Tinker Airmen make mark in 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Kinder Blacke
  • 552nd Air Control Wing Public Affairs
Airmen of the 552nd Air Control Wing's E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System here had a unique mission recently: helping Autobots fight off Decepticons in support of worldwide security.

As seen in the newly released movie, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," an E-3 Sentry aircrew played an integral role in fighting off the "bad guys" and ensuring the "good guys" reign victorious in the action-packed Hollywood film released June 24.

The E-3 crew is shown in action doing what they do best: providing command and control information to senior leaders to help support national and worldwide security.

This was not the first time the 552nd ACW Airmen were asked to participate in a "Transformers" film. In 2006, the 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron sent a crew to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to film for the first "Transformers" movie, released in 2007.

After using the E-3 in the first film, Director Michael Bay decided to include it again in the sequel. In September 2008, Airmen from the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron, along with a crew of support personnel, travelled to Holloman AFB, N.M., to participate in the filming of this summer's movie.

"Mr. Bay was very aware and impressed with the E-3 and what it provides to combatant commanders in theater," said Lt. Col. Jimmy Warren, the 965th AACS commander and project officer for the trip. Colonel Warren was the mission crew commander during the scene filmed on the E-3. 

"Filming the scene on the E-3 was a little stressful with the lights, cameras and recording equipment," he said.

Senior Airman Joseph Dunk, a 964th AACS airborne surveillance technician, agreed. 

"You hear 'Action!' and your adrenaline gets going a bit, and then you just hope you don't mess up when the camera comes around," Airman Dunk said. 

Fortunately, the words flowed easily since the script was similar to what the Airmen would say on a real mission. Mr. Bay worked with the crew to come up with the dialogue. 

"He let us write our own lines for a more accurate representation," said Capt. Mitchell Mayes, a 552nd Training Squadron instructor air weapons officer.

"Once the communications started inside the E-3, the crew began speaking as if we really were providing command and control during a wartime mission," Colonel Warren said.

"We just had to be ourselves and pretend like we were doing a real mission," Airman Dunk said. Then Mr. Bay could cut and paste sections of the footage together to get the desired effect.

Despite coming to the E-3 to film after an already-long day of work, Mr. Bay did not rush his time on the jet working with the crewmembers.

"He was genuinely interested in what we all do," Airman Dunk said. He came around the plane and asked everyone about their role on the jet, spending nearly three hours talking and filming for just a short clip in the movie.

"I don't think there could be any better way to make the armed forces feel appreciated than that!" Airman Dunk said about the experience. "It makes you feel really good about what you do."

Colonel Warren agreed, remarking how "outstanding" it was that Mr. Bay used Air Force assets in the movie, especially the E-3. 

"We were able to showcase the best airborne tactical command and control platform in the world," he said. "The best part about the whole experience was the actual filming of the E-3 scene in the movie and getting to see the behind-the-set dynamics of making a movie." 

Not only did the crew see the movie-making process on the jet, they also spent some time on one of the movie sets built in the middle of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Captain Mayes was amazed by the amount of time and effort put into building the set. The movie production team gave the E-3 crew a tour around the war-torn town, which they had created out of wood, plaster and Styrofoam. The staff demonstrated some special effects and one of the staff members even started a fire, Captain Mayes said.

The Airmen got to stay on the set and watch the filming for a couple of hours. 

"It's a pain-staking process to get that perfect shot, but now I know why the movies turn out to be so good," Airman Dunk said. 

They even saw some of the action scenes being filmed. 

"The explosions were incredible and very realistic," Colonel Warren said. "The debris was flying everywhere!"

In the midst of the excitement, the actors who were not involved in the current shot were hardly shy. 

"Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel were extremely nice and supportive of the military," Colonel Warren said. "Tyrese was very happy to see Air Force personnel since he was playing an Air Force special tactics chief master sergeant."

Airman Dunk also got a chance to meet the stars. 

"They were really nice, down to earth folks," he said. "Some even got us water, which was a shock to me since they have people to do that for them. They expressed their thanks and were really grateful for what we do." 

"It was a once in a career opportunity to rub elbows with Hollywood and tell the Air Force and E-3 story, and the 552nd ACW personnel who deployed in support of T2 represented the wing, group, and Air Force extremely well," Colonel Warren said.