- Guest Stars: Pamela Gidley as Lt. Nikki Raines, Arthur Taxier, Julie Ow as Tuyet, Clyde Kusatsu and James Hong as NVA Colonel Trang.
- Story by: J. David Wyles
- Directed by: Bill L Norton
Synopsis:The first American combat death in Vietnam occurred on 8 July 1959, the last on 29 April 1975.
In a local village, a young boy runs up, announcing something in Vietnamese. The villagers all gather, lining up at the direction of the village chief. A handful of armed North Vietnamese soldiers walk in escort to a high-ranking official who is being chauffeured on a three-wheeled bicycle. The villagers clap as he smiles and waves in passing.
They stop at a table under an awning of palm fronds outside a hootch. There are several VC there, and they rise and greet the dignitary. He steps under the awning and shouts “Victory to the people!” and the others chorus their enthusiasm. After they sit down, the dignitary pulls out a map and shows it to them. He notes that in the New Year, they will infiltrate all the cities and attack all at once. He then shouts, “Attack everywhere! Attack together!”
Meanwhile, Third Squad is walking down the trail, Baker complaining to Johnson about the fact that although he takes good care of himself, he’s been afflicted with just about everything. Goldman, who’s behind him, keeps glancing back at Anderson in bored annoyance. Anderson finally tells Baker that dysentery is the number one affliction for the American infantry soldier. Baker whines that he’s not the normal foot soldier and that he takes care of himself.
Goldman wants to know if Baker’s been taking his diphenoxylate tabs to which he replies that he can’t even say that word. Baker continues to whine, wanting to know, why him? He asks, why not a pig like Ruiz, and Johnson agrees that if he were a germ, he wouldn’t touch Ruiz. Baker grabs Goldman’s hand, pressing it to his forehead before Myron snatches it back. Myron tells him fine, he’ll get a medevac for him when they get to the village but Baker tells him he can’t wait. Goldman tells him to just hold on until they get to the village. Anderson starts to snicker behind him.
Baker snaps at Anderson, saying that he thinks it’s funny. Anderson tells him, no, he doesn’t think there’s anything funny about the Aztec two-step. Unless it happens to someone as undeserving as Baker.
The same little boy comes running back into the village, warning that there are soldiers coming. The VC and the dignitary immediately duck into a nearby tunnel entrance in the hootch, under a bed. As the squad comes over the rise and starts to cautiously approach the village, the bed is placed back over the tunnel entrance and an elderly mamasan lies down.
The squad fans out through the village, checking through the huts. As Percell and Baker stand watch, Baker tells Percell he can’t wait any longer and that he has to go. Percell tells him to wait until after they finish checking the ville, but Baker says he doesn’t care and leaves.
Goldman, Anderson and a few others come into the hootch, Goldman announcing they’re going to look around. He kneels down next to the elderly mamasan and notes that she might be better off in a hospital. A translator relays the comment to the village chief who is tending her. Through the translator he tells Goldman that if they move her, it will kill her. The translator then adds that this is a communist village and not to believe what the man is telling him.
Goldman tells him that they want to help her and get her medical attention. But the village chief insists that her heart and soul are here and that she wants to die here. At the same time, Anderson, who’s been carefully looking around the bed, notices something and tells Goldman. Goldman checks and then orders the Vietnamese to move back as Anderson and Johnson prepare to move the bed out of the way. They flip it aside to find the tunnel entrance and Anderson tosses a grenade in.
Just outside the village, another tunnel entrance is uncovered and the VC and the dignitary quickly emerge. At the same time, Baker emerges from the tall grass, starting to fasten his pants. He notices the movement and sees some VC. He quickly aims his rifle, and as he watches, his pants fall down around his ankles. By now the VC have disappeared. As Baker gets ready to pull his pants back on, a huge toad leaps into them. Baker doesn’t realize it and pulls his pants on, starting to fasten them. It only takes a moment and Baker panics when he realizes there’s something in his pants- and he starts shouting in distress.
Back at the ville, Percell hears Baker’s shouts and yells to Anderson and the others. On Goldman’s orders, everyone disperses to find out what’s going on and to help Baker.
