- Guest Stars: William Sadler, Tia Carrere (Lang) and April Tran (Dep)
- Story by: Steven Phillip Smith
- Directed by: Aaron Lipstadt
Synopsis:In 1967, approximately one-eighth of the population of South Vietnam was composed of refugees.
While checking out a village, Goldman’s platoon comes under attack by a small group of NVA. Dep, one of the villagers, grabs his own rifle and decides to help out, killing three of the five NVA soldiers. That evening, back at Ladybird, Major Rigby explains that the villagers of Ben Duc are to be relocated thirty clicks down the valley to Nop Thanh. And that Goldman’s platoon is to provide escort. Anderson is less than thrilled and voices his displeasure to Rigby.
The next day finds Goldman and his men helping the villagers of Ben Duc to pack up their belongings for the move. Taylor and Ruiz, with Doc Matsuda watching, start to get a little too friendly with a few of the young Vietnamese girls. Trying to keep things from getting out of hand, Goldman politely reminds them to not paw the girls over and to treat these people with respect. But as he is telling his men this, a very pretty young Vietnamese woman steps out from the hootch behind his men and Goldman finds himself staring, entranced. Taylor, Ruiz and Matsuda do not miss Goldman’s stare and immediately give it back to him about respect.
Rigby argues with Dep about leaving the village. Dep clearly does not want to go but Rigby threatens him and then orders Johnson, Horn and Taylor to get Dep’s things. When the three men approach, Dep shoves Taylor back, shouting at them to leave and that he would take care of it himself. Taylor is furious, Johnson and his buddies trying to calm him down. He can’t understand why Dep is making such a big deal out of the move anyway; it’s just a shack after all. Horn and Johnson try to explain to him that it’s not the shack, but the land itself and how these people are tied to it. While checking out some of the hootches, Ruiz and Doc Matsuda meet an elderly woman. The mama-san smiles at Ruiz, Matsuda teasing him about her.
Rigby orders Goldman to burn the village and blow the well. His men then silently escort the villagers, some crying, as the village burns in the background behind them.
Later, while taking a break and relaxing, Goldman, who is intrigued by the beautiful woman he had seen earlier in the ville, gently offers her a can of c-rats. After refusing, she finally takes the can, but she won’t look at Goldman, who can’t take his eyes off her. He finds out her name is Lang, and that her husband is away, fighting. He then tells her she is very beautiful. Both look embarrassed before Myron leaves to join Anderson and Rigby by one of the Hueys.
That night, while the villagers sleep under the watchful protection of Goldman’s men, one of the trip flares is set off. Anderson sets off one of the claymores as Goldman joins him. There are shots and shouting in the jungle around them, the villagers crying out or weeping in fear. Anderson, spotting movement through a Starlight scope, directs his men’s fire. Not sure what is still out there, Anderson advises they stay put for the night and keep watch.
The next day, they continue to escort the villagers through the valley. But the elderly mama-san is tired and stumbling, finally unwilling to move further. She wants to return to her village of Ben Duc; Anderson explains to her that Ben Duc is no more. Ruiz offers to help carry some of her things and she calls him dinky-dao (crazy) but allows Ruiz to help her. Anderson then tells Baker the story of his great-grandmother and how she broke out of a nursing home at age 92 and crawled back home to die under her favorite tree.
They eventually reach Nop Thanh, and cautiously approach. Anderson is uneasy despite Goldman’s reassurances. But upon entering the village, they are ambushed by the NVA almost immediately. Goldman’s men help the villagers to flee back up into the jungle under the cover of Ruiz’s M-60. Anderson tells Goldman he’ll stay behind with Percell and Ruiz to keep the NVA pinned down and to give Goldman a chance to get the villagers and his men a head start. He directs Goldman to Phan Tre, telling him it was a bigger village, and safer. Goldman is concerned- it is 17 klicks away but he realizes they have few choices. Anderson tells him they will meet up later and Dep volunteers to stay behind.
While Anderson, Percell, Ruiz and Dep keep the NVA pinned down at the village, Goldman notifies Rigby of the situation and that he was now moving the villagers to Phan Tre. Goldman asks for possible support and Rigby replies that may not be possible, leaving Goldman and his men to make do. Back at Nop Thanh, Anderson makes the decision to move his men out and try and catch up with the rest of the platoon.
Upon finding a clearing, Goldman orders everyone to ground their gear and to settle down while they wait for Anderson’s party to catch up. Setting up a quick watch, Myron joins Lang briefly, offering her his canteen. He then joins Taylor and Horn, warning them not to shoot Anderson and the others when they approach. Eventually Anderson, along with Percell, Ruiz and Dep, meet up with Goldman’s group, everyone relieved to be reunited. The mama-san is especially pleased when she spots Ruiz, smiling and again calling him dinky-dao to which Ruiz completely agrees. Anderson is checking his men, and speaking to Baker when the mortars begin to rain down.
