|Synopsis: By 1970 it
is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of all US troops serving in South Vietnam were addicted
to heroin in one form or another.
A Huey comes in, landing at Firebase Ladybird. A couple of men step down, one a two-star general who is immediately greeted by Lt. Colonel Dalby. Dalby welcomes the general while a photographer takes pictures. The general then turns and sees another slick. Bodies are being pulled off on ponchos by a group of soldiers who have just come in from the bush. The general walks over to speak to the men, Dalby walking with him.
Its Anderson and what is left of his squad. The general greets them, telling them they looked like they saw some hell and he hoped they gave it back to whoever did this. But Johnson tells him they only shot up the jungle. The general then encourages one of the newbies before he and Dalby walk away. He notes to Dalby that he didnt remember his men looking that young when he was overseas.
As they walk back into camp, Myron walks up. There is an awkward silence as Myron and the visiting general stand, simply looking at each other. Dalby, a bit confused, tells Myron that he thinks the occasion calls for a handshake. Myron nods, shifting his rifle to his other hand before shaking hands with the other man. With permission, he then pushes past the colonel and the general, on his way to Anderson.
Myron walks up to Anderson, wanting to know what had happened. Zeke tells him it was a sniper and Daniels, Kline and Walker are dead. Daniels only had two weeks left. Zeke then asks who the VIP is. Myron, still not looking at the sergeant, tells him its his father and then walks away from a startled Zeke.
At Third Squads hootch, the guys are cleaning their weapons. Johnson is upset about the three men's deaths. Baker notes it might be easier to just get it over with and stop the waiting. One of the new men, Alvaro, shows false bravado and says whats going to be is going to be. He isnt going to worry about it. Danny gets angry with him and tells the guy theyd see how slick he is out on the firing line the next day. Unfazed, Alvaro moves to the other side of the tent, Danny fuming and warning his buddies that Alvaro is trouble and to keep him away.
When Taylor starts siding with Danny, Ruiz tries to stick up for Alvaro, telling him to cut the guy some slack. Ruiz then goes to speak to Alvaro, asking where he's from. Alvaro is distant, but he tells Ruiz hes from Spanish Harlem. Ruiz smiles and notes hes from Longwood Avenue, South Bronx. Alvaro sarcastically notes, Small world. Ruiz then warns Alvaro that he needs all the friends he can get with the way he's screwing up.
Later, Myrons father tracks him down, wanting to speak to him. He tells Myron he wasnt expecting that kind of reception. There is no happy reunion here for either man. Myron asks, what did his father expect after five years? Martin tells him, maybe some respect. Myron doesnt even look at his father, the two walking as they talk. The younger man says he cant believe that Martin traveled halfway around the world just get Myrons approval. He wants to know what Martin is really doing there.
Martin tells his son hes been pulled out of retirement to do a congressional fact finding tour. He is there to make sure they are winning the war. Myron replies sarcastically, "And the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people." Martin says thats Westmorelands theory. His own theory is, if you have them by the throat, their hearts and minds will follow.
Myron then notes it must be coincidence that his father ended up on his firebase. Martin tells him he specifically asked for the firebase. He wanted to see his son, but also, he knew his son would be honest and not sugarcoat any of the facts. He then tells Myron he would be flying with Colonel Dalby on Command and Control, overseeing Myrons part of the operation.
The next day, Myrons platoon is moving through the tall grass. Alvaro is acting wired and spooky, Danny convinced the guy is going to get someone killed. Ruiz goes up and grabs Alvaro, pulling the nervous young man aside. He helps him by telling him to keep the pin tweaked in the grenade on his webbing before moving off, Alvaro watching him.
A sniper sends everyone diving for cover but Alvaro, who panics and shouts wildly. Still shooting, he bolts between Anderson and Goldman in the direction of the sniper. Ruiz races after him, both Goldman and Anderson shouting to him to come back. Ruiz tackles Alvaro, calling him crazy, but pins the panicked man down and grabs his rifle. With the help of his buddies, Ruiz takes the sniper down.
Furious and frightened, Anderson charges up and grabs Alvaro, shouting at him. He tells the kid to never do that again as no one will save his life next time. He then angrily orders Ruiz back to his weapon.