The VC see Baker dancing around and start shooting at him as Anderson calls out, asking where he is. Baker returns fire as he continues to jump around like his pants are on fire. Anderson and some of the others run up and they all take cover, Baker still thrashing and yelping that it’s alive. As the others cover him, he finally hauls out the huge toad, holding it up with a horrified expression on his face. Anderson wants to know how that got in his pants. Baker just tosses it down and unloads his M-16 into it as Anderson just looks at him in disgust.
The VC scatter, Anderson and the others chasing after them. They manage to chase them down and kill or severely wound the entire party. Cautiously, Anderson and the others start to check the bodies and scout around for others.
The dignitary is still alive, but badly wounded. He manages to crawl over to his pack and pull out some papers as the last of the others that survived scatter into the tall grass. With a lighter, he sets the documents on fire. Johnson finds him, but before he can do anything, Goldman rushes in and shoves his rifle up. Realizing what the man is doing, Myron grabs the papers out of his hands, extinguishing the flames as Johnson covers him. Anderson and the others rush up to help.
As Myron looks at the papers, wanting to know what they have, Zeke informs him that they have a genuine North Vietnamese Army colonel. Goldman quickly radios in, saying they need an immediate extraction and the reason why. The situation is complicated as they can’t move to a suitable LZ and a rope extraction is their only option.
Meanwhile, the few VC that survived the attack have gone to get more help from a nearby tunnel.
The Hueys have arrived and toss down the ropes to Goldman and his men, the pilot noting that he sees movement in the bush. Before they can tie off the prisoner, they all start taking fire. Goldman confirms that they are tying him off and as he stands up to signal, is shot. Anderson starts shouting when Goldman goes down, and scrambles over to see if he’s still alive while the rest of the men return fire.
Horn starts shouting that Anderson needs to get Goldman out of there. Anderson lunges for the ropes and quickly ties off Goldman while the pilot shouts that they have to go, he’s lost a gunner. Supporting both wounded men, Anderson signals to get them out of there, and is lifted out of the firefight, his men watching as they continue to return fire on the enemy.
They watch their sergeant and lieutenant safely airlifted away, relieved, before Johnson yells to go get the VC that shot their L-T.
Anderson, Goldman and the NVA colonel are brought to the Evac hospital in Chu-lai.
Inside, Nikki announces over the PA that they have wounded coming in and to get moving. As the wounded are brought in, it is Nikki who quickly looks them over and makes orders as to what needs to be done immediately. But she gasps and cries out when the third man she looks at is Myron. Horrified, she calls his name and strokes his face, but he’s still unconscious. Zeke, worry in his voice, tells her he’s gonna be all right and tells them to get Goldman out of there.
A short time later, Nikki watches as a doctor waves smelling salts under Myron’s nose. Myron comes to, confused and a bit frightened. But he recognizes Nikki who strokes his hair while the doctor checks him over. He doesn’t know if he’s all right and realizes he’s in a hospital. He tells her he sees two of her and the doctor starts to look at his head. Myron flinches away as the doctor asks if Nikki knows this man. She tells him yes, very well. Without much tact, he informs Nikki that Myron is very lucky and the bullet just grazed his skull. A quarter inch the other way…
Another nurse attending a nearby patient calls for the doctor as she needs help. As he dashes over there, Nikki moves around closer to Myron, who’s still confused and trying to calm down. Myron manages a shaky smile and asks if she’s glad to see him. But Nikki can’t really look at him and tells him not this way, her voice filled with fear and hurt. It’s Myron who tries to reassure her, saying he’s going to be okay and wants to know what’s wrong. She can’t handle it, tells him she has to go and bolts, leaving him behind and alone in the middle of the corridor.
Nikki, bewildered walks past Zeke who is now in a wheel chair being attended to by a pretty Vietnamese nurse. She’s got his boot off as Zeke tells her he didn’t even realize he’d been shot. She’s got Zeke’s foot right in her face, and it’s not the most pleasant experience as she tries to attend to him. Zeke isn’t put off although he can see her eyes are watering. He proudly tells her that’s real American sweat. She’s a sport and smiles as Zeke continues to chatter on at her. He asks her name and she tells him Tuyet. She grabs a crutch for him and starts to help him go get to his feet. But Zeke playfully starts to stumble and she’s forced to hang on and help him from falling over. Face to face, she warns him to stay off that foot for a few days. He wants to know if she’ll be taking care of him and changing his bandages. She tells him maybe, AFTER he takes a shower.
