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Marine vet whose book inspired HBO’s ‘The Pacific’ dies at age 96

The Pacific HBO series premier (U.S. Marine Corps/Flickr)
April 17, 2019

A Marine veteran who wrote a book about the battles of World War II, later influencing an HBO miniseries, has passed away.

R.V. Burgin, 96, died at his Lancaster, Texas home on April 6, and a funeral service was held Friday, reported.

His book, “Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific,” inspired the HBO miniseries “The Pacific,” which premiered in March 2010. It is a 10-part miniseries that tells the true stories of three Marines battling in the Pacific theater during WWII.

The Pacific is based on true events and stories of U.S. Marines Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie, and John Basilone retrieved from their memoirs and reflects the battles of the 1st Marine Division from Guadalcanal and Peleliu to the Battle of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The miniseries is said to be a lot like the much-loved Band of Brothers, both focusing on the lives of a few soldiers and the nightmares they endured during the war.

Actor Martin McCann played the role of Burgin in the hit, which was produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, and won eight Emmys.

Burgin’s daughter, Maggie Shepherd said her dad wouldn’t speak about the war for about 35 years but after he went to a couple of military reunions, he was moved to write the book.

Task & Purpose reported that Burgin said in 2010, “For the first 35 years after my discharge, I never mentioned the war to anyone. Not to my wife, not to my kids, not to my co-workers — not even to any of my fellow Marines.”

Bill Marvel, a former reporter for The Dallas Morning News, teamed up with Burgin on his book. At first, Marvel had no interest in it, until the two met.

Marvel said, “He stood very straight, I mean just as straight as a rifle. One of the first things out of his mouth was he didn’t want anything sensationalized. He wanted an honest portrait. It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed to do this.”

All of the filmings for the miniseries took place in locations throughout Australia. The production costs totaled $200 million, which was double expected cost allocations, making The Pacific the costliest miniseries to date.

The Pacific was so on point and realistic that many who served in those battles felt like they were reliving the events, and some even had flashbacks.

In an opinion piece written by veteran Bill Gallo for NY Daily News, he said, “it was real, so goddamned real that my head darted back to when I was wearing green combat fatigues and carrying my M-1 Garand rifle fighting in the Pacific.”