Filmsite Movie Review
Platoon (1986)
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Platoon (1986) is a harrowing, visceral, ultra-realistic, gutsy, visually-shattering Vietnam-war film, based on the writer/director's own first-hand knowledge as a Vietnam combat-infantry soldier. The insightful Best Picture-winning war film was the first film in Vietnam veteran Oliver Stone's Vietnam 'trilogy', followed by Born of the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven and Earth (1993). It has been regarded as one of the finest, most-acclaimed combat films ever produced regarding the Vietnam War.

Stone claimed that his harsh, frightening and unflinching depiction of guerrilla warfare was designed to sharply contrast with the fake depiction of war in the gung-ho John Wayne film, The Green Berets (1968). And the anti-establishment director also had an axe to grind with the US government for not fully supporting the war and letting divisive factions weaken the effort. Due to the more realistic depiction of the misguided war already successfully seen in two late 1970s films, The Deer Hunter (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979), this war epic almost wasn't funded.

The film was backed by the independent Hemdale Film Corporation, and released by Orion Pictures. It appeared just before two other Vietnam War-based films: Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987) and John Irvin's Hamburger Hill (1987).

It was an authentic re-creation of the infantry foot-soldier Vietnam experience, and one of the best but grittiest films made on the subject. Its most controversial sequence (suggesting a resemblance to the My Lai Massacre in mid-March 1968), was one in which a civilian Vietnamese village woman was cold-bloodedly murdered by US forces, to release their frustrations over the recent deaths of fellow platoon members. Many scenes resembled a number of taut 50's black and white platoon-unit films, some with tension between commanders, such as Samuel Fuller's two Korean War films, The Steel Helmet (1951) and Fixed Bayonets! (1951), Robert Aldrich's Attack! (1956), and Anthony Mann's Men in War (1957).

The brutally-candid anti-war drama told about the testing and loss of innocence of a young infantryman (a star-making role for Charlie Sheen) in the 25th Infantry (Bravo Company). Charlie Sheen's voice-over narration of an on-going, articulate and introspective series of letters to his grandmother resembled the similar voice-over narration of his father Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979), also filmed extensively in the Philippines.

The harrowing film, from his green grunt's point-of-view, included many dark or night scenes of hand-to-hand and close-range combat with VCs. With its nearly two dozen platoon members, it was often very disorienting and difficult to determine who was speaking or involved in the chaotic battle scenes - fought by "grunts" against an almost invisible enemy of "gooks." The war film often showed graphic violence and involved dozens of uses of the F-word and a few scenes of pot-smoking to express how the Vietnam War was not really a Rambo-style adventure or noble mission. The film's tagline expressed the major theme:

The first casualty of war is innocence.

The war film opened with the new recruit's confusion, extreme exhaustion, and fear of the chaos and threats of death that were inflicted upon him after his arrival in Vietnam. The story also focused on the conflict and struggle between two major father figures, his two superiors, as their platoon conducted search-and-destroy patrols and missions, and battled over the soul of the innocent, young recruit. He served in Vietnam in a fragmented, schizoid, rifle platoon/troop under two radically-different, veteran officers who had served in earlier Vietnam tours -- contrasting and dueling Sergeants (one good, the other evil):

  • Sergeant Elias Grodin (Willem Dafoe), tough but fair, humane, saintly and compassionate, a pot-head, with doubts about the war
  • Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes (Tom Berenger), battle-hardened/callous, face-scarred, remorseless, menacing, boozing, fierce and sociopathic

In the violence of combat against the Viet Cong, the two 'good' and 'bad' Sergeants clashed, forcing the recruit to examine his own loyalty and perspective toward violence. It ended indelibly in its portrayal, with Christian symbolism, of the death of the 'good' Sergeant in a crucifixion pose on his knees, when he was mortally wounded by Viet Cong soldiers as he emerged from the jungle.

The film's posters displayed two GI 'dog tags' for the two O's in the title PLATOON. Both of them referred to Sgt. Elias in the USMC:

Grodin, Elias K.

In 1986, the film (budgeted at $6 million) was the # 3 highest-grossing (domestic) film at $138.5 million, just behind Paramount's Australian film Crocodile Dundee (1986) at $174.8 million, and the top film of the year, Top Gun (1986) at $176.8 million. The popular but controversial film received eight nominations and won four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing). It was Stone's second career Oscar - he had won earlier for his screenplay for Midnight Express (1978). Stone became the first Vietnam veteran to direct a major motion picture about the Vietnam War, AND to win an Oscar for Best Director. He later won a second Best Director Oscar for Born on the Fourth of July (1989). Stone also had two Oscar nominations in the same category, Best Original Screenplay, for two different films: Platoon and Salvador (1986), but both lost to Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).