It’s Tuyet who wheels Goldman into a room, talking to him as she does. Zeke, on crutches, hobbles in with them, staying out of the way. Tuyet helps Myron to sit up and starts to take some of his gear off, including his pistol. She tells him to take off his clothes and Myron stares at her, a bit horrified. Hesitantly, he asks if she means all of them, Zeke grinning as she smiles and tells him just shirt and jacket, unless he’s hurt someplace she doesn’t know about.
Zeke can’t resist teasing a bit and tells Goldman to strip down for the lady. Myron casts him a quick glance as Zeke adds for Tuyet that it’s a request they don’t get often enough. After putting Goldman’s pistol up on a cabinet, she leaves the two men alone.
Myron, still wincing in pain, asks what the verdict is. Zeke, realizing Goldman is asking about him, shrugs it off as nothing, telling him it’s just a tiny piece of frag and it isn’t going to keep him down.
As Myron starts to ease out of the rest of his webgear, three men come into the room. They are introduced by the first one, Colonel Trowbridge from military intelligence who is accompanied by his ARVN liason, Major Ba Tho, and Major Conklin. As he speaks, Myron is still painfully shrugging out of his gear and a bullet tumbles to the gurney beside him.
Zeke picks it up, startled and hands it to Myron who takes it. Myron says it’s a souvenir and must be the reason his ribs hurt so much. He doesn’t know why he’s not dead.
Trowbridge reaches into Myron’s shirt before Myron realizes it, and pulls out a dented c-rat can. He chuckles, saying a c-rat jelly saved his life. Still a little bemused, Myron adds that he hopes it didn’t get his Skippy. He pulls it out and notes that it’s fine.
Trowbridge asks if they are the guys who bagged the NVA colonel and when Myron and Zeke confirm it, he wants to know where. Zeke answers for Myron, who is still trying to get his bearings, saying it was Quang Tho, about 30 klicks north of here. Myron nods his agreement.
Trowbridge is impressed, saying it’s unusual to have such a high ranking officer that far south and wants to know if the colonel told him anything. Zeke again fields for Myron, saying that they really didn’t have much time to chat with the man. Trowbridge understands and Myron explains they were on the run. With some stiffness, he reaches in his shirt and pulls out the documents he’d rescued from the NVA colonel earlier. Zeke notes that the colonel was trying to burn those when they found him.
Trowbridge is excited with the material and tells Zeke and Myron they scored big and it might be worth a couple of medals for them. With that, the three officers leave, Zeke and Myron exchanging some weary glances. Zeke grins and repeats, “A couple of medals.” Myron just looks away, tired and mutters “Oh boy.”
Over the burned map and the book that Goldman had given him earlier, Trowbridge goes over what they have and know. A similar book had been recovered back in November with Vietcong documents. What they know is that something large is being planned and organized, but they don’t know where or when. Major Conklin notes that they have over 6000 Marines in the Khe Sanh valley and Ba Tho reminds them it could be another Dien Bien Phu.
Trowbridge doesn’t think so, feeling there is something else here. Conklin meanwhile has picked up the map and is looking it over with a magnifying glass. After studying it a moment, he can see where fingernail indentations mark specific places, such as Saigon, Danang and Chu Lai. He asks if this is near where the colonel was captured. Trowbridge confirms it, saying they have a forward firebase there- Ladybird.
Later, Dr. Gaines, (who was earlier treating Myron) and Colonel Trowbridge argue beside the bed of the Vietnamese colonel. Trowbridge wants to talk to the prisoner now and Dr. Gaines is having none of it. The two push back and forth, with Trowbridge finally tossing out the card of saving hundreds if not thousands of American lives if they speak now to the NVA colonel rather than later.
Meanwhile, in hospital pajamas, Zeke hobbles by the nurses’ station on crutches. One pretty nurse looks up briefly but dismisses him out of hand. Zeke just grins as he goes by, saying not to judge a man by how he moves on one leg. He’s rewarded with sweet smiles and soft chuckles.
Tuyet comes out of a room with a chart and tells Nikki that her lieutenant is cute. She tells Nikki she doesn’t understand why she doesn’t marry him. But Nikki gets defensive and tells her she doesn’t want to discuss it. Tuyet tells her to just go see him and that she would finish up for her. Nikki is reluctant but finally walks across the hall and enters Myron’s room.
