The Volunteer

The Volunteer

The Volunteer(Episode 37)

  • Guest Stars: Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Specialist Sweet), Will Nye, Richard Brestoff (Major Darling), Robert Lesser, Chip McAllister (Specialist Treadway), Angela Bassett (Lieutenant Camille Patterson)
  • Story by: Steven Phillip Smith
  • Directed by: Stephen L. Posey

Goldman’s platoon works its way into a village that has been completely abandoned. They have a prisoner with them. Johnson notes there are a lot of sandal prints around the area. He also notes that there is evidence of heavy artillery having moved through the area recently.

It is confirmed that the village is abandoned and secured. There is a North Vietnamese flag hanging from one of the hootches and Brockman wants to claim it. Percell reminds him that it’s more than likely booby trapped and warns him away from it.

The VolunteerGoldman and Anderson discuss what could make a village disappear. Anderson notes that the sandal prints are too deep for a “paddy daddy” and both men agreed it was likely heavily armed troops that came to the village. Goldman tells Anderson that he senses something big and Zeke agrees. He hopes that Command can get the prisoner to tell them about it. Goldman thinks maybe the prisoner might tell them instead and asks Anderson how his Vietnamese is today.

Ordering Brockman to bring the prisoner over, the captured VC struggles free and grabs at the nearby flag. Everyone ducks as the hootch explodes, instantly killing the VC. Thankfully, no one else is hurt.

Back at Tan Son Nhut Myron, still in his gear, is trying to talk to Major Darling about what happened earlier. He tries to explain that he feels the prisoner killed himself to keep from telling of a troop buildup in the area. He notes that it is happening and you can feel it. But Darling just blows him off, saying that he can’t go on “feel,” that he has to have something concrete.

Myron tries to keep his patience. He asks what Darling thinks of the deserted villages, the anti-aircraft tracks and new VC recruits, that it all points toward a buildup. It falls on deaf ears as Darling notes that if there were a significant buildup, they would know since G2 has the most sophisticated equipment in the Army. Goldman counters with the fact that he’s giving an eye witness report from an experienced platoon. Darling simply notes that they have been out too long- seven days straight. He tells Myron to take a load off.

Myron still tries, asking if they would please get G2 to evaluate his findings. Darling only replies that he’ll think about it.

Later, at Zeke’s hootch, Zeke is sorting through some paperwork when Myron stops by. Myron goes straight for a bottle of whiskey as he greets Zeke. He pours himself a glass and tells Zeke he has some news and to guess what Major Darling said. They both start to say, “Let G2 handle it” with Zeke finishing the sentence as Myron looks at him. Zeke adds that he knew that would be the answer. Myron is clearly disgusted and replies that Darling would rather get his information from a piece of equipment than men in the field.

The VolunteerZeke wants to know if Darling has anything that would explain why his ex-wife has NOT gotten her child support allotment for the last three months. Myron asks, only three months? Zeke doesn’t look at him, preoccupied as he mutters that his daughter doesn’t have money for school clothes. Myron tells him that he has some money but Zeke jumps on him for the charity and Myron quietly apologizes. He dials it back and notes that he can handle it, that he’ll go over to the paymaster after he posts the duty roster.

Myron tells him that he was ordered by Darling to give the unit a couple of days off, so no duty tomorrow. Zeke sits back and smiles, saying he’s going to be a hero with the guys with that announcement. Myron tells Zeke he can take Taylor into town and win his allotment at the poker table but Zeke shakes his head. He says that normally that would be a good idea, but that Inspector Patterson wanted to see Spec/4 Taylor first thing in the morning.

Myron wants to know if Taylor has gotten himself into something. Zeke says he has no idea but that she will find out if he has. Myron huffs his frustration as he snaps that this bureaucracy wastes more energy investigating itself while Charlie gets stronger and stronger. He’s convinced that the prisoner they had today killed himself rather than talk to them. Zeke notes that the boy had motivation and that they believe in what they’re doing.

Myron, still frustrated with the entire day, complains that they have a major who won’t listen to field reports and will only take his intel from G2. But who really cares as long as the paperwork is in order.

The next morning, Zeke is at Personnel, complaining that his ex-wife has not gotten her child support allotment for three months now. He’s told he has to have a note from his first sergeant and that no one is allowed to come unless they have the note. A spec/4 named Sweet drops some paper work on the desk as Zeke asks the sergeant major to please give him a break as they just got back from two weeks in the bush. The sergeant major says that he’s handling Lieutenant Patterson’s audit and that it was going to keep him and Sergeant Hart past quitting time.

