War is a Contact Sport

War is a Contact Sport

War is a Contact Sport(Episode 55)

  • Guest Stars: Carl Weathers as Colonel Brewster, Michael Fairman, Kyle Chandler as Griner, Lee Majors as ‘Pop’ Scarlet
  • Story by: David Kemper
  • Directed by: Stephen Caffrey

Synopsis:During the Vietnam War, half of all conscientious objectors already in uniform were granted a discharge.

War is a Contact SportDeep in the boonies, Percell, Doc Hockenbury and Kuslits carefully wade down a stream, Danny in the lead. They work their way into the jungle, until Danny sees something and silently signals Doc and Jake into hiding. Edging up slowly, he slips in behind some ruins and then surprises a VC who’s taking a leak on the wall. The VC turns to make a run for it, but finds Kuslits and Doc standing right there.

On the radio back to Goldman and the rest of the squad, Danny tells Goldman that he got a prisoner. When Goldman asks if he can travel, Danny tells him that they caught him with his pants down, literally. Zeke seems to think the VC can tell them about the NVA spy trails they are searching for and Goldman tells Danny to secure and maintain their position, the squad is coming to them.

Sitting comfortably against the wall, Danny tells Kuslits to tie the VC’s hands. Danny is pleased and a bit smug with the capture and not paying attention to anything around him.

As Jake unwinds some rope to tie the VC’s hands, he notes to Doc that he doesn’t know how these people survive. Shaking his head and taking his glasses off, Doc tells him they survive by doing what they have to. No one sees another VC slip in behind the wall and Danny. The prisoner makes eye contact, and with a nod to each other, all hell breaks loose.

War is a Contact SportThe prisoner shoulders into Kuslits, knocking him to the ground as the second VC attacks Danny. Both Kuslits and Percell lose their rifles as Danny grapples with his opponent. The prisoner grabs up Jake’s rifle and slams the butt into Jake’s face. Doc scrambles back and snags Danny’s rifle, eyes wide. The prisoner aims at Jake as Danny finishes off his opponent. Doc aims the rifle at the now armed prisoner.

Everyone freezes.

Kuslits, still on the ground and his face bleeding, along with Danny tells Doc that he has to kill the VC. Doc keeps the rifle on the VC, but softly tells the man to go. Danny begs Doc not to let him go, but Doc continues to carefully tell the VC to “didi mau”. Still armed, the VC backs up, looking as if he’s going to run for it. Danny and Kuslits continue to urge Doc to kill the man. Doc tells Kuslits to shut up, he’s shaking as he watches the VC continue to edge back. Kuslits tells Doc to give him the rifle.

The VC starts to turn and make a run for it when Kuslits lunges at Doc for the rifle. The VC shoots at Doc and Kuslits, both men going down before he bolts into the jungle. Danny grabs up the rifle and chases after the fleeing man. As the VC bolts through the ruins, he’s killed by Anderson as the rest of the squad arrives.

Kuslits is shot, struggling to breathe as Doc tries to tend to him. But he’s not going to make it as Doc stares down in horror at the man. He dies as the squad gathers around.

Back at Camp Barnett, Kuslits’ body is taken off the Huey in a poncho as the rest of the men get off. Doc is already on the pad, bewildered as he watches. Pop Scarlet mutters, “There’s another memorial service brought to you in the name of communist containment.” Myron tells him to stow it. Scarlet isn’t ready to let it go just yet, as he notes that Jake wasn’t even as old as his son. Zeke tells him to take it easy, but Pop only adds that all this just makes him want to puke.

A deuce and a half passes in front of them, and when it’s cleared, Goldman, Anderson and the others find themselves looking at Colonel Carl Brewster. Everyone but Scarlet immediately salutes as the colonel smiles in welcome. But Scarlet shoves between Goldman and Anderson and before anyone even realizes what’s going on, hauls off and slugs Brewster squarely in the face. Horrified, Zeke and Myron haul Scarlet back, demanding to know what the hell he thought he was doing. Brewster just glares.

