Echoes of the Vietnam War

EP33: Vietnam Goes to Hollywood

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Captain Dale Dye served 20 years in the Marine Corps including three tours and 31 major combat operations in Vietnam. In 1985 he founded Warriors, Inc. to help Hollywood do a better job of depicting American fighting men and women. He has worked with some of the biggest names in the business — Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Oliver Stone, among others — and has appeared as an actor in dozens of films, including “Platoon”, “Saving Private Ryan”, and “Mission: Impossible.”

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Echoes of the Vietnam War


HOST: [00:00:06] I suppose at one time or another, we’ve all watched a movie or a TV show and scoffed at Hollywood’s depictions of different professions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a surgeon or a cab driver or a cowgirl. Hollywood too often turns professionals into caricatures. When it comes to depicting soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, Hollywood often gets that wrong, too. Sometimes in small, irksome ways that come from ignorance and other times in broader ways that can only come from, I don’t know, malice, I guess. In this episode, we’ll hear from a Vietnam veteran who set out to fix that and succeeded beyond his own wildest imagination. Captain Dale Dye served 20 years in the Marine Corps, including three tours and 31 major combat operations in Vietnam. He was decorated multiple times, including a Bronze Star for valor and three Purple Heart medals. In 1985, he founded Warriors Incorporated with a vision for helping Hollywood do a better job of depicting American fighting men and women and telling their stories. Besides working as a military adviser, Dale has appeared as an actor in tons of films: “Platoon,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Mission Impossible,” “Guarding Tess,” “Outbreak,”… Just to name a few, and also on TV in “L.A. Law,” “JAG,” and my personal favorite: “Band of Brothers.” He’s worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including film legends Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, and Oliver Stone, among others. And today he’s going to tell us his story. Stick around. From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Founders of The Wall, This is Echoes of the Vietnam War. I’m your host, Michael Croan, bringing you stories of service, sacrifice, and healing from people who still feel the impact of that conflict… Nearly 50 years later. This is Episode 33 “Vietnam Goes to Hollywood.” A quick word of caution, this episode does contain some language that won’t be shocking to people who’ve been around the military, but might not be appropriate for younger or more sensitive listeners. Dale Dye grew up in the “Show Me” state, the son of a World War II veteran.

DYE: [00:02:49] I grew up, you know, sitting around the barrooms with my dad, listening to the World War II veterans tell stories. And and I think I just fell in love with the what, what I considered at the time, the romance and adventure of of military service.

HOST: [00:03:07] Dale attended the Missouri Military Academy and dreamed of Annapolis. Unfortunately, he says, he played a little too much football and baseball in high school and chased a few too many girls. He excelled at language arts, but he couldn’t meet the Naval Academy’s expectations in science and math. His family didn’t have the money to send him to college, and so after high school, he wasn’t sure what to do next.

DYE: [00:03:32] Toward Christmas in 1963, uh, I was kind of lost and dejected on the streets of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and, uh, I, uh, I happened to be sitting on the curb with, uh, sleet blowing and all… Its miserable night…. Miserable guy. And I looked up and here’s this “A” sign, you know, it’s got this lantern jawed Marine in dress blue uniform, and he’s pointing at me, and there’s one word over the top, and that one word is “Ready.” And I looked around and I said, you know, by God, I think I am. So the next morning, um, I went into the, into the recruiting area at the post office and I didn’t bother with the Army, didn’t bother with the Air Force, didn’t bother with the Navy. I went right to that Marine and I said, sign me up, coach. I’m ready to go. And he was more than happy to do that at the time. So on the fourth day of January, 1964, I headed for San Diego boot camp.

HOST: [00:04:34] And where did they send you after that?

