Eric Dane isn’t a SWO. He just plays one on TV.
But his late father, William Melvin, was an aviation boatswain’s mate in the Vietnam War era.
To honor his service, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus presented Dane with a shadow box of his awards June 12 at the season 2 premiere “The Last Ship” in Washington, D.C., attended by sailors in the area.
On the show, Dane plays Cmdr. Tom Chandler, skipper of the destroyer Nathan James and more or less humanity’s last hope of survival against an apocalyptic virus.
“I’m here because I love Washington, I love the Navy and the opportunity to premiere the two-hour season premiere for the Navy, there’s not a better crowd to watch this with,” said Dane, according to a Navy release.
Melvin’s awards include the National Defense Ribbon, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Melvin was assigned to Patrol Squadron 46, a P-3A Orion command based at the former Naval Air Station Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, California.
After his tour, he settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was an architect and interior designer before his death in 1980.
Dane, 42, told the Qatar-based Gulf Times last year that his father was a “troubled soul.”
“He died of a gunshot wound. My grandmother thinks it was an accident,” Dane said. “Everybody’s got a different opinion on it.”
Raised by his single mom, Dane told Navy Times last year that while acting was his passion, he figured one day he’d get the chance to play a service member.
The show’s production team has worked closely with the Navy, filming on destroyers in San Diego and consulting to get uniforms and cultural references right.
Sailors have even gotten to make cameos on the show, as Naval Base San Diego held casting calls for extras.
“Anytime we can use a sailor in the show, we do,” Dane said in the Navy release. “I think our relationship with the United States Navy is very important and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”
Season 2 of “The Last Ship” premieres Sunday, June 21 on TNT. Check out the trailer: