WIU English major ‘Transforms’ for summer blockbuster

Typically, when Alan Cale is in uniform, he’s serving his country as a Military Police officer. This past summer, however, his Army gear served as more of a costume, as Cale and several other “extras” appeared on the silver screen in Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, which debuted in theaters in June.

photo of WIU student and soldier Alan Cale

WIU student and soldier Alan Cale on his security mission in Afghanistan

photo of Alan Cale with movie extras

Cale, in the front row, poses with star Josh Duhamel and fellow extras on the set

So, how did he get this gig?

“One of my buddies in my unit from Chicago (and who is with me on this deployment) was the one who hooked me up with the opportunity,” he explained. “He has a friend who works as a liaison between Hollywood and the military, and she asked him to find a couple of volunteers with military gear who could come to Chicago in order to be military extras in the film. He called me and asked me if I wanted to be in ‘Transformers 3.’ I of course said yes without any hesitation.”

What were his duties as a big-time movie star?

“My only responsibilities for the film were to wear my uniform and gear, carry a gun, and look like a soldier. Fortunately that was something I have some experience in,” he said. “The Afghans don’t have the same regulations on pirating movies that we do in the States, so I have been able to see the movie. There are about 3-5 seconds towards the end of the movie where [actor] Tyrese Gibson runs around the corner of the Chicago Tribune building to link up with the military in the city. I am the second one standing as he runs by.”

Still, even though his role was a small one,

“The experience was one of a kind,” he said. “It’s one thing to see the finished product up on the big screen, and completely different to be behind the scenes seeing it in the making.

It was interesting to spend time with the stars of the film,” he continued. “I spent several hours just sitting on the set while they set up for the next shot chatting with Josh Duhamel. It was pretty cool to get to know them, and I came to the realization that they are regular people like the rest of us just with a really cool job.”

When he’s back in his role as a WIU student, Cale is a proud Peach Blossom, a.k.a. member of the WIU Veterans Club.

photo of WIU Veterans Club members dressed as "Peach Blossoms"

“Any current student or alumni can come check out one of our meetings,” he said. For more information, contact Derrick Bernabei, club president, or visit WIU Vets Club on Facebook.

How is it possible to be a college student and work with the Secret Service?

Business major and U.S. Army reservist Nicole Suthard can tell you how.soldier girl

Suthard, from Wheaton, IL, featured in this recent article from the Western Courier, is attending Western Illinois University while also serving her country.

Sometimes that means having to put school on hold.

But Suthard is getting an education of its own sort in her military duties.

“I have been responsible for people, equipment and millions of dollars, sometimes under extreme circumstances, but each time has given me a building block to become a more dynamic person,” she says in the article.

(Read the rest here.)

Suthard credits WIU staff and faculty with helping her balance both school and military duties.

(And she’s not alone in doing so. Check out our recent nod from G.I. Jobs Magazine here.)