Plot Synopsis


The film opened with a Bible quote: "Rejoice O young man in thy youth..." Ecclesiastes

Arrival in Vietnam - September 1967

A US Air Force C-130 air cargo plane taxied forward on a dusty yellowish airstrip after landing in Da Nang, South Vietnam, in September of 1967. The rear hatch opened to reveal dozens of new recruits in green fatigues and carrying duffel bags. One of them was a young, naive, and idealistic 19 year-old infantry soldier-rookie named Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), who was looking around bewildered and nervous. He glanced to his left to see many black rubber body bags being transported on the back of a jeep-driven cart, to be loaded onto the plane, as novice recruit Gardner's (Bob Orwig) dismayed voice was heard: "Oh, man! Is that what I think it is?"

A commanding officer called the newbies "cheese-dicks," welcomed them to 'Nam, and ordered them to follow. The group passed by a bedraggled line of a half-dozen veterans moving in the opposite direction. The recruits were pitied as "new meat" who hadn't yet paid their dues:

I'll be dipped in s--t! New meat! You dudes gonna love the 'Nam! For f--kin' ever! Three hundred and sixty-five and a wake-up! Oh, Lord!

The last departing soldier stared at Chris with a haunted, hollow-eyed, shell-shocked, frightened, haggard and diseased look.

The credits continued. As a helicopter flew over the tree-tops of a dense green jungle, a subtitle appeared - the recruits had been assigned to an infantry platoon:

September 1967 - Bravo Company, 25th Infantry somewhere near the Cambodian border

On a March to Set Up Base

Sunlight filtered through the thick canopy, as a column of young, dirty-faced and exhausted platoon members (armed and bearing heavy rucksacks) struggled through the steep terrain marked by impenetrable foliage. A poisonous coiled snake caught Chris' attention. Helmets were decorated with graffiti consisting of messages or names, bullets, or conveniently-carried packs of cigarettes. Chris glanced down at the raw bleeding blisters on his hands from swinging his machete. Radio commands kept the Bravo company together, although Captain Harris (Dale Dye) complained about the pace to the inexperienced, major commanding officer Lieut. Wolfe (Mark Moses): "Bravo Two-Six, what's the delay up on point? You having compass trouble again, Wolfe?"

At the top of the incline, Chris was sweating profusely, dizzy, and panting heavily, suffering the first effects of heat exhaustion. He turned to his left and saw the dead, decomposing body of a VC 'gook' covered in flies, but then was told to keep moving by one of the commanding officers, Sgt. Bob Barnes (Tom Berenger), who was clearly running the platoon:

Hey, boy, what you waitin' for? He ain't gonna bite you. That's a good gook. Good and dead.

Stumbling onward, the sickened Chris began to retch into the brush, and Sgt. Barnes was pissed off: "What the hell's the matter with you Taylor! You are one simple son-of-a-bitch...Get that other cherry up here, Gardner, and the Doc." The rookie Chris (known as a "cherry") was replaced in the line by the chubby Gardner, who was slow in responding and then reprimanded: "Gardner, get your ass up the hill, you fat f--k! Hurry up, bubble-butt!" As Chris was bypassed by the column and then treated by Doc (Paul Sanchez) for dehydration and heat stroke, he found his flesh attacked by red ants biting at his neck. The medic warned: "Bites are killers. Black ants are the worst." He was also cautioned about drinking too much water that would cause cramps. The second more helpful commander, Sgt. Elias Grodin (Willem Dafoe), reduced the weight of Chris' pack: "You're humpin' too much stuff, troop. You don't need half this shit. I'll haul it for ya, but next time you check with me first, all right?" Grateful, Chris thanked Elias, but when he was helped to his feet, he suddenly passed out.

