Revisiting The Pacific

A ten-part HBO miniseries in the style of Band of Brothers, and starring Jon Seda, will document the wartime exploits of Raritan native John Basilone in the Pacific theater of WWII.

Courtesy of HBO.

It’s not often that a Jersey guy gets to play a genuine Jersey hero. But that was the honor bestowed on actor Jon Seda, who portrays the late Sergeant John Basilone of Raritan in the upcoming HBO miniseries The Pacific.

The ten-part series, which premieres March 14, was produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman, the team behind HBO’s Band of Brothers. It follows the Pacific Theater combat experiences of Basilone and two fellow Marines—including a second New Jersey native, Private First Class Robert Leckie of Rutherford.

“This isn’t just to make another show,” says Seda. “This is to be the voice for so many men—the real heroes.”
Basilone’s record of heroism was exceptional. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery at the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. Three years later, he was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima after single-handledly destroying an enemy blockhouse. He received the Navy Cross posthumously.

As for Leckie, he was a sportswriter for The Record in Hackensack and enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor in 1941. He also saw action at Guadalcanal, earning a Purple Heart. After the war, he continued his career as a journalist and wrote dozens of books, including his 1957 war memoir Helmet for My Pillow, which is part of the basis for The Pacific. Leckie died in 2001.

Seda participated last fall in the parade Raritan holds annually in honor of Basilone, who was one of ten children. “I met a lot of people that were related to him,” says Seda, “like grandnieces and nephews. They are all so proud. It was strange; they treated me like Basilone. I felt so small to be with all these real vets, just to have the honor to trace such a man.”

The 39-year-old Clifton native, a former amateur boxer, made his screen debut in Gladiator in 1992 and has had reccurring stints on TV’s Oz, Kevin Hill, Close to Home, and Ghost Whisperer. The last three years, however, have been primarily devoted to The Pacific. “Being raised in New Jersey,” Seda says. “I couldn’t show my face if I didn’t get this right.”

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