Later, while the men are taking a break, Baker starts complaining about Alvaro. Ruiz becomes angry when Danny joins in, agreeing that Alvaro is a risk. Ruiz continues to defend Alvaro, saying cherries panic, all cherries panic. Disgusted, he leaves his friends and approaches Alvaro. But when Ruiz tries to talk to Alvaro, he realizes something is very wrong. The other man is high on drugs and Ruiz is horrified and angry all at once. He admonishes Alvaro, reminding him that out in the bush the men depend on each other. And that back at base, he would get Alvaro help. Until then, Ruiz would stay close.
Dalby sets the mission in motion, calling down to Goldman from the chopper overhead and telling Myron to get the show on the road.
Taylor's on point, and when he comes upon what appears to be an abandoned camp, he signals to the rest of the platoon. Anderson and Goldman size up the situation, Anderson advising caution.
Alvaro is still nervous and edgy, Ruiz encouraging him to be calm before everyone continues to move forward. But Alvaro isn't paying attention and steps onto a trip wire. Everyone freezes at the sound of the click, Alvaro trembling and in a near panic as Anderson tries to keep him calm. However, Alvaro doesn't listen and tries to jump clear, triggering an explosion that knocks several men down and kills him. When the debris and smoke clears, Ruiz runs up and kneels by the dead kid, eyes filling with tears.
With Colonel Dalby and General Goldman above, Anderson warns that the platoon is walking into a trap. Myron agrees, trying to get some help. But Dalby won't listen and tries to get Myron to advance despite Myron's warnings. They then start to come under heavy mortar fire, pinning the platoon down. Dalby is shouting foolishly- telling Myron to move to the west and engage, to get the enemy to commit or do something.
Myron shouts back that the enemy *is* doing something and cutting them to ribbons. He demands artillery in order to help out. Dalby continues to order him to move out, but Myron's platoon is effectively pinned. As the slick flies overhead, the NVA start shooting at it, forcing Dalby and party to leave the area when the Huey suffers some damage. With Dalby now leaving, Myron tells Anderson they are moving out and retreating. Anderson knows what that means and tells Myron, "Way to catch hell." But he gladly moves the men out.
That evening, in the CP bunker, Dalby, his annoyance clear, starts grilling Myron and Anderson on the events earlier that day. The colonel wants to know the size of the force that had pinned the lieutenant's men down, but Goldman and Anderson confirm it was impossible to gauge. Myron barely keeps his temper in check with Dalby's questions and attitude, making it clear to the colonel that they had no way of estimating the enemy's strength. Dalby then dismisses Anderson.
The sergeant isn't even completely out of the bunker when Dalby lays into Myron, telling him he disobeyed a direct order. Myron disagrees, but Dalby angrily gets to his feet, telling the younger man he compromised the entire operation and embarrassed them all in front of his guest. And that Myron is not going to get off easy.
It's a poor choice of words. Myron looks directly at Dalby, his bitterness clear, and quietly says the thought had never crossed his mind. Dalby comes around the table, approaching the angry young man. The colonel tells Goldman he's got guts, but it's too bad he doesn't use them out in combat. Myron pins Dalby with an angry look and informs him that he thinks he should use both guts and brains. He then adds that had he advanced his men and the other two squads, they would have taken on heavy casualties. Myron is firm and makes no apologies for his decisions.
Later, as Myron leaves the CP, his father is waiting for him. Martin quickly jumps on Myron, who is already fed up with the situation. Martin reminds him he should know about military discipline, but then again, had Myron gone to West Point, they wouldn't be having this conversation. When Myron asks if he is done, Martin gets in his face. He snaps at Myron, informing him the only reason the younger man was not court-martialed was because of him.
With a visible effort, Myron hangs onto his temper, but reminds Martin he was about as close to the action as that "ticket puncher in there." Right or wrong, he feels he did the right thing, saving his men's lives. And that Martin stopped running his life a long time ago.
The next day, Zeke wakes up shaking from a vivid nightmare of Alvaro being killed and Ruiz's shouts. Making a decision, he tracks down Myron and tells him something just isn't right with the Alvaro situation. He asks Myron to follow him to where the bodies are laid out, awaiting a chopper . Myron tells the young man responsible to go get a cup of coffee while Zeke checks the tags, looking for Alvaro.
