Medic Francis T. Hockenbury

    "Doc Hock"

Researched and written by DC
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Vital Statistics:

Combat Medic: Private 1st Class in the beginning of Season 3. Later promoted to Specialist. (We never see the promotion)

He is from Memphis, Tennessee.

Age: Early 20s.

Physical attributes: Doc Hock is a tall, very slender young man, a little more than six feet tall, with blonde hair he keeps slightly longer than regulation and gray-green eyes. When first seen, he has a moustache that he later cut off.

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Vietnam Service:
  • Tan Son Nhut- Combat Medic with Lt. Goldman's platoon.
  • Camp Barnett- Combat Medic with Team Viking. 
    After Ep #55 War is a Contact Sport, Lt. Goldman pulls him from his combat status and has him reassigned to the dispensary.

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Previous Assignments:

Advanced training: Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

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Awards and Decorations:
  • Bronze Star- awarded in Ep # 45 (Thanks for the Memories) for mission in Ep # 44 (Cloud Nine) for heroism in connection with ground operations against forces in the Republic of Vietnam.
  • National Defence Service Medal
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • Combat Medical Badge

Note: Although never shown, it would be possible he was awarded the Purple Heart when he was wounded in Ep #46 (I Am What I Am).

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Overview:

Doc Hockenbury arrived at Tan Son Nhut as the combat medic for Lt. Goldman's platoon, Bravo Company, 196th Infantry Brigade. After getting into a fight with Third Squad over his political views, he informs Sgt. Anderson that he is a Conscientious Objector and that his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) allows him to not carry a weapon. Despite this, both Goldman and Anderson make the fateful decision to keep Hockenbury in the platoon, and later as part of Team Viking. His arrival is marked by the death of reporter Alex Devlin. Hockenbury appeared in the second episode of Season 3, and would be featured in the remaining 20 episodes aired. [Click here for a note from Lee Russell, ToD advisor, on Hockenbury's "conscientious objector" status.]

He wears glasses.

He's a liberal democrat (he did not vote for Nixon).

He smokes.

He's Presbyterian.

He received his medical training at Ft. Sam Houston.

When Hockenbury ships in, he has a moustache that he later cuts off after the Phu-An massacre. He wears love beads and a peace symbol. He quickly acquires a reputation of being a smart mouth and makes no effort to hide the fact that he is a conscientious objector (conchy) and that he views the men over in Nam as baby killers. He is quick to revise his opinion, especially of the men of Team Viking, and of Anderson and Goldman when he realizes that he was wrong.

Although he truly never feels that he belongs, he earns the respect of Team Viking with his uncompromising heroism under fire, saving their lives on many missions.

On Colonel Brewster's orders he treats the hookers in Saigon and they later give him a pet monkey that we see in a few episodes. He also becomes involved, at McKay's urging, to help with a nearby orphanage. It is there that he meets a local Vietnamese girl that he later has dinner with. We do not see her again, nor is she mentioned.

He had a girl friend back in the states, but she is now living with another man.

He knew Major Jennifer Seymour from his basic training, teasing Sgt. Anderson about his curiosity about how she was doing.

He tends to walk around with his hands shoved in his pockets.

He hand holds Danny Percell through his drug withdrawal, helping the guys to clean him up and make him fit for duty. It is Hockenbury who tells Danny, while out on a mission (I Am What I Am), that he used to love these little field trips, prompting the young man to regain his balance and courage.

Hockenbury is a gentle soul, with a sensitivity toward life that refuses to let him kill. Despite his obvious political views, though, he comes to Vietnam because he believed he could contribute and make a difference. Unfortunately, his beliefs would unravel around him in a tragic shooting that would, in the end, completely destroy him. Reassigned, regretfully, by Goldman who now views him as a liability, when we last see Hockenbury in EP #58, he is killing himself by inches as it is apparent he is becoming an alcoholic. Our last view of this utterly destroyed young man is alone in the streets of Saigon at night as they are being shelled. We will never know what happens to Hockenbury.