As the guys walk back to their barracks Griner asks Percell what’s going to happen to Pop. Danny tells him that it’ll be the stockade, courts-martial, Levensworth. Griner notes that Pop’s bunk is going to be empty a long time. Danny starts to reply about empty bunks when he sees Doc. Standing on the step leading into the barracks, Danny looks directly at Doc and says that Kuslits won’t be needing his anymore.

War is a Contact SportLooking utterly miserable, Doc says he’s sorry, and that he’s sorry that Kuslits is dead, but it wasn’t his fault. Danny replies that it was the VC prisoner’s fault. Griner quickly adds that Kuslits wouldn’t be dead if Doc was doing his job. Doc quickly points out Griner has nothing to say about this- as he wasn’t there. Doc looks at Danny and says what he’s always maintained, that he does NOT kill human beings. Danny points out the VC did, and that he’d have killed more if they had let him go.

Doc tells him that’s what Danny does. Danny agrees, saying, yes, that’s what he does, but because he has to. He wasn’t born to do it. Doc says that neither was he and he can’t learn it. Danny snaps he shouldn’t be here, and Doc quickly adds that none of them should be there! Danny reminds him that they are there, and that the only thing that keeps any of them is alive are the men who watch their backs. Doc wants to know what he should have done.

Danny walks up to him and says that what he should have done, when he got drafted, was to go to jail. Doc vehemently disagrees and adds that he’s here to make a contribution. Danny doesn’t remember what he had told Taylor before, that Doc was willing to die for them. Instead, he tells Doc that Vietnam was the easy way out for him and that Nam scared him less than prison.

Doc replies that he’s proven he’s not a coward.

Danny wants to know to whom?

He walks away from Doc and into the barracks, Griner right behind him. The rest of the men go in without even looking at the medic. Knowing the last place he’s now welcome is the barracks, Doc simply walks away.

Myron joins Brewster. It is one of the rare times we see him smiling, that he’s actually happy and it’s clear it’s because Brewster is back. He asks Carl why he isn’t pressing charges against Scarlet. Carl slides a look at him, but says nothing. Growing a bit uneasy, Myron asks if Carl is assuming command. Carl sighs deeply and tells Myron that in this man’s army, he would never assume anything again. He then tells Myron he’s there because he’s part of a board of inquiry looking into the Phu An massacre and he’s counting on Myron’s testimony.

Myron doesn’t hesitate and tells Carl that he has it, along with the rest of Myron’s men. Carl hesitates, then looks at Myron, noting that he’d heard that Ruiz and Taylor had been missing for three weeks. Sorrow slips over Myron and he’s unable to look at Carl for a moment. He’s trying to find words and instead changes the topic, ducking away from the truth of his two missing men. Instead, he asks how Carl managed to pull off a board of inquiry.

War is a Contact SportRealizing Myron won’t discuss Ruiz and Taylor, Carl notes that colonels don’t pull off anything. When he gets a hesitant smile from Myron, he admits that he knew some people in Congress, had a powerful friend in the Pentagon, knew where some “skeletons” were buried. Myron nods, saying that Carl is now the enemy. Carl agrees with him and that the Army wants this over as quietly and quickly as possible.

Myron wants to know what happens when it’s all over and Carl tells him that they will likely find a very small office with no windows for him. Myron carefully notes that they could always use him back here. Carl sighs, saying that if they killed every single Vietnamese, they still wouldn’t win the war. That it’s time for a different agenda.

Zeke leads Percell and Griner over to one of the Hueys, telling them that they have some bodies to unload and bring over to Graves Registration. Griner wants to know why they have to do it. Percell replies that they are following orders, that’s what they do. Griner continues to complain, saying he doesn’t understand the detail right after they lost a man, it’s as if they’re being punished. Anderson tells him to stick a sock in it.

