Season premiere dedicated to 2 fallen Marines
By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jan 20, 2007 8:58:04 EST
Helicopters crisscross the skies over Los Angeles with such regularity that the sight is a staple of city living. But a pair of Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters ready to decimate a terrorist group? Well, only in a movie. Or the season opener of “24.”
The Fox network show’s Season 6 sees the return of Jack Bauer, a counter-terrorist guru who single-handedly takes down evildoers as easily as he did last season’s slimy, weak U.S. president. Haggard and tortured from two years in a Chinese prison, Bauer steps off a Navy C-130 aircraft only to be traded by the U.S. government with a known terrorist in a deal to end a string of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
But little is what it seems. In a short time, Bauer, portrayed by actor Kiefer Sutherland, escapes assured death (yet again) after the terrorist, Abu Fayed, admits that he, not Hamri al-Assad, a bad guy who’s renouncing terrorism, is the bombing cell’s leader. The story lines twist and turn as Bauer and the Counter Terrorist Unit realize that al-Assad is good and Fayed is bad.
Bauer then has to rescue al-Assad when two Super Cobras, under presidential orders, scream over a neighborhood to fire Hellfire missiles into a house full of what is believed to be a nest of terrorist bombers.
A crew spent Sept. 6 filming Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775 perform live-fire and aerial training at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
“The shoot coincided with some training that the squadron was actually doing,” said Gunnery Sgt. Chago Zapata, a Hollywood liaison. “It was a lot of fun.”
Flying the helicopters were Lt. Col. James Fox and Majs. Dave Gual, El LeBlanc and Ron Cannizzo, though none had a cameo.
“We’re famous, but not famous,” said Fox, the squadron’s operations officer.
But a tiny cockpit camera showed the back of LeBlanc’s helmeted head in scenes as the helicopters zipped over Los Angeles, a screenshot that’s caused relentless teasing from his squadron mates.
“It was fun. We always enjoy doing that sort of stuff,” Fox said.
While he admitted that he hadn’t been a huge fan of the show, “I think we all are now.”
Fox and Gual wanted to honor lost friends, Majs. Gerald Bloomfield and Michael Martino, the HMLA-369 flight crew known as Gunshot 66 killed in combat operations in Iraq on Nov. 2, 2005, so they asked producer Michael Click about dedicating the premiere to them.
“We said, ‘Look, we had some of our friends shot down in Iraq,’ ” Fox said. “He said, ‘Sure, that was easy to do.’ ”
“It was awfully nice of those guys,” he added.
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