By Larry Shaughnessy
Those who spend enough time around the military know promotions are important to folks in uniform. But one sailor has made the jump from a lieutenant (junior grade) to captain in one big leap, with help from Hollywood.
Ray Mabus served as a very junior officer on the USS Little Rock in the early 1970s. He left the Navy with the rank of a junior lieutenant and later became a successful businessman, diplomat and politician.
Now he's secretary of the Navy, the civilian in charge of the entire Navy and Marine Corps.
But he's donned the khaki uniform again. Only this time he's just one promotion short of an admiral.That promotion did not come courtesy the military. Mabus got the big jump in rank thanks to the makers of the new movie "Battleship." The movie, which opens in theaters this weekend, is loosely based on the game, but it's more like "Transformers at Sea," with the U.S. Navy (and others) battling aliens to save Earth.
The filmmakers, who depended on the Navy for a lot of help, asked Mabus to play the role of the commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan, one of America's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
That's a job typically given to Navy captains, not former junior grade officers. Of course, this is a movie about battleships, a type of warship that's been obsolete for decades. The Navy got rid of its last battle-wagons six years ago. Many are now just floating museums.
Mabus isn't the only real-life military person in the movie. Also appearing is Col. Greg Gadson, still in the active duty Army, despite losing both his legs to an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
But while Mabus got a promotion, Gadson was demoted from full colonel in real life to lieutenant colonel in the movie. However, Gadson does play many of his scenes opposite former Sports Illustrated cover model-turned-actress Brooklyn Decker.
So, some might say Gadson did pretty well for himself.