When Zeke finds the right body, he uncovers the boy's arm and shows Myron the needle tracks. Both look at each other in sorrowful realization. Zeke then digs into Alvaro's duffle bag and personal effects, pulling out his shower kit. Inside, he finds a drug kit for shooting up heroin.
As the two men walk through the camp, Zeke feels he let the L-T down. He says he should have seen the warning signs. But Myron doesn't blame Zeke in the least and tells him so. Myron says he can't expect Zeke to catch everything and fight the war. Myron then says they need to take this to battalion, but Zeke wants him to hold off, saying that the entire platoon would be shaken down. He just wants a day or two so that he can get to the bottom of this and then Myron would have something to take to battalion. Myron reminds Zeke he's already in over his head as it is, but Zeke informs Myron he is not alone, that Zeke is right in there with him all the way.
Martin unexpectedly shows up at Third Squad's quarters to look around. Johnson politely tells him it's not much, but it is home. Martin stands before both Johnson and Taylor, and asks about the Jimi Hendrix poster they have. Taylor tells the general that Hendrix was in the Army too, 101st Airborne. Martin notes, probably not looking like that, to which Taylor reluctantly agrees. Johnson then tells the general that Hendrix wrote a song called Machine Gun and that it sums up how they all felt about being over there. MG Goldman reminds him that no one likes war. Johnson doesn't back down from the general and tells him he doesn't mind the fighting. He just wants to know what they are fighting for.
Martin gets his back up a bit and tells Marvin they are helping the Vietnamese people in their fight against Communism. As he starts to leave the tent, Myron enters and when he comes to attention, the general tells him he wants to see him outside. After the general leaves, Myron asks Johnson what this is all about. Johnson says: "Death of his generation, sir. And the birth of ours."
Outside Third Squad's quarters, Martin starts to dress Myron down immediately, saying the entire unit is falling apart from its leader on down. Myron takes a deep breath and then tells his father his rank and his Medal of Honor do not guarantee him the right to pass judgement. He tells Martin that just because they don't measure up in the general's eyes does not mean that every man in the unit isn't doing a damn fine job. He also accuses his father of wanting a nice neat picture, not the real facts. So Myron tells him how it really is, that they are nothing more than bodies and numbers. He adds in disgust, that from where he stands, there is no more game plan to fighting this war than to playing craps.
Martin won't be put off, angrily informing his son that war is war. And the only thing that changes is terrain and men. Myron gets his final word in. He tells Martin that they have to give back every inch of terrain they gained the day before. He then tells his father, "There are no heroes in this war. You're the only hero here."
Zeke finds Ruiz in the ville, having a smoke and a beer at a bar. He joins Alberto, ordering a couple of beers and giving one to Ruiz. Zeke then apologizes to Ruiz, telling the young man it is his fault about Alvaro and that he should have seen what was wrong. He quietly asks Ruiz if Alvaro was flying high. Ruiz, who is distressed, says yes. But what was he going to do? He couldn't jam up the mission. He tells Anderson he grew up with the stuff all his life. How when he was ten, he saw his cousin dead after shooting up some bad junk and that he decided then that he wasn't going to go that way, as he knew what it could do.
Zeke asks if Ruiz knows where Alvaro scored his stuff, but Ruiz can't help him. Zeke then tells him that they are going into Chu Lai the next day and he is pulling Ruiz off the front line. Ruiz doesn't want Anderson's "kid glove treatment," but Zeke assures him he won't get that from Sgt. Exley. Ruiz then warns Anderson that he'd better get a handle on all of this, as Alvaro may have been the first, but he won't be the last.
In Chu Lai, Zeke checks in on Ruiz who is now working in supply with Sgt. Exley. Anderson tells Ruiz to take it easy and that the war isn't going anywhere. Zeke then asks to speak to his friend Exley outside. The two talk for a moment about Exley's being in the rear, then Zeke finally tells him about Alvaro and that the kid was using. He asks Exley to keep his eyes open for him and maybe look around a bit.
Back in supply, Ruiz finds several crates of ammunition. As he's looking it over, Exley catches him and tells him to leave it be and inventory the jungle fatigues like he was told to.
