War-film groundbreaker honored by Legion

Dale Dye came back from the Vietnam War with three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and the experience of having survived no fewer than 31 major combat operations. That was 1970. Forty-two years later, the retired U.S. Marine Corps captain and top military adviser for such blockbuster movies as "Saving Private Ryan," "Platoon" and "The Pacific" has received the prestigious National Commander’s Public Relations Award for his efforts to bring realism to Hollywood war films.

"I’ll just presume that this great award … means that in some way I have made a little bit of accomplishment in my mission, which is to burnish, to polish and to expose to the public the true nature of America’s military people, and of our veterans," Dye told about 1,000 gathered in Washington Wednesday for the annual ceremony that closed The American Legion’s 52nd Washington Conference.

Dye, who worked on the editorial staff of "Soldier of Fortune" magazine following his 1984 retirement from the Marine Corps, took his wealth of battlefield experience to Hollywood in the mid-1980s and launched a company called Warriors, Inc., to provide actors an understanding of the real warrior spirit.

American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong told the crowd that Dye’s work "has provided a needed perspective in the art and entertainment industry."

In a short film clip that was presented as part of the ceremony, "Saving Private Ryan" star Tom Hanks credited Dye for capturing the essence of what it’s like to play the part of a combat soldier at war. "You have to understand we are essentially playing guys who are tired and miserable and want to go home, of whom great physical things are being demanded constantly," Hanks said in the clip. "We couldn’t have done that without having gone through something like what Dale Dye put us through."

"I’m truly humbled when people tell me that I may have changed the way Hollywood makes military movies," Dye said, a member of American Legion Post 40 in North Carolina. "If I ever had an epitaph, it would be that … I believe that America, our America, deserves a little fact with its fiction when it comes to motion pictures and television. If ever there has been a time with young Americans, this is it, to use popular media to tell them, to teach them, where we came from, what our ideals are, and what we believe in."

Dye joins such national figures as Tom Brokaw, Lee Greenwood, Red Skelton, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Karl Malden and Lou Dobbs on a list of National Commander’s Public Relations Award recipients, dating back to 1961. Click here to see a complete list of past recipients.

To learn more about Dale Dye and Warriors, Inc., including current projects in film, television and books, visit www.warriorsinc.com.