DYE: [00:04:36] Uh, Camp Pendleton, California. I went for infantry training, and it turned out I was pretty good at figuring out the, uh, remote gunnery solution. So they made me an 81 millimeter mortar guy, and and I, frankly, I enjoyed it, um, until I got bored with it. Um, and one day, uh, there was a fellow that that visited our outfit. And and he had a camera around his neck and he a notebook and he was talking to people and that sort of thing. And I said, well, I’ve never seen that. Who the hell is that? And he was a Marine and a Marine corporal. And so eventually I went up and talked to him and I said, hey, who are you and what are you doing out here? And he said, well, I’m a Marine Combat Correspondent. And I said, what’s that? And he said, well, it’s like a journalist. It’s like a reporter. And so I got to talking to him and he said to me, look. This. What I’m doing is a very small cadre of people in the United States Marine Corps, you know, double handful. But we can do anything. We can just do anything. Anything the Marine Corps does, we can do. And all we’ve got to do is produce a little story and maybe a picture or two, but we’re always there. We can go any, anywhere we want to fly in a helicopter one day? We can do that if we want to, uh, go out and march with the grunts one day? We can do that. If we want to fire artillery, we can do that. And I said, well, hell, that’s what I’ve been looking for here. And he arranged for me to talk to some officers, um, and, uh, and, and the upshot was that, uh, they figured, I don’t know, they gave me a little test and some other things.

DYE: [00:06:17] They figured I might make one of those guys. So, um, off we went. And, uh, I was scheduled to go to an “A” school for military journalism and all that sort of thing. Never made it because I rapidly found out that the fact that they call these guys Marine Corps Combat Correspondents, they do that for a reason because they’re supposed to be in combat and, uh, and, uh, without any real schooling and very little experience, uh, I went off to join the First Marine Division in, uh, this was 1967, uh, mid to early 1967. And off I went to join the First Marine Division, which was, uh, happily ensconced at that point in I Corps up in the northern reaches of Vietnam and, uh. I began my combat experience as a as a combat correspondent.

DYE: [00:07:27] It was a unique look at combat, especially infantry combat. Uh, our job essentially was to run to the sound of the guns. And you had to be up there, and you had to be helping. And the the the infantry called us, uh, JARs. I finally said, what the hell is a JAR? He said, Just Another Rifle. I said, got it. Okay. And in large measure, that’s that’s how it turned out to be. But it also gave me a very broad and expansive look at the war in Vietnam and the people who were fighting it. And, and I think one of the lessons I carried away from all of that over 20 years in uniform was that, uh, in combat, you get to see the absolute full gamut of human behavior. You get to see the best of humans and the worst of humans. And and that’s always stayed with me.

HOST: [00:08:24] I think we all can probably imagine some of the worst. So I won’t to ask you to recount any of those gory details, but can you talk a little bit about when you say you’ve seen the best of people? Uh, are there specific examples that still stand out in your mind?

DYE: [00:08:39] Well, you see… You see the true meaning of, of and this is sometimes difficult for people to, uh, to assimilate, but, uh, you see the true meaning of the word “love.” Um. It. It has so much more. Um. Meaning in human experience and just romantic love. Um, you see what is truly a band of brothers and how that band, um, is formed and how that love grows. Uh, you see people from absolutely disparate backgrounds. Um, you know, the black kid from southern Alabama and the, and the white kid or the Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx, um, come together and and become, because of their relationship, become willing to really lay down their lives, really to, to sacrifice for the other guy. And, and there were countless examples of that. Um, so much more than the other end. Um. The brutality of the war. But, but I saw guys go up and and literally, with no hope of really surviving, um, the intense incoming fire go up and grab a guy and pull him out, and he’d go down. Now you got two wounded out there, and another guy goes and pulls them both back, and you see that sort of thing, uh, regularly.

DYE: [00:10:08] And it says, it says to me, or it poses the question to me, what the hell causes that? How can a guy do that in the face… knowing that he’s going to get nailed? How can a guy do that? Um, and I saw it so many times. Um, you see, uh, and it’s not just an adrenaline surge. There’s that, of course, um, but you see guys doing that just because it’s the right thing to do. Just because if they don’t do it, and nobody else does it, somebody’s going to die out there. And that gives that gives a new meaning to to life and love and all that sort of thing. Look, it took me years and years and years after the war to formulate all of this… I it didn’t arrive full blown in my mind. Um, but as I began to teach and as I began to train and as I began to, uh, get involved, for instance, in, in motion pictures where I had to train actors and to try to describe that experience to them, that unique human experience to them. That’s when it became solidified in my mind so that I understood it.