Zeke notes that Charlie had kept him plenty of times past quitting time and that it never stopped him from taking care of his men. Hart snaps at Zeke to stop giving his boss grief and to get a note and come back tomorrow. Zeke stares at both of them before he shakes his head and quietly walks away.

The VolunteerSweet has witnessed the entire exchange and once Zeke leaves, slips out and chases him down. He offers to straighten out Zeke’s records for him. Still walking, Zeke tells him to forget about it. But Sweet tells him that he shouldn’t have to put up with all that bull since he does all the fighting. Zeke wants to know, since when do the rear echelon types give a hoot?

Sweet quickly tells him he didn’t volunteer for Vietnam to be a clerk, that he wants to go to the field. He then asks that if he can fix Zeke’s records, would he let Sweet into his platoon?

Zeke finally pulls up, asking Sweet if he wants “out” of a desk job. Sweet is adamant, he wants to be in the field. He notes that Sergeant Hart keeps promising to transfer him, but Sweet knows he never will. He was going to be a “chairborne ranger” for the rest of his tour unless someone from a combat unit speaks up for him.

Zeke warns that combat is serious and Sweet tells him that so is he. Zeke tries to shrug him off, saying he needs the training and his beef is with the sergeants who make up the rules. But Sweet won’t be put off and tells Zeke he can show he’s qualified and to meet him at the rifle range at sixteen hundred hours to prove it. Zeke caves and agrees to meet him there.

Alex is at Lieutenant Patterson’s office. She tells Alex that she hears that Alex is friendly with Lieutenant McKay and that maybe she should speak to him before he gets tied up in a formal inquiry. Alex wants to know why Johnny would be investigated. Camille tells Alex he’s a PX officer and that PX goods have been showing up on the black market. She sits down at her desk with her coffee and adds that she heard that Johnny had a penthouse suite in Saigon that would make Hugh Hefner proud.

Alex waves it off, saying that Johnny is a scrounger but that he is NOT a crook. Selling government property to the Vietnamese is not his style. Camille counters that anyone who can afford a penthouse on a lieutenant’s salary must know the right people. She asks that maybe Alex could ask Johnny to point her in the right direction. Alex reluctantly agrees to talk to the pilot for Camille. They are interrupted by the arrival of Taylor. Camille immediately dismisses Alex, who notes that Johnny will be tickled to find out that she thinks he’s a major criminal. She greets Taylor on her way out the door.

After Devlin leaves, Taylor salutes and says he’s reporting as ordered. Camille tells Taylor that she asked to see him because she thought he could help her with her investigation. That she’s heard that Taylor knows about everything that goes on around the base.

Taylor feels a bit cornered and tells her that if she thinks he’s done something, he hasn’t. She tells him that a lot of people are taking advantage of the Army. Taylor notes that everyone in the rear has a hustle. And outside of some people trading a bit on the black market, he couldn’t help her. She carefully asks if he would come to see her if he should hear of anything.

Taylor tells her he can do that. Then he tells her that although it’s out of line, that he’s really attracted to her. She tries to warn him off, but Taylor just keeps going, telling her how he feels. That he knows she’s an officer, but he wants to see her. She tells him to go and Taylor backs off, leaving as she requests.

The VolunteerAt the firing range, Sweet shows what he can do as he fires at paper targets with Goldman, Anderson and Ruiz watching. Myron is impressed and Zeke asks him to try a new machine gun. Ruiz is impressed with the way Sweet handles the weapon and offers to buy him a beer and to meet some of the guys. Ruiz and Goldman leave as Sweet asks what Anderson thinks. Zeke says he can see that Sweet knows how to handle a rifle. Sweet tells him that he also knows how to handle Anderson’s allotment problem.

In Saigon, Patterson is making notes as she goes through various vendor stalls on the streets. Taylor, with Johnson, is watching from a distance, totally taken with the lieutenant. Johnson warns him that he’s asking for trouble as she’s an officer. Taylor says he doesn’t care, he’s completely hung up on her and Johnson teases him that he’s in love.

One of the shop vendors comes out and starts to hassle Patterson, telling her to go away. She tells him that his goods are from the PX and he tells her it’s his business and he’s paid and warns her to go away again. She demands to know who sold him the goods, was it Sergeant Major Boyd. The shop keeper tells her it wasn’t Boyd and to leave, pulling a switchblade on her.

