HBO’s “The Pacific” Deserves TV’s Medal of Honor

THE PACIFIC Deserves a Medal of Honor

THE PACIFIC Deserves a Medal of Honor

Tonight I just finished watching the conclusion of HBO’s 10-part mini-series “The Pacific.”  For those of you unaware, “The Pacific,” produced by Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks, chronicled the Pacific Theater of action during WWII.  Its predecessor, HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” was equally well done and this installment was as remarkable.  Many times I shake my head at the programs produced for television, but thanks to installments like these -TV shines a bit brighter.  It’s masterful and how TV was intended to be used.

“The Pacific” was a proud moment for TV.

If I had any complaints it would be that it saddens me that so many TV viewers were unable to watch this spectacle due to the fact that HBO is a premium paid cable service.  But, I am hoping in years to come that “The Pacific” will be offered to all free of charge over the Internet.  Its subject matter is something everyone needs to see  for it reminds us about the severity of war.

"The Pacific" Hopefully Will Be Available to All

I found its conclusion tonight beautifully done.  Yes, I was brought to tears – who wouldn’t when you’ve been eyewitnesses  to the what these featured soldiers endured through the last ten weeks.  It was mind-boggling seeing what a smidgen of their lives were like.  We saw firsthand what conditions they were under fighting the Japanese Army that would never give up in a terrain unsuitable for life. It was brutal and horrific.

I felt every human emotion possible watching these past ten weeks.  I understood what drove some of the men to go AWOL or act crazily.  I watched a naive Alabama youth loose his soul and sparkle in his eye as he became great at “killing Japs.”  I saw the horror of war when innocent civilians were caught in the cross-fire and I wept when a fallen hero, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone was killed.

But, it was its ending credits that took my breath away.  We had just finished watching some of our favorite characters return home and become acclimated into the American culture  and we knew that the series had to end.  I wanted to know more and the producers delivered.  Through the final credits we learned that the men in the series where based on the lives  of  “real” men (Marines) and we were able to read what happened to them after the war.  Despite what they went through and endured, we were presented with facts about their lives – and you know what? They all thrived.   One became a doctor; a couple wrote their memoirs; several stayed in touch with each other; one married his sweetheart from Australia – they made it and had offspring.

My Dad Serving His Country in Tinian in the Army

My Dad, Albert Ronzoni, could have been in this series. He lived that life in The Pacific. And so in his honor, here’s what could have been said about him after he returned from the war.

Albert Ronzoni was honorably discharged from the United States Army and returned to his hometown of Eveleth, Minnesota.  Through the GI bill, he was able to attend the University of Minnesota and graduated with a degree in Pharmacy.  He married his wife, Carol, after graduation and subsequently worked at Eveleth’s local drug store.  He was active in the VFW and he became a Commander and Carol ran the Ladies Auxiliary. He later moved his family west to California and practiced pharmacy there until his retirement.  He died in 2002 and is survived by his wife,  two daughters and two grandchildren.

I would like to personally thank Messrs. Spielberg and Hanks and HBO  for “The Pacific.”  The series opened my eyes to what my Dad went through, but I never knew.  Because of this event, I know have a better sense of who my Dad was, but he could never tell us.  Dad, I’m sorry that I didn’t understand you – I now know why you were so serious about life for you knew how lucky you were to still have yours.  I think that’s the right way we all should live – to be grateful we have this day.  And with that, I truly believe “The Pacific” deserves a medal of honor.

A Happy Family Moment for My Dad

HBO & LA Times Are Heroes for Basilone Coverage

Episode 8 Was a Tribute to John Basilone

I was simply awe-struck at the manner in which HBO’s episode 8 of “The Pacific” portrayed John Basilone last Sunday.  This episode was remarkable and unforgettable. What stood out, wasn’t the episode’s production value or even Jon Seda’s portrayal of the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient – it was the subject matter.  Since this series is based on true events, I knew that what I was watching really did happen and that this man from the Bronx, deserves the title of hero.

The episode progresses along nicely giving us viewers a glimpse into his life after he tires of selling war bonds.  After being a PR puppet and treated with celebrity status for over a year, he missed home which was The Marines and he wanted to come back. And so he did. He was assigned to train Marines at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, CA.  In doing so, he started to feel like his old self again by wearing fatigues, eating in the mess tent and being a gunnery sergeant.

Basilone is forever remembered near Camp Pendleton with a Street and Freeway Named After Him

Now, like most soldiers and you could have put me in that category too, I would have run right out of the service as fast as I could when my discharge was up.   But, not Basilone.  When his time was up, he enlisted for a third time even though he just got married.

The scene that brought me to my feet and made my eyes tear up and my jaw drop was his last charge leading his troops in Iwo Jima.  It was an amazing sight of heroism to witness. The battlefield was this man’s playing field.  He was one of the best as he led his Company through heavy artillery falling from the sky and direct shots and he kept going.  Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the executive producers of “The Pacific,” did him justice.  They re-created the magic that was this man – how different and special he was from the rest.  We were eye-witnesses as viewers and thus, we were able to see this soldier’s courage, determination, persistence and leadership.

