5 Things You Never Knew About ‘The Pacific’

Entertainment
"The Pacific," from left to right, David Ludlow, James Badge Dale, Sebastian Bertoli, Josh Helman.
Photo via HBO.

“The Pacific,” the 2010 award-winning HBO series, followed the men of the 1st Marine Division during the brutal Pacific Campaign of World War II.


Produced by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman, the 10-episode series focuses on the Marines as they fight from Guadalcanal, to Peleliu, and Okinawa. Their war is one of brutal and unforgiving jungle combat against a determined enemy. When they finally return from the war, they must reconcile what they did to survive in combat with the black-and-white notions of right and wrong that exist at home.

The series was well-received by critics, and though there were some critiques that it lacked the continuity of “Band of Brothers,” which closely followed one company throughout the war in Europe. Still, for many current and former Marines, we have a soft spot for it, in part because some of the Corps’ greatest legends — like John Basilone and Chesty Puller — were principal characters.

Related: 10 Things You Never Knew About ‘Band Of Brothers’ »

For other fans of the show, here are five things you probably didn’t know about HBO’s “The Pacific.”

It is the most expensive miniseries ever filmed.

According to a 2010 article in the Hollywood Reporter, “The Pacific” ended up costing roughly $217 million, making it the most expensive miniseries ever filmed, and that doesn’t even take into account the extra $10 million that went to marketing.

The cost isn’t surprising when you consider the size and scope of some of the scenes, or that they were “shooting off pyrotechnics every day for almost a year straight,” Joss Williams, the show’s pyrotechnics expert, told the Hollywood Reporter.

The actors went through a mini-boot camp, even training for beach landings.

It’s a good thing they trained too, because the Peleliu beach landing scene was such a complex and expensive endeavor it came out to $13,500 per take. To make sure none of that cash went to waste, the series’ senior military advisor, Dale Dye, had the actors and extras up every morning at 0500, working out, marching with full gear.

“We’re a bunch of actors,” Joe Mazzello who played Eugene Sledge explained in an HBO interview. “We get up before 11 every morning. We thought it was going to be, like, make your bed, do a little running. … but we were in the middle of a jungle carrying 40 pounds of equipment on our backs. We were digging ditches, getting screamed at.”

Filming of “The Pacific” temporarily stalled due to widespread food poisoning.

Production came to an abrupt halt in 2008 thanks to a catered breakfast of bacon and eggs. While filming in Victoria, Australia, as many as 30 cast and crew members became ill from salmonella poisoning and five required medical attention at a local hospital, with one admitted. That’s why you stick to issued rations, guys.

The show is based on several books written by Marines portrayed in the show.

The miniseries is based on “Helmet for My Pillow,” by Robert Leckie, and “With the Old Breed,” by Eugene B. Sledge, both of whom are principal characters in the show. Additional material was drawn from “Red Blood, Black Sand,” by Chuck Tatum, and “China Marine,” another book by Sledge.

“The Pacific” went to great lengths to show how that campaign impacted the men.

“The Pacific” is as much about the military campaign and the battles as it is about their lingering impact on the Marines who fought them. The series sees Eugene Sledge transform from a naive idealist to a hardened Marine, as well as Robert Leckie, who struggles continuously to keep from falling apart, physically and mentally.

“It was very important for us to show how this war affected these men, during the war, after the war,” explained Gary Goetzman, an executive producer on the show. “That really was something we didn’t get into in ‘Band of Brothers.’”

An Air Force civilian has died at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in a "non-combat related incident," U.S. Air Forces Central Command announced on Friday.

Jason P. Zaki, 32, died on Wednesday while deployed to the 609th Air Operations Center from the Pentagon, an AFCENT news release says.

Read More Show Less
President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, right, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe, left, walk at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, Tuesday, April 17, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla. (Associated Press//Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

At a time when taxpayer and foreign-government spending at Trump Organization properties is fueling political battles, a U.S. Marine Corps reserve unit stationed in South Florida hopes to hold an annual ball at a venue that could profit the commander in chief.

The unit is planning a gala to celebrate the 244th anniversary of the Marines' founding at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Nov. 16, according to a posting on the events website Evensi.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

QUANTICO, Virginia -- They may not be deadly, but some of the nonlethal weapons the Marine Corps is working on look pretty devastating.

The Marine Corps Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate is currently testing an 81mm mortar round that delivers a shower of flashbang grenades to disperse troublemakers. There is also an electric vehicle-stopper that delivers an electrical pulse to shut down a vehicle's powertrain, designed for use at access control points.

"When you hear nonlethal, you are thinking rubber bullets and batons and tear gas; it's way more than that," Marine Col. Wendell Leimbach Jr., director of the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate, told an audience at the Modern Day Marine 2019 expo.

Read More Show Less

RACHEL, Nev. (Reuters) - UFO enthusiasts began descending on rural Nevada on Thursday near the secret U.S. military installation known as Area 51, long rumored to house government secrets about alien life, with local authorities hoping the visitors were coming in peace.

Some residents of Rachel, a remote desert town of 50 people a short distance from the military base, worried their community might be overwhelmed by unruly crowds turning out in response to a recent, viral social-media invitation to "storm" Area 51. The town, about 150 miles (240 km) north of Las Vegas, lacks a grocery store or even a gasoline station.

Dozens of visitors began arriving outside Rachel's only business - an extraterrestrial-themed motel and restaurant called the Little A'Le'Inn - parking themselves in cars, tents and campers. A fire truck was stationed nearby.

Alien enthusiasts descend on the Nevada desert to 'storm' Area 51

(Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Attendees arrive at the Little A'Le'Inn as an influx of tourists responding to a call to 'storm' Area 51, a secretive U.S. military base believed by UFO enthusiasts to hold government secrets about extra-terrestrials, is expected Rachel, Nevada, U.S. September 19, 2019

One couple, Nicholas Bohen and Cayla McVey, both sporting UFO tattoos, traveled to Rachel from the Los Angeles suburb of Fullerton with enough food to last for a week of car-camping.

"It's evolved into a peaceful gathering, a sharing of life stories," McVey told Reuters, sizing up the crowd. "I think you are going to get a group of people that are prepared, respectful and they know what they getting themselves into."

Read More Show Less

OAKLAND, Calif. — A United States Coast Guard commander was charged with illegal importation of controlled substances Wednesday, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said.

Read More Show Less