Not one bit gracious about the duty, Griner wants to know why the L-T put them out here and Zeke reminds him that these were American soldiers and that someone has to start them on their way home. All three pause in front of the chopper, staring at the bodies draped in ponchos before Danny strips off his hat and reaches for one of them.

The poncho comes off and Marcus Taylor sits up, grinning like a fool into Danny’s stunned face. Ruiz pushed back the poncho he’s lying under and grins up at a shocked Anderson. Everything dissolves into a reunion of hugging and back slapping and pure joy at the return of two men no one wanted to give up for dead, but thought they would never see again. (Click here to read a scene in the original script that didn’t make it into the episode showing Goldman, who set up the surprise, joining them.)

Doc comes out of the dispensary with a box under his arm to find Goldman waiting for him. Goldman doesn’t dance around the issue, he quietly tells Doc right there that he’s transferring the medic out of the unit after what happened the day before. That he couldn’t afford to have Doc any longer. Doc says nothing, setting the box aside as he shoves his hands in his pockets. Myron quietly tells him that he’s going to try to have him assigned to the dispensary, but they won’t know until tomorrow.

Doc finally looks at Goldman, telling him that he never misrepresented himself, that Goldman knew who he was getting from day one. Myron agrees and adds that he shares some of the blame for what had happened the day before.

Hurt and miserable, Doc tells Goldman that if they want to blame someone, to blame Nixon, Johnson and Kennedy. Myron starts to speak but instead looks down, giving Doc the rare chance to vent at him. Bitter, Doc continues his list of everyone who’s to blame, right down to people who vote. Myron cuts him off there with just enough sharpness to get Doc’s attention. He adds that they aren’t responsible.

Defeated, Doc notes that it’s just him who’s responsible.

War is a Contact SportMyron notes that everyone makes their own decisions. Defeated, Doc sinks down on the bench next to the box. Even given the circumstances, this is a rare encounter for these two men who up until now had almost nothing to say to each other. Rarer still, the hard edge that Myron’s had since Alex’s death is gone here, instead replaced with real understanding and sympathy for the shattered medic. He watches Doc for a long moment, then tells him that he understands why Doc did what he did, but he doesn’t happen to agree with it.

Doc shakes his head and tells Goldman that it’s funny, he agrees with what he did. He just doesn’t understand how it turned out the way that it did. Myron asks if he minds an opinion and when Doc looks away in misery, Myron sits down carefully next to him. Thinking carefully, he looks at Doc and tells him: “I think that sometimes, when ideology and reality collide, you can’t base your decisions on the comfortable beliefs of the past.”

Doc wants to know what you possibly base them on.

Myron hesitates for a long moment before telling Doc it has to be something you can live with the rest of your life.

Brewster is on the phone, demanding to find a Specialist Michael Kelman. Pop Scarlett watches him with a restless unease. Brewster gets off the phone and with barely a blink of the eye, switches gears and tells Scarlett that he’s closing in on 20 years and that unless he wants to receive his pension checks in Leavenworth, he’d best learn to control his temper.

Neither man looks directly at the other as Scarlett politely tells Brewster that he’s sure Brewster would rather personally kick his butt than have someone in Leavenworth do it for him.

Carl wants to know what happened, that Pop had two more stripes the last time he saw him. Pop replies it’s just a different shirt, that the man inside is still the same. That there’s a history between these two men is made clear when Pop addresses him as Carl and what did Carl expect, a hug? Carl notes that he had thought he deserved a measure of respect. Always blunt, Scarlett tells him that was gone, had been since Old Baldy.

War is a Contact SportIt has the effect Pop wants, and Brewster, hurt, walks away across the room. Unable to look at Scarlett, he tells Pop that he doesn’t understand what happened. Scarlett doesn’t care and he goes after Carl, telling him he knew damn well what happened. That they got the holy hell chewed out of them in an assault that didn’t mean squat to the guy up front yelling “Charge!”