Goldman calls in to Rigby, trying to get some artillery, but Rigby is unable to provide any help. Desperate, Goldman asks what he should do, and Rigby finally orders him to abandon the villagers and save his own men’s lives. Knowing what Rigby is ordering is wrong, Myron is torn with his need to obey the major and keep his men safe, and the duty he has to the villagers. Anderson has no problem with the situation, telling Goldman he is staying. They got the villagers in this situation and he was not going to run out on them now, informing Goldman that he did not like unfinished business. Horn and Taylor readily side with Anderson and Myron finds himself making a tough decision. He turns the radio off, declaring it broken and decides they will stay with the villagers and get them safely to Phan Tre.
Anderson decides it is safest to simply stay where they are when several shots ring out and the shouting that has followed them since the first night is heard echoing around them. Goldman wants to know what the hell is going on and Anderson replied he’d like to as well. He then orders a 50 percent guard and tells Goldman to get some sleep while he can.
The mortars have stopped for the time being and the villagers start to settle in for the night with Goldman’s men. Myron joins Lang, who is wrapped around herself in apparent misery. He pulls out his poncho and tenderly wraps it around her. He is then startled when she simply leans into him and he wraps his arms around her, the two eventually falling asleep that way.
Johnson wakes Goldman, who is still wrapped around Lang, and informs him that Anderson is on patrol with Percell and will return shortly. Goldman orders everyone to get moving and Anderson returns. He points out he found the NVA and that both are dead. He tells Goldman that it appears it was done by VC, and that he feels there are more NVA out there. They break camp and keep the villagers moving.
The going only gets rougher as they press up the side of a ridge in hopes of eluding any NVA who are trying to ambush them. But the villagers are exhausted, many of them wounded from the attack at Nop Thanh. Mama-san collapses, clearly at the end of her endurance. Ruiz agrees to carry her, Johnson and Taylor helping to take his gear. Many of the other men are shouldering the exhausted children for the long climb.
Unfortunately, they are ambushed yet again and everyone is pinned down behind trees and rocks, trying to protect the villagers and return fire on the attacking NVA. Ruiz keeps Mama-san with him, while Goldman shoves Lang behind a rock with him to protect her. An NVA soldier manages to get in behind Ruiz, but Mama-san, despite her age, is tenacious and puts up a struggle till the NVA is killed. But it would cost her life, Ruiz begging her not to die. Furious and grieving, he takes aim with new determination, wanting to kill any NVA he can. Meanwhile Goldman, still with Lang, finds his rifle jams. Seeing a pair of NVA who would have jumped the young lieutenant, Lang leaps up and lets herself be captured by the men.
Horrified, Myron leaves his jammed weapon behind, drawing his pistol and foolishly chasing after Lang. He rushes into a clearing away from the fighting and is jumped by one of the NVA still holding Lang. Myron’s pistol is knocked away, and in the ensuing struggle he finally ends up stabbing the enemy soldier. The other one, still holding Lang prisoner, is then shot before Goldman even realizes what’s happened.
Looking up in fear, Myron realizes it’s a VC sighting down his rifle at him. He starts to lunge for his pistol but the VC warns him off. The VC then calls Lang to him, and with a final look at Myron, she runs to join her husband. The two then slip away, leaving Myron unharmed and confused. Anderson arrives, wanting to know if Myron is all right and where Lang is. Myron told him she is gone- with a VC. Anderson nodded, the pieces finally falling into place when it is now clear it was Lang’s husband who kept killing the NVA who were ambushing the platoon and villagers.
Ruiz buries Mama-san, thanking her for saving his life before the platoon finally escorts the rest of the villagers safely to the end of the valley. Rigby arrives just as Anderson and Goldman finish saying their good byes to Dep. Rigby lets Goldman have it right there in front of his men, making it clear that they are not supposed to risk their lives for something of no tactical or strategic importance. He then turns away, but Ruiz, still upset over the mama-san’s death and certainly with the major’s attitude, mouths off, “People are strategic, sucker!”
Furious, Rigby whirls around, demanding to know who said it. Ruiz proudly admits it was he, but then one by one, so does the rest of Third squad, just as proudly. Goldman and Anderson turn back from their men and simply look at the stunned Rigby.
ToD Adviser’s Episode Notes:
Dislocations was the first Steve Smith episode, and it was all his creation. Unlike the other writers, Vietnam veteran Steve Smith had no need of an advisor and neither I nor the Army felt a need to modify a single word he wrote. Steve, as I said, was a member of 1/9th Air Cavalry, and always made a reference or two in his scripts to his unit or its operations. In “Dislocations”, our guys use the 1/9th radio call sign “Saber,” for example. There are also references to Bong Son, their former base, and to “the Cav’s” operations in the A Shau Valley.
I don’t know the actual inspiration for this particular episode
Worth another look:
Goldman’s platoon and the people they are escorting come under mortar fire after fleeing Nop Thanh. Major Rigby orders Goldman to abandon the villagers, but Myron is torn between his sense of responsibility and his need to obey orders. But Zeke is not, and makes it clear that he won’t run out on these people.
- People get Ready- The Impressions. Plays as Major Rigby boards the chopper and the platoon starts to burn the village, and continues through the scene as the villagers are escorted from the burning ville.
- I’ve Come a Long Way- Wilson Pickett. The next morning as the platoon escorts the villagers to Nop Thanh, the elderly mama-san collapses.