At the Jungle Base

The Bravo Company platoon led by Lieut. Wolfe had set up a base on a large level hillside cleared of brush and trees to provide a perimeter, and was resupplied by an incoming chopper. In the helicopter's send-up of billowing red dirt, a few bare-chested soldiers rushed to its open door to remove heavy wooden boxes of ammunition. Doc treated the infected, blistered feet of Fu Cheng (Steve Barredo). Clothes were hung on improvised lines or branches to dry. The camera panned from right to left over a pair of sunglasses, a revolver, a pack of cigarettes, a bullet-lined helmet reading "MAKE WAR NOT," and one recruit was improvising in order to shave. As the chopper flew away, in the distance, Sgt. Elias (with his back to the camera) had pulled his pants down and was checking his groin area for crotch rot, as another looked on.

A young black recruit named Francis (Corey Glover) corrected his African-American buddy King (Keith David) as he was scrawling a letter home with a pencil:

Francis: It ain't D-E-R-E, it's D-E-A-R, and Sarah ain't got no two Rs, King. Damn, you dumb!
King: (chuckling) It don't make no difference. She know what I mean. She don't read too good no how!

Two other black recruits, stocky Big Harold (Forest Whitaker) and Junior (Reggie Johnson), whined about their C-rations, pork and turkey loaf, and joked about Big Harold's laziness. Junior asked "white boy" Chris why he wasn't digging: "That hole ain't gonna dig itself. Come on, get your dick-skin on that thing! Dig! Ain't got all day! Dig! Dig!"

And then during his work duty while digging (with views of other platoon members eating, sleeping, relaxing, etc.), Private Chris offered the first of many narrated voice-overs of letter(s) to his Grandmother - he talked about how he had become less enthusiastic about joining the war effort. As a new recruit, it meant that his life wasn't worth much, and he felt he had made a big mistake:

(voice-over) Somebody once wrote: 'Hell is the impossibility of reason.' That's what this place feels like. Hell. I hate it already and it's only been a week. Some god-damn week, Grandma. The hardest thing I think I've ever done is go on point three times this week - I don't even know what I'm doing. A gook could be standing three feet in front of me and I wouldn't know it. I'm so tired. We get up at 5 am, hump all day, camp around four or five, dig a foxhole, eat, then put out an all-night ambush or a three-man listening post in the jungle. It's scary, 'cause nobody tells me how to do anything 'cause I'm new, and nobody cares about the new guys. They don't even want to know your name.

The unwritten rule is a new guy's life isn't worth as much 'cause he hasn't put his time in yet - and they say, if you're gonna get killed in the Nam, it's better to get it in the first few weeks, the logic being you don't suffer that much. If you're lucky, you get to stay in the perimeter at night and then you pull a three-hour guard shift, so maybe you sleep three, four hours a night, but you don't really sleep. I don't think I can keep this up for a year, Grandma. I think I made a big mistake comin' here...

Sgts. Red O'Neill (John C. McGinley) and Barnes of the Second Platoon gathered with others scouring maps to report worrying news of nearby VC assaults: "We've got beaucoup movement. Third Battalion just got hit 15 clicks north of here." O'Neill added: "Charlie had claymores strung up in the trees, blew a whole f--kin' platoon to pieces. Bad s--t." Barnes provided more detail: "Yeah. They got two lieutenants and a captain."

An Ambush Night Patrol in the Rain

An ambush patrol was ordered by Sgt. Barnes to retaliate against a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) force, to be led by Sgt. Elias, although Elias objected that it was really Sgt. O'Neill's turn to go out. Elias was overruled when the cowardly "lifer" O'Neill claimed because of the presence of short-timers (Tubbs, Morehouse) and Fu Sheng (on R & R), he was left with "fresh-meat...lame ass" new recruits who would instantly get into trouble from an inevitable attack: "They don't know s--t, Barnes, and chances are we're gonna run into something. Think about it." Elias called out O'Neill: "You don't have to be a prick every day of your life, ya know!" And then Barnes reversed part of his ruling: "O'Neill, your short-timers stay in, but you go out. I need veterans out there." After the debate was concluded, Lieut. Wolfe reminded Barnes about overstepping his authority: "I think, in front of the men, it's necessary for me to give the orders."