With no conviction, Carl tells Scarlett that he took it up the chain of command as far as he could.

Scarlett just keeps hammering at the other man, telling him that they all believed in him. That if Captain Brewster can’t do it, it can’t be done.

Carl reminds him that was exactly it. It couldn’t be done.

Scarlett notes that one hundred good men died on a frozen hill in Korea. But his righteous anger drains away as Carl notes there were more casualties from that day that had yet to be counted. Regretfully, Pop asks how long Carl was a POW.

Carl only tells him long enough. Neither man looks at each other, both in the same room yet miles apart. Finally Pop asks if Carl were given those same orders today, would he lead them up that hill again? After a long moment of silence, Carl quietly tells him no.

That night the guys, including Anderson, are all in town for a drink. But Danny comes right back out of the bar, saying he’s going someplace else when he realizes Doc is already in there. Doc emerges, calling after him, offering to buy him a beer. Danny tells him to shove off and that he wants to drink in peace. Doc comes up to him, brushing off Anderson who halfheartedly tries to stop him. Doc tells Danny he wants to buy him a drink, and they can make up. Danny has his back to him, and tells him no thanks, that he’s just not in the mood. Doc foolishly won’t let it go and wants to know since when was Danny not in the mood.

Angry, Danny turns and faces him down, saying he’d hadn’t been in the mood since he got on the plane to come over there. That he wasn’t in the mood since he killed his first human being, or when he got hooked on heroin. Doc reminds him that he walked him through that nightmare, that he held his hand. Danny knows Doc isn’t going to let it go, so when Doc tells him he hasn’t been in the mood since yesterday morning, Danny gives it back to him and points out that it’s true, because he watched Doc freeze up and a good man die because of it for absolutely nothing. He starts to shove by Doc, but Doc grabs him and slugs him square in the face.

The anger and the grief come out as he shouts at Danny, what the hell does he know? Still shouting and pointing at Danny, Doc tells him that what he did took more strength and more self control than Danny will ever have. To remember that the next time he squeezes off a few rounds when he hears the bushes rustle.

War is a Contact SportNow Anderson steps up, trying to calm the situation down as he reaches for Doc. But Doc jerks out of his grasp, shouting he’s not done yet. Danny only shakes his head and walks away. Doc shouts after him, but when Danny doesn’t turn, Doc rushes him. Danny spills him to the ground with little effort, then grabs Doc’s shirt front and tells him to let it go. But Doc won’t and when Danny turns once more to leave, Doc again goes after him. With Anderson and the others watching, the two get into it, although it’s not a fair fight and Doc ends up on his face in the dirt. Everyone walks away and Anderson carefully asks if Doc’s all right. But it’s Pop Scarlett who comes out and tells Zeke he’ll take care of the medic.

Back at the camp, Ruiz and Taylor are outside in clean robes and smoking cigarettes. Ruiz is planning on surprising Suzanna the next day. Taylor asks if Ruiz knows what he’s going to do when he gets out of here. Ruiz teasingly tells him he’s gonna go home, get into trouble and get arrested and tossed in jail. Taylor tells him he wants to open a restaurant. Ruiz thinks Taylor still has heat stroke and what the hell could he know about the restaurant business?

Taylor admits he knows nothing, but he can learn. Ruiz doesn’t encourage him with the notion, saying that Taylor’s going to have to know business, food, people. Taylor asks if Ruiz doesn’t think he could do it, and Ruiz notes that you have to be in a lot of places at the same time and that if you mess up anywhere, you’ll go under.

Taylor wants to know how come Ruiz is such an expert. Ruiz tells him he had an uncle who opened up a restaurant in the Bronx, and that it lasted only 16 months. Taylor insists they could do a lot better than that. Ruiz wants to know how they’re going to get the money, who would lend them money? Taylor reminds him they’re both veterans, but Ruiz feels that will mean nothing.

