HURLBURT FIELD, FL – Optimus Prime may have said “Autobots, roll out,” but it was Hurlburt Field Air Commandos, who rolled out the red carpet when the third installment of the Hollywood blockbuster asked to film here in September, 2010.
Close to 50 Airmen, from Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command and the 1st Special Operations Wing, as well as a few servicemembers stationed in the local area answered a casting call to take part in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
“The Air Force and Department of Defense approved participation because it offered the unique opportunity to highlight Air Force capabilities and to showcase Airmen to a worldwide audience,” said Lt. Col. Francisco Hamm, U.S. Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office director of Public Affairs. “The franchise has been a great vehicle to showcase our aircraft, our Airmen and our mission capabilities, all within a canvass of joint operations.”
Members of the 1 SOW had a big role in the film by providing director, Michael Bay, a critical special operations CV-22B Osprey in flight and on the flightline. After an early morning shoot of the CV-22 over the Gulf of Mexico, the production moved to the Northwest Florida Regional Airport and then to Hurlburt Field, using every bit of light from dawn to dusk.
In addition to providing U.S. Air Force aircraft, locations and Airmen extras, AFSOC helped develop and refine one of the film’s primary characters, who portrayed a combat controller.
Tyrese Gibson’s character, Robert Epps, now a retired chief master sergeant in the third movie, leads a team of Special Operators as part of his role. Combat controllers are trained Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers who deploy first into hostile or denied territory to survey and secure assault and landing zones.
The background characters at Hurlburt Field played the roles of some of the ‘NEST’ or ‘Networked Elements: Supporters and Transformers’ soldiers in the movie. Filming also took place at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Present at the filming were Bay, producer Ian Bryce and actor Josh Duhamel. Seeing Duhamel was a particular highlight for another North Dakota native. A chaplain with the 1 SOW, Capt. Jonathan Hurt, grew up, played sports and went to school with him. The two had a chance Minot High School Class of 1991 reunion between acting takes.
“Even talking for those few minutes felt like we picked up right where we left off, waiting for our parents to pick us up after basketball practice,” Chaplain Hurt said. “I am very happy for his success…it really couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. It is a blessing to see people like him who seem to be able to handle the limelight and still keep their feet on the ground.”
As Lt. Col. William Lennox, Duhamel’s character does everything but keep his feet on the ground in action-packed scenes, including ‘wingsuit flying’ out of a CV-22.
The movie opened locally Wednesday, and for the first time, fans will get to see the Autobots, Decepticons and even Air Commandos in 3-D action.