Tom Hanks portrayed an Army Ranger who made the landing at Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion in the acclaimed 1998 war film “Saving Private Ryan.”
Since then, Hanks has been an active supporter of veterans from the past and from more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Army Sgt. Adam Hartswick, of Pine Grove Mills, met the actor Friday when Hanks visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Hartswick, who was wounded in Afghanistan in 2013, is rehabilitating at the facility.
Hartswick took the opportunity to thank Hanks for the way he played that role on behalf of his grandfather, Max Hummel. Hummel was an Army veteran of World War II and one of more than 30,000 American troops who landed at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.
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The opening sequence of the film depicts the initial landing by U.S. forces at Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy. Growing up, Hartswick watched the film with his grandfather shortly after it was released on video and can remember Hummel commenting on the realism of the film.
Hummel was also impressed with the way Hanks and the other actors played those who made the landing and served in World War II, Hartswick said, and wanted to thank Hanks for the way the portrayal honored him and his comrades.
Hartswick passed that thanks along to Hanks on Friday.
Hanks became emotional after receiving the thanks, Hartswick said, adding that it was apparent that Hanks was proud of the role and the film.
“He’s a very laid-back and down-to-earth kind of guy,” Hartswick said.