Marcus glares at him and tells him that for someone who just survived 21 days in a hellhole, he sounds like a quitter. The two fall silent for a few moments, then Ruiz shrugs and notes he’d have to run the kitchen. Taylor is quick to add he’d handle the paperwork. Ruiz tells him that if Taylor messes with his recipes, he’ll make him wash the dishes. The two grin at each other.

It’s way past curfew and Pop creeps over to Doc, who is passed out in a tangle of blankets next to a hooker. Pop wakes him and warns him they have to go, that there’s a VC tax collector out at the bar. Doc, groggy and confused, wants to know where the hell they are. Pop tells him it’s “Suzie’s Supermarket of Love” and there’s no need to thank him, but they have to get moving. Doc slowly looks next to him to see the girl in the bed with him.

Quickly climbing out of the bed, Doc joins Pop,the two shouldering up against the wall. They peer into the bar, where a VC is laughing and getting ready to come into the room where they are. Pop tries to give Doc a pistol, but Doc flatly refuses. Muttering under his breath, Pop waits until the VC comes into the room and drops his pants. Then he grabs the guy from behind and eventually breaks his neck as Doc watches, horrified. With the VC now dead, Pop grabs his rifle and then tells Doc he’s on his own.

Bursting out of the room, Pop sprays the bar with gunfire on his way to the street. Another VC takes aim at him, but Doc emerges, shoving the guy aside before he can shoot Scarlett, giving Scarlett enough time to shoot the VC instead. Telling Doc to run like hell, the two race down the street, Doc with his pants in his hand, Pop shooting off several rounds above them as people duck and shout.

The next day, Brewster enters a hospital ward filled with wounded men. He pauses to talk to one of the doctors before approaching one of the patients. The man has his back turned to Brewster, a book wrapped tightly in his arms. When Brewster asks if he’s Specialist Kelman, Kelman tells him he’s not a Specialist anymore. That he’d given his rank back. Carl wants to know to whom, and Kelman tells him the sinners, the Army. He rolls over and looks at Carl who notes Kelman has a leg injury and that he was very lucky. He wants to know how Kelman got the wound and Kelman informs him, God. As a punishment. Carl asks if that’s Phu An. Kelman tells him he’s paying his debt.

War is a Contact SportCarl wants to know how, was it by limping? And were the 43 massacred civilians any better off because of it? Kelman asks what Carl would have him do and Carl tells him that the Army wants Kelman to tell them what happened. Kelman disagrees, saying that it isn’t what God wants. Carl tells him it’s a good act, but to stow it. Kelman replies that he’s a prophet, not a Judas, and that they must come to the Lord in their own time.

Carl decides to leave him with some wisdom and tells Kelman that if he really were a servant of God, he would help those less fortunate to the right path. To do anything less was a disservice to all.

Back at the camp, Goldman calls to Johnny who is out by the choppers. Johnny tells Myron that judging by the friendly expression, he must have found out. Myron confirms that Colonel Stringer had told him the news. Johnny grins as the two meet over a wall of sandbags, Johnny telling Myron to be thankful it’s not Johnny giving him the orders. Everyone else was out on Ops.

Myron simply waves him over with a file in his hand to a table littered with parts and tools. He then tells Johnny it’s an insertion under his command as he opens the file and pulls out a folded map. It’s going to be him, Anderson and McKay. He shows Johnny the three points on the map and adds that what they’re looking for is Charlie’s motorized supply route, based on information from S2. Myron puts the map back in the folder, slaps the folder on Johnny’s chest and tells him not to fool around on him.

With the three teams now in the jungle, it’s McKay who calls in first saying he’s found tracks that are no more than 36 hours old. Myron wants to know what kind of tracks and McKay tells him wheels and tires- looking like trucks towing howitzers. Scarlett shoulders in next to McKay and confirms about two companies of foot traffic as well. Myron asks what Zeke has found, which is nothing at that point. Goldman has Anderson move to join up with McKay, and for McKay to follow the tracks to see where they go.

