One of those real people is Floyd Countys Eric Haney, one of the original members of hush-hush Delta Force, upon whose recollections and experiences the new TV series The Unit (9 p.m. on Tuesdays, CBS) are based.
The series has a pilot and 12 episodes ready to go that will try to cast actual derring-do in other than purely Rambo dimensions as well as deal with the family lives of the servicemen involved lives in which their wives cannot know the actual dangers they are facing on missions.
This TV series is plainly designed in hopes it will have a long run. The leading actors are familiar names Dennis Haysbert (24), Robert Patrick (Walk the Line), Regina Taylor (Ill Fly Away), Scott Foley (Felicity) and, besides Haney, the producers are David Mamet, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and Shawn Ryan (The Shield).
Haney, a Pepperell graduate who grew up in Lindale, is a retired Army command sergeant major the highest rank a noncommissioned officer can attain whose 2002 book Inside Delta Force was the first documentation of the units activities at a time when, officially, its very existence was still largely being denied. This was the most special of special forces 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-D (Delta Force) and the first to deal with counterterrorism.
THUS THE UNIT, on which the series is obviously based, in a time when counterterrorism is much on the viewing publics mind.
Even before Haneys book came out, Rome News-Tribune readers were already aware of Haney and, in particular, his remarkable survival during the ill-fated attempt to rescue the Iranian embassy hostages during the Carter administration. He told that tale, and of the Delta Force, exclusively on these opinion pages.
Frankly, the fact that this hometown boy has lived to tell the tale is remarkable, and not only because of his escaping that fiery plane crash. Close calls were just part of his job, and while The Unit will tell many stories based on real-life episodes, though in a supposedly fictionalized manner, Haney has made it plain some things wont be told: Its as authentic as I want it to be. There are some things I dont want to tell.
Whether real life can compete with made-up inventions in the ratings will be interesting to learn. There are already several TV shows in this general war-set genre on the tube and to those actually in-the-know, like Haney, some of their plot twists and invented excitement border on the ludicrous.
GREATER ROMANS should make a point of reserving the hour beginning at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7, to check out The Unit. Its not so much about a hometown hero Haney would be the last to claim such a title as it is about American heroics in general, the same sort as have made tales of the Civil War legend and won World War II.
Its about ordinary men, who started off as boys splashing in places like Silver Creek all over America, and grew up to do extraordinary things while remaining citizens, husbands, fathers.
It is, in essence, the stuff that has always managed to set the United States just a bit apart as a land where rugged individualism can be tamed to advance the greater good. There are times when this seems to be slipping away from us, yet Delta Force and its successors are found in modern times, not in dusty history books.
To the extent that The Unit may help revive confidence in Americas ability to get the job done, no matter what the odds, it could provide an antidote to the growing malaise too often found in the dominating political warfares that result in no blood, no bodies and no definitive victories.
IF THE UNIT is anything like its guiding spirit, Eric Haney, it will likely all come down to a single thing, perhaps best expressed by the late actor John Wayne, the epitome of what Americans like to believe they are all about, when he said:
Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.