Frequently Asked Questions
Platoon is based on a screenplay by director Oliver Stone. That screenplay was actually based on Stone's earlier screenplay, Break, a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences and people he knew in Vietnam. Platoon won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
As stated in the trivia, Charlie Sheen improvised this, as he felt Chris would be suicidal by the end of the movie, having murdered Barnes in cold blood and seen the horrors of what the men fighting on the same side as him would do to each other and innocent people during the conflict. Taylor picked up the grenade, but once one of the other soldiers made their way to him, he probably felt it was better to live and get shipped home to be with the ones he loved.
The ammo box they were poking around in was obviously wired to an explosive device, a common method used by Viet Cong and NVA forces to kill the enemy. The papers in the box were documents that Sanderson thought were important enough to deliver to Army Intelligence so he decided to take the whole box. However, soldiers were strictly forbidden to touch any objects they found in the field that seemed out of place or important. Sanderson either ignored this rule or felt that because he'd been able to open the box that it wasn't booby-trapped (as often the explosives are set to detonate when opening the box). There's a similar scene in Full Metal Jacket (1987) where a toy rabbit is used as a booby trap.
Yes, and it's probably a composite of several of them. The most famous is the My Lai massacre, believed to have been perpetrated by Lt. William Calley. Oliver Stone quite plainly wrote the scene to be reflective of My Lai and probably many other lesser known incidents of misconduct by American military personnel.
Audie Leon Murphy was the most "decorated" (was awarded the most service medals) soldier that served during World War II. He became quite famous and was a hero to Army soldiers for decades and is still widely remembered to this day. The reference to "decorated" can be misconstrued as medals considered to be "worthless." Far from it, as Audie Murphy was awarded the Medal Of Honor and every other medal for bravery in combat, sometimes in multiples. He was also awarded France's and England's version of the Medal of Honor. Murphy was a small guy but was a wrecking crew against the Germans. He received a "battlefield" commission and got out as a captain. His wounds deprived him of his biggest dream which was going to West Point, so instead he became an actor. He later died in an airplane accident. More can be read about him here.
Rhah and O'Neill are the only prominent characters left, as neither got so much of a scratch in the final battle. They are both promoted, Rhah is given Elias' position, and O'Neill is given Barnes' position much to his chagrin. Therefore they would probably have to break in new recruits, until the WIA's were fit for duty again.
Yes, it was likely meant as an ironic statement by the tank crew.
...near the beginning of the movie, as the squad goes out for the night ambush and in the end of the movie? "Oh! Susanna", written by Stephen Collin Foster in 1847 or 1848. Lyrics here.
...playing when Chris smokes marijuana with Elias and his crew in their bunker? "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane.
...at the end of the movie? "Adagio for strings", composed by Samuel Barber and performed by the New Zealand Symphony.
Pvt Tex (WIA): Has hand blown off by Sgt. O'Neil's grenade.
Pvt Gardner (KIA): Killed by NVA soldier.
Pvt Sal (KIA): Killed by booby trap.
Pvt Sanderson (KIA): Killed by booby trap, staggers around with no arms before dropping dead. M79. Specialist 4th Class.
Pvt Manny (KIA): Abducted by NVA and found strung up with throat slit.
Pvt Lerner (WIA): Wounded while walking point (the front of the line while the platoon was patrolling the forest), seen stretchered after church battle. Platoon Translator. There is a lot of speculation whether he lives or dies, confused even more by the fact Depp mentions Lerner dies in a documentary about this movie. The last we see of him he is alive and in critical condition being placed aboard a Huey. Specialist 4th class.
SGT. Warren (WIA): Wounded behind Learner, seen being choppered out after church battle. 2nd Squad (Bravo): squad leader.
Pvt Flash (KIA) Killed by NVA soldier, seen lying dead next to Sgt. Warren when Lerner is being worked on by the Doc. Black guy seen combing hair in night ambush.