There is a harmonica on the floor underneath an empty bunk. Taylor, moving back in, dumps his duffle bag on the springs. Doc comes in and tentatively says hello, and Taylor smiles and greets him as he starts to unpack. Doc welcomes him back home and wants to know if he’s been cleared by the doctors yet. Taylor tells him they still have light duty for a while, but they can move back into the barracks. He spots the harmonica on the floor and picks it up. Doc approaches, his voice catching as he tells Taylor it belonged to Kuslits. That he was trying to learn how to play it and Pop Scarlett was always hiding it on him. Taylor gives it to Doc after noting they must have missed it when Kuslits’ stuff got packed up.

The two go outside, Doc fidgeting with the harmonica as Taylor walks beside him. Doc tells Taylor that he hasn’t thought about one single other thing in three days since this all happened. That his whole system of values has been scrambled.

War is a Contact SportSurprisingly, Taylor tells him that he stuck to what he believed in. Doc wants to know if what he believes in is wrong. Taylor wants to know if Doc thinks he should have killed the guy. The two stop, facing each other, and Doc finally says no. But he’s struggling, trying to understand, he tries to explain that maybe there are circumstances where you have to react. He shakes his head and admits that either way, no matter what he did, his life was screwed. The VC prisoner is dead, regardless. They start to walk again as Doc adds that maybe if he pulled that trigger, other people would be alive.

They walk up to the Adjutant General’s office as two soldiers unload from the back of a jeep. One comments to the other, unaware of Doc and Taylor, that Kuslits never had a chance. That he was killed with his own weapon. Doc stands in a miasma of pain as Taylor watches him. He quickly places the harmonica on the sand bags in front of him and bolts. Taylor picks up the harmonica and looks at it for a moment before putting it back.

Brewster finds Ruiz alone in the munitions area and goes up to greet him, genuinely glad to see the young man back. They shake hands, Ruiz telling him it’s good to be back, and to have Brewster back. Brewster notes that Ruiz doesn’t look all that happy and Ruiz tells him that he just got back from Tan Son Nhut, where he went to see a friend. She had gone home.

Brewster makes himself comfortable next to Ruiz and tells him that he can’t blame the girl for wanting to rotate back to the States. Ruiz tells him that it wasn’t that; instead, she had cracked up- flipped out during surgery in the OR. She was pretty messed up and had to be sedated. Brewster asks how he feels and Ruiz replies with, “Helpless.”

Brewster explains to him that it’s tough to sit back and let other people run their lives, especially when you’re an expert at telling them what to do. It was a tough line to draw for himself, knowing when to bleed for someone you care about and knowing when to pull back. Ruiz wants to know if there’s an easy way of knowing and Brewster shakes his head, adding that the truth is, he doesn’t have a clue. That sometimes you just have to walk away and let it go. Otherwise you’ll become a martyr and you know how insufferable they can be! The two share a smile over that. Brewster suggests that Ruiz write her a letter, give her a landmark that hasn’t changed and that might help to get her back on course. They share a long look and Ruiz thanks him sincerely for the advice.

Out in the bush, Anderson and his team are hiding in the jungle at the edge of what appears to be a very quiet vill. Anderson contacts McKay, telling him he’s located a vill and the coordinates, to which McKay tells him there is no vill. Anderson makes it clear there is one now. Goldman comes on and wants to know if there’s any movement. Anderson tells him it appears to be deserted. Goldman tells McKay to rendezvous with Anderson’s team, and for Anderson to keep hidden until they all get there and not to enter the vill.

Anderson doesn’t see the hidden NVA who have clearly spotted him and his team.

With Goldman’s and McKay’s teams finally joining him, Anderson tells Goldman that they’ve scouted the perimeter for more than an hour and he’s convinced it’s deserted, that the tire tracks lead right through it. McKay notes that even the animal pens are empty. This village isn’t supposed to be here, S2 confirms it.

