CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Writers, producers, directors and actors with the entertainment industry spent the day with Sailors from Camp Pendleton-based Assault Craft Unit 5 (ACU 5) during a Hollywood to the Navy tour July 28.
Hollywood to the Navy is an outreach program ran by the Navy Office of Information West (NAVINFOWEST) to educate entertainment industry professionals on how the Navy operates.
Past tours have taken writers, producers, actors and directors to aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers and submarines, but this tour introduced visitors to the amphibious fleet. The group was briefed on the capabilities and operations of landing craft air dushion (LCAC) hovercrafts assigned to ACU 5 before heading out to the beach to experience the real thing.
"Going out on the hovercraft was just insanely fun," commented "Parenthood" television writer Sarah Watson. "It was great to see everyone working together and it was great to see how much camaraderie there is out there."
NAVINFOWEST's idea for this tour stemmed from the real world operations that naval assets support but that Hollywood creative types might not be aware of when they include the military in their storytelling.
"A couple of days ago I was watching an old series of 'JAG' with my kids and [in it] the Embassy was getting overrun, so who do they call to get [the people] out? They call the Marine Corps, but the Marine Corps can't get there without the Navy," said Capt. Jonathan M. Padfield, ACU 5's commanding officer.
Padfield explained to the tour how LCACs are responsible for getting Marines from nearby ships to the shore when emergencies arise in coastal communities. "That's us. That's what we do," he said.
As one of two Camp Pendleton commands that supply LCACs to the fleet, ACU 5 comprises roughly 650 Sailors who maintain and operate the command's 20 LCACs wherever needed throughout the Pacific and Middle East.
During the tour, visitors were able to interact with Sailors and ask them about their jobs and experiences in the military. Gas Turbine Systems Technician- Electrical 2nd Class Mario Stewart, a deck engineer assigned to ACU 5, was one of the Sailors who enjoyed talking to the tour group and showing its participants the LCACs.
"They were genuinely interested in riding and experiencing the operation of a LCAC," Stewart said. "The actors, screenwriters, directors and producers I met today in the Hollywood group (made for) an experience I won't forget and I hope they can say the same about their experience visiting ACU 5 and riding on an LCAC."
Attendees were also able to speak to Sailors who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as individual augmentees (IAs) during their visit to Camp Pendleton.
"It makes me realize as a writer who is about to tell the story of an Afghan war vet how much I desperately want to get it right, and how much I want to make sure I honor you guys and I honor the reality of the situation and don't just exploit stories," said Watson after speaking to two Sailors who recently returned from IAs to Afghanistan. "I want this to feel real, and that's important, and I just feel a tremendous reasonability after talking to you guys."
Hollywood to the Navy hosts tours monthly throughout southern California showcasing different Navy commands and assets to interested entertainment professionals.