On Patrol

Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

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The Navy SEAL drama “Lone Survivor” smashed expectations and a raked in $38.5 million in its opening weekend.

The film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch, is based on former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s memoir about a dangerous mission in the remote mountains of Afghanistan in 2005.

Directed by veteran filmmaker Peter Berg, (Battleship, Friday Night Lights) the film posted the second-best opening for a film in January. Only Cloverfield, a 2008 horror flick, had a better weekend with $40.1 million.

Berg talked with On Patrol in 2011 about embedding with SEAL Team 5 in Iraq for a month so he could better understand what it was like to operate in the field.

From the 2011 interview:

“It was the greatest experience of my life that I got to live with the SEALs and go out and watch them operate and watch them do the things they do,” Berg said. “I made friends for life from that. … It was after I did that that I was really able to write the script.

“The SEAL community is a pretty closed group. They’re not press-friendly. It takes them quite a while to warm up to you. And the fact that I made such good friends and these are friends for life, and that was one of the great experiences of my life.”

Berg also visited some of the families of the fallen from the battle, including that of Luttrell’s SEAL teammate Navy Petty Officer Second Class Danny Dietz.

“I sat in Danny Dietz’ bedroom with his father and his father read me the autopsy report of his son,” Berg said. “His son was shot [multiple] times and kept fighting. And I watched his father read that autopsy report and watched his hand shake and the tears pour out of his eyes and onto that piece of paper.

“He finally finished and he looked up at me and he said ‘I just want you to know how tough my son was.’ And I said ‘Yes sir, I get that.’

“When you go through those types of experiences as a filmmaker, there’s no way you don’t want to tell that story.”