye, USMC (ret.) has seen battle, bloodshed and bands of brothers. And although he is out of uniform today, he engages in an everyday mission to ensure the military experience is accurately portrayed by the big and small screens of Hollywood and television.

And for this Marine, whose on-screen accomplishments include consulting to the likes of Stephen Spielberg, Oliver Stone & Tom Hanks, his work has a higher purpose. "I’m concerned that our nation has a habit of forgetting the service and selfless sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. They are enormously underappreciated, and I continue to work to fix that in the popular media," Dye says. "It is a hole in our national character, and I’m trying to fix it."

Dye’s Hollywood resume reads as a wish list for any military movie buff: He worked with Oliver Stone on his Oscar-winning film "Platoon," as well as on his subsequent films: "Born on the Fourth of July," "Heaven and Earth," and "JFK." Dye’s other movie credits include the Academy Award-winning "Forrest Gump" and "Saving Private Ryan," "Casualties of War," "Sniper," "Under Siege," "The War," "Outbreak," He has also advised on numerous television shows, including the 10-hour HBO series "Band of Brothers."

"I’m a kinda simplistic guy. I like stories that touch me and that appeal to my emotions. I believe sincerely that the reason that war stories keep getting made into films is because you can run the gamut of human emotions, and it may happen in only 15 minutes," he said in a recent BBC interview.

Born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 1944, Dye was the only child of a liquor salesman. In lieu of child care, his father brought him along with him to the taverns that he serviced in and around St. Louis. In these working-class establishments, the young Dye was inspired by the tales of servicemen returning from World War II. After a long evening immersed in encyclopedia research on the events surrounding Iwo Jima, he was hooked on military service. Graduating from the Missouri Military Academy, he had high hopes of attending Annapolis, but failed the entrance exam. Short of funds, in 1964, he enlisted in the Marines.

After six months training in Okinawa as a mortarman, Dye was among the first combat troops in Vietnam. He served there in 1965 and 1967 through 1970, surviving 31 major combat operations and earning multiple military decorations. His service spanned two decades, highlighted by his heroic service in Vietnam, the Beirut Marine Barrack bombing and intense training of Central American Contras during the 1980’s.

A movie buff, Dye was determined to break down some of the military stereotypes that permeated movies and to honor the sacrifices of veterans in the process. He caught his break soon after retiring from the military. After reading about Oliver Stone’s attempt to create a definitive Vietnam picture in a trade paper. Dye tracked down Stone and convinced the fledgling director to hire him for what would become "Platoon," the 1986 Academy Award winner for Best Picture. 20 years later, Dye stands as the go-to guy to "boot camp actors" and prepare them for the most demanding military roles in film.

‘Other people think all I have to do is teach you how to hold a weapon or wear your uniform,’’ Dye told the New York Times. ’’Not in my book. Not at all. Because a performance comes from the heart, and the heart has to have a certain amount of understanding.’’

"I put them in total isolation," he added about his approach to teaching actors. "I make them live in a hole and keep them up all night. I create a world from which they can’t escape, and if I’m really good, and I am, I take them so far out of their comfort zone, they believe it. Once I’ve done that, I can fire blank ammunition at them, and they’ve lost the concept that it’s blank."

"It completely changed my life," Academy Award winner Tom Hanks says of his interaction with Dye on "Saving Private Ryan." "I’ve never been the same."

In addition to three Purple Hearts for injuries sustained in combat, Dye’s military decorations include the Bronze Star with "V" for Valor, the Meritorious Service Medal, Two Navy Commendation Medals with Combat "V" Devices, the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat "V" Device, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Vietnamese Honor Medal 1st Class, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, among others.

Image Credit: http://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/dale-dye-wants-to-make-this-epic-world-war-ii-movie-with-veterans

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