Myron, now in a hospital bed with his head bandaged, is happy to see her come in. She tells him she can’t stay long, that she’s on duty but he tells her it’s fine, they can get together later. He’s all soft smiles and clearly happy she’s there. But Nikki is having a hard time looking at him and shifts uneasily. She finally meets his eye, asking if he’s going to be there long.
Myron tells her a couple of days anyway. That he has some bruised ribs, concussion, but nothing major. She looks down in sorrow. Not realizing Nikki is unhappy, he tells her with a smile that he came close to buying the rice paddy. Her voice flat, she tells Myron she’s not surprised, only that she envisioned it a bit differently- a box with a flag draped over it.
Myron cuts her off, telling her that he made it, and that he was lucky and that he’d always been lucky. Nikki just looks at him miserably. Myron tells her that when he gets out, they could go to Japan, catch a couple of days of R&R. Nikki informs him she just got back from Japan a few days ago.
Myron is caught off guard. He thought they were going together. But Nikki tells him things change. Myron wants to know who she went to Japan with but she tells him it was no one. She then tries to leave, claiming she has her rounds to finish but Myron grabs her arm, wanting to know what the hell is going on. He wants to know if there’s someone else.
Nikki starts to get defensive, insisting she went alone. Myron wants to know why didn’t they go together, what had changed all of it? He asks what’s wrong, what’s hurting her? Nikki is miserable, struggling for words. She finally tells him it was the D and C, which means nothing to Myron, making him confused and frustrated. She finally blurts out she had an abortion, completely blindsiding Myron with the revelation.
Angry and hurt, he lashes out at her, saying she got an abortion without telling or asking him. She’s just as angry and hurt and snaps that she didn’t think she needed his permission. Myron tells her it was his baby too, but Nikki wants to hurt him as much as she feels he’s hurt her and tells him that maybe it was his, probably. Does it make him feel any better?
Both are miserable, Nikki hurting and Myron stunned and trying to catch up. He tells her she had no right, but that pushes the wrong buttons and Nikki snaps righteously that it was her baby, her future and HER decision. Myron, furious, says she should have had the decency to tell him.
“No promises, remember?” She hangs over him, Myron telling her that isn’t fair. She asks him, if she had told him she was pregnant, what would he have said. He admits he doesn’t know, but she demands to know. Frustrated, he struggles with all that has just been handed to him, but finally says that he probably would have asked her to marry him.
She doesn’t want him to marry her because he feels he has to. But Myron, looking right at her, tells her that maybe it was because he WANTED to. It’s still not good enough for Nikki, who tells him that she can’t, not in the middle of this, not now. Myron reminds her that this is almost over but she disagrees. And that she doesn’t want to have a child whose father could come home in a body bag.
Before either of them can say anything else, an MP calls for her from across the hall. Nikki rushes in, wanting to know what’s wrong when the MP tells her he found the prisoner like that. She realizes the tubes have been pulled from his arm and she calls for a Code Blue as she quickly starts to fix the situation. Colonel Trowbridge and Ba Tho come in, Trowbridge demanding to know what’s going on. Nikki tells him what’s happened and that someone had tried to kill the NVA colonel as Tuyet rushes in and starts to help.
Furious, Trowbridge chews out the MP and wants to know who had been in the room since he was on duty. He hesitates and then tells Trowbridge that there had been no one but Tuyet.
Later, Tuyet is being interrogated and hard by Trowbridge and Ba Tho. Covered in sweat and frightened, she tells them that she didn’t try to kill the prisoner. Trowbridge wants to know what she was doing and why and she tries to explain, but he doesn’t believe her. Ba Tho takes over, reading from a file he has about her history. That she was born in Hanoi. She agrees, but that her family moved to Hue in 1954. That they were Catholic, not communist. Ba Tho comes around behind her and fishes out the cross on a chain around her neck. He snaps it tight around her neck, demanding to know who gave her orders to kill the colonel. Crying, she tells them no one, that she was a nurse, not communist and she didn’t try to kill anyone. Whatever they say, it’s not true.