HOST: [00:11:24] Yeah… I’m curious about life as a combat correspondent. Um, you know, I would imagine that along with all of the perks, right? The ability to go anywhere and do anything the Marines are doing, there must have been frustrations as well. Did you find that you could report honestly what you saw, or did you feel like you had to kind of report what, what, the what the brass wanted to hear?

DYE: [00:11:46] Yes. I could report what I saw, but look, you’re, you’re thinking of it in, in a more civilian combat correspondent context where they’re reporting the news of I wasn’t doing that and Marine Corps combat correspondents weren’t doing that. We were doing the little stories, you know, Rudy in the rear rank with a rusty rifle and what his life is like and what he’s done today and what he did during this ambush and, and that sort of thing. Um, the big picture, the broader look, um, whether America was right, wrong or indifferent in Southeast Asia, that that wasn’t our business. And we and we rarely ever thought about it.

HOST: [00:12:23] I see. So you went on to do I believe you did three tours. Is that right in Vietnam?

DYE: [00:12:29] Yeah, I did, yeah. Um, and and some, some of the, the glitches in time has to do with medevacs the fact that I got wounded a couple of times and had to spend time in a hospital and so on and so forth, um, but when it when it all adds up, I ended up doing about 31 months on the line. Um, so, uh, or in and out of the line, as the case may be.

HOST: [00:12:53] I’m assuming that after your first tour, you had the option of not returning to Vietnam. So those two additional tours you volunteered for those?

DYE: [00:13:02] The frank answer is, yeah, I wanted to I wanted to stay and see this. I had found a place where I was good. I had found a place where I could survive. I had found a place where, as I said earlier, I was getting a look at absolutely the best and absolutely the worst of human behavior. I was getting a look at how the Marine Corps worked. I was getting a look at how the other services worked. Um, and all of that was fascinating to me.

HOST: [00:13:30] And you were getting a look at how the enemy worked.

DYE: [00:13:32] Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I got to I got to know the, uh, early on, uh, the Viet Cong. Uh, and then after Tet of ’68, which was, uh, a horrible time for me, um. I got to look at very, very up close and personal look at the North Vietnamese Army. And they were fascinating. What I, what I could, what I could discern about them. Um, in, uh, Tet of 1968, I fought in Hue with the Fifth Marines. And, uh, that was really up close and personal, if you’ll forgive the sports reference. But, um, up until that time, a lot of, uh, the jungle fighting in I Corps that I experienced was you were shooting at fleeting shadows, or you were shooting at muzzle flashes that you’d see, uh, off in the distance, but in Hue the average range would be five or six feet, and there he is, and you better shoot first. And, uh, and I certainly got a look at how the NVA, the North Vietnamese Army, operated and the tenacity that they showed and the ingenuity that they showed. Um, and it gave me a whole new respect for that enemy out there. I mean, it wasn’t Mr. Charlie, the the local rice farmer by day and guerrilla fighter at night in the conical hat – that was gone. I mean, we were up against really good professional soldiers. And so the, the aspect of the war that I was observing began to morph. And the more things change, the more interested I become in them. Um, because I want to master what I can. So I’d say, much like for the entire American effort in Vietnam, uh, what changed my perspective and told me that I needed to stay in here and fight this thing to the end, uh, was the Tet Offensive of 1968.

HOST: [00:15:28] And when was your final tour?

DYE: [00:15:30] Final tour 1970. Um, they were starting to, uh, pull the Marines out at that point. Um, they were decreasing the size of the Marine Corps commitment to Vietnam. And, uh, and I had been wounded again. And they said, well, you know, maybe, maybe what you want is not important. It’s what we want, and we want you out of there. So I think it was, uh, May or June of 1970 was, uh, was my last gasp.

DYE: [00:16:11] When I left, I was a bit disillusioned. I was not at all disillusioned with the performance of the American soldier on the ground. That was magnificent. And I knew that from firsthand personal observation how magnificent that was. Sure, we had our buttholes, and we had people who were, uh, uh, you know, should never have been in uniform in the first place. Um, and we had people who just couldn’t adapt to the combat situation, but for the most part, the vast majority were were wonderfully dedicated people who were willing to do whatever it took. Um, they weren’t fighting for a great cause, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, they were fighting for the guy on their left and the guy on the right.