As the ambush patrol squad prepared to leave, they predicted another uncomfortable rainy night ahead, as Tex (David Neidorf) insulted Junior: "Gonna put a serious case of crotch rot on that ugly face of yours, Junior." Junior responded only to Big Harold: "You break your ass for the white man! No justice around here!" Tex complained: "How come we always get f--kin' ambush?" Francis answered: "Cuz it's politics, man, politics." Gardner approached Chris with a picture of his girlfriend Lucy Jean: "She's the one for me, all right." In his wallet, on the flip-side of a homely picture of Lucy Jean, was a bombshell picture of Raquel Welch. Sgt. Elias removed unnecessary items from their packs, and assigned Tex to be in charge of Junior and Chris, who complained about the pairing. Exhibiting traits of a real leader, Elias warned Gardner and Chris: "Look, in case anything happens to you, you get lost or separated, don't yell out, OK?...Just sit tight and we'll get to you." As the platoon locked and loaded and ominous thunder rumbled, King began to sing the folk tune: "Oh, Susanna."

During the rainy night as the single-file patrol was deployed, Chris began another voice-over narration of his on-going letter to his grandmother. He remembered how - as a privileged young man - he had given up college to volunteer for military service, and that he admired other lowly and disposable "grunts" (mostly teenaged male high-school dropouts from small towns, all poor, black and Hispanic) as the "heart and soul" of the war effort, used as infantry bait:

(voice-over) Of course, Mom and Dad didn't want me to come here. They wanted me to be just like them. Respectable, hardworking, a little house, a family. They drove me crazy with their goddamn world, Grandma. You know Mom. I guess I've always been sheltered and special. I just wanna be anonymous like everybody else. Do my share for my country. Live up to what Grandpa did in the first war and Dad did in the second.

Well, here I am, anonymous, all right, with guys nobody really cares about. They come from the end of the line, most of 'em. Small towns you never heard of: Pulaski, Tennessee. Brandon, Mississippi. Pork Bend, Utah. Wampum, Pennsylvania. Two years' high school's about it. Maybe if they're lucky, a job waiting for 'em back in a factory. But most of 'em got nothin'. They're poor. They're the unwanted. Yet they're fighting for our society and our freedom. It's weird, isn't it? At the bottom of the barrel, and they know it. Maybe that's why they call themselves 'grunts', 'cause a grunt can take it, can take anything. They're the best I've ever seen, Grandma. The heart and soul...

"Cheese-dick" newbie Chris' turn came up, and he was instructed by Tex about how to work the claymore mines that were set up with detonation cords: "Sure you know how to work the claymores, dude?...Flick the safety off and bang on that sucker three times." And then Tex warned him not to fall asleep: "And don't catch any Zs on me, buddy, or I'll sling your sorry ass. You hear me?"

In the pouring rain, Chris resumed his narration - the ending to his first letter - about how the war might teach him something about life as a rite of passage:

(voice-over) Maybe I finally found it way down here in the mud. Maybe from down here I can start up again and be something I can be proud of, without having to fake it, be a fake human being. Maybe I can see something I don't yet see, or learn something I don't yet know. I miss you. I miss you very much. Tell Mom I miss her too. Chris.

Deadly VC Attack on the Patrol

After his shift, Chris woke up Junior for the next watch-duty turn, and then curled up to try to sleep in the soaked conditions. Once the incessant rain stopped, there was an uneasy silence, and the mosquitoes were relentless - Chris was awakened a gave a startled look. And then he noticed Junior was fast asleep and snoring nearby. Peering out from his head covering, he heard plants rustling that morphed into a group of armed silhouetted figures slowly approaching out of the mist. His own heart beat intensified as he was frozen in terrorizing fear. A grenade explosion was followed by Tex's shout to Chris: "Blow the f--kin' claymore! Take the safety off, god-damnit!" The flashes of returned automatic machine gun fire momentarily lit up the jungle during the firefight, and the claymores detonated. After Tex yelled out to Junior: "Feed me" (to supply him with more ammo), he then screamed in pain when he was hit by a grenade mistakenly thrown by O'Neill. He was maimed and screamed: "My f--kin' arm!" Gardner also had a major chest wound and Chris was grazed in the neck.