Taylor grabs the shopkeeper from behind as Johnson gets between her and the knife. Taylor disarms him and Patterson assures him she’s all right. She then tells the shopkeeper the property is stolen but he yells at all of them to get out. Johnson agrees they should leave. Both men escort Patterson away as the local police come up.

As they walk down the street, Taylor gets Johnson to leave them, Johnson saying he needs to meet up with the guys. That leaves Taylor alone with Camille. He warns her that she needs to be more careful, that people down here play rough. She tells him that this war and country are corrupt. Taylor tells her that maybe, but to look at it this way, it got them together.

The VolunteerShe reminds him it was a chance meeting. He tells her he’s only wanted a chance to meet her. She warns him to stop it, that they weren’t even supposed to be walking around the way they were. That fraternization was against the rules, but he doesn’t care, he wants her to take a risk because he’s willing to. She tries to reason with him, saying that she liked him but she can’t do this. He cuts her off, pulling her up and tells her that he would be at the Paradise Hotel the next afternoon. He wants her to meet him there, and that they don’t have to do anything but talk if that’s all she wants.

She tells him she can’t, but he tells her it could be weeks before they have another chance like this as he could be called out into the field at any time. He can see he is reaching her and tells her to be there, and with a half salute walks away.

That night at the crowded EM Club, Sweet is drinking beer with Ruiz, Percell and Johnson. Ruiz tells Sweet he doesn’t get it- that Sweet has been to college and he has other skills- he doesn’t have to get shot at. So why? Sweet says he has to do it for himself. Johnson asks if he wants to get himself killed? Sweet replies that he needs to know if he can stand up under fire. He adds that maybe he’s listened to too many of his dad’s war stories, seen too many movies, but it just seems like something he has to do, like a rite of passage.

Johnson tells him that it ain’t nothing like a movie. Percell adds that the fear doesn’t go away when the lights come on. Sweet tells them that he knows that, but he still has to find out for himself. Ruiz notes that Sweet is an honest man, but a fool. Percell backs up Sweet when he says that he remembers feeling that way once and wanting the experience and that Ruiz was the same way, too. Ruiz counters that he was crazy too, all of it was crazy. Johnson adds that you still have to go through it.

Another soldier, Treadway, comes up behind Sweet and asks Ruiz and the rest why they’re drinking with a clerk and jerk. Percell tells Treadway to lighten up, Sweet isn’t doing anything. But Treadway tells him that Sweet ain’t doing nothing at all. Treadway and his buddy had been waiting six months to go on R&R and the rear echelon guys go all the time. Sweet replies that he’d been there eight months and he hadn’t gone yet either. Treadway, clearly spoiling for a fight, snaps at Sweet that it was because his job is like permanent R&R.

Ruiz warns Treadway to back off but Sweet waves him off and finally turns to Treadway. He tells Treadway calmly that he works seven to seven, seven days a week. Treadway is not impressed. Sweet adds there is another report he has to file every night between midnight and two and Treadway shouldn’t talk to him about work. He turns away from Treadway to finish his beer.

Treadway shouts that he will talk to Sweet about any damn thing he wants to, now drawing the attention of everyone in the club. He also shouts that he will knock Sweet’s “in the rear with the gear” butt into the middle of next week. Percell warns him to knock it off, but Sweet gets up and faces Treadway, telling him that he’ll see him outside. Treadway is thrilled, telling him to bring it on and leaves to go outside. Johnson is quick to get to his feet and tell Sweet that he doesn’t have to do this, but Sweet tells him he does.

Everyone follows Sweet outside and Anderson shows up at the same time, asking Percell what’s going on. Percell tells him that he thinks Sweet bit off more than he could chew as everyone gathers round to see the fight.

Full of himself, Treadway calls Sweet a rear echelon punk and he’s going to teach him a lesson for talking back. He takes a swing at Sweet who easily blocks it and then lands several solid punches in Treadway’s face, dropping a stunned Treadway to the ground. Furious, Sweet shouts that Treadway is never going to tell him he can’t fight and if he ever calls Sweet a punk again, he’s going to ram Treadway’s M-16 down his throat.

