Bravo Company is sent into the bush to rescue the wife of a local potentate who is denying the Army access to use their artillery until she is home. Bravo Company finds her and learns that she ran away to her home village and was kidnapped from there. The home villagers don't want her around because the VC punish them because she is there. She has nowhere to go. She is sick and they are being chased by VC. So Bravo Company takes her back to her village. The VC attack. The woman dies. Lt. Goldman and Taylor take her baby girl to her husband, who refuses to accept her.
Bravo Company gets 15 newbies and is sent into the bush to set sensors along a train and to reestablish a base. Anderson's group, reestablishing the base, is attacked by VC, and Goldman's group cannot get to them. Likewise, there is no air support to be had before the next morning. One of the newbies, Griner, is from South Carolina, and Taylor immediately decides he is racist. Griner proves himself an excellent shot, which Taylor recognizes and appreciates. Another newbie, Bell, from Texas, looks very young and is, in fact, only 15.
In their quest to capture or kill the sniper that has been picking off Americans at Camp Bennett, several Americans die by friendly fire as McKay attempts to support Goldman's patrol who had come under fire. After the sniper shoots at McKay again, he takes off into the bush to track him down. McKay finds the sniper's tree and stakes it out. Doc Hockenbury meets a local girl, Tien Ly, and goes to her house for dinner.
Camp Barnett is suffering from food poisoning. As a result, Lt. Goldman and Sgt. Anderson have to go pick up a deserter. The deserter is Sgt. Jonathan Digby, an outstanding soldier Anderson knew in Germany.
Bravo Company has to leave four men behind - Taylor, Ruiz, Wozniak, and Lamb who was killed. McKay takes Goldman, Anderson, and Duke Fontaine back to pick them up. However, some VC get Lamb's radio and lure the chopper in. Taylor, Ruiz, and Wozniak see the VC doing this and release other smoke, and McKay has to leave them behind again. "Pop" Scarlett joins Bravo Company.
Taylor and Ruiz have been MIA for three weeks. Bravo Company gets a slew of newbies and returns to its previous platoon status of going out on reconnaissance. A photojournalist is embedded with Bravo Company.
Hockenbury refuses to shoot a VC, resulting in the death of an American soldier. As a result, Hockenbury is ostracized. Col. Brewster is back because he has managed to get an investigation of the village massacre. Ruiz and Taylor get back to the base. Goldman, McKay, and Anderson lead men into the bush to find a depot. They find what appears to be an empty village, not on any maps, no animals or dung, and find a tank and the men to operate it.
The board of inquiry convenes. Anderson leads the men, including Pop Scarlet and his son Spc. Robby Scarlet, into the bush where Agent Orange is being sprayed. They arrive at a village that had been sprayed previously; the people do not look very healthy. Griner gets a very itchy rash. Hockenbury blames it on the Agent Orange, but none of the guys believe him.
Hockenbury, who moved out of the barracks and into a room in the dispensary, joins Bravo Company at mess, but he is still ostracized. Col. Brewster has developed a very sensitive mission in which he expects perhaps heavy casualties. Even though Goldman, Percell, and Ruiz are short, all the men volunteer. Fontaine is the intelligence liaison. Also, Air Force Major Chapman, who escaped three months previously from a prison camp in Hanoi, is also part of the mission. The mission: to raid a POW camp and bring home 38 guys.
Two months or so after the raid on the POW camp, Percell, Ruiz, Griner, and McKay are home and out of the military. Adjustment is difficult. Back at Camp Barnett, Goldman, Anderson, and Taylor are dealing with new men.