Medic Doc approached to inject morphine and apply tourniquet wounds to the injured. The irresponsible Junior blamed Chris for the disastrous ambush-assault: "Dumb f--k didn't blow his claymore!...He let 'em walk right up on us! He was sleeping on his goddamn shift!" but Chris denied that it was his shift. Sgt. Barnes grabbed Tex and told him to quiet down: "Shut up and take the pain! Take the pain!" He went into the jungle and put a bullet into the body of one of the surviving enemy VC. Big Harold assured the dazed and scared Chris that he would survive his injury, but Junior continued to falsely blame him:

Chris: Big Harold, do you know if you're gonna die? (exhaling) Do you feel like everything's just gonna be fine?
Big Harold: Don't give me that morbid bulls--t. You're about to get outta here. They're gonna give you three hot meals a day. White sheets. Them pretty white nurses. They'll give you blow jobs if you pay 'em enough! I heard all about them white bitches.
Junior: Don't baby-talk him, man! The cocksucker fell asleep! He let 'em walk right up on us. He never did s--t!
Big Harold: Just shut-up, Junior. You relax, OK, man?
Chris: Yeah. It's not so bad. Dyin'. How long? How long? (Sounds of an approaching chopper)

Gardner's wounds were the most life-threatening, and Doc urged him to remain conscious as he pounded on his chest: "Come on, Gardner, hang in there. You're gonna make it! Come on! Don't quit! Come on, Gardner, help me! Don't give up!" But Gardner became motionless with eyes glazed over and passed away. Sgt. Barnes reprimanded the platoon for their carelessness, as he looked down on the prone corpse and glared at Chris in particular:

Sgt. Barnes: Y'all take a good look at this lump of s--t. Remember what it looks like. You f--k up in a firefight and I goddamn guarantee you a trip out of the bush, in a body bag! Out here, assholes, you keep your s--t wired tight at all times! (In Chris' direction) And that goes for you, s--t-for-brains! You don't sleep on no f--kin' ambush! And the next sonofabitch I catch coppin' Zs in the bush, I'm personally gonna take an interest in seein' him suffer. I s--t you not. Doc, tag him and bag him.
Chris (weakly): I didn't fall asleep, Sergeant - it was Junior -
Bunny (Kevin Dillon): Shut your face, chicken-s--t! You in big trouble, boy!
O'Neill: Excuses are like assholes, Taylor. Everybody got one.

Sgt. Elias took charge of the deteriorating situation as the platoon reassembled to prepare their return:

Knock it off! We got two men need attention here. Police up your extra ammo and frags. Don't leave nothin' for the dinks. Junior, Tony, carry Gardner. The man'd be alive if he had a few more days to learn somethin'.

At the Main US Base

At the well-fortified main US base camp (surrounded by bunkers and observation towers) about a week later, Pvt. Chris Taylor (with a prominent, bloody neck bandage) was being driven in a jeep. He told other grunts: "Got light duty. Three days' worth." King was carrying a case of 24 cans of Budweiser beer from the Top's supply. He was approached by Sgt. O'Neill and Sanderson (J. Adam Glover), who asked about the stolen merchandise: "You're going on report, son." Chris and King were assigned to cleaning out the outhouse ("light duty") - to remove barrels of feces and urine, as a loudspeaker broadcast the familiar radio greeting: "Goo-o-o-o-o-ood morning, Vietnam!"

King and California blonde surfer Crawford (Chris Pedersen) complained about the politics of the war, and jabbered on about how long they each had left in their tours of duty until escaping with a "wake-up":

King: They always f--kin' with us, no let-up! Politics, man. F--kin' politics.
Crawford: That O'Neill, he's got his nose so far up Top's ass, he's gotta be Pinocchio!
King: Thirty-nine and a wake-up. A pause for the cause, and I'm a gone motherf--ker! Back to the world.
Crawford: I hear ya, man. Broke a hundred the other day.
King: No s--t!
Crawford: Ninety-two left to go. April 17. Deros man, home to California. I'm gonna be sittin' outside, checkin' out the babes on the beach. The surfing's gonna be good!
King: March, man, in Tennessee. (inhaling) Sniff the pines, sniff that cross-mounted pussy down by the river! Oooh! Hot damn!

Comparatively, the new recruit Chris had many more days to serve, 332 days to be exact, and Crawford thought: "I can't even remember when I was 332, man! You gotta, like, count backwards or something. You know, like, you got 40 days in. I mean, think positive, dude." While sharing a joint together, King and Crawford asked how Chris had ended up in Vietnam, and were astounded to hear that the "crusader" had made a completely irrational choice - he had joined up voluntarily after quitting college. King mentioned how the rich had always taken advantage of the poor ("always have, always will"), especially by using them as fodder in this war:

Chris: I volunteered for it...I dropped outta college, and told 'em I wanted the infantry, combat, and Vietnam.... Didn't make much sense. I wasn't learnin' anything. I figured, why should just the poor kids go off to war and the rich kids always get away with it?
King: What we got here is a crusader....S--t! You gotta be rich in the first place to think like that. Everybody know, the poor always bein' f--ked over by the rich. Always have, always will.

