Army combat medics were awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. Eight were awarded
Private Hockenbury arrives by bus with several other new replacements at Tan Son Nhut, where his first images of the camp are of the dead sappers being pulled off the perimeter wire.
At the dispensary, Goldman and Anderson discuss all the recent sapper attacks and bicycle bombs. Myron then hesitantly tells Anderson he has decided to come out of the field and take a position in Intelligence. Zeke is stunned for a moment, but quickly assures Goldman he was doing the right thing, and that he had done his time out in the field. Alex then arrives, giving Anderson an excuse to leave.
Alex gives Myron a very nice cane before she finally tells him that she is also leaving the field and going to Paris. Myron sincerely tries to be happy for her, but his disappointment is clear. As they discuss what will happen next and how long before she goes, Nurse Pritchard arrives and breaks up the reunion. Alex then leaves despite Myron's protests.
Outside the dispensary, Alex runs into McKay. McKay asks her how Goldman is doing and if she has told Myron about her leaving for Paris. He tries to talk to her about her decision, that Goldman left the field mostly because of her and that maybe she should stick around. But Alex makes it clear that life isn't always fair and that she was going. Johnny hopes she'll reconsider and she says goodbye and holds up her hand, flashing him the peace sign as he smiles at her.
Percell, Ruiz and Taylor are playing cards in the barracks while Hockenbury settles in. A radio is blaring Hendrix and the guys tell Hockenbury to turn it down. Hockenbury's mouth starts to get him into trouble, the guys less than thrilled with him. Percell notes that he was beginning to think the one thing Hockenbury did leave home was the dress. Hockenbury, not knowing when to quit, said that at least the protesters were at home and not in the rice paddies killing babies. Percell lunges at him and Ruiz restrains him. But Taylor says that's okay, because he wanted the newbie instead. Taylor charges Hockenbury and the two spill out the hootch door to the ground in a fight that Anderson is forced to break up.
Telling everyone it was over, Anderson sends the men back inside. He then tells Hockenbury that he'd appreciate it if he didn't make more trouble. Hockenbury's sarcasm still gets the best of him as he mouths back to Anderson. Zeke notes he has a big mouth, and he may die from it. He then tells him to get inside and clean his weapon. Hockenbury informs him he doesn't have one. That he doesn't have to have one and that he was the platoon's new medic.
That night Alex arranges a romantic evening for Myron and herself. Trading favors, she arranges to get use of the dispensary's recovery room where she decorates it up a bit and sets out dinner. She reminds Myron that one of her fantasies was to make love to him in a garret with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
The next day Anderson meets the platoon's new L-T, Lt. Miller. Miller surprises Anderson by announcing that Zeke has been promoted to Sergeant First Class. He tells Anderson he knows it won't be easy to replace an officer as well respected as Goldman, but that he intended to do his best. And that he counted on Anderson to help make things go smoothly. It is clear, though, that Anderson is less than impressed with the green lieutenant.
Alex meets her contact, Muoi, in the streets of Saigon. He promises that he can take her to the tunnels outside of Saigon where the Tet Offensive had been planned. She wants to know why, and Muoi tells her that she tells the truth. That it was also very dangerous and he would be her guide.
Outside the barracks, Doc Hock is carefully writing his initials on his helmet when Lt. Miller walks up. He asks if they stand for "fun, travel and adventure." The two immediately start to clash when Doc starts getting cute with him. Miller wants him on his feet and to render a proper salute and then orders Doc to get the hair and the moustache trimmed as per regulations. He then demands that Doc take off the love beads he is wearing just as Anderson arrives. Before things get out of hand completely, Anderson reaches over and snatches the necklaces off of Doc's neck.
Miller leaves, but Doc is furious with Anderson. Anderson warns him that he was trying to save him from an Article 15, but Doc notes he could care less about a black mark on his record. Anderson tells him that some people already have him figured for trouble. Doc replies, "What, the conscientious objector bit?" Anderson wants to know why he's there, why he didn't go to jail or to Canada if he's so against the war? Doc tells him that jail and Canada would have been negative experiences. That he was just there to patch up men. He does not carry a weapon and he does not kill people- ever. Before Doc leaves, Anderson asks him if he trained at Ft. Sam Houston and if he knew Major Seymour. Doc replies that he did.
Alex waits on the dispensary steps, lost in thought when Myron eases up beside her. She tells him she has to cancel their dinner plans, and that she is staying for a few more days. But when Myron finds out it is for a story, not because of him, he becomes furious and hurt. Not only that, she also refuses to tell him about the story. She tries to calm Myron down, not wanting a scene, but Myron doesnt care. He realizes now that he changed for her, gave up what made him feel alive but she clearly won't do the same for him. He ends up walking away from her.
Alex goes into the countryside with Muoi, where they are dropped off and left to wait. Within moments the VC emerge and quickly tie their hands and blindfold them. They are then brought to the tunnels and deep into the complex before finally having the blindfolds removed. She is introduced to General Lam Thoc, who offers her tea after she sits down. Although Alex is frightened by what she's gotten herself into, she is not cowed or easily impressed by General Thoc's speeches. Instead she makes it clear that she wants to know how the VC and the NVA survive and live in the tunnels. The general agrees, and offers to show her what he calls his home.
Goldman and Anderson share a drink that evening in Goldman's quarters. Both men are clearly unhappy. It would appear that Myron is especially regretful of the situation but accepts that it is his decision to leave. Anderson assures him he will take care of the men, and that the men will miss him. Anderson also tells Myron about Doc Hock and both men agree that the war was changing. Myron tries to convince himself that it's the right time to get out of the field. As Zeke leaves, Myron wishes him good luck.
