|Back to the Supporting Characters Bios page|
When I was hired by Tour of Duty to advise the writers, one of the things I did right away was look at the characters established in the pilot, even those only mentioned briefly. I wanted to anticipate where the writers might wish to go with them, and have information ready on them. One of these was Myron Goldman's father, Martin.
All we know initially about Goldman Sr. from the pilot comes from Wallace's interview with Myron. The family is Jewish, of course, and Myron was from Queens, NY (one of the five boroughs that make up New York City). His father had been a colonel in WW II and had won the Medal of Honor at the Battle of the Bulge. That was it.
Working from this information, I came up with some suggestions about the character and his background. The writers accepted these, and "retired Major General Martin Goldman" later appears in two episodes of Tour of Duty. The writers filled in further background information, some, not all, based on information I provided them.
I based the character on two real people. One of them was the WW II Army hero, MG Maurice Rose, commander of the 3rd Armored Division. He was killed in action in the last days of the war, in personal combat, the only division commander to die in battle in the European Theater. The other was the older brother of someone I knew in NY. His brother was a West Point graduate in the 1930s, and also died in WW II. He was a lieutenant-colonel and also a tank commander in the European Theater.
I used portions of both their careers to create "Martin Goldman's" background. After WW II, I used what I knew about the careers of generals to fill in the rest. Also, while I am not Jewish, I am from New York City, and was exposed to the culture most of my life.
Important dates for Martin and real world events:
Now at this point, let me address one matter: Jews in the military. They are frankly not very common. (But not unknown, my own L-T in Vietnam was a Jew from Queens too.) There are several reasons for this. In the Jewish culture, the military is held in low esteem. Judaism is a very insular culture, innately suspicious of all governments and authority. A Jew's primary loyalty is to the Jewish community, not to any national government. Prior to WW II, the culture had survived for thousands of years, under brutal rulers and hostile societies, through a policy of "not fighting back", of "enduring". What we consider the "martial virtues" were not valued in males. (Because, for a minority, anyone who strikes back invites retribution on the whole community.) Generations of forced service in the armies of kings, emperors and czars embittered Jews against military service, even when they immigrated to America in the early 20th century. (In addition, in many countries, the military was used as an instrument of oppression of Jews.) The Jewish culture values learning, and frankly, success. (The faith teaches that God created the things of the world to be enjoyed.) So, an ideal Jew would be expected to live by the laws of his faith, within his culture and traditions, educate himself, prosper, strengthen the Jewish community through personal generosity and example, and raise children to do the same.
So, the idea that a Jew would voluntarily abandon his community to serve the "goyim" (non-Jews), at some risk, by marching back and forth, for low pay, none of which benefits the Jewish community at all, well, this would be shocking and a great disappointment, to say the least.
Martin must have been a hard working, athletic boy, to win a Congressional appointment to West Point. (Certainly he would have had his share of fistfights too, growing up.) We also know he has one or more siblings (no "only child" ever won the Medal of Honor). The Jewish community would not have been too happy with his career choice. However, this was the Depression. A free college education! Well, that was something in the 1930s and the community would reserve judgment.
Martin would not have had an easy time at West Point, where "plebes" (freshmen) are continually harassed and "tested" by the upper classmen and the System. To succeed, he would have to throw himself both into his studies and athletics, which West Point and the Army hold in high regard, especially football. He would have to prove himself to both his superiors and his classmates. In the end, he can win their approval only by being "one of the guys" first, and a Jew second.
Upon graduation, Martin marries, certainly a sweetheart from his own community. There is some status in being an officer's wife. Her Jewish family might have approved at first. But "a nice Jewish girl" who married a SOLDIER and went off to share that life with him? The most that would be felt for her in the community would be pity.
As a young "shavetail" Goldman's first post would likely be down South, or to some old fort in the West, dating back to the Indian Wars. He will also have to do an overseas tour, Panama, Alaska or the Philippines. Neither Panama nor Alaska required cavalrymen.
Speaking of insular communities, the US Army of the 1930s was a classic example. The US Army is very much a Southern institution. The food you eat, the customs you observe, are all very Southern. Most of its posts are down South, commands are given in a particular Southern dialect, etc. Most Southerners simply never met any Jews, and had only a vague idea what the religion represented.
Martin takes up his duties, mostly, impressing his superiors and fitting in. His military duties take only a few hours a day. His sergeants run the unit. He lives like a young lord, in tailored uniforms with morning horseback rides, and evenings at the Officer's Club in dress whites. As a Cavalry officer he is required to have three saddles. One for his field duties, one for jumping, one for polo.
Meanwhile Mrs. Goldman resides in decaying quarters (probably with servants, certainly so in the Philippines). Her life is genteel poverty, sagging screen doors, brushing scorpions out of the house in summer, sleeping in her Saks Fifth Avenue coat in winter. The other wives have their community of the Officers' Wives' Club, ruled over by the wives of senior officers, in order of their husband's rank, precided over by the post commander's wife. At these her attendance is required, but she is not welcome. The other wives have never met a Jew before. They do not know what to make of her. This would explain one source of marital problems, of course.
During this period, one would expect that the young couple would also wish to start a family. It is possible that Mrs. Goldman's lifelong health problems start around then, with her being unable to conceive or carry a child to term.
As WW II approached, Goldman Sr., now probably a captain, is more and more involved in his duties. Starting on Dec. 7, 1941, the country is at war and he would be transferred several times, often to newly constructed and makeshift camps around the country. An experienced officer, promotion will come rapidly, but all he does is train troops.
In the spring of 1944, General Patton did a tour of training installations around the country and selected battalion commanders from their cadres to command the yet unformed units of his Third Army. (The officers he chose were all either former cavalry officers or West Point football stars. Goldman was both.) As he is assigned to Europe, his wife now returns to New York City and her family to await the turn of events.
In the ETO, Lieutenant-Colonel Goldman serves with great distinction. The war is over. His wife, the country, the community welcome him home, and Mrs. Goldman is soon pregnant with Myron. Now is the time for him to put aside his military life and return to take his place as a distinguished member of the Jewish community. But Colonel Goldman decides to stay in the Army.
At this point in his career, Martin would be expected to attend the Army's Command and General Staff School at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. After WW II, the Army was cut WAY BACK, to 1930s levels, a situation not reversed until Korea. There weren't very many things to command. A reasonable thing for the Army to do then might be to assign Goldman as Professor of History at West Point. This is a plum assignment in the Army. The cadets will be proud and honored to be instructed by a real hero. For the Goldmans it should have been the happiest time in their marriage. It is a pleasant post. They have, at last, a young child. And they are both within a few hours drive of New York and their own community, in which Goldman is also a hero, of the war against the Nazis.
A postwar posting to Occupation duty was normal. It would probably be Germany. Postwar Europe, and Germany was a sad place. The Army community kept very much to itself. They were, after all, an Army of Occupation in a ruined if docile country. So, the late 1940s are a repeat of the late '30s (the Army is cut back to 1930s levels) only no one dares snub Mrs. Colonel Goldman. But she is still an outsider.
But the Cold War is now on, and the Army is not ready to fight it.
The Goldmans discuss divorce. (In the 1950s, only movie stars divorced. It was a career wrecker in the military.)
In 1950, the Korean War breaks out, all the Armed Forces are expanded, but there was little use for tanks in mountainous Korea. But, as the Russians had a LOT of tanks (and better ones than the US) there will be a need to expand and modernize the US Armored Forces. Also, the Army will have to learn how to fight on a nuclear battlefield.1
In the midst of all this, we have the period of the "spy trials" in the early 1950s. The most important were those for members of the Rosenberg Spy Ring. This is now known as the "McCarthy witch hunt era." In retrospect, much harm was done to innocent people by irrelevant investigations, such as the politics of Hollywood actors. But in fact the spies were real. And most of them were Jewish.
The overwhelming majority of Jews, in New York City especially, believed the Rosenbergs were innocent, and that their persecution was pure anti-Semitism. (Post Cold War KGB files revealed they were guilty.) Those Jews who did not believe it were vilified by the community. Hitler had shown what the goyim were capable of! One can imagine the mail Mrs.Goldman got, letters from her family, urging her husband to "speak out", petitions to circulate, attacks on the military etc. Her husband, meanwhile, is watching his soldiers maneuver under atom bomb clouds in Nevada, forbidden even to discuss where he had been.
With Goldman's promotion to general, the family moves to Washington. His duties in Washington would have involved procurement issues. The Army was a distant third in funding in the 1950s, after the Air Force and the Navy. One of the more powerful delegations in Congress would have been that from New York. Now, who would be a better spokesman for the Army than a Jewish general from New York City and a Medal of Honor winner? (This role, would, of course, be annoying to Martin.)
After Washington, Goldman's appointments are a mix of the usual training, administrative and senior command positions.
General Goldman will complete his thirty years service in the early 1960s. He will feel more at home in the Army culture than the Jewish one. From his point of view, he has devoted his life to the service of his country, from his wife's he had abandoned her among strangers, from his son's, well, he was never around.2
I can't say what General Goldman would have done after his retirement. He would certainly be made honorary chairman of all sorts of things in New York, the Jewish War Veterans, the B'nath B'rith (an important Jewish charity) etc. During his time in Washington, he would have made political connections with the NY congressional people, who might want him to go and give them his personal perspective on the war.
|MG Martin Goldman in Tour of Duty
The character of MG Martin Goldman was featured in two episodes:
In 1967, MG Martin Goldman comes out of retirement to go to Vietnam on a congressional fact- finding tour. By now, it is reasonable to assume Martin knows he has cancer to some extent. And at the very least it would give him a sense of mortality as well as a realization that he didn't have forever to try and fix things between himself and his son. Arranging for Ladybird to be one of his stops would be easy. Although Martin is there primarily to gather necessary information, he finds himself with an opportunity to see his son for the first time in five years and to possibly try and explain things to Myron.
Unfortunately, Myron's reception is not what he had hoped for. His son is now a young man- an angry young man who has clearly not forgiven his father for the past. Martin had possibly hoped that the passing of the years might have taken the edge off of Myron's bitterness. However, Martin is put immediately on the defensive when he meets a very guarded and hostile Myron. Any hope at reconciliation is lost.
Not knowing how else to handle the situation, Martin simply finds it easier to be a general rather than a father. He immediately criticizes his son's abilities and leadership skills, serving only to push his son even further away. In truth, he does not know who his son really is, and so finds it almost impossible to reach out to him and say he is sorry for everything.
He quickly finds out just what a soldier and leader Myron is. And just how fiercely loyal and protective Myron is of his men. Martin goes into Sin City, after dark, with Myron and Zeke and some of Third Squad in order to rescue Ruiz. Martin is startled when Myron grabs the bartender in one of the clubs and hauls him across the bar, placing his pistol under the man's chin. When Martin starts to intercede, placing a cautious hand on his son's arm, Myron pins his father with a quick angry glare and tells him this is NOT Paris, 1944.
Martin starts to realize that this war is not like any war he had served in, but his understanding comes too late.
He has run out of time on this trip to speak to his son and to tell him he is sorry. The two men have the beginning of a relationship, but it is tentative at best. Martin is regretful of the past and Myron unsure now how to talk to a father he barely knows. They would, however, part on a gentler note.
Martin returns almost a year later in 1968, this time to Camp Barnett. He has few choices now; his cancer completely out of control and he with only a few months left to live. Martin realizes he has run out of time to try and reconcile with his son and so comes back to Vietnam to try and set things right.
He could not have known how changed Myron would be and his timing could not have come at a worse time in his son's life. Myron had lost Alex only a few months before and is closed down emotionally, unable to deal with his grief. Added to this is the Phu-An massacre and Brewster being relieved of his command only the week or so before in connection with the incident. Myron is also well into his second tour.