At this point Anderson steps up, pulling Sweet back and telling him to take it easy. Sweet snaps that he can fight and Zeke raises his hands, saying that there weren’t anybody here that would argue that, was there? Everyone agrees. With a slap on Sweet’s shoulder and a smirk to the still dazed Treadway, Zeke leads Sweet back to the club.

The VolunteerThe next morning, Johnny gives Alex some shampoo that she had wanted. She wants to know where he got it and he explained it was from a buddy of his in Ben Hua. Alex tells him that Lieutenant Patterson is pretty interested in him. Johnny laughs, asking if Alex had told Patterson that she had first dibs. Alex tells him that Patterson thinks he might be into some heavy criminal activity. There are a lot of rumors about his big penthouse downtown.

Johnny doesn’t take any of it seriously as he tells Alex that he’s the most misunderstood guy in the world. That he comes to this country like a babe in the woods, make a few deals and a few bets and now everybody thinks he’s Al Capone. She wants to know what they can do about his reputation. Johnny tells her that he happens to be getting a delivery tomorrow and that she could come by and check the place out. She could report on what a haven of serenity he had built in all this chaos. Alex can’t help but laugh and takes him up on the offer.

Zeke is back at Personnel and he has Sweet in tow with him. Sergeant Hart climbs to his feet asking if Zeke has his note this time. Zeke informs him that it isn’t about him, it’s about Sweet and that Sweet wants to join his platoon. He thinks that Sweet is pretty handy with a rifle. Hart snaps that it doesn’t take Einstein to be handy with a rifle. Zeke says he would be very happy to take the kid into his platoon and it’s what Sweet wants. But Hart tells him it’s what HE wants that counts.

He then pushes Zeke out of his way so he can get in Sweet’s face. He tells Sweet that he doesn’t like people who go behind his back. Sweet replies that talking to his face has gotten him nowhere. Hart changes his tone a bit, asking when Sweet’s going to see the light, that he needs Sweet at his typewriter. Sweet warns that the only thing he’s going to be typing is a story about Hart and Sergeant Major Boyd and about how and why assignments get made and then he’s going to hand it over to Lieutenant Patterson as he thinks she’ll find it real interesting. Zeke watches the entire exchange in silence.

The VolunteerHart puts on a crooked smile and promises to take care of Sweet. Sweet makes it clear, he wants his transfer or he will blow the whistle. The two stare each other down for a moment before Hart snaps that it’s fine, to get the hell out of there and let Charlie put a bullet in his face. But Sweet ever tries to mess him up, he will regret it. Sweet nods and leaves, a confused and concerned Anderson following him outside.

Outside, Anderson wants to know what Hart and Sweet were talking about back in the office. Sweet tells him that it’s a fact that guys like Hart are turning into conmen. Anderson wants to know what else is new and did Sweet have something on Hart? Sweet tells him that Hart takes bribes, that he gets Sergeant Major Boyd’s people assigned to wherever they want.

Anderson tells him that isn’t all that serious. But Sweet tells him it’s all mixed up with the PX and running the clubs and that he knows that Hart is stealing them blind. Zeke agrees that this is serious. Sweet continues, saying there are half a million GIs playing slot machines in the clubs and was all that money going back to the till? He’s talking about millions of dollars here. Anderson grabs his shoulder, pulling Sweet up. He tells Sweet it isn’t any of his business, but if he knows something, Sweet needs to talk to somebody or else he’s guilty by association.

Sweet tells him he should now just add stool pigeon to his list of accomplishments here in Vietnam, but no thanks. All he wanted is out of there. Besides, he couldn’t wait to get to the boonies.

Taylor is waiting for Camille at the hotel. He’s got champagne and smokes a cigarette, restlessly waiting, hoping she will show up. Camille does show up, looking nervous and unsure. Taylor asks if she would like a drink, but she tells him she didn’t come there to drink. She asks him to kiss her and the two kiss for the first time.

Back at Tan Son Nhut, Goldman and Anderson walk together and talk about going back out into the boonies the next day. Myron wants to know if the men are ready and Zeke tells him they’ve had two whole days of rest, what more could they want? Myron asks about Sweet. Zeke acknowledges that Sweet is raring to go, but he would keep a close eye on him. Myron just hopes his enthusiasm will rub off on the rest of them. He wants to know if Zeke is ready to go back out.