That night, Zeke speaks with Myron in the officers' quarters. He tells the younger man he has Exley looking into the Alvaro matter, but Myron is distracted and really not listening. He apologizes to Anderson, telling the sergeant he has a lot on his mind. It is a rare moment as Myron actually opens up and tells Zeke what is bothering him. It isn't just Dalby, but rather his father, and that he always feels he falls short of the mark in his father's eyes. He didn't even want to be in the Army, that was all his father's idea. Zeke gently teases him, saying he is shocked and isn't the Army supposed to be Myron's future? Myron informs Zeke that he had seen himself as an English Lit teacher, but that his father had told him teaching was only an escape. For a moment, the disappointment is clear in his eyes and he looks away from Zeke, adding sadly that maybe his father is right.
Zeke extends his friendship to Myron and tells him that maybe Myron's father sees himself in Myron 30 years earlier, and that Myron is his father's future. And that it can't be an easy cross to bear. Although Myron agrees with Zeke, he tells the sergeant he can't re-live his father's past glories. Zeke agrees, but tries to get Myron to understand the difference between a man who has high hopes for his son and a man who is hanging on to the last thing he has in the world.
It is here that Myron gives his trust to Zeke, and reveals more about himself than ever before as he tells the sergeant that his father once did have everything. Hurting, Myron tells Zeke that about six years ago his mother took a fistful of sleeping pills and killed herself. And that his father never dealt with it. Myron says that he looks in his father's eyes and there is nothing, that he gets nothing back. He finally looks up at Zeke, his own pain plainly showing.
The next day, Ruiz come into supply and sees all the ammo crates are now gone. Worried, he turns to Exley, who has just walked in himself. Exley doesn't seem in the least concerned and informs Ruiz that the crates went up to Charlie Company's ammo point. He then tells Ruiz that nothing is happening and to get on out of there and enjoy the day.
Baker and Taylor emerge from the barracks, teasing each other back and forth. They run into Ruiz and tell him they are going to Sin City for some fun.
In Sin City, the guys are in a bar called the 21 Club, drinking and having a good time. When Baker leaves to use the men's room, an older Vietnamese gentleman comes out with his two bodyguards. Ruiz sees him immediately and asks Taylor who he is. Marcus tells him it is Papa-san, and that he is into "everything," including the black market.
Later on, while Taylor is bragging to a business girl sitting on his lap, Ruiz sees another GI buying some drugs at the bar. He watches the GI go into the back rooms. Telling Taylor and Baker something funny is going on, he decides to follow the other GI. But Taylor and Baker aren't really paying attention as they are more interested in the girl on Taylor's lap.
Ruiz goes into the back and then opens the men's room door. He finds the soldier shooting up and, with a shocked look, backs away. When he goes to re-join Taylor and Baker, he spots Sgt. Exley who has just entered the bar. Ruiz pauses, then hides back in the shadows, watching Exley. Ruiz watches Exley hand off an envelope to the bartender and then leave. Ruiz decides to follow him.
As Ruiz sets off to follow the sergeant, Taylor starts to wonder where his friend went. Thinking about what Ruiz said a few minutes before, and remembering Papa-san, Taylor grabs at Baker and the two leave in search of their buddy.
Ruiz follows Exley to what appears to be an old warehouse. He observes Exley meeting up with Papa-san Dang, who then gives the sergeant an envelope. Realizing that he is going to have to get some help, Ruiz starts to step back. But before he can slip away, he is grabbed by two of Papa-san's men and dragged to the warehouse. As he is being manhandled by Papa-san's men, Taylor and Baker catch up. Taylor holds Baker back, knowing they can't help Ruiz now. The two, with a final look to their friend, take off to get real help.
Back at Chu Lai, Martin corners his son and tells him that Recon had found a complex of bunkers a half klick up the trail Myron's platoon had been on. And that Marine Phantoms took it out. Myron nods, saying he was right but Martin snaps that Myron was just lucky this time. He informs Myron that his son was wrong and that Myron couldn't be making up the rules as he went along.
Myron makes it clear that this war has no rules and that he executed his orders the best he knew how. Martin tells Myron that what he saw was someone who still refused to take responsibility for his actions. Myron, hurt, then asks his father about his responsibilities for the things he had done.
