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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Captain of "Saving Private Ryan" Dead


The real captain was Swedish American and his name was Ralph Goranson.

It was a great honour for me to get a reply from Ralph Goranson, the Swedish American who was the reality behind Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan". The other day his obituary reached me. I am ashamed to say that no Swedish papers have yet reported his death.

In "Saving Private Ryan", Tom Hanks commands company C of the 2nd Rangers in Normandy on D-Day. A great deal of what Tom Hanks does in the opening scenes is what Ralph Goranson actually did. But John Miller, the name that Hanks has in the blockbuster (nominated for eleven Academy Awards), is pure fiction.

I was in touch with the very real Ralph Goranson, thanks to his children, in connection with writing the passage about him in Swedes at War.

I am ashamed, but not surprised, to say that no Swedish papers have yet reported Goranson´s death. It took ten days until a Swedish newspaper reported the death of the most respected Swedish citizen in British WWII service, Allan Mann. And that piece was not a news story but a family page text. The first article about Mann's death was published only a month after his death.

Thank you for your courage on D-Day and many other days, Ralph Goranson. Rest in peace.

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