HOST: [00:16:54] Yeah. So after three tours in Vietnam, you went on to complete a 20 year career in the Marine Corps. Uh, was that part of a plan? Did you have a plan when you came home?

DYE: [00:17:07] No. The Marine Corps had a plan for me, but I guess I guess I should say a word here about homecoming, if you will. I had been a long time in combat, and I was suffering from some mental aberrations about it. Psychological aberrations is a better way to say it to today, what we call PTSD, which is a terrible word we ought to get rid of in the language. It’s not a disorder, but I digress… Um, and the good news is, I mean, frankly, when I got home, I…. You and I wouldn’t be having this conversation unless. Unless you were in uniform I didn’t have any time for you. And the good news was that, um, I was able to sort of hide in the Marine Corps. Uh, I… It was easy to live on a Marine Corps base and not ever go outside the gate if you didn’t want to. And that’s kind of what I did, but I got… I think I was able to sublimate it to some extent. And the good news, uh, or the solution in my case, the remedy in my case was I began to write, and I began to write seriously, and I began to write about, um, about what I had experienced. And it was cathartic. It really was. And, and after a couple of years, I mean, I had my first book published, a book called Run Between the Raindrops, uh, about the Tet Offensive of 1968, a battle in Hue.

DYE: [00:18:40] Um, and it was it was cathartic. And I said, you know, I can get over this. I can handle this. I can talk to civilians without choking the life out of them. And so I was able to kind of recover. And the Marine Corps at that point, um, I had been decorated and, and, uh, considered to be a relatively combat-experienced guy. And the Marine Corps at that point under a commandant by the name of Lou Wilson, a World War II, uh, Medal of Honor recipient, uh, decided that we were going to clean up the Marine Corps. Um, and to do that, in General Wilson’s view, uh, what we had to do is take good, solid combat leaders, uh, enlisted men. And, and we need to commission them. And, and we need to use those Mustang officers to get out there and get us back to the roots and restore discipline and all that sort of thing. I think I was a master sergeant at the time, so I was just one step from the highest enlisted rank there could be. Uh, but he, he and several of my other officers wanted me to go to Quantico, wanted me to become an officer. They said that’s the future. That’s where you belong. So I ended up, uh, becoming a warrant officer. Uh, and I was a warrant officer for a couple of years.

DYE: [00:20:00] Um, great. Great rank in the Marine Corps. Uh, and I was able to train and influence a bunch of young Marines that I think are better off for it. Um, and then eventually, um, I was able to, I got my college degree, um, in English literature, of all things… And, uh, and was able to then convert my commission from warrant to a,,, I never became a second lieutenant… I went directly from chief warrant officer to first lieutenant. And I began to to really become a good trainer and a good leader and a good teacher. And that was that was enormously rewarding to me. So I was willing to hang around for as long as they would let me. And then I was a captain at the Second Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, when we made our commitment to Beirut, Lebanon, in the multinational force. And I went with the American contingent of the multinational force, which was Italians, Frenchmen and Americans. Um, and and I was over there quite a while, and but it was a loser and I could see it coming. Everybody could see it coming. The more, the more we tried to help, the more we were perceived as taking one side or another. And in October of 1983, we got a lot of people killed. We got 241 killed in a in a barracks bombing.

HOST: [00:21:32] Were you in Beirut when that happened?

DYE: [00:21:34] I wasn’t there for the actual bombing. Uh, I had rotated home a couple of months earlier. Uh, but I knew all those guys in the battalion landing team headquarters, and a lot of them were very close friends. And, uh, the truth of the matter is, it sort of broke my warrior’s heart.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: [00:21:54] I know there are no words that can express our sorrow and grief over the loss of those splendid young men.

DYE: [00:22:09] So when that happened, I said, you know, if I’m in a situation where I can no longer look a young Marine in his or her beady-ass eyeballs and say, follow me, it is necessary that we die. If I reach that point, it’s time to quit. And so I did. Um, I had enough years in to retire with a pension, and I did that.