Martin steps away, clearly regretful. He tells Myron he made some hard decisions, and that all he wanted was to make it easier and less painful for his son. This appears to be the wedge driven between these two men. Myron, bitter and hurting, demands to know how not knowing something could make it easier? Martin tells his son he tried, what more does Myron want?
And Myron tells him. That all he ever wanted was the truth. Nothing more.
Martin reminds the younger man that his mother knew she was marrying a professional soldier. That they both did the best they could under extraordinary circumstances. Myron tells him what he remembers. That he remembers a lonely woman. With a catch in his voice, he tells his father how he remembers growing up without a father who was gone for months on end.
Martin cannot disagree and he has many regrets, certainly about Myron's mother. But as Myron gets ready to further lash into his father, Anderson interrupts, appearing with Taylor and Baker. The sergeant quickly tells Myron that Ruiz is in Sin City and in trouble. They start to leave, but Martin wants to know what is going on. Myron tells him that he's on a fact finding mission, he would show his father some facts.
At a warehouse, Ruiz is being worked over by one of Papa-san Dang's men. He looks up to see Exley and asks him what it feels like to have all that blood on his hands. Exley just shakes his head, not the least bit regretful as he tells Ruiz he doesn't know the first thing about what's going on. Ruiz tells the sergeant he's a low life bastard. Exley is self-righteous, saying he took his hit for God and country and it got him nothing. He adds that the guys who died were going to die anyway, he just decided to make a profit from it.
It's after dark and Anderson and Myron bring Taylor, Baker and Myron's father into Sin City to the 21 Club. Taylor notes Charlie is surely there and Anderson says it's like Dodge City- waiting for the James Gang. Martin is a bit confused and asks Myron where the MPs are. His son explains, it's Sin City and off limits at night.
In the empty bar, Zeke grabs a young GI and shakes a packet of heroin out of his hand. He then shoves the kid back, telling him to get the hell out. Myron steps up, opens the packet and blows it into the bartender's face. He then hauls the bartender across the bar, demanding to know where the GI is who was in earlier with Taylor and Baker. When the bartender doesn't respond, Myron draws his weapon, cocks it and tells the man to start talking. Martin is a bit shocked at Myron's fury, telling his son to take it easy, but Myron is quick to remind him that this isn't Paris, 1944. He then yanks the frightened bartender right up to his face and presses the barrel of his pistol to the base of the man's throat. He then demands that the man speak, Martin continuing to watch, stunned.
The bartender starts to babble, naming Papa-san Dang. When Myron asks if he's the supplier, the bartender agrees. Myron then releases him, all of them starting to exit the bar. Myron then asks his father if he understands what is happening. Martin is still confused, telling his son he can see it is some type of dope transaction, but he doesn't fully comprehend.
Myron informs him that they are being victimized. That even the VC don't come in here and the dealers are allowed to trade openly. That is why this war is different, why things had changed. Martin says he realizes this now, but that there are things he still doesn't understand. Myron tells him that's the problem, nobody does.
Myron, Anderson and the others smash down the door to Papa-san Dang's hootch and immediately take care of his bodyguards. With Martin watching the door, and Myron prowling around, Zeke holds a shotgun on the old man and demands to know where Ruiz is. Papa-san Dang tells him that Exley has Ruiz and that he is merely a businessman. Zeke demands to know where Exley is, and if it is Exley who has Ruiz.
Exley climbs into a jeep and before he can realize it, Myron rears up from the back and trains his pistol on the sergeant. In another breath, Exley is surrounded by Myron's men and Martin, and Zeke is there at Exley's side with his shotgun. Anderson wants to know where Ruiz is being held. Exley tries to beg, but Zeke will have none of it. Myron then adds that Dang's men would kill Ruiz. Exley finally says that Ruiz is in one of Dang's warehouses. Zeke leaves Taylor to watch over Exley and the rest go to get Ruiz.
They all slip into the warehouse just as Dang's men are getting ready to execute Ruiz. Myron shouts, getting their attention. There is a brief exchange of gunfire before Myron and his men kill Ruiz's captors. They rush up to see if Ruiz is okay, and it is Myron who cuts him loose, asking if he is all right. Ruiz says he is fine, then tells them all not to send him to supply any more.