Later, Trowbridge and Ba Tho come to the NVA colonel’s room. With Ba Tho translating, Trowbridge asks how the colonel is doing. Trowbridge asks for the colonel’s name, and when he doesn’t answer, Trowbridge reminds him that through the Geneva Convention, they have a right to know. The NVA colonel replies with Nguyen Ai Quoc, which infuriates Ba Tho. He shouts that the colonel insults their intelligence and that he must be punished for his impudence.
Trowbridge assures him he will. He then tells the NVA colonel that they know his name is Colonel Le Van Trang and that he is on the planning staff of General Giap and that he speaks fluent French and English.
Trang finally speaks up, saying that his English is not so good.
Trowbridge wants to know if it’s good enough to tell them who tried to kill him but Trang tells him he was unconscious until it was over. Trowbridge then asks what Trang was doing in Quang Tho. Trang replies that he was seeing the sights, and that he hoped one day to see all of his country.
Trowbridge asks him about a specific Vietnamese phrase, and what it means. Trang, pale and fragile, looks at Trowbridge listlessly and tells him that he already knows.
“General attacks, general uprisings.” But Trowbridge wants Trang to tell him where and when. Trang says that he cannot tell him what he does not know. Frustrated, Trowbridge shows him the booklet that Goldman had taken from him earlier. Trang replies that he has all the pieces of the puzzle, that he should put them together himself.
Trowbridge still wants the answers and threatens to turn him over to Ba Tho. Trang shows no emotion, stating that he will die anyway, and that nothing Trowbridge does will change that. Trowbridge reminds him that the NVA have never defeated them on the battlefield and they never will. He informs Trang they have enough firepower to bomb them back into the Stone Age. Trang agrees, but notes that they can never defeat his people unless the Americans are prepared to stay and eat rice for the next thousand years.
In the nurses’ quarters, Tuyet angrily throws clothes into a suitcase as Nikki watches. Nikki wants to know what she’s doing and Tuyet tells her she has to leave as they think she tried to kill the NVA colonel. Nikki tells her if she goes, it will only confirm their suspicions. Tuyet reaffirms she is a good Catholic and would never do such a thing. Nikki says she knows that but they don’t, and that Tuyet was alone with the NVA colonel. Hurt and defensive, Tuyet accuses Nikki of not believing her either, Nikki not arguing, but instead looking away.
In Goldman’s room, he watches from his bed as Zeke speaks to a young black soldier named Tyrone in the next bed, who is horribly wounded. He’s missing everything from the waist down. Frightened, he tells Zeke it’s his birthday and that he’s 22. And this was a hell of a way to spend it. Zeke can’t disagree as he’s just as horrified by the situation. The young soldier tells Zeke that he was hoping to get a card or something from his girlfriend but it didn’t come.
Zeke tries to comfort Tyrone, telling him that the mail was slow and that it still could be coming. On the verge of tears, Tyrone tells him that he hasn’t heard from her in three months, that she’s forgotten about him. Zeke tries to reassure him but Tyrone wants to know who’s going to want him now?
Nikki steps up in between Tyrone and Zeke, gently telling him that he needs to get better first, and that the ladies would come around. Tyrone is crying now, terrified as he begs Nikki not to leave him alone. He doesn’t want to die on his birthday. But upon saying it, he suddenly slips away, dying right there. Defeated, Nikki walks away and Myron looks over at the now dead young man in the bed next to his.
Belting on a robe, Myron finds Nikki sitting out in the hallway. Her face is buried in her hands as he kneels down in front of her. She’s miserable, telling him she can’t do this anymore, that she sees it every day. There is nothing left, nothing for him, not for a baby. Myron asks her not to shut him out, that he loves her. But Nikki doesn’t want to hear it, reminding him that it could have been “him” in there. Myron is quick to remind her it wasn’t him, that he is still there, and so is she. He tries to reach her, slipping his fingers under her chin and saying that he wants to be with her, but she flinches away.
Myron asks her to marry him, that he’ll get a couple of days off and they can go away. Nikki asks, when they come back, will he finish his tour? He hesitates, but he can’t lie to her and tells her yes. She tells him the answer is no, that she can’t let him break her heart. Myron tells her he can’t just walk away and neither can she, that they both had made a commitment. But Nikki cuts him off, saying she can’t take any more pain and that being with Myron is just asking for it.
