- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2012

The Navy is getting the opportunity to showcase its men and women in uniform in director Peter Berg’s summer action movie “Battleship,” which was released Friday.

The Navy allowed the film crew to visit destroyers USS Hopper, USS Preble and USS Chung-hoon in Hawaii, as well as watch training at sea. The crew also filmed aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the ship on which the Japanese surrendered to Allied forces in 1945.

Current, retired officers and enlisted were invited this week to watch a special screening at the AMC Loews Georgetown 14 cineplex in Northwest D.C., and hear from Mr. Berg and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has a cameo appearance in the film.

“I want to thank Peter for making this documentary,” Mr. Mabus joked before the film. “We are undefeated against aliens. As a matter of fact, we are undefeated against everybody.”

In the movie, U.S. and Japanese forces battle a technologically superior alien army, using everything they have.

“It shows what our sailors and Marines can do. It shows what they do day to day,” said Mr. Mabus. “What they do is face the unknown every day. They face it with skill, they face it with talent, they face it with training, they face it with dedication, they face it with enthusiasm.”

He said not many people get to see “America’s away team for the Navy and Marine Corps” on a daily basis. “This movies gives them a chance to do that.”

“We’re here to reaffirm … Hollywood’s love, admiration and respect for the United States military. We love you guys, we appreciate what you do, we appreciate what your spouses do, what your kids do, and we made this movie for you,” said Mr. Berg, whose father served in the Marine Corps.

In the movie, Army Col. Gregory D. Gadson, a battalion leader who lost both legs in Iraq in 2007, portrays Lt. Col. Mick Canales, who is beginning his recovery as a double amputee as the movie opens.

Col. Gadson, who runs the Army’s wounded warrior program and is a former West Point football player, is set to take command as garrison commander of Fort Belvoir next month.

Col. Gadson said it was about time that the “surface guys” - service members who serve on above-surface ships - were recognized.

“What’s really neat is, you know, we’ve done ‘Top Gun’ with all the airplanes flying around, we’ve done all these submarines with ‘The Hunt for Red October.’ Finally we got a movie about surface guys. Hooah!” Col. Gadson told the audience. “You got to be really proud about that.”

He also had a few words for the his fellow wounded warriors: “For the wounded warriors out there: You just never know what can happen in life if you just battle through it.”

• Kristina Wong can be reached at kwong@washingtontimes.com.

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