Battling Baker Brothers - Scott and Karl Baker w/ skateboard

The Battling Baker Brothers
(Episode 9)

Battling Baker Brothers - Scott and Karl Baker overturning truck
  • Guest Stars: Karl Bruskotter (Karl Baker) and Kady Tran
  • Story by: Bill L Norton
  • Directed by: Bill L Norton
Synopsis: From 1965 to 1973, 15,000 eligible American youth avoided the draft.

Baker drags Taylor, Ruiz, Percell and Anderson out to greet an incoming chopper. Scott is excited, telling Anderson it's a surprise and asks Zeke to play "Hail to the Chief" on his harmonica. Taylor and Ruiz burst out laughing when Scott complains to Anderson his rendition stinks. None of them can figure out why there is such a fuss and why Scott is so excited.

When the chopper arrives, the guys are shocked to see Baker's twin brother jump off. The boys look almost identical, Ruiz noting it is one Baker too many. It is the Baker brothers' birthday and Karl- Scott's older twin, gives Scott a skateboard.

Goldman and AndersonEveryone, including Goldman and Anderson, turn out to watch the two boys skateboard. Everyone is laughing and cheering them on. A few of the guys even give it a try with some hysterical results. Anderson just shakes his head and notes to Goldman- "California." To which Myron replies "Yeah, I'm getting out of here before I catch it." He then slips his sunglasses on before leaving.

Ruiz later asks if the twins are exactly the same, only to find out they are complete opposites, and that Karl is not above teasing his shyer brother unmercifully. The two get into a strength contest and then an arm wrestling match. Karl purposely throws the match by tricking Scott. Scott gets angry and the two end up in a brawl and roll into a tent, taking it down around them as they continue to slug it out. Anderson calls them the Battling Baker Brothers.

Karl manages to get a truck when the captain mistakes him for Scott and sends him on an errand. He instead uses the truck to smuggle several hookers and a stash of liquor onto the firebase. While Third Squad is completely thrilled with the idea of all the booze and girls, Scott is horrified and afraid they will get into some real trouble if they are caught. A party is tossed in Third Squad's hootch with the ladies, booze, and music and everyone is having fun except Scott. The guys are quite taken and impressed with Karl, who is much more charismatic than the shyer Scott. Scott finally leaves the party, fed up.

Karl Baker and Ruiz, Scott BakerOutside, he finds one of the girls sitting by herself on a low wall of sandbags and decides to talk to her. She doesn't speak any English, yet Scott can see she is very upset. She shows him a picture of a pretty little dog and finally manages to get him to understand that the Mama-san killed and ate her dog. Scott keeps telling her she is beautiful and he becomes quite taken with her. She has an 8-track player and she has him play it so that she can lip-synch to "Soldier Boy" for him. But the batteries start to die and the music grinds to a halt. Scott assures her he will get more batteries and tells her to wait while he dashes back into the squad's hootch.

While Scott is getting more batteries, his brother Karl comes out and finds the same girl. She of course thinks he is Scott. When Scott does come running back out, he finds her with his brother and she is confused when she realizes she is now seeing two men who look almost exactly alike. Scott becomes furious and then launches himself at his brother and the two end up in an all out brawl, rolling into the squad's hootch. Anderson and Goldman hear the commotion and come charging in, demanding to know what the hell is going on. But before Scott can explain, his brother slugs him and knocks him unconscious.

The next morning Goldman chews out Third Squad and then orders them to fill a thousand sand bags by noon. Baker gets to burn the latrines. Karl gets ready to catch a chopper ride back to the rear, but wants to smooth things over with his brother before he leaves. Scott will have none of it. Angry and hurt, Scott finally tells Karl he doesn't have a brother and turns his back on him. Karl, upset, gets on the chopper and leaves.

Goldman and BakerA short time later, Karl's chopper goes down and it is Goldman who tells Scott the bad news. The entire squad goes out and locates the downed ship. They find three bodies but the remains are badly burned and they can not identify who they are. Scott is convinced his brother is still alive and begs Anderson to stay and look. Zeke orders him back on the chopper.

Once the ship takes off, Scott makes the decision to jump clear and run before the chopper can come back around. He picks up his brother's trail and sets off after him.

Back at the LZ, Goldman's men try to find Scott but it is rapidly getting dark. They are ordered back to the base.

Scott tracks his brother to a nearby ville. He finds Karl tied up inside a hootch and slips inside in order to free him. Scott then unties his brother and the two try to escape. Unfortunately, both are discovered before they can slip away.