She wants to break it off, doesn’t want to deal with it anymore. Myron, stunned and hurt, asks if she’s kidding. But Nikki isn’t and gets up and walks away, leaving Myron still kneeling in the corridor.
Outside, where Hueys bring in the wounded, Anderson tracks down Goldman. Myron is sitting on a skid of a Huey, lighting up a cigarette. Zeke can read him easily and tells him that he looks like he’s got a double case of the blues. Myron hesitates, but finally tells Zeke that something just happened. Not directly to him, but it felt like it did. Zeke knows Myron and asks if it has to do with his nurse. When Myron won’t look at him or answer him, Zeke presses, saying Myron can talk to him.
Myron finally spills it, that Nikki was pregnant with his child. Zeke already knows the answer, but Myron confirms that she didn’t keep it. Zeke wants to know if she’s okay, how’s she dealing with it and if they’ve had a chance to talk about it. Myron, hurt and bitter, tells Zeke that she’s done all the talking and all the decision making. That she’s not happy about who or what he is. He’s a lousy risk, being a soldier and all.
Zeke understands that Myron is hurting, but he’s only going to support it so far. He tells Myron that he envies him, getting the younger man’s attention. Myron is caught a bit offguard, but Zeke tells him to look at it from his standpoint- that he has nobody. At least Myron’s got somebody mad at him. Zeke reminds Myron that he has Sin City and people all around him- but he’s still alone. But Myron has somebody.
Myron tells him that he’s feeling pretty lonely right now, though. Zeke taps Myron’s leg with his crutch and tells him to come on. Myron follows him without question back into the hospital.
At the nurse’s station, Nikki sees a Vietnamese mother with her fussing newborn. She comes over and runs her hand gently over the infant’s head before tucking her hands in her pockets and walking down the corridor.
Trowbridge pushes Dr. Gaines about Trang, wanting to drug him up so much that he’ll confess to anything. Gaines won’t easily agree, but Trowbridge is furious and makes it clear he’ll have his way. When Gaines still hedges, Trowbridge orders him. Ba Tho has watched the entire exchange, and when the two angry men move off, makes his own decision.
He enters Trang’s room and carefully approaches the bed. Trang is unconscious. Ba Tho pulls a length of cord out of his shirt pocket, wrapping it around his hands and testing its strength with a snap as he speaks softly to Trang. Ba Tho tells him that his will is strong, but he can’t withstand the American drugs. He whispers for Trang to be at peace, then proceeds to strangle him with the cord.
Nikki walks into the room with a tray full of meds. She’s startled about what she stumbles upon, demanding to know what Ba Tho is doing. Ba Tho lunges at her, the tray spilling. The two grapple, Nikki trying to get away as they struggle into an adjoining room. He finally tosses her to the floor and then backhands her, stunning her. He pulls his pistol, going back to the bed and taking aim. But Nikki manages to shout for help. Before Ba Tho can finish what he started, the MPs burst into the room. He kills one immediately and retreats back to where he left Nikki.
He grabs up Nikki in a chokehold as more MPs rush in and grab Trang, removing him from the room. Trowbridge dashes in, wanting to know what the hell is going on. The remaining MP, guarding Ba Tho’s escape tells Trowbridge he’s got a hostage, and it’s Ba Tho who’s holding Nikki. Trowbridge, stunned, calls to Ba Tho, wanting to know what’s going on.
Ba Tho, still with a gun to Nikki’s head, yells that he wants Trang. Trowbridge is still confused as to why Ba Tho would do all of this, but Ba Tho lays it out for him. That he’s worked both sides, with a decided preference for one. Trowbridge tells him to hand over Nikki, but Ba Tho orders him to stay back. Foolishly, Trowbridge tells him he’s coming in, and edges into Ba Tho’s line of sight. Ba Tho wastes no time and simply shoots him, Nikki crying out in fear.
Dragging Nikki over Trowbridge’s body, Ba Tho clears the MPs back with threats. Nikki shouts too, telling them he has a gun. Using Nikki as a shield, Ba Tho shoves out into the corridor, threatening to kill her and to get back. He demands to know where Trang is. Zeke and Myron walk into the middle of all of this unawares.
