Hibbing vet is inspiration behind Pitt movie

George Smilanich via KARE Facebook.

George Smilanich of Hibbing has a lot of stories to tell about his three years driving a tank in World War II. But, not surprisingly, he doesn’t like telling them. That includes the one about how he earned the Bronze Star when he pulled a commander from a burning tank or about how he almost lost his feet to frostbite.

If you’re Brad Pitt, however, he’ll tell you, KARE 11 reports.

He is one of the inspirations for the actor’s new movie, “Fury,” and Boyd Huppert reports on his trip to Hollywood earlier this year to give Pitt the lowdown on war. Smilanich didn’t know who Pitt was.

In the story, here’s the most interesting quote about the horrors of war:

“I wouldn’t give up my experiences if I had for a million dollars, but I wouldn’t take five cents to go through it again,” he said.

He’s off now to Washington for the movie’s premier.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Looks like he was in the 2nd Armored Division. I was in the 1st, under entirely different circumstances. We both saw Germany, but no one shot at me.

  • >>But, not surprisingly, he doesn’t like telling them. That includes the one about how he earned the Bronze Star when he pulled a commander from a burning tank or about how he almost lost his feet to frostbite.<<

    My uncle was a Sherman driver in the 4th AD in WW2 and he, like Mr. Smilanich, never told anyone how he earned his Bronze Star (he tried to save everyone in his tank after having it shot out from under him.)

    As an aside, I found a few photos from his time in Europe and on the back of a photo of his the buddies and him was written: "Winter in Belgium right after that thing in Bastogne."

    So understated.

    • Robert Moffitt

      That reluctance to talk about it is pretty common among combat veterans. My late father-in-law was the same way. Saw some bad things in New Guinea.

  • davehoug

    Actually a typical reaction to combat. Most important thing in a life, shaped the person, would NOT advise a friend to go thru it. My father was on Iwo Jima and the battle was so intense he realized 3 days after, he had totally missed his 21st birthday.