Zeke tells him that he’s been in Vietnam so long that the bush feels like home to him and that he’s much more comfortable out there than on the base. Myron agrees with a smile, noting that there’re no complications, no paperwork and both men agree that it’s simpler to be out there. They pause, Zeke asking if Myron thinks it’s going to be bad out there. Myron hesitates and shrugs before finally saying that there’s no way of telling. Charlie has upped the ante and either Charlie will find them or they will find Charlie.

Zeke notes that this is what it’s all about, but Myron asks if it is. They just look at each other, nothing more to say.

At the barracks, the guys are getting ready to go back out into the bush, including Sweet. They clean and prepare their gear. Ruiz offers Sweet some advice and Sweet tells him he just wants to be ready. Percell notes that Sweet is as ready as he’s going to be, the rest just comes with experience. And that the truth is, it’s scary as all hell out there. Ruiz tells Sweet not to listen to Percell, that he’s always uptight before a mission.

The VolunteerPercell warns that Sweet should be, too, as all he’s going in with is some training. Sweet tells him that he knows that but Percell is edgy and snaps that Sweet doesn’t know anything. He adds that nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, no one knows how they’re going to feel, except that they’re going to be scared. Sweet tells him that he understands that, but he still wants to go. He also realizes that somebody he meets today might not come back tomorrow.

Percell snaps at him to never say that as all three men stare at each other.

Taylor and Camille are relaxed in bed after making love, Taylor smoking a cigarette as he holds Camille. He tells her that he’s never met anyone like her. She notes that she’s always been attracted to men like him. That he’s not afraid and that he goes after what he wants. Taylor assures her that he’s going to find a way to make this work. The two start to kiss again when the door bursts open and Sergeant Hart and Sergeant Major Boyd crash into the room.

Taylor demands to know what’s going on but the sergeant major warns him to shut up or he’ll be in the stockade. Camille then asks and Boyd tells her that she’s been sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong and it’s going to stop. If she knocks it off, Major Darling and the rest of Command won’t have to look at the photographs. He also maliciously adds that next time she should pick someone with a little more class. Taylor starts to snap back but Camille quickly silences him. Then Boyd leaves as Hart snaps a picture of Taylor and Camille. He laughs as he turns and leaves as well, closing the door behind him.

Back at her office, Taylor is furious with the situation and says if it hadn’t been for him, the whole thing never would have happened. But Camille says they are both to blame. He won’t let it go, saying he pushed and that he didn’t have a right. That she had everything, she’d been to college, she made officer, she had a career. He had no business dragging somebody down like her.

She snaps back at him to never talk about himself like that. She tells him he’s a special person or she wouldn’t have been there in the first place. But she’s not going to sit still for Boyd and Hart, calling them bastards. Taylor wants to know what she means by that. She says that she still has a job to do and if she closes her eyes to the corruption she won’t be able to live with herself.

Taylor tells her no way, that Boyd and Hart have the pictures of them and it would ruin her. She wants to know what else she can do? Taylor tells her he will think of something, but for the time being, he has to get back to his unit as they are going out to the boonies in the morning. He wants her to promise him she won’t do anything until he gets back. She tells him to take care of himself out there but Marcus replies that he doesn’t care about himself if he can’t be with her.

The VolunteerOut in the bush, Taylor is on point, but his mind isn’t where it belongs. He seems to rush everyone along. Anderson catches up to Sweet and asks how he’s doing. Sweet assures him he’s fine. Zeke is concerned with the fast pace and catches up to Taylor. He thinks Taylor is pushing kind of hard and Taylor tells him he’s fine. Zeke makes it clear the rest of them are not. He wants to know if Taylor’s mind is on what he’s doing. Taylor snaps that he’s cool. Zeke isn’t happy and tells him to slow it down, that they are way ahead of where they need to be.

Taylor continues but hasn’t gone far when Sweet is quick to warn him there’s a trip wire that Taylor didn’t see. His boot is only inches from it. Percell tells Sweet he has a good eye and Taylor has the decency to thank him. A noise has everyone ducking and looking around. No one sees anything and, in a rash move, Taylor suddenly bolts into the bushes, crashing through the undergrowth. Percell hesitates, then goes after him.

Taylor finally breaks free only to come face to face with a water buffalo. He realizes he’s screwed up as Percell comes up behind him. The rest of the unit has followed and now joins him. Ruiz tells him that maybe he should shoot the buffalo and shakes his head in disgust.