Nikki shouts for Myron just as Zeke grabs him and shoves him back out of the line of fire. Tuyet is standing right there and Myron quickly asks her if there’s a way to get behind Ba Tho and Nikki, and where are the weapons. Tuyet says she can show him, the two running off.
Ba Tho shouts, calling for Trang and threatening to kill anyone who doesn’t get out of the way. He threatens to kill Nikki as well as he drags her down the hallway, kicking open doors as he goes along.
Tuyet shows Myron where the weapons are stored. He breaks into the storage case, loading a pistol and grabbing a shotgun and a handful of shells before they both bolt out of the room, Myron following her.
Ba Tho is still shouting for Trang. He threatens Nikki, saying she knows where he is but she insists she doesn’t. Major Conklin and more MPs appear, blocking the far end of the corridor with several medical personnel. One MP jumps out between them and Ba Tho shoots him. Everyone scatters immediately, diving into nearby rooms.
Still running, Tuyet leads Myron around another set of corridors. They can hear Ba Tho shouting as they duck through a pair of swinging doors. It brings them out well behind Ba Tho, who isn’t paying attention to what’s going on behind him. Myron slips across the hall, ducking behind a piece of equipment. Foolishly, Tuyet steps out, asking if Myron can see Nikki. He warns her back, but Ba Tho sees her and shoots. Tuyet goes down and Nikki manages to break free of Ba Tho and get away. Ba Tho, now without his hostage, bolts from the corridor as Myron grabs Tuyet and slides her to safety beside the equipment, then takes off after Ba Tho.
Ba Tho is on the other side of the nurses’ station, and takes a few shots at Myron who slides up and uses the counter as protection. As Ba Tho retreats, Myron follows him, continuing to duck and hide around corners and doorways. He chases Ba Tho into what looks like a supply area and the two exchange gunfire, Myron unloading the shotgun into the room ahead of him.
Ba Tho retreats again, Myron cautiously trying to find where he’s gone. He eases across the corridor, checking a door as he works his way down. Coming to a metal door, he pushes it open, careful to stay out of the line of fire. It’s the morgue and bodies can be seen under sheets on gurneys. Myron finally ducks into the room, taking refuge between two of the tables.
Ba Tho ducks out of his hiding place long enough to take several shots at Myron, who returns fire with the shotgun. Myron chases him further back, using the shotgun, but quickly runs out of ammo. Tossing the shotgun aside, he pulls out the pistol he had grabbed earlier and considers his options. He’s got Ba Tho cornered in a back room filled with supplies. He carefully peers in before sticking the pistol in and pulls off half a dozen shots before he pulls back.
Anderson comes in behind him, calling his name. He slides in behind Myron, who is barely holding it together. Zeke shows him a grenade and says, “Let’s get serious.” He pulls the pin and tosses it in, then covers Myron as the room explodes. Myron slips out from under him, going into the room as the smoke and debris are still coming down. The room is a shambles, Myron carefully checking and peering around for Ba Tho.
Ba Tho, covered in blood and staggering, rises up and points his pistol at Myron. Myron sees him and before Ba Tho can do anything, Myron shoots and kills him. Anderson steps in beside him, both just looking at the body. Then Myron walks out. There’s a mob of MPs and other personnel that storm the room and he pushes his way past them, numb and exhausted. Nikki is there, but they just look at each other before Myron stumbles off.
Outside the operating room, both Zeke and Myron wait. Both men are fully dressed in fatigues, although Zeke is still on crutches, and Myron’s head is still bandaged. Nikki comes out, walking beside a gurney carrying a groggy Tuyet. Nikki tells Zeke and Myron that Tuyet is going to be alright. Both Zeke and Myron are clearly relieved, Zeke telling Tuyet she can have one of his Purple Hearts, that she’s a hero. Zeke squeezes her hand and both men smile at her before Nikki orders her taken to her room.
Myron wants to know what happened to the NVA colonel and Nikki tells him he’s dead, that he died on the operating table. Major Conklin comes out with Dr. Gaines, and Myron asks if they had learned anything. The major says that Trang only mentioned Tet, then he was gone. Dr. Gaines doesn’t know what Tet is, and Nikki explains that it’s the lunar New Year. Myron notes that maybe they’re planning something for the holidays. Conklin agrees, but what it is, died with Trang. He shakes hands with Myron and Zeke as he leaves, telling them they had done good work.