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Points of interest by episode (not an episode synopsis):

Season 3

Doc Hock (Ep #39):  First appearance. Comes in with longer than regulation hair and moustache. After insinuating the guys of Third Squad are baby killers, gets into fight with Taylor. Tells Anderson that he is the new medic and he will not carry a gun, and that he checked that on the fine print of his enlistment papers. Runs afoul of the new L-T who has taken over for Goldman within the first few minutes of meeting. Shows who he really is under fire on his first mission. Upon return to Tan Son Nhut, and Goldman's inquiries as to his performance, Anderson points out he will work out fine. Hockenbury ends up behind the chopper on hands and knees, throwing up. Despite his courage under fire, the guys do not include him in their conversation and drinks after the mission. Anderson joins him instead, and asks Doc to tell him about Jennifer.

The Ties that Bind (Ep #40):  Doc is transferred with the guys of Third Squad over to Camp Barnett to form Team Viking. Colonel Brewster, along with his regular duties, has him vaccinating the local prostitutes in an effort to get the VD rate down. In an amazing scene, while positioned behind Goldman, we see his growing horror as he watches the grieving Goldman start to slip over the edge. He helps his teammates talk the L-T down from killing the tax collector they are suppose to capture.

Lonely at the Top (Ep #41):  Doc and Ruiz discuss politics and voting. He fills out an absentee voter registration form. Tries to explain to Ruiz why he can't kill. After Johnson panics an entire village and the men, Doc is the first to dump some of his c-rats on the ground for the cowering villagers. Gives Danny something to help calm him. He also warns Danny to get a grip on himself. He appears, along with the guys, in Anderson's nightmare.

Bodyguard of Lies (Ep #42):  The prostitutes he is treating in Saigon give him a pet monkey, the guys teasing the hell out of him. Anderson returns, and informs him the monkey is out of uniform. Tries to reach out to Danny, knowing he is on drugs. He, along with the rest of Team Viking, become witness to the tragedy of Phu-An. In a heartrending scene, we see him in the pouring rain outside the team hootch, cutting off his moustache, crying. He tells Johnson, who later finds him, that he just wanted to get clean, and that it didn't work.

Necessary End (Ep #43):  Catches Percell smoking dope in the hootch. Tells Percell he hasn't seen him straight in weeks. Anderson calls him to task over a peace sign painted on the landing platform. Doc denies doing it, saying it would be defacing government property. Gets shoved hard by one of Beller's men after making comments about killing children and old people. Taylor and Ruiz defend him, saying that he's their smart mouth jerk. Lets McKay sweet talk him into helping him with an orphanage. While muttering to himself and saying that if someone were trying to sell him a sack full of dead buzzards, he'd ask how much, finds himself face to face with Colonel Brewster.

Cloud Nine (Ep # 44):  Helps to clean up Percell who is brought back after going AWOL. He is still helping to treat the orphans. He also helps his teammates try and smuggle Percell out of the camp, but is caught by Brewster. It is Doc Hock who brings Johnson the paperwork that says he is short.

Thanks for the Memories (Ep #45):  Thanksgiving at Camp Barnett. He is awarded, along with the rest of the team, a Bronze Star. In phone call home, talks to girlfriend (Nance), assuring her that Anderson and Goldman are not baby killers, but great guys. He finds out she is living with another man. Gets drunk in town and tries to convince himself to get it on with the girls he treats in town. Helps to wire explosives in fuel depot. Shares Thanksgiving dinner with the Team.

I Am What I Am (Ep #46):  This episode clearly shows how this young man is still on the outside looking in, when Percell tells Taylor that Doc is willing to die for them, and Taylor replies that he wants someone willing to kill for him. We get a real glimpse into this young man's pain when he overhears this conversation. First time we see him "war paint" it up. Tells McKay while wading through the swamp: Ya know there's a whole lotta stuff floating in this here swamp we don't have cures for yet. In what might be the single most important gesture he makes to date, he tells Percell that nothing's changed, helping his friend to regain his balance. He almost ruins the entire operation to save McKay, but Danny bails him out by shooting an NVA soldier before Doc cries out. He is wounded here, shot in the arm. He says to McKay "I am what I am- Popeye"

World in Changes (Ep # 47):  Plays darts with Percell while Taylor and Johnson snipe at each other in the Team House. He's in Johnson's nightmares. Celebrates with the guys at Johnson's going away party, bringing in a case of beer.