HOST: [00:22:32] Right, so that was 1984. And did you found, uh, Warriors, Inc. the same year?

DYE: [00:22:38] Uh, I think it was ’85. I think it was the next year I had had this plan sort of cooking in the back of my head. I’d always been a movie fan. Uh, I think I’d seen every military movie there was. And and in large measure, the common denominator was most of them piss me off, uh, because they just, like a lot of veterans, you know, it wasn’t… They just weren’t reflective of the life we lived and who we were and how we treated each other and that sort of thing. And I would watch the credits and eventually I’d see somewhere buried in the credits would be, you know, uh, Colonel Freddie Empty Threats, U.S. Army, retired military technical adviser. And I said, well, what the hell is that about? Don’t, don’t they listen to him, or doesn’t he know? Or what’s the deal? And the truth is, you can do a lot of things. If people tell you you can’t do when you’re ignorant. And God, was I ignorant about how movies are made and that sort of thing. Here was my my theory in brief. Every veteran has been to a military movie and seen the ribbons on the wrong side, or the the beret that looks like a pizza plate on top of his head, you know. And those are the those are the superficial things that piss us all off.

DYE: [00:23:57] Um, and they piss me off. But I thought there was something more important missing. I thought there was a lack of understanding or a shallowness of understanding on the part of the actors I was seeing portraying us. In my view, they didn’t get us. They didn’t know who we were, how we thought, how we responded to each other, how we contacted with each other. Uh, all of that dark humor that we use to buoy our spirits, uh, in, in bad situation. Didn’t understand any of that. Somebody somebody needs to train those people. And you know what? I’m terrific at training. So, and I have the experience in the background to to go with it. So what I’ll do is I’ll form an outfit here and I’ll call it Warriors Incorporated, and I’ll go out there and I’ll try to sell my services to the motion picture industry.

DYE: [00:24:56] Well, the motion picture industry wasn’t at all interested. Uh, because I had this radical new idea that I was going to take these actors out and make them miserable and reduce them to the lowest common denominator, and then build on that knowledge and insight about about military service and military people. So the response I got generally was, look, kid, we’ve been making military movies for three decades and we’ve done just fine. We’ve made gazillions of dollars doing it our way.

DYE: [00:25:30] Who needs your crapola? And and you want to just punish our pampered movie actors? No, I don’t, I don’t think so. So I was really kind of in a, in a bad spot. I was really about to give it all up. Um, it just didn’t seem to… My dream or my my wild-ass vision, if you will, just wasn’t, uh, wasn’t meeting with much reception in the established Hollywood. And so, um, uh, you know, I was really at odds ends. I’d had the, uh, the application form for McDonald’s assistant manager position all filled out on my desk, and, and I was just about to say, okay, that’s it, I got to, I got to give it up. And I was paging through Daily Variety. Um, and I saw this, uh, little notice in a column written by a guy named Army Archerd, I think he’s dead now, but, um, he was a Hollywood sort of gossip reporter and that sort of thing. And, and it said that a here to for relatively unknown writer/director by the name of Oliver Stone was going to do a, uh, Vietnam War picture based on his own experience as a combat infantryman in Vietnam. And I said, Christ, if I can get to this guy, if anybody’s going to understand what I want to do, he will understand what I want to do.

HOST: [00:27:02] After a short break, Captain Dale Dye puts his method where his mouth is and shows some of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters how to behave like professional fighting men.

HOST: [00:27:42] This year, we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And to commemorate this milestone, every day at 3:00 PM eastern, we read the name of every Wall honoree who died on that date. This is in addition to the live in person reading of the names that will be held in Washington, DC beginning on November 7th. You can visit for more information about the daily virtual reading of the names and about the in-person event. For 40 years, VVMF has led the way to help heal our nation, remember those who gave all and honor all who served. Our new Legacy Endowment will ensure that we can continue honoring Vietnam veterans for the next 40 years and beyond. We launched the Legacy Endowment with a $500,000 matching gift campaign, the Legacy Challenge. Each new outright gift or gift established through a will, will be matched up to 50 percent, with a maximum of $50,000 matched per gift. All qualifying gifts established or newly identified before November 12th of this year are eligible for the match. Learn more at Have you ever heard of Wall Magic? People who visit the wall talk about it. It’s that unexpected, often spiritual connection or discovery that happens when you visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

HOST: [00:29:02] It’s one of those things that if you know, you know, you’ve either experienced it or you haven’t, well, maybe you’d like to, but you can’t easily get yourself to The Wall in Washington, D.C.. That’s exactly why VVMF created The Wall That Heals, an exact replica of The Wall at three-quarter scale that travels to communities all across America. The Wall That Heals and the Mobile Education Center that travels with it will be in Tama, Iowa August 4th through 7, and Kearney, Nebraska August 11th through 14. To see the rest of this year’s tour schedule, and to learn how you can bring The Wall That Heals to your town, visit When we left Captain Dale Dye, he was just about to give up on his vision of helping Hollywood filmmakers depict American service members more authentically and more completely. Just as he was about to apply for a job as an assistant manager at McDonald’s. Dale saw a notice in one of the trade papers. Oliver Stone was planning to make a movie based on his experiences as a combat infantryman in Vietnam. Dale thought if anyone in Hollywood would be receptive to him and his vision, it would be an ambitious director who had been in the shit.

DYE: [00:30:26] So through some machinations I can’t really tell you about because the statute of limitations may not have run out yet, uh, I managed to get five minutes with Oliver Stone, and I pitched it what I thought was wrong with previous war movies… And how by applying my method, we could fix it with his war movie. And we kind of sniffed each other like strange dogs, you know, for a while… And and I think he finally got the idea. He asked me a few questions and I answered about my experiences in Vietnam. And I think he I think he, he, he was either desperate or he actually got what I was trying to tell him. I’m still not sure to this day, but, uh, but Oliver was, uh, he decided, okay, I’m going to give this guy a shot. And he gave me 33 actors, uh, uh, to take for three weeks into the mountains of the Philippine jungle and, uh, and train them. And what he said was, when you bring them out of here, if they aren’t what you and I were at 19, if they don’t look like it, they don’t talk like it and they don’t act like it. You’re fired. And I said, okay, I got it. So off I went, doing it my way for the first time. And we had guys like that that now are big names that weren’t then. We had Forest Whitaker, Johnny Depp, um, Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, um, Johnny C. O’Reilly [Sic, McGinley], and on and on and on. But I, I wore ’em out. I wore ’em out and, uh, and made them live, made them dig their own hole and live in it. And, uh, and I did that for three weeks and, and, and when we brought them down out of there, Oliver looked at me and his eyebrows went up, and I said, I told you, that’s us. And he said, yeah, it is. So, uh, we made this little movie called “Platoon.”

CHARLIE SHEEN, “PLATOON”: [00:32:26] War is over for me now.

CHARLIE SHEEN, “PLATOON”: [00:32:28] But it will always be there. The rest of my day.

CHARLIE SHEEN, “PLATOON”: [00:32:32] As I’m sure Elias will be. Fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called possession of my soul. There are times since.

CHARLIE SHEEN, “PLATOON”: [00:32:44] I felt like a child, born of those two fathers.

HOST: [00:32:48] Stone developed such a respect for Dale. He gave him a role in the film, kicking off an impressive career for Dale as an actor. In fact, Dale is the only actor to appear in all three of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam Trilogy films, which include “Born on the 4th of July” (1989) and “Heaven & Earth” (1993). But it all started in 1986 with “Platoon.”

DYE: [00:33:11] He knew that I had trained those people and that they would respond to me as their company commander, and in fact, he cast me as the company commander in the movie. But the point of it all, is that we brought that little movie home, and it promptly won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture for Best Picture and Best Director for Oliver. And he was very gracious in recognizing me publicly, both in the credits and and at the Academy Awards, uh, for my contribution to the success of that movie. And, uh, and nothing succeeds like success in Hollywood, as you probably know. And, uh, and so all those people who were throwing me out of their offices and everything, now the phone was ringing and everybody wanted me to work on their film, and to recreate what I did with, with “Platoon.” And that was the beginning of the Warriors Incorporated, uh, legacy, if you will.