With unusual insight, Myron realizes his father is dying even before Martin can tell him.
Unfortunately, it would not go as Martin had hoped. Myron, already in a great deal of emotional pain, simply lashes out at his father rather than offering sympathy and understanding. Martin again finds himself on the defensive, trying to explain to Myron why things were the way they were. He tells Myron it was his mother who had an affair, not him, and the two men almost come to blows over it in the middle of the camp. Myron storms off and his father goes into his quarters. Myron doesn't get far, though, and reins his temper in. He returns, only to hear his father crying. Not sure what to do now, Myron walks away.
Myron is given a few days off to spend with his father and the two men drive into Saigon. Again, Martin makes an effort to smooth things over with Myron, but Myron simply continues to push back, finally telling his father he feels Martin simply doesn't like him. Martin tells him that's silly, but Myron makes it clear that this is how he feels.
In Saigon, the two men split a bottle of whiskey. Myron tells Martin of one of the few good memories he has of his father. Of how they spent an afternoon playing miniature golf when Myron was 15. However, the two start to argue over Myron's mother, of Martin's responsibility to her. Myron reminds his father that he hit him, Martin accusing him of being hysterical.
In that moment, Myron would let his walls come down, the pain clearly showing in his eyes when he tells Martin that he was hurting, that they were both hurting and they should have shared that pain. But instead Martin had simply started ordering him around, telling him what to do. Martin's regret is real as he notes that Myron then hit him back and he tells Myron that he knew then that he had lost his entire family. In complete bitterness Myron tells him that he had lost his family years before, he just hadn't bothered to notice.
In the hours before Martin leaves, he tries one last time to explain to Myron that he very much loved both of them, and that he thought Myron knew. He is looking at photos of his wife and young son, his regret and sorrow very real. Myron cautiously admits that there were times he did know. Martin puts the photos away and then pulls out his Medal of Honor, handing it to Myron, who is startled. He tells Myron that these things represented the man he was, but this represented the man he wanted to be- pulling Myron into his arms. In tears Martin tells his son he loves him, Myron standing stiffly within his embrace.
It is too late for both of them, though. Shattered, Martin can only look back on his life with regrets and sorrow, his son lost to him even in this. And Myron is unable to accept and deal with the thought that his father is dying and simply retreats further behind walls to try and protect himself.
|Points of Interest by Episode:
Pilot- Ep #1: Captain Wallace remarks to Lt. Myron Goldman that he knew of a famous Goldman in WWII. Myron tells him that was Lt. Colonel Martin Goldman, his father, who was given the Medal of Honor for the Battle of the Bulge.
Sitting Ducks- Ep #5: After trying to regain control of his men, Myron tells Anderson he couldn't help but think how his father would have handled the situation. That he was a tough man, but his men always liked him.
Nowhere to Run- Ep #10: Nikki asks if Myron still wants to prove himself to his father. Myron tells her no, that he knows who he is now.
Blood Brothers- Ep #17: First appearance in person, visiting the firebase on a congressional fact-finding tour. Sees his son for the first time in five years.
Sins of the Father- Ep #34: As a favor to his father, Myron agrees to transfer Cassidy to his platoon with the promise of making the young man into a soldier. He tells Alex he couldn't say no to his father, that he is obligated to do this. He later tells Alex that he called his father and he told him he would not do him any more favors.
I Am What I Am- Ep #46: The second and last of Martin's appearances. He comes to Vietnam to tell his son he is dying of cancer and only has a few months left.
Green Christmas- Ep #48: Myron and Zeke outside of the orphanage. Myron notes that Zeke could be home with Jennifer, and that he could be home taking care of his father.
The Raid- Ep #57: Myron tells Brewster his tour is almost finished and he is rotating out at the end of the month. Brewster reminds him that he hasn't had an easy tour, recounting those things that had not gone well for Myron. Among them, Myron's father returning to Vietnam to tell Myron he was dying of cancer.