PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It was a case of reality meeting fantasy at the Mall at Robinson over the weekend.
Local members of the U.S. military were invited to a military support event, where in addition to receiving information on everything from finding a job to advice for military spouses, they had a chance to meet actors from CBS’s “SEAL Team” drama and a best-selling-author who writes from his own experience about fictional SEAL Team members.
Actor AJ Buckley plays the character Sunny Quinn on the series. He’s never been in the military, nor is he from Texas like his character (he was actually born in Ireland). But he has a great respect for the men and women who serve our country.
“These guys, men and women, go over there and protect our country and give it everything they have to make sure we’re safe at home,” said Buckley. “When they come up to you and say ‘Hey, I love your show,’ I say ‘hey thank YOU’ for serving the country and doing something I know I could never do.”
Buckley and fellow actor Neil Brown Jr. say they both end up running into a lot of fans who stop them in airports to sing the praises of the show.
“I just ran into a Marine on the way to Pittsburgh. They’ll come up and say ‘hey man I love the show,'” said Buckley, who plays Senior Chief Ray Perry on the show, and whose own father is a Marine who served in Vietnam.
For his father and the other vets, he’s proud of and very meticulous about what he does.
“They feel like we’re putting the reality that they’re going through and the feelings that they have an showing it in a respectful way,” said Brown.
Actor Justin Melnick and his German Shepherd, Dita the Hair Missle, also came to support the Pittsburgh event. Melnick says he and the dog were invited to appear in the pilot for the series and eventually landed permanent roles.
“I’ve never seen anything like it on TV before,” said Melnick. “These guys have created a level of realism beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It really comes through when you watch the show. I’ve been to Afghanistan as a photographer. I’ve been all over the world. The show is so realistic on every angle.”
Brown and Buckley appreciate that the personal parts of the show are also realistic.
“Being in the military is something abstract,” said Brown. “We know they’re fighting for us but we don’t see it. Doing a show like this gives people a slight glimpse into what they go through.”
“The fact that our show has a platform to talk about things people don’t want to talk about like PTSD. I feel really grateful about that,” he said.
Author Jack Carr also traveled to Pittsburgh for the event. Carr spent 20 years as a SEAL team member. After he retired, he said his first job was to reconnect with his family, then find something to do with the rest of his life.
“I’m going to talk a bit about the transition from the military to people who are at that stage or will be at some point. Talk about what was important to me when I thought about the future and moving on,” he said.
Carr says always wanted to be a writer and figured that writing fiction about his experiences was a good idea. So far it has been.
His first book, “Terminal List” (published by Simon and Schuster, a division of CBS), which came out March 6, is selling well. He feels comfortable writing about what he knows so well.
“You’re doing it for the guys on your right and left. You’re doing it for the country, for the mission, for the team, but you’re not letting down the guys who are there with you day in and day out, fighting side by side,” he said. “We have that larger mission but we’re also supporting each other there on the battle field.”