HOST: [00:34:11] Yeah, that’s not a bad start, I guess. You know, your your first gig in Hollywood wins four Oscars. Um, uh, how many films did you go on to do with Warriors, Inc.?

DYE: [00:34:21] If you include, uh, miniseries and television programs, feature films, and if you include my work both behind camera and in front of camera, uh, it turns out to be about 51, I think. I think that was the last count, 51 or 52.

HOST: [00:34:39] I know that you went to California with sort of a vision in mind, but even you must have been surprised at the the scale of your success.

DYE: [00:34:49] I was surprised after “Platoon,” what I perceived was, even if this does well… maybe, maybe it’s a one off. You know, maybe I’m, I’m dreaming too big here. I’m getting above my raisins. But what I found. Which was an extraordinary development, uh, when the film, when “Platoon” became so popular nationwide, worldwide, I began to get invitations along with Oliver and some of the cast members, um, to appear on things like “Good Morning America” and, uh, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and… The audience for those, interestingly, was veterans. Vietnam veterans, guys who had kept their entire experience in Vietnam in the closet, if you will… Who wouldn’t talk about it, didn’t want to talk about it because nobody could understand, and so on and so forth. And suddenly we do this film that admittedly, is not is not the end all and be all of everybody’s Vietnam experience, I mean, ask any veteran: It depends on where you were, what year you were there, what service you were in, if you had to, that guy who was there in ’65 and a guy who was there in ’69, uh, an Air Force guy talking to a Marine, it seems like two different wars from their experience. But what I found was that there was enough commonality that I can take my wife, my parents, and say, look, I didn’t really want to talk about Vietnam…

DYE: [00:36:26] It’s… Nobody understands. But if you watch this, maybe you’ll get a little look of what that war was and what it did to us. And and so I observed that and I said, well, maybe, maybe I have helped do something here that is larger than just a piece of entertainment. Maybe this is something that that our veteran community needed at that time. And I think that’s right. I think we we brought out something that that America’s Vietnam veterans could point to and say, look, it may not be my story… There may be some stuff in there I don’t agree with, but there’s enough detailed nuance and and atmosphere and psychology about the relationship between individual soldiers. There’s enough of that in there that you can understand something of why this was such a seminal experience for me in Vietnam. But it occurred to me that I may have a tiger by the tail here, and if I do it right, if I continue a dedication to getting it right, if I continue in a dedication to teaching and and monitoring performances, um, that will connect with audiences, veteran audiences and non-veteran audiences, then maybe I can have a big influence.

DYE: [00:37:47] And look, uh, I was smart enough to know that the popular media is a huge influencer. And so if I were to work in in that medium, maybe I could make a difference. And then I began to expand. I began to get opportunities to work on video games. Uh, I began to get opportunities to work on music videos, all, all military related in some fashion or another. Um, I began to do talk radio in Los Angeles, um, and, and more and more, um, I expanded the whole Warriors concept and, and sort of, uh, honed the mission. The Warriors mission was simply to shed some well-deserved and long-overdue positive light on the men and women who’ve worn our military uniform. Um, that sounds cliche, but I really mean it. And so I took every opportunity to do that. And the more, the more my name became known and the more my work became known. Uh, both in front of and behind the cameras, um, the more opportunity I had to do that. We did live entertainment shows and theme parks and and all sorts of things. So I would do I would do practically anything as long as I could see a connection to the overall Warriors agenda.

HOST: [00:39:08] That’s really just an amazing, uh, breadth of, of success. Um, so what are some of the projects that you’ve worked on that you’re the most proud of and why?

DYE: [00:39:20] Well, I’ll always be proud of, uh, very proud of “Platoon,” uh, for the reasons I told you earlier. Um, I think it taught me, uh, that a.) My method works; and b.) It allowed me to sort of hone and refine how I use my method and see it convinced me that that what I’m doing, if I do it right, uh, can have an an influence beyond entertainment in, in a motion picture or a television show. So “Platoon” is always going to be close to my heart because it was, you know, it would launch my career, if you will. Um, but but I’m very, very proud of, uh, “Band of Brothers,” uh, the miniseries.