I guess Basilone’s courage and heroism made such an impact on me because the world desperately needs heroes.  We don’t have too many walking around at the moment. Sadly, sports celebrities fall under this title from time to time – but, this heroism does not match that of Basilone – that’s entirely something else.

He Deserves A Book Deal

I mean I am just sick and tired of whining financiers who say they’ve got screwed in the meltdown.  Anyone who is angry that they didn’t get their million dollar bonuses…well, that means nothing to me and tells me about their selfish characters.  Our heroes are the men and women who are currently serving our Country everyday and because there’s no cameras on them we can’t see their heroism, but it’s there and they should be applauded.

This Basilone tribute was needed and it came none too soon.  America needed a sobering reminder that we should honor those who overcome great obstacles and make a difference in the world and we should spend less time following those who don’t  (I could name several here.)

I also wanted to recognize the LA Times too. On Monday, they had an article on the front page of its Calendar section written by William Lansford, a fellow marine, who cleared the air about Basilone’s last day in battle. I was so pleased to learn even more about this great man who deserves to be remembered – just like our past leaders.  Heck, based on his life and accomplishments, I think he deserves to have a national holiday named after him.

Be sure to pay honor to our true heroes, our service personnel, and thanks for letting me write about a man that made an impact in my life, some 65 years later.

Only two more episodes left…


The Pacific – A War & Promotional Idea Too Big

This post is a tribute to my father, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Albert E. Ronzoni, who fought in “The Pacific” during World War II.  This is for you Dad!

My Dad Serving His Country in the Pacific



The War in The Pacific has special meaning to me.  My father, Albert Ronzoni, was drafted out of high school by the U.S. Army to serve his country in World War II fighting the Japanese.  This intelligent, scholarly, 5’11″ kid from a small Northern Minnesota town was thrust through boot camp and shipped off to remote islands in the Pacific.  During his stint in the war, he fought battles in Saipan, Tinian, Espiritu Santo, Okinawa and the  Ryukyu Islands, before contracting malaria a month prior to his discharge.

He was a quiet mild man, who loved to garden and play hockey, football and curling.  He never fought nor shot a gun upon entering the Army.  He left a town where everyone knew each other’s names to fighting an enemy half a world away.  This experience affected him the rest of his life, and not in a good way.

The Time Has Come for this Story to be Told

Today, HBO is premiering the most expensive television event to date – the 10-part miniseries “The Pacific” – Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank’s WWII companion piece to HBO’s “Band of Brothers.”  I cannot begin to applaud HBO enough on greenlighting this important endeavor and forever documenting this historic period of war.  “Band of Brothers” was one of the most memorable series I have ever witnessed and now, with the debut of “The Pacific,” it will prove once again to be TV like we’ve never seen before.

I’ve known for several years that Spielberg and Hanks were embarking on this second theater of war, and was pleased for I wanted to learn more about what my Dad went through to make him who he was.  For you see, I have always felt my Dad was a shell of a man. I always thought I didn’t have my full Dad with me – it was just a sense I had and you sure couldn’t tell that from meeting him. After the war, he still was a quiet man who loved to garden, but he held himself back from accepting love, joy and happiness.  I think the war took that out of him, sadly way before I was ever born.

It is because of this belief I contacted HBO to present an idea I had about an innovative approach for affiliate screenings.  Here’s the idea I sent them on December 1, 2009.

“Thank you so very much for taking time today to discuss a community-led “The Pacific” screening and support group.  As mentioned, I have recently become aware that veterans suffer more than we know.  If not physically wounded from combat, they have been emotionally scarred from war. As a daughter of a WWII Staff Sergeant, I can attest to the fact that the war affected my dad and his ability to form trusting and loving relationships, partly due to his experiences I’m sure fighting in the first wave of offense in the Pacific.  Although, the screening that I am presenting is a bit revolutionary for affiliate relations-HBO will reap tremendous goodwill for their efforts and more importantly, HBO will be a part of healing soldiers.

I recently was informed by a crisis counselor that veterans receive effective healing in large groups.  As such, how great would it be if organizations opened their doors to invite the vets in from their community for weekly screenings of HBO’s “The Pacific.”  As with any support group like AA, these “The Pacific” screenings would be private – for vets – only.  It would be their safe place – their sanctuary if you will – to talk about their experiences with those who walked the same path. After each screening, the vets could break up into smaller groups and answer (3) questions.  And, if needed, counseling would be available to them and if at a church, then prayer is some requested that. But, it could be a place where they could talk and get their stories out.  My dad held his pain in his entire life – he never told his daughters what he saw.  He didn’t want us to know about what he faced at 18 years of age.  God bless him for that.

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