Radioman who inspired a movie speaks at Fort Meade

Military journalists hear the real story behind `Good Morning, Vietnam'

October 16, 2002|By Gabriel Baird | Gabriel Baird,SUN STAFF

Vaughn McMillian has seen the Robin Williams movie Good Morning, Vietnam at least 30 times. In fact, he liked the 1987 film so much that he chose broadcasting as his specialty in the Navy.

Yesterday, McMillian got the chance to meet the military radio personality that Williams' Academy Award-nominated performance was based on: Adrian Cronauer.

McMillian said that while Williams taught him about entertaining an audience, Cronauer was funny, too - and offered some good broadcasting tips.

"For my taste, he was more impressive than Robin in the movie," said McMillian, 41.

Cronauer was the speaker at the graduation of McMillian and 13 classmates from Fort George G. Meade's Defense Information School in Anne Arundel County. Graduates go on to be military journalists.

Before meeting Cronauer, McMillian wasn't so sure how the real man would stack up against the famous actor.

"I don't really expect Adrian Cronauer to resemble Robin Williams," McMillian said before the ceremony while on a cigarette break with one of his classmates. "I think Father Time has crept up a little bit."

But the differences between the 64-year-old man and Williams' portrayal of him were more than skin deep.

He started his speech by debunking the movie's inaccuracies. Primarily, he said, he hadn't been as zany or anti-establishment as Williams.

"If I had done half of the stuff he did, I would still be in [Fort] Leavenworth," Cronauer said, referring to the military prison in Kansas.

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