Back at Ladybird, Goldman and Anderson finally convince Wallace that Scott is not AWOL and to give them twenty-four hours to find the boys. Wallace says he does not want to be the one to write their mother and explain why one boy is dead and the other is MIA.

The next morning Third Squad sets out to find the Bakers. But while they are searching they come under attack by a small band of VC. After a brief fight, Third Squad moves in and finds one survivor who is trying to crawl off. The VC mistakenly thinks that Goldman is going to kill him and tells them the NVA have the two GIs they are looking for and that he will lead them to the boys.

The Baker brothersThe VC leads them to an NVA Battalion and support team and Goldman calls in an air strike. After the strike is confirmed, Anderson spots the two young men. Myron tries to call off the air strike but there is a communications problem and Command can't call the planes back. They have 12 minutes to rescue the two men.

Taylor and Percell set up a diversion by starting a brush fire. While some of the NVA check out the smoke, Zeke and the others move in closer. Scott and Karl spot Anderson when he grabs one of the guards and silently kills him. Realizing that Scott's buddies are nearby, the Bakers start a small commotion to keep the guard's attention on them.

Goldman realizes they are running out of time as they continue to get closer to the convoy and the two brothers. They have less than three minutes but Goldman doesn't want to give up. They are pinned anyway if they don't want to give their position away to the NVA standing and guarding the trucks. But one of the soldiers spots a body and the shout goes up. Myron and his men open fire on the enemy soldiers as the planes now come sweeping into the valley.

The Bakers roll under a heavily loaded truck and come out on the other side. With both hands and feet still bound, the two manage to shoulder up against the vehicle.  By sheer strength and determination they topple the truck over on top of several NVA soldiers. The two young men, still bound, hop back around the destroyed truck and make for the tall grass, trying to escape.

Anderson, Goldman, and RuizTime is running out fast. The planes are now coming in on their approach. Ruiz, beside Goldman, decides to run to the struggling brothers. With everyone shouting at them to hurry, Alberto quickly cuts them loose and the three make a run for it. The planes now come in and bomb the convoy.

The next day Karl says goodbye to Scott's buddies. He salutes and thanks Goldman and tells Ruiz to take care of his little brother. Scott walks with him to the ship, the two saying their goodbyes while Scott's friends watch. After hugs and head butts, Karl jumps on and waves a final goodbye, his brother watching the chopper leave.

ToD Advisor's Episode Notes: The inspiration for this script was simply that actor Eric Bruskotter had an identical twin brother. From a point of view of accuracy, however (which was my job), this script created a serious problem.

After WW II, and a few real incidents like the fictional subject of "Saving Private Ryan," the Defense Department no longer permitted more than one family member at a time to serve in a hostile fire zone. This Combat Exclusion policy applied to all the Armed Forces and was VERY specific. It applied only to blood relatives in the immediate family: father and sons, siblings of either sex. Husbands and wives, for example, were NOT included (and I personally know of one such couple who served in Vietnam at the same time). Quite a few brothers and fathers, and even some sisters, served multiple tours in Vietnam (usually in rear area jobs) to protect a son or brother from having to serve in-country. This was well known in the military. If you mentioned having a family member even in another service, people would immediately remind you of the policy.

When I first heard about the script I realized there was no way around this. There were some exceptions to the policy, for example if you were sent to Vietnam as part of a unit. The script expressly lets this out. Possibly neither brother had heard of the policy? No, the second brother is obviously a REMF (pronounced "Remph" = Rear Echelon Mother... well.....) clerk who would know things like this. When the episode aired, I nervously awaited the avalanche of calls and letters from veterans. Oddly, none came.

Other issues: as I recall, the Army PAO protested the "party" with the girls, wanting it clear this was NOT policy. Very, very few Americans captured by the Viet Cong or NVA ever managed to escape, but all who did, did it very soon after capture.
Worth another look: Karl Baker arrives and gives his twin brother a skateboard for their birthday. The two boys then celebrate by riding the skateboard there on the firebase while Third Squad, along with Anderson and Goldman, are all watching, laughing and cheering the two young men on.
Music:
  • Soldier Boy - The Shirelles.  One of the girls lip-synchs to this for Scott outside of Third Squad's quarters.
  • My Girl - The Temptations.  During the illegal party in Third Squad's hootch.
  • I Get Around - The Beach Boys.  At the end of the episode, just before Karl gets on the waiting Huey and the two boys are saying goodbye, when Karl tells Scott to give him a real bonk.
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