Myron notes that’s because it doesn’t exist. Not only are there no animals, there’s no dung and no feed, no anything. McKay realizes that’s what’s missing, the smell. Myron orders Anderson to take his team and flank left, Myron will take his team right. McKay is to go right up the middle and search each hootch.

McKay is not the least bit thrilled with the short straw he’s handed and Myron reminds him that he wanted to be there.

War is a Contact SportBrewster comes up behind Kelman who is at a small chapel, and kneels. When he greets Kelman, Kelman jumps to his feet and tells Brewster to go away. Brewster asks why, since it was Kelman who called him back in the first place. But Kelman doesn’t want to talk, and tells Brewster to get out, that he doesn’t belong there in the chapel. Brewster notes that Kelman perverts the chapel with his presence. That the chapel was built for salvation, but Kelman uses it to hide.

Kelman stares that statue of the Mother Mary and then tells Brewster that he’s admitted his sins in the presence of the Lord. Brewster reminds him that he’s guilty along with the rest of his platoon if he refuses to face what was done and do something about it. Kelman explains that he can’t squeal on them. Brewster is quick to note that he can’t NOT squeal on them.

Back at the vill, the three teams move into position. Goldman gives the order to move in after McKay and Anderson confirm they’re ready. Pop is with McKay’s team and they cautiously slip into the silent vill with Pop leading the way. McKay and his men start to check the hootches as Pop keeps a watch, but they find nothing and move deeper into the vill.

Percell is with Goldman, who orders him to take the lead and they move in. Anderson and his team do the same from the other side of the vill. As Anderson’s and Goldman’s teams move in, Johnny and his men cautiously start to walk up the middle. Johnny doesn’t see the huge gun pointing out of a hootch behind him until Griner asks him what it is. Johnny yells for everyone to get down as the gun fires, driving them all to the ground.

A tank bursts from the hootch as Johnny shouts for all of them to fall back. NVA, hidden before, now come out as well and a confused firefight ensues, as the tank rolls into the middle of it and takes aim. As McKay’s men try to flee ahead of the monster, the other teams move in quickly to try to help.

Danny moves in and takes aim with a rocket launcher; although it’s a direct hit, it does little but set the debris on the tank to burning. The tank continues to blow up hootches that Goldman’s men try to use as cover. Goldman’s teams are taking on casualties. McKay desperately shouts to Goldman, saying they need help as they’re pinned down. Myron radios to Anderson, but doesn’t get a reply at first as Anderson is now on the ground, unconscious from an earlier blast from the tank. Zeke starts to wake up, hearing a frantic Myron shouting at him over the radio. Zeke’s radio man is dead beside him, but the radio still works as Anderson finally answers Goldman.

Goldman tells Anderson there’s a trench ahead of him, and that he wants Zeke to get to it. Myron will blind the tank with smoke. In the way the two always seem to know what the other wants, Anderson tells Goldman he already knows what he has in mind and takes off for the trench as the tank continues to roll down the center of the village.

As Zeke makes for the trench, Goldman asks for all the smoke that his radioman has on him. Myron starts to lob the smoke cans at the passing tank when the hatch on top opens and a NVA appears with a rifle and starts shooting. Myron continues to toss the cans onto the tank, enveloping it in wildly colored smoke as Zeke watches it approach.

When the tank passes, Goldman yells at Anderson to go. Zeke quickly climbs up onto the tank from behind and Goldman shoots the NVA who’s still on the top.

War is a Contact SportSeveral men try to flee through a rice paddy when the tank takes a direct hit on them. Pop is shouldered up against a wall, watching and trying to stay alive when he hears the cries for a medic. Grumbling under his breath, he dodges out to get to one of the wounded men who’s trapped in the rice paddy as the tanks rolls toward them. At the same time, Anderson shoves the dead NVA out of the way and drops a grenade into the tank before throwing himself off of it. The grenade goes off, but the tank continues to roll forward. Pop grabs the kid’s webbing, starting to haul him out as Percell, Goldman, and a couple of other men run in to help, the tank barreling down on them. But it suddenly rolls to a stop, silent, just short of the rice paddy.