Zeke grins at Myron and Nikki and asks if they want to get a cup of coffee. Myron walks up to Nikki, asking if she wants a cup of coffee and she wraps an arm around him, smiling, and says not really. Myron glances back at Zeke and tells him to go away. Zeke grins and says he’s gone. He hobbles off in one direction as Nikki and Myron, arms around each other’s waist, walk away in the other direction.
ToD Advisor’s Episode Notes:
This episode is set just before the Jan 30, 1968 Tet Offensive, which turned out to be a turning point of the war. The previous summer, the Politburo in Hanoi had decided to launch their 1968 Winter-Spring Offensive, targeting South Vietnamese cities rather than military objectives. As always, their real objectives were political. They hoped to demonstrate both their own power and undermine American popular support for the war.
Preparations for this attack naturally took several months and could not be entirely concealed. Copies of the briefing document shown in the episode were actually captured. As shown, it was bound inside a Buddhist religious tract. Titled “General Attacks, General Uprising,” it was part of the political preparation for VC commanders. Only general military details were discussed. Specifics were to be locally decided. No date for the Offensive was specified either, only “very soon.”
One of the ways the orders were distributed was by having a senior NVA/VC officer brief subordinate commanders, who would return to their units and brief their subordinates, etc. This is what our NVA colonel is doing when he is captured. The rickshaw with bicycle outriders is a joke by the writer. In the VC and NVA, even generals walked. Slogans and catchphrases were an important part of orientation for a marginally literate force. Learning them EXACTLY was considered vital.
The confused backgrounds of Vietnamese on both sides of the war was common. The South Vietnamese nurse was actually born in the North. So was the real South Vietnamese Air Force Commander and President, Nguyen Cao Ky. Le Duc Tho, who negotiated the 1973 Paris Agreement with Henry Kissinger, on behalf of North Vietnam, was born in the South.
I don’t believe ARVN nurses were assigned to US hospitals, and certainly not to work on US patients.
Period note: at this time, Nikki’s pregnancy or abortion would have gotten her a General Discharge from the Army, had they been discovered.
Costume notes: The VC and VC didn’t wear rank insignia in the field, but might have one of their rank devices in a pocket, perhaps. US troops had to learn other ways to tell the officers from the enlisted men. Only officers were issued leather belts, for example. Another way is the Chinese tunic the colonel is wearing, indicating he had trained in China.
Another costuming note: US troops were issued olive drab underwear, not the civilian print pattern Eric Bruskotter is sporting. One of the first things you learned in the field was not to wear undershorts. New soldiers who ignored this advice soon discovered why. In that climate, they inevitably caused a painful skin rash, much to the amusement of the “older hands.”
Worth another look:
In the wake of Nikki’s wanting to break off the relationship, Myron has gone outside to have a smoke and think. Zeke tracks him down, finding Goldman sitting on the skid of a Huey. Zeke tells Myron that he looks like he’s got a double case of the blues. Myron agrees, telling Zeke that something had just happened. It didn’t happen directly to him, but it felt like it did. Zeke is perceptive and asks if it has to do with Myron’s nurse. But when Myron won’t even look at him, Zeke nudges him, telling Myron he can talk to him. Myron finally tells him that Nikki was pregnant, with his kid. When Zeke asks if she kept it, Myron tells him no. Zeke wants to know if she’s okay, how she feels about it and if they’ve had a chance to talk about it. Myron’s bitterness over the situation comes out as he tells Zeke in a tight voice that she’s done all the talking, and all the decision making. That she’s not happy about what or who he is, that he’s a lousy risk being a soldier. Zeke does feel badly for Myron and tells him he’s sorry, but that he envies Myron. When Myron looks at him in confusion, Zeke explains that Myron needs to look at it from his viewpoint. That he has nobody, but at least Myron has someone mad at him. Zeke has Sin City and people all around him, but he’s still alone, that Myron does have someone. Myron replies that he’s feeling pretty lonely right now.
- Constipation Blues – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. As Third Squad moves through the bush and Baker complains about his dysentery.
- When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge. As Myron and Zeke talk out by the chopper after Nikki informs Myron of her abortion, and reprised as Myron and Nikki walk off together at the end of the episode.