Green Christmas (Ep #48):  Talks politics with wounded prisoner. Is upset when prisoner is killed. Helps Percell and Ruiz liberate presents and supplies from the master sergeant for the Christmas party at the orphanage. Uses the phrase "Khaki Mafia" here. While being pinned down at the orphanage by snipers, sings with Susanna Hark the Herald Angels Sing while his friends hunt down the snipers.

Odd Man Out (Ep #49):  Taylor hands out mail- Doc gets Newsweek. We later see him reading it out on the helicopter platform. He helps to treat the Province Chief's wife who is sick and has a baby girl, fighting Goldman every step of the way on treating her.

And Make Death to Take Us (Ep #50):  When Goldman divides a platoon of FNGs up, Doc stays with him along with Ruiz. Goldman refers to him here as Conshie (conscientious objector).

Dead Men Tales (Ep #51):  When Major Duncan is shot by sniper, Hockenbury ends up covered in his blood. He is horrified, unable to save the Major, and close to tears. Anderson sends him with Eddie Bell to help move orphanage where he meets Tien Ly, a Vietnamese girl. He finds out that 6 men were either killed or wounded in friendly fire incident. Goes to Tien Ly's home to meet her family and have dinner. We will not see Tien Ly again. This is the last time we see the orphanage as well. He is dressed in civilian clothes when he goes to Tien Ly's home.

The Road to Long Binh (Ep #52):   With almost everyone else at Camp Barnett, Hockenbury gets food poisoning. Volunteers for prisoner duty, but Goldman can't let him unless he is willing to carry a gun. Taylor says he is a squirrelly little longhaired red neck pinko conchy. McKay says he is the most non-violent lunatic he has ever met.

Acceptable Losses (Ep #53):  Along with the rest of Team Viking, tries to deal with Taylor and Ruiz being left behind on their last mission. And with the new guys- including Pvt. Pop Scarlett.

Vietnam Rag- (Ep #54):  Goes out with another platoon of mostly FNGs, treating several who end up getting wounded. Anderson has to hold him back when he tries to get to a man who has his legs blown off by a mine. He also gets winged again, Goldman telling him he can medavac out with the other wounded, but Doc refuses.

War is a Contact Sport (Ep #55):  The most important episode for this character, when he makes the fatal choice not to kill a VC prisoner who has escaped Percell and kills Kuslits with his own weapon. His character is completely destroyed here, and will not recover from this experience for the remainder of the series. Goldman makes the decision to pull him from the team here as well, and for the first time we see these two characters truly interact in a conversation that has Goldman accepting his responsibility in what happened, and on ideology and idealism. Danny, who was closest to him, will turn his back on him completely. In a devastating scene, Hockenbury, deep in grief, throws his things out the barracks windows in the pouring rain and tries to drag his cot outside.

Three Cheers for the Orange, White and Blue (Ep #56):   Now reassigned to the dispensary, Doc is unable to deal with his decision that cost Kuslits his life. He moves out of the barracks. He tries to offer Griner help with a rash. Taylor, now back, understands and stands behind Doc's decision, as does McKay, who tries to convince him to not distance himself from his friends.

The Raid (Ep #57):  Hockenbury hears about the secret mission to rescue POWs, and tries to convince Goldman that he could help. Goldman refuses; saying unless he is willing to carry a weapon, he can't come. Hurt and angry, Hockenbury lashes back, saying that only killers get to save lives. And that this war sucks. Once Hockenbury is out of his hootch, Goldman, reluctantly, agrees.

Payback (Ep #58):  Hockenbury, treating soldiers who have no hope of surviving, is now becoming an alcoholic. Utterly destroyed, he goes into Saigon, where he gets drunk and while wandering the streets with a prostitute, is last seen in the midst of a mortar fire. Unlike many of the other characters that the series brought some closure for, we will never really know what happens to Doc Hockenbury.

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