Now Zeke charges up, demanding to know what Taylor’s doing. Taylor apologizes but Zeke doesn’t want to hear it. Behind them, Goldman orders Johnson to take point. Myron is not amused as he snaps at Zeke to get the men moving. Zeke isn’t done with Taylor yet and he dresses him down in front of the rest of the men as he tells him that he’s walking point like it’s a foot race. And that it took a newbie to spot a tripwire that was Taylor’s job to find. Then he goes rushing off not knowing what he’s going to find. Taylor admits it’s stupid, but he has things on his mind.

Just as suddenly, they all come under fire as everyone throws themselves down to the ground and scurries for cover. Unfortunately the man standing next to Sweet is seriously wounded, shocking Sweet as the bullets fly over them. He starts shouting for a medic as the unit fires back at the VC that are pinning them down. Sweet continues to shout for a medic while the rest of the platoon beats the VC back.

A medic tends to the wounded soldier, but it’s not pretty and Sweet gets a vivid eyeful of what it is to be out in the bush. It’s sobering and frightening all at once.

At the same time, Zeke tells Taylor he’s going back with the wounded. Taylor says then don’t they need him, but Zeke tells him he doesn’t need Taylor, not with his head where it doesn’t belong. Taylor starts to argue, but Zeke shuts him right down and tells him to get on that chopper.

The VolunteerAs they take the wounded to the medevac, Sweet is clearly not handling the situation well. He’s shocky and frightened. Ruiz approaches him carefully, asking if he’s okay. He kneels down next to Sweet and asks again if he’s okay. Sweet draws in a shaky breath and finally tells Ruiz that he’s all right. Ruiz knows better, though.

Back in Saigon, Johnny shows Alex his “penthouse” which is a nice apartment. Not fancy but very nice and comfortable. Alex is impressed and says so. Johnny flips some music on. She wants to know where he got all the stuff and Johnny tells her that he paid for some, traded for the rest, but nothing illegal. She tells him that he loves it here. That although he does try to hide it, she knows the combat does get to him. But she still gets the feeling that he would rather be here than anywhere else.

Johnny tells her that he just can’t see himself back in the world. She’s startled, saying that he must have lots of opportunities waiting for him. He wants to know what? Maybe if he’s really lucky he can fly a chopper over some freeway with some idiot in the back giving a traffic report. He adds that the thought of that really makes his blood rise. She tries to tell him there is more than that- he could stay in the Army and teach other pilots. And that he’s definitely quick and smart enough to make it in business.

He notes it’s kinda like being an athlete. Over the hill at 25. But what the hell, he has a lot of memories. If he ever goes stir crazy he could always rent a chopper and go flying over the tree tops somewhere. And that he is always going to remember her. He comes up to her, setting his drink and hers aside. She admits that she will never forget him either as he moves in on her.

He leans in and kisses her, but there is nothing there. He pulls away, noting that he’s always going to regret the fact that she met Myron Goldman. She apologizes but Johnny is strangely okay with it. He tells her he understands and that even he is starting to feel loyal to the guy. Why he picked this moment for those feelings, though, and they both laugh. They toast to being friends.

The VolunteerBack at Tan Son Nhut Taylor, still in his gear and fresh off the chopper, is heading straight for Camille’s office. But when he arrives, Boyd and Hart are being escorted out by MPs. He wants to know what’s going on and they both say that it’s nothing that can’t be remedied and that Taylor is going to be a private in Long Binh Jail. Camille follows them out her door as Taylor asks her what’s going on. She told him she couldn’t sit on it.

Taylor is horrified, asking if she went to the MPs but she told him that she went to Major Darling and CID first. It’s his call, and she felt they had enough to put Boyd and Hart away. Taylor wants to know about the pictures. She tells him that Darling and CID has those, too. She tries to assure him that it’s better this way. He wants to know what happens to her but she says she has to talk to Major Darling about that. But whatever he decides, it’s better than living a lie.

It’s night now out in the boonies. Ruiz and Sweet sit together, back to back with Ruiz dozing while Sweet glances around him nervously. Percell comes up to check on them, asking if they are getting any sleep. Ruiz replies that it’s just like a featherbed. Danny asks Sweet who says he’s gotten a little sleep. There is a light and voices and all three men duck down quickly, Percell warning Sweet to be quiet.

The three watch silently as several enemy troops walk past them on the trail. Ruiz whispers that it has to be at least a platoon as they watch them disappear up the trail. Danny answers that he’s going to tell the L-T and carefully slips away as more troops continue up the trail.