HOST: [00:40:08] Oh, yeah. That that is hands down the best television I’ve ever seen. And I thought you were terrific in it as Colonel Sink.

DYE: [00:40:16] Thank you. In fact, you know, I walk into the little pubs here in, in, uh, Lockhart, Texas, everybody said, “Hey, Colonel Sink,” you know, so there’s one of those roles that that kind of lives in perpetuity.

HOST: [00:40:29] Yeah, I actually have the DVD box set, and I probably watch it once a year. Yeah,

DYE: [00:40:34] It’s, it’s extraordinary.

DYE: [00:40:35] And and I’m, I’m very proud of it. I’m very proud of “Born on the Fourth of July,” Um.

HOST: [00:40:41] Oh, man.

DYE: [00:40:42] Which started a long ongoing relationship with Tom Cruise that I have.

HOST: [00:40:47] I am so ashamed to say that I never saw that movie.

DYE: [00:40:50] What are you, a communist?

HOST: [00:40:51] No, no, I, I just I wasn’t interested in it in at the time that it came out and, uh, I just, I haven’t gone back to, to check it out yet.

DYE: [00:41:00] You should see it. It’s a good film. Um, and, and I’m very proud of, um, um, “Saving Private Ryan,” which, uh, was an extraordinary experience and the beginning of a long relationship with Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

HOST: [00:41:17] Yeah. Another multiple-Oscar winner that you were an advisor on and also played a part in. So let me ask you, I know that you recently left Hollywood and moved to Texas, and I guess I’m… I guess I’m concerned that, um, with you stepping away from the business, that… We’re just doomed to have all future movies depicting the military to be, I don’t know, disappointing.

DYE: [00:41:44] Well, that gives me way too much credit. Um, look, I think my success has influenced others. Uh, there are some guys and gals out there that that want to be Captain Dye 2.0 or 1 point, whatever the hell it is… You get the analogy and that’s okay. But too many of them don’t get how much work and research there is involved. You know, I did, I did, uh, two deployments to Iraq and I did three to Afghanistan, therefore, I can be a movie technical advisor. No. What about if the movie’s about the Navy? What about if the movie’s about the Air Force? What about if the movie uses weapons from a historical period you weren’t in uniform for? Um, how do you handle that? How do you do that? How do you develop? How do you write a training schedule for a 256-man Greek phalanx, as I did in “Alexander?” Uh, you’ve got to be able to do those things. Um, and most of the young men and women who say they want to do what I do don’t get it, you know, and they sometimes they’ll get one movie and they’ll do a great job, and then nothing… Because they don’t know that, you know, you’ve got to expand your horizons and broaden your field and your field of expertise. So here’s, here’s the direct answer to your question: I, I may be backing off, although I’m, I’m still going out in November to help do a new film, but, uh, I may be backing off of that, um, but I think there are people in the wings, if you will, uh, who have observed enough of what I’ve done and heard enough about what I’ve done and the way I do it, uh, that they can step up and develop their own methodology as long as the, as the means support the same end. Uh, you won’t be left out in the cold for military movies. And, uh, more importantly, uh, the the mission will continue of giving audiences an insight into who we are, what we are, and why we are.

HOST: [00:44:04] In addition to his long and distinguished military career, followed by decades of success in one of the toughest businesses on Earth. Dale has also authored several books, including “Run Between the Raindrops,” “Conduct Unbecoming,” and a novelization of the film “Platoon.” His latest book is “Korean Odyssey: A Novel of a Marine Rifle Company in the Forgotten War.” We sure are grateful to Dale for sharing his story with us, and we’re grateful to you too, for supporting the official podcast from the founders of The Wall in Washington, DC. If you’d like to give us a little extra boost, tell a friend or two to check us out. Or better yet, leave us a rating or a review wherever you get your podcasts. That’s the most powerful way to help new listeners find us. We’ll be back in two weeks with more stories of service, sacrifice, and healing.

HOST: [00:44:59] We’ll see you then.

Echoes of the Vietnam War

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Full Interview with Dale Dye

Echoes of the Vietnam War

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Echoes of The Vietnam War

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