Brewster is standing in Major General Higgins’ office as the man leafs through some paperwork. He notes that he understands Carl has convinced one of Bellar’s men to testify. Carl replied that the man in question convinced himself to do it. Higgins dumps the papers on his desk with a sigh and tells Carl that he’s taking a swing at a hornets’ nest. Carl notes that sometimes the truth stings. Higgins tells Brewster that he hopes that this isn’t an exercise in vindication and Carl makes it clear there was an egregious wrong and that those responsible must be held accountable. It’s the Army way.

Higgins is displeased, telling Carl there were times when this would have been handled internally, and without the intervention of Congress. Carl notes that this isn’t one of those times to be swept under the rug. Higgins dismisses him, no longer interested in discussing anything further. But Carl says he has a mission to propose.

Higgins climbs to his feet, looking squarely at Brewster and informs him that Brewster no longer has a command here and at the moment, he doesn’t have many friends. Carl never backed down from anything before and he’s not about to with Higgins now. He tells Higgins that he feels the general would be very interested in his proposal. When Higgins asks why, Carl replies that he will have a better than average chance of being killed.

Brewster hands over the file to Higgins, who reluctantly takes it. After studying it for several long moments, he straightens back up and stares at Carl, informing him that he’s got to be out of his mind.

It’s night now and raining. The men can be heard talking and laughing in Team Viking’s barracks. Doc pauses outside, hands shoved in his pockets before he finally goes inside. The laughter and noise all die down when they see Doc. He walks down the aisle to his rack, the men who were once his friends either ignoring him or turning away except for Taylor. Doc stands beside his bunk and strips off his wet jacket. He balls it up in his hands for a few moments before dropping it to his bunk.

War is a Contact SportThen out of nowhere, he lunges at the window and rips through the screen. Furious and hurting, he clears the top of his foot locker, scattering things all over as everyone stares in shock. Doc dumps the foot locker, painted with bright flowers and peace symbols, on his bed and then starts heaving the contents out the window. Then he throws the foot locker out as well. His bedding is next, all of it going out the window into the pouring rain. Taylor tells him to take it easy, but Danny tells Marcus to leave him alone. Ruiz watches, not sure what to think or say as Doc takes the now-stripped bed frame and drags it down the aisle to the barracks door. Pop tells him to come on, but Doc is beyond all of them at this point, drowning in his grief. When he can’t get the rack out the door, he slams it and then turns, soaked to the skin in the pouring rain, covering his head with his arms as the tears fall.

Worth another look:

We get to see a rare occasion here when Doc comes out of the dispensary to see Lieutenant Goldman waiting for him. These two men have rarely spoken to each other as Goldman had, in the past, kept the medic at a distance. But it’s Goldman who comes to tell Doc that he’s taking him off the team when he could have had Anderson do that for him.

When Doc reminds Goldman that he never lied to him, that Goldman knew what he was getting from day one, Myron agrees and admits to sharing part of the blame for what happened. He lets Doc go off on a rant about who really is responsible, but finally cuts Doc off. In the end, Doc knows it all falls on him, no matter who else shares in the blame.

In a rarer moment, especially since Alex’s death, Goldman makes an effort to reach the medic as he sits down beside him. He tells Doc that he does understand why Doc did what he did, but he doesn’t happen to agree with it. This isn’t the hard edged and angry Goldman we’ve come to know here who offers Doc his opinion in a quiet voice.

“I think that sometimes, when ideology and reality collide, you can’t base your decisions on the comfortable beliefs of the past.”

“Then what do you possibly base them on?” The shattered medic needs to know and Myron looks directly at him.

“Something you can live with the rest of your life.”


  • Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire. At the beginning as Percell, Hockenbury, and Kuslits carefully wade down a stream, then work their way into the jungle.

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