One day, way back 1986, Steve Rogers got a call from Warren McLean asking him to get in touch with me and for the both of us to proceed to the Bodega in back of Ken Metcalf’s Manila Entertainment office on Filmore Street in Makati City. Warren was the Casting Director for Platoon the Philippines. I think Ken was lined up for “Women of Valor” and wasn’t available for Platoon. Warren told Steve that somebody would pick us up and bring us to Puerto Azul in Tarnate Cavite. We had been hired as production assistants for Platoon. We had been hired with “Slave Wages” but this was one film I didn’t want to and couldn’t afford to miss out on.

We arrived at Puerto Azul and met H. Gordon Boos and the 2nd AD (can’t remember his name. He was Ooty Moorehead’s boyfriend and not the sharpest pencil on the desk). We were told that if we needed more money, just ask. So Steve and I agreed and the next thing we knew, we were unloading a 40′ semi trailer by ourselves as it was late Friday afternoon and everybody else had fucked off for the week end.

The two of us unloaded editing equipment, human skeletons and only God knows what else. Finally late evening we finished, no chow and we were checked in, not at the main hotel but this place called Cay Subic which were like small studio apartments far from the hotel but still within Puerto Azul. Thus started our employment on one of the greatest motion pictures ever made!

The following day, I was stuck in the production office photo copying the script in a miniature size for Gordon Boos who wanted to be able to carry the script in his back pocket. We didn’t see any of the actors as they were all gone to Camp Cateneda with dale Dye and his “Kiddie Marines” for some sort of “Boot Camp” training. We were to hear horror stories later on from the actors but then again, they had no real idea what Boot Camp is really like. I guess they also had the SFX guys out there with them setting up bogus booby traps and whatnot.

Meanwhile, Steve and I did bullshit work at the production office till we were handed our assignments. I was assigned to the Props Department and Steve went to transpo. Everyday we would go off to our respective assignments. I went to the Props warehouse, where I would inventory the props. We had real C-Rats, heat tablets (Though many guys in the bush would use some C-4 to heat their Limas and Motherfuckers) and I can’t remember what else because there was so much shit! If anybody would have looked inside they would have sworn that we had enough shit to start a war.Here are some of the lists that I scanned:

There are about 10  more pages of this stuff

I remember one day, we had to lug boxes of vitamins that Charley Sheen’s mom had sent to him. She had sent enough to supply an army! Then it was a final production meeting before the shoot. Fucking Gordon Boos had said that he didn’t want any hailers (megaphones) as he wanted to personally “intrerface” with everybody. Both Steve and I could see disaster looming on the horizon with that looney idea. For Christs sake. It was a war movie! No Megaphones? Fuck me dead!

The first setup was near this ancient bridge in Cavite that was made from bricks. Every time one of our trucks drove over the thing it would sway this way and that. You felt as if it would give way and you would plunge more than fifty feet to your death. However it stood the test and is still in place to this day!

Finally all of the trucks had been parked in their proper areas. Actors were grouping around Dale Dye as he started to brief then as to what the scene involved and what they would be doing. I took a PRC 25 Radio over to the group and immediately Dye told me, “I’m running these troops”! I replied, “I could give a rat’s ass! here’s the fucking radio!”

Then the actors having been fitted out with all the necessary gear, props, sweat effects and whatnot, were taken to the set where they began to block for the scene. All of a sudden Alex Ho is freaking out as to why there wasn’t any megaphone. He comes up to me and starts to give me shit about it. I was right back in his face. Gordon Boos didn’t want one as he wanted to interface with people on a personal level! Anyway, we had a megaphone on the truck. Actually we had several as Jun Juban had a good collection of gear, including hand held radios which all key people had. I wore mine on a pistol belt along with my Kbar ( a gift from Don Gordon before he left for the states), as well as my old canteen. When I worked on production, I made sure I had all the gear I would need. I even had fish hooks and fishing line in my alice pack. But I digress…

The shoot started to proceed and everything went surprisingly well. All of the actors (except for Francesco Quinn) were a bunch of ok guys. Many had come from theater so they already had a sense of self discipline that many other Hollywooders lacked. Jimmy Fitzpatrick remarked one day that this was one of the cleanest sets he had ever worked on as far as drugs went.

At the beginning of the shoot, I didn’t like Dale Dye very much and thought he was a prick. Once we were standing at the coffee and water table, and he told me that he didn’t feel comfortable with all of these “gooks’ around and he didn’t have his .45. I felt so embarrassed as one of the “gooks he was referring to was a professor from the University of the Philippines and was squatting Asian style next to the coffee table. It seems Dale had given his .45 to the pilot of the PAL flight he rode on coming over here, and upon landing, the .45 was turned over to AVSECOM and Dye never got it back.

The first “Chopper Day” Dale lost any sense of cooperation from the PAF pilots due to his course manner with the “gooks”. I was then assigned to wrangle and act as radio talker on board the choppers every day after that! I loved it! I got along with all of them, especially the pilots who were assigned to the Narcotics Command (hahahahahaha)! All around, they were a great bunch of guys and fantastic pilots!



2 Responses to “Platoon”

  1. Don Gordon Bell Says:

    Lord, I remember the K-Bar Marine combat knife but forgot I gave that to you. Where was it that I remember everyone was spooked by me, always sharpening my blade? “Sharp? sharp…like my knife?!” Think it was one of Cirio’s films. I remember Capt. Dale Dye and his Kids, not one had fired a shot in combat. I was introduced to the director and met them all, but I was committed to heading back to see my parents. I had not had contact with them for almost seven years and my sister sent me a ticket. Ken tried to get me to work on the project but I told him that you and Henry could do the job.

    When I met the Capt. I told him that I had read of him in a Vietnam book written by a journalist and was one of the best books I ever read, “Dispatches”. Yes, that’s it, and the good Capt. was mentioned during the battle for Hue City, leading a US Marine film documentary team. They were recording the final attack on the Citadel, the old French fort that the 1st Marine Regiment, Rein. with Vietnamese Ranger (?). He seemed embarrassed about me remembering but hey, we need combat media, and here he was starting a career as a military adviser. I have often wished that I had stayed for that film but God had other plans for me. Ce la guerre.

    • pinoywood Says:

      You gave me the KBar when we had your going away party. Warren McLean did the local casting as Metcalfe was busy with “Women of Valor”.
      Yes Dale Dye was quite the madman! Yet at the end of the day he did survive Hue City! His kiddie marines were the opposite. One idiot named Andrew talked a real bad game, then took off on a motorcycle one night. He quickly wiped out and broke his leg. He was quickly sent home. Then another idiot Robert ‘Rock’ Galotti, who played Huffmeister got the living shit scared out of him. He was always telling people fuck you or motherfucker. We put out a rumor that the NPA were going to kill him, he came up to me saying, “Jesus, it’s only a movie! I don’t want to die, etc etc) I told him that I knew the local NPA and I would take care of it, but, he had to promise to be nice from then on. He promised and everything was cool. On the other hand Mark Ebenhoch was a real good guy, he was always helpful and gave respect where respect was due. I will put all of the stories in the Platoon Post when I get a chance.

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