Sweet is in a near panic. He mutters he must have been crazy to want this. Ruiz tells him to take it easy. Sweet replies that he’s scared and Ruiz reassures him that they are all scared. He explains that the first time he came out here, he couldn’t wait to kick ass and take names. He looks at Sweet and told him that he pee’d his pants. He got scared quick and he’s stayed that way. It’s the smartest thing Sweet can do. He tells Sweet, who’s still in a panic, that everyone has to learn the hard way. And that Ruiz is glad he’s still here to tell Sweet that.

In the daylight, Danny watches what appears to be a bunker. There are several NVA and VC there, moving crates and such. Percell backs up and returns to the platoon to report what he’s found. He reports that he’s found beaucoup tunnels and ammo. Johnson has just come in as well as he reports he found the same thing on the other side. He feels they are sitting right on top of a powder keg. Goldman is already on the radio reporting what they’ve found.

He’s told that the situation is too big for them and to get out of there, reporting to a nearby LZ. Goldman is relieved, telling Anderson that it looks as if Colonel Stringer wants them to live another day.

Back at Tan Son Nhut, Taylor gets a dressing down about the situation with Camille Patterson. He’s warned that if he has to be spoken to again about ANYTHING, it will cost him a stripe. He comes out of the office to find Patterson waiting for him. She wants to know what happened. He tells her that he got Company punishment, He’ll lose a little pay, a few weeks extra duty but that it’s nothing. He wants to know what’s happening to her.

She hesitates but then tells him she’s being transferred to Da Nang. Taylor notes that Da Nang is way on the other side of the country. She counters that the separation might be good for them but Taylor tells her that separation isn’t good for anybody. He’s in love with her, what’s he going to do with that?

She reminds him that even if she were to stay, they couldn’t be together. They’d be watching every move she made. Taylor, devastated, tells her that he never thought he’d see the day that he’d be at a loss for words, especially with a woman, but he’s never felt this much for anyone before. He doesn’t know what to do about it.

Hesitant, Camille tells him they will figure out something.

The VolunteerGoldman’s platoon retreats to the LZ as ordered, working slowly and carefully through a swamp as they go, but they come under fire as they are halfway across. Everyone runs and ducks for cover in order to return fire. Anderson drags back Percell as he’s firing to get him under cover as Sweet remains frozen where he is behind a rotted tree. He can see a fellow soldier is down near him, bullets tearing up the water around the fallen man.

For whatever reason, Sweet leaves the safety of his position and wades back into the water under fire to the fallen man. Percell sees what he’s doing, yelling that Sweet’s going to get himself killed. Goldman yells to cover him. Everyone covers Sweet who finally gets up to the wounded soldier. As he’s checking to see if the man is alive, Percell yells at him. Sweet looks up to realize that the NVA are practically on top of him and he starts to return fire, killing several NVA before he starts to retreat.

Zeke yells to keep him covered as Sweet tries to get back. He’s almost home free when he finally gets hit, knocking him off his feet. Percell jumps up, running to help, Johnson right behind him. They grab Sweet by his webgear and drag him back to safety. The NVA are moving in and Goldman calls and explains that they’re cut off from the LZ Charlie Delta and will have to go to LZ Charlie Echo instead.

Percell yells for a medic once they get Sweet back to safety. Sweet tells them go on back without him, he’ll be fine but Percell tells him they all go back together. Johnson tells Sweet that he knows he’s hurting, but that he’s got a million dollar wound and that he’s going to go home. Percell adds that Sweet had done real good and that he stood up. Sweet replies that it looked like he’s going to have a limp to remind him. Johnson makes it clear that guys got back to cover because of him and that Sweet put it on the line for his buddies. Percell adds that’s all that counts and that’s all that matters in this war.

Goldman is still on the radio, demanding an immediate extraction and to send Blue Velvet as it’s going to be hot. He’s told that G2 confirms they’re in the middle of the 31st NVA Regiment. Goldman tells Anderson they’re going to fall back and to get First and Second Squads. He then goes to the rest of the men, telling them that they’re going to fall back, taking the wounded first and they will give them a 20 second head start to keep them covered, then follow.

With Percell and Johnson flanking one side, Anderson and Ruiz the other, Goldman has the wounded moved out as quickly as possible.

Back at Tan Son Nhut, a very tense Johnny heads right for the flight line as Alex chases him down, wanting to know what’s happening. Johnny tells her that they’re really in it and he’s going in after them. She asks if it’s bad, and Johnny tells her an NVA regiment, but not to worry, Jim Dandy to the rescue before he runs off.

