Pilot - New recruits riding to Ladybird

Tour of Duty Pilot
(Episode 1)

Pilot - Zeke in recruiting mode
  • Guest Stars: Keith Amos
  • Written by: Steve Duncan and L. Travis Clark
  • Directed by: Bill L. Norton
Synopsis:   The twelve month period American soldiers were required to serve in Vietnam was known as their tour of duty.

pilot episode: JohnsonFirebase Ladybird- Vietnam- 1967. During the night hours, Ladybird is nearly overrun by the NVA when they attack the base. The following morning, Captain Wallace assesses the damage and casualties before deciding to send Sgt. Zeke Anderson to Division Headquarters at Chu-lai. Anderson catches a chopper ride to the rear and, after speaking with the brass there, goes over to see about some new recruits to take back with him to Ladybird. There are dozens of new men, fresh from combat orientation and all playing volleyball in the mud. Anderson calls over the two teams that are winning, explaining that he was looking for winners. And survivors. Using his own criteria, he selects out Privates Clyde R. Lawrence, Scott Baker, Alberto Ruiz and Corporal Danny Percell for his own squad.

Later, while speaking to his friend, Mad Dog- another sergeant- Anderson hears a harmonica being played. He discovers Private Roger Horn. Mad Dog warns Zeke that Horn is a war protester. Anderson, impressed with the young man's ability to play and the chance to learn how to from him, decides to put Horn in his squad anyway. That afternoon, while the men are loading into trucks for the ride back to Ladybird, Anderson meets his new CO, 2nd Lt. Myron Goldman. Goldman, all of 21,is all spit and polish and fresh from the States. On the road back to the firebase, Anderson asks Goldman if he is a "West Pointer" to which Myron replies no, Officer Candidate School. Goldman also finds out that Zeke is on his third tour in Vietnam, both men agreeing he must be crazy.

Pilot episode: GoldmanUpon arriving at Ladybird, Goldman goes immediately to meet his commanding officer, Captain Rusty Wallace. Rusty welcomes Goldman, placing him in charge of Second Platoon, Bravo Company with Anderson as his platoon sergeant. Goldman is less than thrilled with the choice of his sergeant, Wallace assuring him that Anderson was an excellent soldier. Wallace also finds out here that Myron is the son of the famous Lt. Colonel Martin Goldman, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor during WWII. Myron makes it clear to Rusty that he intends to live up to his father's legacy and hopefully surpass it in some ways.

The new men move into their quarters, the "veterans", especially Marcus Taylor, giving them a hard time. The next day the entire platoon is sent out to help with a mission to locate the NVA who had nearly destroyed Ladybird a few days prior. Horn tells Anderson that his opinions have not changed and he will not fight. Anderson makes it clear that Horn will fight, but also decides to make him RTO in order to keep him closer to himself and the lieutenant.

Pilot episode: Goldman and squad in HueyGoldman's platoon is brought out by Hueys to the bush, but upon reaching the LZ, is immediately attacked. Horn leaves his rifle back on the chopper before jumping off. They suffer casualties immediately, Goldman trying to get the men to advance. Anderson finally yanks him down before the younger man gets himself killed, and then calls in artillery. Goldman is less than thrilled with Anderson, and also with Horn when he discovers Roger does not have his rifle. He threatens both with court martial upon return to the base.

After the shelling, the platoon moves in. Johnson finds a blood trail, which they decide to follow. Goldman and Anderson continue to disagree with each other, exchanging words on exactly who is in charge. The blood trail eventually disappears and, after a further search that turns up nothing, Goldman's men are finally ordered to rejoin the rest of the company. While carefully making their way back, Baker and Ruiz keep sniping at each other, driving Goldman to distraction. Ruiz finds a small lizard, which he uses to tease Baker. Disgusted , Baker finally knocks the lizard out of Ruiz's hand. Wanting the lizard back, Ruiz jumps out of the line, Anderson chasing after him. But while searching, Ruiz stumbles across an encampment of what appear to be the NVA they had been sent out to find. Goldman and the rest of the men join them,

Goldman, realizing he is in over his head, calls in for help. But while he is talking to Wallace about how best to handle the situation, Lawrence realizes he's on a wire and tries not to panic. Anderson, Taylor and Johnson all try to keep the boy calm, but Lawrence sets off the mine, alerting the NVA of the platoon's presence. They immediately come under attack, Goldman's men returning fire. Unable to get support from Wallace, and the situation becoming a bit desperate, Anderson tells Goldman to stand fast and grabs Johnson and Ruiz. Flanking the enemy, Anderson has Ruiz pin down some of the NVA while he and Johnson get close enough to use an RPG and blow up the ammo and most of the encampment in the bargain.

Afterwards, with Wallace congratulating both Goldman and Anderson on a job well done, Horn sees one of the NVA has survived and is reaching for a gun. Shouting a warning, he jumps on the man and in the ensuing struggle, ends up stabbing and killing the enemy soldier. Horrified at what he has done, he looks at Anderson in bewilderment, telling him the war is wrong. Anderson tells him that maybe it is, but that's not the point. And shoves his rifle into Roger's hands.

Worth another look: Zeke, needing new recruits to take back to Ladybird, calls over the two teams of young men who were currently winning at a volleyball game. Using his own criteria, he selects Percell, Baker, and Ruiz for his own platoon and squad.
Music:
  • Land of 1000 Dances- Wilson Pickett. As the new recruits play volleyball in the mud.
  • When I was Young- Eric Burton and the Animals.  When Third Squad is shown in the Huey flying out for the first time with Goldman and the other new members.
  • All Along The Watch Tower- Bob Dylan.   When Horn realizes he's just killed the NVA with his knife.
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