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A Little bit of Hollywood Lands in the Desert

  • Published
  • By Deployed 146th AW Member
  • 146th Airlift Wing
The "Hollywood Guard" recently deployed to Afghanistan with its aircraft, maintenance, and aircrew for approximately 100 days. The 146th Airlift Wing, also known as the "Hollywood Guard", has been part of Southern California's rich aviation and film history since the mid-1920s. The wing traces its roots to the fledgling days of the 115th Observation Squadron, an early military aviation unit of the California National Guard. The 115th Observation Squadron was founded in the summer of 1924 at Clover Field in Santa Monica, the site of today's Santa Monica Airport. The 146th Airlift Wing was also located at Van Nuys airport for over forty years and eventually moved to its current location just north of Los Angeles at Point Mugu.

The Hollywood Guard has changed aircraft through the decades having flown famous aircraft such as the World War I-vintage Curtiss JN4-D 'Jenny', Douglas 02-H, B-26 Invader, B-45 Tornado, F/P-51 Mustang, F-80 Shooting Star, F-86 Sabrejet, and the C-97. The aircraft we currently fly is the C-130J Super Hercules.

Members of the Hollywood Guard and its aircraft have participated as a unit in over 80 feature films to include films such as Stripes, The Perfect Storm, Silence of the Lambs, and Firefox. The Hollywood Guard's pilots and aircraft have also participated in and choreographed aviation sequences starting as early as the 1940s.

This proud tradition and bond to the film industry brought a unique idea to the unit's members as they prepared to deploy to combat in Afghanistan. Like all National Guard units, the Hollywood Guard has been exceedingly active since 9/11 with repeated deployments to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. During these deployments, every unit wants its identity to be recognized by others. What a better way to bring the tradition of the Hollywood Guard with the unit to theater than to share the top films of all time with other military members deployed. 100 days of deployment and the American Film Institute's (AFI) top 100 films.

Starting with 100 and working up to number one, the Hollywood Guard will attempt to screen AFI's Top 100 in 100 days of deployment. The screenings is under way now on a base in the Afghanistan. We'll keep everyone up to date in the progress and share thoughts about some of the films as we go. We can't wait to get to number one as the films just keep getting better and because that means we'll be coming home!

***The screening of each of AFI's top 100 films is well underway for our deployers from the 146th Airlift Wing. Every night while on their nearly 100-day deployment, our Airmen are watching a movie from the top 100, counting down another movie and another day until they return home. Here are some thoughts and commentary from the films they have veiwed so far from our deployers in the desert!


Where did they film this movie? A massive number of extras. Amazing musical score.

15 minutes into Ben Hur and it's interrupted by an attack on base... back to the movie!

The props, costumes and sets built for the movies must have taken a huge amount of time.

The battle at sea was awesome.

Profound moment when Ben Hur (Charleton Heston) goes from slave oarsman on a galley ship to holding the chains surrounding the ship's Captain after his ship is sunk in battle.

It is hard to beat the chariot race for an sction scene in a movie. Where did the director get guys who could drive four horse chariots so well?


This movie is a crowd pleaser. Buzz Lightyear and Andy make a perfect team.

We all grew up with the other toys like the Army men and Mr. Potato Head. A lot of people watching the movie wondered when the other Pixar classics like Finding Nemo and Up would make the AFI top 100.


It's tough to sell a musical to a bunch of military men, but Yankee Doodle Dandy worked. Most people were amazed that songs like "Give my Regards to Broadway", "Your a Grand Old Flag", and "Yankee Doodle Boy" were all writted by George M. Cohan.

It was interesting seeing the interpretation of George M. Cohan entertaining the troops during World War I with "Over There." It makes sense that President Roosevelt described Cohan as a symbol of the American Spirit.


Most people in the audience had seen this film before. The casting for this science fiction thriller was excellent.

Phenomenal acting by Rutger Hauer.

Quotes that stood out: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long."..."I've seen things that you wouldn't believe."...."All those moments will be lost like tears in rain."


Tough to watch on several levels

***More notes and details to follow on the films. We are trying to develop an outdoor viewing. We'll see if we get it done, but we're thinking of building a small stage patterned after the Hollywood Bowl. Of course it would be miniature in comparison and made of plywood, but would be a mark left by the "Hollywood Guard."