The wounded have been moved out and Goldman, along with the rest of Third Squad, are holding the line to give them enough time to get to the LZ. The fighting has stopped for the time being but they wait for the NVA to advance.

The choppers come in now as they watch and listen. Johnny signals to land. As Johnny and the others start to come into the LZ, the NVA come back. They return fire, trying to pin the NVA back long enough for the rest of the men to get to the waiting choppers. Myron looks up to see the Hueys circling in as the NVA start pouring in.

There’s nothing more they can do and Goldman orders everyone to fall back to the choppers. They all make a run for it, Goldman and his radioman behind Zeke and the rest. The wounded are loaded as they race to catch up with them under heavy fire.

The VolunteerThe first choppers leave with the wounded and now Johnny comes in to get those men who stayed behind to make that possible. Third Squad comes racing up, jumping on board, leaving only Anderson with Goldman and his radioman behind him. The radioman gets hit and as Goldman spins around, he takes a shot in the leg and goes down. Zeke slides to a halt as Myron looks back over his shoulder and shouts at him to go.

Zeke isn’t about to do that and goes back to Goldman, asking if he’s been hit. Myron tells him, in the leg and Anderson starts to drag him to cover. The men watch helplessly from McKay’s slick, but he starts taking fire, his chopper getting shot up. They guys shout they have to go back, but McKay is already pulling out before it’s too late and they can’t.

Anderson drags Goldman to cover, then goes back for the radio. Goldman watches as Johnny is forced to leave.

Johnny radios back that he’s been hit and has to pull pitch with men still on the ground. Control wants to know who’s still down as Alex stands there, listening. Johnny informs them it’s two-five and two-six. Alex realizes that’s Anderson and Goldman who got left behind.

Back at the LZ, Anderson and Goldman do their best to survive against what appears to be impossible odds. Both men know it as they glance at each other after reloading. But they turn back and continue to fire back at the enemy, emptying their clips before both ducking down again to reload. Goldman notes there’re probably enough explosives in the tunnels to blow up half of Saigon. They look at each other before Myron finally says that they need to call it in.

Alex is still in the Control room when Goldman calls in their position and says they need arty, “danger close.” His request is questioned but Goldman makes it clear what he wants, saying he needs it now.

Alex demands to know what “danger close” means. The soldier replies that they’re calling in artillery on their own position. He then calls in for the artillery, giving the coordinates as Alex turns away.

The VolunteerStill shooting at the NVA, Zeke and Myron duck down when the first of the artillery starts to fall. They watch as the jungle is destroyed around them and Zeke notes to Myron that maybe this is a major NVA headquarters. Myron replies, maybe it’s better to go out with a bang than a whimper. Zeke wants to know if they’ll be remembered for this. Myron simply says that it don’t mean nothin’. The two lie facing each other as the ordnance continues to rain down around them. Zeke looks directly at Myron and says, “Let’s get some.” Myron closes his eyes and nods and both men rise from their hiding place, Zeke helping Myron to his feet. The last thing anyone sees is when the artillery goes off right in front of them.

Worth another look:

The last of Third Squad runs to get to McKay’s chopper with Goldman and his RTO behind the rest. The rest of the squad except for Zeke, Goldman and the RTO make it on board, but the RTO is hit and as Goldman turns, he gets shot in the leg and goes down as well. He shouts at Zeke to go. But Anderson runs back to Goldman as the rest of the squad watches anxiously. As Anderson starts to drag Goldman to cover, McKay’s slick comes under heavy fire and he’s forced to pull pitch and leave Anderson and Goldman behind before his Huey takes any more damage.

Now left behind and greatly outnumbered, they decide to call artillery in on their position, knowing they will likely not survive.


  • You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me – The Miracles. When Goldman comes to talk to Zeke in Zeke’s quarters after being blown off by Major Darling. This plays on the radio in the background.
  • Time Has Come Today – The Chambers Brothers. This plays in the background of the EM Club while Ruiz, Sweet and Percell drink.
  • I’m So Proud – The Impressions. This plays while Taylor and Camille lie in bed, sharing a cigarette before Boyd and Hart crash into the room.
  • Two Lovers – Mary Wells. When Johnny shows Alex his apartment, he turns on his tape player. This plays in the background.

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