Babylon & Beyond

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IRAQ: Marines laugh, hoot, then go silent at HBO's 'Generation Kill'

July 10, 2008 |  8:26 am


The upcoming HBO miniseries "Generation Kill" may have faced its toughest, certainly its most knowledgeable, audience at its premiere Wednesday night at Camp Pendleton.

Several hundred Marines and several dozen spouses watched the first two episodes of the seven-part series, taken from Evan Wright's bestselling book about the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the six-week assault on Baghdad in 2003.

The Marines laughed and hooted in appreciation at the profanity, the hard-edged joking and the blatant disrespect shown toward certain officers (other officers are shown as figures worthy of admiration).

The episodes got high marks for realism, right down to details like the pizzas that were delivered from Kuwait as Marines waited for the invasion to begin, and the persistent rumor that Jennifer Lopez was dead. Chronic problems with communication gear and the lack of basic supplies (like batteries and lubricants) are also captured.

It was a young, enlisted, interactive crowd as the Marines saw things they knew to be true.

But there were moments when the audience fell silent: as Marines killed two guerrilla fighters and later as the Marines shot their way through a small town with gunfire raining down from all sides. For these scenes there was no laughing, no cheering, just heads nodding. This is a base that has suffered nearly 350 killed in Iraq and tenfold that many wounded.

"This is the real story about the real guys," former Staff Sgt. Eric Kocher, who is portrayed in the series and served as technical advisor, warned the audience before the lights went down.

— Tony Perry at Camp Pendleton

Photo: Reporter Evan Wright (played by Lee Tergesen) interviews Lt. Nathaniel Fick (Stark Sands) in a scene from the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill."

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