Anderson then finds Taylor, Ruiz, Johnson and Percell. The four are out drinking, Percell quite heavily. Anderson warns them they have an early day tomorrow, but no one is happy about the butter bar lieutenant or the C.O. medic. Taylor notes that Goldman was family, and no matter how long the new L-T was with them, he would be nothing more than "stepdad." Percell warns about the new medic and that if he turns tail and runs, it would NOT be the VC who kill him. Anderson is deeply disturbed by the harsh words, but can say nothing to make things better.
General Thoc explains to Alex about their determination. How they can sacrifice for days or weeks or even months in the tunnels in order to survive. He points out to Alex that he doubts the Americans would be willing to make such sacrifices. He then shows her a picture of his wife and little girl, and tells her his wife was killed a few months ago in a bombing raid, and that he had not seen his daughter in almost a year. Alex asks him if it's worth the sacrifice. He tells her they have no choice; this is their land and they have no place else to go.
The next day Goldman's men, now Miller's, head out for the bush. Before Doc jumps into one of the choppers with the rest of Third Squad, Anderson warns him about being scared.
As the Hueys start to take off, Goldman makes his way toward the flight line until McKay heads him off. He tells Goldman they aren't his men anymore, they were Miller's now. McKay then wants to know where Alex is. Goldman tells him that she missed her flight and he didn't know where she was. He tries to walk off, but Johnny won't have it. Goldman finally tells him she is on some big story and that she wasn't back yet. McKay is upset, telling Myron he should have stopped her, but Goldman asks him how he would do it. McKay is stunned, truly unable to answer Myron, and then hands him a bottle of champagne as a going away present for the two of them when she gets back.
Alex continues her interview with General Thoc when the tunnels start to suddenly collapse around them during a B-52 strike.
The platoon, now out in the bush, comes to a river, but Miller is somewhat confused by the map. Anderson shows him their location. Miller then decides they will cross the river there, despite Anderson's warning that it was an excellent place for an ambush. Miller ignores his warning and tells the men that they are crossing the river here.
Alex prepares to go back to the surface. She and General Thuc take leave of each other, having established a mutual respect as she tells him she hopes the suffering soon stops for both sides.
Anderson's men start to cautiously cross the river, but, as Anderson warned, they are ambushed. The platoon is immediately pinned down and taking casualties. Miller calls for artillery but misreads the map and ends up calling it down on himself and his RTO. Hockenbury runs over to try and help. Anderson sees what has happened and joins the medic. He calls in and redirects the artillery as Hockenbury tries to save the now dead Lt. Miller. Doc then sees a man is still alive and moving on the other bank of the river. Anderson tries to restrain him, yelling they didn't need a dead medic out here but Doc throws him off and runs to the wounded kid. Anderson tries to call Doc back as everyone else provides cover fire. Doc tends to the wounded soldier and the artillery comes in.
Later, Doc helps load the wounded into a helicopter. Anderson pulls him aside and assures him he did a good job. Doc is upset, angry at the loss of life and the foolishness of the war. But to Anderson, he sees a damn fine medic and a man who risked his life to save other men's lives.
Alex and Myron meet when she gets back, still a mess from the tunnels. Both are relieved to see each other as the Hueys come in with Anderson and the men. The two agree to meet later for dinner, then Myron rushes off to speak with Anderson and to find out what had happened. Anderson explained that Miller called artillery down on his own position and that map reading wasn't his strong suit. Goldman wants to know about the medic, and Zeke tells him that Doc was good, and that he had nerve. And that he was behind the chopper, losing his lunch.
Late that afternoon, Johnson brings a beer over to the table where Doc sits alone. Johnson tells him he did good and it was from all of them. Anderson comes over and asks if Doc is drinking alone and if he could join him. It takes him a few minutes, but Zeke finally brings himself to ask about Jennifer Seymour, and how she was doing.
In Saigon, Alex, all dressed up, spots Myron across the street. He's in his Class B uniform and smiles at her. But as he starts to approach her, the building behind her explodes from a bicycle bomb. Everyone nearby is thrown down by the force of the blast. When Myron looks up, climbing shakily to his feet, he realizes Alex has been badly hurt and rushes to her side. Gathering her to him, there is nothing he can do and she slips away from him, dying in his arms. He simply holds her close, destroyed.
Back at Tan Son Nhut, Myron is sitting alone when Zeke finds him. Myron is barely holding together when Anderson tells him softly that he knows there's nothing anyone can say to him right now, but the men wanted to say they were sorry. Anderson knows there's nothing he can do for the young man and so leaves him to grieve in peace. Myron is lost, struggling against his pain and tears.
|Worth another look:
1) While Doc is writing his initials on his helmet, Lt. Miller comes up and wants to know if they stand for Fun, Travel and Adventure. The two men immediately clash, Miller demanding Doc get his hair and moustache trimmed. He then orders Doc to take off the necklaces he is wearing as Anderson walks up. Anderson snatches them off of Doc. After Miller leaves, Anderson questions Doc as to why he is there, wanting to know why he didn't go to jail or to Canada. Doc tells him it would have been a negative experience. And that he is there to patch up soldiers. He doesnt carry a weapon and he doesn't kill anyone. Ever.
2) Myron sits alone in the early evening, trying to hold himself together in the wake of Alex's death. Anderson comes up to him and tells him he knows there isn't anything that anyone can say to him, but that the men wanted to say they were sorry. He leaves Myron then, who starts to shake with his grief as it sinks in that Alex is dead.
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