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The Art of War

He spent 21 years in the Marine Corps, so it is no surprise that retiredCaptain Dale Dye has seen some war films. Unfortunately, he thinks most ofthem “sucked like a jet engine.”

Dye just finished advising Saving Private Ryan, a film he’s much happierwith. But it was those sub-par movies that spawned his career over a decadeago. “They were coming up with all these cliches and psycho-walking timebomb crap.” Sickened by cinematic half-truths, Dye went to L.A. via afriend who was the storyboard artist on the sci-fi picture Invaders FromMars. It was on the set that Dye learned about production. Then he readthat Oliver Stone needed a technical adviser for Platoon. Dye knew Vietnamwell, having served three tours and sustaining as many wounds.

Dye used his credit card and charm to puncture the personnel barriersbetween Stone and himself, eventually meeting and securing the job. Hisinput was thorough and varied, and sometimes the details made all thedifference. Dye recalls, “Guys using Tabasco Sauce on rations-veterans wentapeshit over that! That was what saved our rations.” Soon after, Dye formedWarriors, Inc., employing military friends made over the years.

Private Ryan involved putting Tom Hanks and costars, through boot camp: 10days of weapons drills, close combat, and sleeping out in the cold rain.

“The kids got really miserable. They wanted to go home-but what soldierdoesn’t?”

Dye applauds Hanks’ natural leadership, as well as Spielberg’s respect forauthenticity. “We had a complicated attack on a machine gun nest. You’dexpect to shoot it with a lot of coverage. But when I showed Steven theassault, he said, ‘We’re not going to cover this. I’m shooting this from atower.’ He just admired the tactics.”