Pvt Moorhouse (KIA): Killed by short round, while using M60. Seen being carried away at end of battle. Seen trying to rape a girl in village scene. Originally uses M16 later inherits Tex's M60.
Pvt Fu Sheng (KIA): Killed by a short round. One of the dead under ponchos at battle's end, seen carried to chopper at end. Hawaiian kid, seen lighting building in village scene. Sgt. O'Neil's RTO.
Pvt Big Harold (WIA): Has leg blown off by booby trap.
Crawford (WIA): Surfer dude. Shot in the lung by NVA soldier. Specialist 4th class. Sgt. Elias's RTO.
Pvt Ace (WIA): Gets shrapnel wound from short round, Barnes digs it out of him. Lt. Wolfe's RTO.
SGT. Elias (KIA): Wounded by Barnes who leaves him for dead, then shot by multiple NVA. Car-15. 1st Squad (Alpha): Squad Leader. Sergeant.
Pvt Tubbs (KIA): Killed by NVA soldier, in the church battle, we don't see this on screen. He is one of the four dead bodies under ponchos. He's the guy with the M79 who brings the village elder to Barnes to interrogate. M79.
Pvt King (Survives): His tour of duty ends just before the battle. M60 (Uses an M16 in the night ambush scene).
Pvt Bunny (KIA): Killed in bunker by NVA soldier blowing his brains out. Remington 870 shotgun.
Pvt Junior (KIA): Tries to run knocks himself out against a tree, then is bayoneted by NVA soldier.
Pvt Parker (KIA): Dragged into CP bunker by Doc, who confirms he is dead. He is also seen sitting next to the guy (Tubbs): who's throwing a knife into the ground, just before scene where Barnes, O'Neil and others are playing cards.
Pvt Tony (WIA): Shot while defending CP bunker, then seen waving to Taylor at end. SSG. Barnes RTO.
Doc (KIA): Also shot while defending CP bunker, he is still rolling around after being shot but would appear to have died from his wounds as he is not seen at the end with the other survivors (this is also the case in the script). Platoon's medic.
LT. Wolfe (KIA): Killed while defending CP bunker, in this very dark scene you see him shot or hit by shrapnel in the face, he staggers around covering his face and then is shot multiple times. Car-15. 2nd Lieutenant (Platoon Leader).
SSG. Barnes (KIA): Killed by Taylor. Car-15. Staff Sergeant (Platoon sergeant).
Ebonhoch (Survives): Seen in foxhole with Rhah just before battle, then seen waving at the end with Tony. He is played by an Assistant Technical Adviser Mark Ebonhoch. Platoon's demolition expert. Sgt. Warren's RTO.
SGT. O'Neil (Survives): 3rd Squad (Charlie): Squad Leader. Sergeant. Promoted to Staff Sergeant (Platoon Sergeant): at end of film.
Pvt Rhah (Survives): Given command of Elias's squad and seen waving at film end. Promoted to 1st Squad's Sergeant at end of film.
Pvt Huffmeister (Survives): Seen standing behind O'Neil when he is given command of the platoon. Dale Dye says in his commentary that Huffmeister is played by an Assistant Technical Advisor called Robert Galotti, he is the guy who rolls down the hill in the opening credits and also chucks a grenade down the well in the village scene.
Pvt Francis (WIA): Stabs himself in the leg to get second Purple Heart and thus get sent home, along with Taylor.
Pvt Rodriguez (WIA): On chopper with Francis at end of film. Hispanic kid seen praying when Wolfe goes into bunker where Barnes and others are playing poker. Originally uses M16, inherits King's M60 (but we don't see him using it, O'Neil mentions to King to give it to him before he leaves).
Pvt Taylor (WIA): Seen leaving on a chopper with Rodriguez at the end of the film.
Finally he isn't part of the platoon but for completeness...
CPT. Harris (Survives): He's seen briefly at the beginning when on patrol with the platoon but most of his onscreen time comes in the final attack. He was also the Technical Advisor for the film. The black soldier behind him is Flash, the guy in the foreground is Bunny. Captain.