In the early morning, Martin, his packing finished, pulls out his wallet and sits down, looking at a picture. He doesn't see Myron come in behind him and look over his shoulder. Myron says he has the same picture. It is of a woman in a pretty dress, holding a toddler. Martin tells Myron he loved his mother very much as he puts his wallet away. Myron tells him his chopper is waiting, does he want Myron to hold it? Martin tells him no, that he is ready, but when he reaches for his bag, his hand lands on Myron's and he looks up, startled. Myron nods and takes his father's duffle and the two men leave for the chopper.
At the flight line, Myron tells his father that at least he would not leave empty handed. Martin tells him that Myron is right- things are very different. In his war, they took ground and every inch they took was a victory. Here, he's seen men give their lives for temporary objectives. He tells Myron that on the rest of his tour he'd be looking at all of this in a different light.
The two men shake hands, then actually hug each other before
Martin walks up to the chopper. Before he gets in, he turns, and with a smile, salutes his
son. Myron smiles and returns the salute. Myron then watches his father leave.
ToD Advisor's Episode Notes: The writer presented me with a problem here: he wanted Goldman to have a two part mission, with a gap in between. As we see in the show, his original decision is to be questioned, but he is later to be proved right. I suggested the scenario, the Army PAO suggested the "deux ex machina" second part.
There was quite a dispute over what retired General Goldman should wear on his visit to the firebase. The PAO wanted civilian clothes (current policy.) A summerweight suit perhaps? Happily, I had a photo of retired General, and author/historian, S.L.A. Marshall in Vietnam. Like all distinguished visitors to forward areas, he wore a jungle fatigue uniform with his former rank and combat insignia, as though he was still a serving officer. General Goldman is an interesting character. He had won the Medal of Honor in WW II, and gone on to high command. There were two routes to success after WW II, the "Paratroop" route (General William Westmoreland was a paratrooper) and the "Tank Commander" route (his successor, General Creighton Abrams, was a "tanker" who served under Patton.) Recalling Ernest Hemingway's comment that "all tank commanders have the personality of bullies," I decided that Goldman should be a "tanker." This is reflected in his uniform.
In reality, the Americal Division PAO would have set the whole thing up for a nice photo opportunity. When a general visits, even a retired general, he "rides on rails." An excellent opportunity to pin a decoration on his son, in front of the cameras, would be arranged. Lt. Goldman would have been REQUIRED to participate. We did sort of a compromise.
|Worth another look:
At the officers' quarters, Anderson speaks to Goldman about having his friend Exley look into the Alvaro matter. Myron is
distracted and apologizes to Zeke. Zeke asks if it's the "Dalby thing" and Myron
says it's the thing with Dalby, the thing with his old man. It is here that Myron finally
lets his walls down and opens up to Zeke as he explains how he feels he never measures up
in his father's eyes. He adds that he didn't even want to be in the Army, that was his
father's idea. Zeke gently teases him, saying he is shocked and isn't the Army going to be
Myron's entire life. Myron then tells Zeke no, that he had pictured himself as an English
Lit teacher. But his father had told him that teaching was only an escape. For a moment,
the disappointment is clear in Myron's eyes and he looks away from Zeke, adding that maybe
his father is right. Zeke sees this as the opportunity he'd been hoping for to finally
reach this young man. He explains to Myron that maybe Myron's father sees himself in
Myron, 30 years ago, and that Myron is his father's future. Myron tells Zeke he can't
re-live his father's past glories. Zeke agrees, but tries to get Myron to understand the
difference between the man who has high hopes for his son, and a man who is hanging onto
the last thing he has in the world. It is here that the last of the walls come down and
Myron tells Zeke about how his father once had everything. But one day his mother took a
fistful of sleeping pills and killed herself. Myron tells Zeke that to this day, his
father had never dealt with it. That he looks in his father's eyes and there is nothing,
that he gets nothing back. He finally looks up at Zeke himself, his own pain clearly
*Can't Hurry Love is NOT performed by the Supremes here, but we are unable to identify the artist. (It *might* be Smokey Robinson.)
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