King offered to introduce Chris to other "heads." Later that evening, to the tune of the Jefferson Airplane's dope-song "White Rabbit" (with lyrics "Feed your head"), King was brought into the company of a group of pot-head 'dopers': "Your Highness has arrived!...This here ain't Taylor. Taylor been shot. This man here is Chris. He been resurrected." A private gathering of "heads" in a dark "underworld" cave bunker was in progress (decorated with a Ho Chi Minh poster, lit candles and a string of small red Christmas lights). Chris recognized Doc, Crawford, Big Harold and Francis. Reclining nearby and waving was Sgt. Elias. The group was led by Rhah (aka Ramucci) (Francesco Quinn), who had his arm around a naked female statue. Rhah held out a three-foot long Montagnard pipe in the smoky setting for Chris to take a hit. He choked on his first toke, causing chuckles amongst the group. Elias came up and asked: "First time?" When Taylor confirmed it was, Elias was hopeful that he could numb the crazy pain of Vietnam:

Elias: Then the worm has definitely turned for you, man. Feel good?
Chris: Yeah, it feels good. I got no pain in my neck now.
Elias: Feelin' good's good enough. (He raised his cocked shotgun barrel toward Chris' mouth) Put your mouth on this. (Chris inhaled pot smoke through the barrel, a practice known as "shotgunning")

Next door in another bunker (to the country music tune of Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" - with lyrics "We don't smoke marijuana") filled with 'boozers' and decorated with a Confederate flag, baby-faced, redneck southerner Bunny and an irritated Junior compared their beer-drinking, poker card-playing gathering to the 'dopers' nearby, with macho posturing about getting "pussy":

Bunny: Man, where the hell is everybody, man? They getting high, that's what. Bunch of hopheads. They think they're something special, man! Listen to that. That's a bad jam.
Junior: Redneck noise, dude, that's all it is. Make about as much sense as you do.
All them chucks be rappin' about how they losin' their ho', sayin' how they ain't got no bread for beer. F--k that honky s--t, and gimme some Motown jams - dig it?
Bunny: Man, what are you talkin' s--t for, man? Hey, Junior, you ever smoke any s--t?
Junior: See, y'all be tryin' to keep the black man down and string him out on that s--t. The time be's coming, my man, when the black man throw that yoke off. Simple - free your mind, your ass will follow.
Bunny: Yeah, I could dig it, man. You smoke that s--t, everything kinda gets weird, you know what I mean. You hear that story about the gooks puttin' chemicals in the grass so we don't fight, so we become pacifists?
Junior: Yeah, well, don't you worry, Bunny, 'cause you's a killer anyway, man.
Bunny: Yeah, but I still like a piece of pussy once in a while. Ain't nothin' like a piece of pussy, 'cept maybe the Indy 500.
Junior: Only way you'd get some pussy, man, is if a bitch dies and wills it to you and then, maybe!

Clean-cut, out-of-his-depth Lieutenant Wolfe entered and wandered almost unnoticed through the bunker, passing by a number of recruits, but speaking briefly to Mexican-American Rodriguez (Chris Castillejo) who was lying on his bunk writing a letter home in front of a makeshift Catholic religious "shrine." Nearby, Sgt. Barnes and O'Neill (nicknamed "Red") were engaged in a game of poker while drinking Kentucky bourbon and beer together. Wolfe declined the winning Barnes' invitation to join in the game: "Wouldn't wanna get raped by you guys." O'Neill answered with an anti-Semitic joke: "Why's that, Lieutenant? What are you savin' up to be? Jewish?" Behind Wolfe's back after he left, the hard-edged Sgt. O'Neill predicted that Wolfe wouldn't survive his tour of duty:

Well, that is one sorry-ass motherf--ker. What do ya say there, Bob? Guy like that make it? Yes or no? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I have to tell ya, that's precisely what I saw. I mean, sometimes I just look at a guy and I know, 'This fella's not gonna make it.' Just no f--kin' way.

The tensions of the war were being easily drained away in the "underworld" bunker, where a few of the stoned soldiers danced and sang along to the radio tunes of Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of My Tears" (with lyrics: "...Deep inside I'm blue, so take a good look at my face, you see the smile looks out of place, if you look closer it's easy to trace the tracks of my tears").

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