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Local Marine to appear on History Channel

By Nathan L. Hanks, Jr. | | February 28, 2008

Although Hollywood has called him, he has not traded his diamond for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, yet.

 1st Sgt. William E. Bodette Jr., first sergeant, Headquarters Company, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, will be participating in a ten-part series on the History Channel called Battle 360.

 The series begins Friday and ends May 2.

 Battle 360, filmed by Flight 33 Productions in Hollywood, Calif., is a series of stories about the WWII aircraft carrier USS Enterprise which engaged in some of the modern combat’s fiercest multi-front battles.

 “I don’t know if I was excited or what” said Bodette. “I could not believe it was really happening to me.”

 As the shock wore off, Bodette kept asking himself, “Out of everybody from all over the world, why did they want me? I’m nobody special. I’m just a jarhead who did his job. All I did (in Afghanistan and Iraq) was man-up when the time came.”

 In January Bodette flew out to Hollywood for four days to work on the series.

 “Flight 33 Productions wanted me to commentate on the Marines and sailors that served aboard the USS Enterprise and how they fought against the Japanese,” said Bodette, a native of Clearwater, Fla. “The USS Enterprise is the most decorated ship in our nation’s history.”

 Before going to Hollywood, Bodette did some reading of his own. He studied the USS Enterprise’s illustrious history and the battles its Marines and sailors fought.

 The USS Enterprise was one of the aircraft carriers not in port when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, who was responsible for planning the attack on Pearl Harbor and most other major operations during this time, was very disappointed that the USS Enterprise was not in port during the attack.

 While on set, Bodette was asked to give his opinion or make a comparison using his own experience including comparing the Japanese Kamikaze pilots to the homicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 “People call them suicide bombers but they are not suicide bombers. They are homicide bombers because they are murderers. They don’t go after combatants; they go after innocent women and children,” Bodette said. “Unlike the criminals we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan today, the Kamikazes were combatants who fought against combatants.”

 One episode that stuck out in Bodette’s mind was the brave actions of Avaition Machinists Mate Bruno Peter Gaido.

 “The USS Enterprise was being attacked and Gaido who was on the flight deck ran over to a parked aircraft and jumped inside, grabbed the mounted machine gun and began firing at the bombers,” he said. “One of the bombers that was hit and crippled during his pass over the ship, turned his plane around and headed back toward the ship. This time he was not going to miss. He was going to fly his plane into the ship because he could not make it back to his home base.

 “As the Japanese plane approached the ship, Gaido stood his ground and continued to fire at the bomber. As the Japanese plane continued its descent, it clipped the aircraft Gaido was in, cutting it in half and narrowly missing Gaido,” he said.

 “Now that was unbelievable. That took guts.”

 This was not Bodette’s first time in front of a movie camera for the History Channel.

 Bodette was featured in a History Channel program,

 “Shootout: The Hunt for Bin Laden” which aired November 6, 2005, and again July 12, 2007.

 Bodette, a gunnery sergeant at the time, deployed to Afghanistan from May to July 2004 with 1st platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines. He was stationed at Camp Blessing near Nangalam in the Kunar Province in northeastern Afghanistan. Camp Blessing was a Special Forces firebase in the heart of Taliban and Al-Qaeda territory.

 The program depicted Bodette, his Marines and the Special Forces unit in three separate fire-fights in three days. During each contact, the enemy was pushed back with minimal American casualties. For his actions in Afghanistan, Bodette was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for valor.

 According to Brian Thompson, director of “Shootout: The Hunt for Bin Laden” and producer of Battle 360, Bodette is a natural.

 “He was chosen because he was in combat and that he could relate to those who fought on the USS Enterprise,” said Thompson. “With his experiences, he was able to talk about them (the Marines and sailors) in personal sort of way. They had something in common - combat.”

 When the show airs Friday, Bodette’s biggest fan, his mother, Laura Brooks said she will be watching with a cup of coffee.

 “I am very proud of my son,” she said. “I am very proud of his service and I will be taping each episode.”

 When asked to commentate for the episodes, Bodette said he was very proud and humbled at the same time.

 “Those who fought WWII are true heroes,” he said. “When I went to war, I went to war for seven months and came home for seven to eight months. Then went back to war for seven to eight months and then came back home.

 “When the guys who fought in WWII went to war, they did not come home until it was over,” Bodette said. “Then they came home, raised their families, went back to work and built this great nation.

 “The Marines and sailors who fought on the USS Enterprise are true heroes,” Bodette said. “That’s why I’m very careful of how I talk to people on the street. You never know who you are talking to. You may be talking to a bona fide hero.

 “To the best of my ability, I wanted to show what kind of true heroes they really were,” he said. “I am very honored and humbled to represent the Marines and sailors aboard the USS Enterprise.”

 If Battle 360 gets picked up for a second season, we could be seeing more of Bodette on the History Channel.

 “Although there may be future employment in this industy, I am a Marine first sergeant and this is my first priority,” Bodette said. “I’m not ready to trade in my diamond for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”