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Captain Rusty Wallace was killed in the episode Pushin' Too Hard during the attack on the ememy machine gun bunker.
It varied. The US Army in Vietnam operated what was known as the 'Individual Replacement System'. Rather than deploying as a complete unit soldiers would be sent from basic training in the US to large replacement depots ('repple-depples')in Vietnam and then dispatched in groups to formations in the field who had suffered casualties (we see Zeke recruit new soldiers in this manner in the pilot). Including their time at the barracks this would mean they would each serve for roughly a year in Vietnam (13 months for the Marines) then be sent back home. However there were variations, men who sustained non-debilitating wounds would have time knocked off their tour whilst those not on the front line would be expected to stay longer. The system has become notorious for destroying unit morale and encouraging selfishness amongst troops who concentrated more on counting their days left than bonding with their buddies. Worst of all platoon and company commanders only served 6-months so that every officer could get their share of combat time meaning that troops were often commanded by officers with much less experience than they had (one soldier observed that in his one year tour he had 5 different platoon and 4 different company commanders) and that by the time they had learned their craft they'd be gone again and a new inexperienced officer would then take over. Notably Lt Goldman extends his tour in order not to turn his men over to a new and untried officer.
Agent Orange=defoiliant used to strip the jungle cover.
ARVN=Pro-US 'Army of the Republic of Vietnam'. Also referred to as 'Marvin Arvin'.
Big PX/The World=the United States.
Blooper=M79 Grenade launcher.
Cheu-hoi=defector from communists
C-rat=packaged rations carried by infantry soldiers.
Claymore=small crescent shaped mine which fires ball bearings horizontally rather than vertically.
Didi/didi-mau=run or flee.
Freedom bird=plane that carries a soldier home once his tour is finished.
GI Bill=provision that allows any soldier who served in combat to have a free college education. Hooch=any constructed shelter.
LRRPs (pronounced 'lurps')=long range reconaisance patrols.
Mama-san=General term for an older Asian female.
NVA=North Vietnamese Army, regular troops conscripted from North Vietnam's population and sent over the border into South Vietnam.
NLF=National Liberation Forces, Communist term for combined Viet Cong/NVA forces.
OCS=Officer Candidate School. Officers who joined the army and were then selected for officer training rather than attending institutions such a West Point.
Pig=M60 machine gun.
Slick=Huey helicopter armed only with machine guns used to transport troops.
Viet Cong=indigenous Communist guerillas recruited in South Vietnam.
White mice=South Vietnamese Military Police.
Willy-pete=white phosphorous used to create smokescreen and burn VietCong/NVA out of bunkers/tunnels.
Zippo=lighter/flamethrower.A few more - Dust Off = Huey Medical evacuation chopper
Klic = 1 kilometer
LZ = Landing Zone
DMZ = Demilitarized Zone
Zoomey = Fighter jet like the F4 Phantom
Thumper = another nickname for the M-79 Grenade Launcher
Tee Tee = a little bit
SAR = Search and Rescue
POW = Prisoner of War
FNG = Fucking New Guy
Number 1 = very good
Number 10 = very bad
Zips/Gooks = derogatory term for a Vietnamese person
Uncle Ho = Nickname for Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese leader
1968. In early seasons we see the characters fight in the 'Tet Offensive' of January 1968, witness Martin Luther King's assassination of April 1968 and near the end of the 3rd season celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.Update - the pilot episode was set in 1967......
The January 1968 Tet offensive is widely percieved to have been a devestating defeat for the allies and the turning point of the war against them. However this is a fallacy, South Vietnamese intelligence had picked up the signs of the attack through captured documents, sending out a nationwide alert, cancelling all leave for the ARVN and in the process of persuading their other allies to do the same when the campaign started. Military Police in Saigon had been put on high alert, infantry units had been moved closer to the capital and non-frontline soldiers formed into Quick Reaction Forces within the city. The NLF only managed to seize one major city, Hue and only managed to get into the garden of the US Embassy in Saigon. The popular uprising it was intended to trigger amongst the population of South Vietnam never materialised. Their casualties sustained in an open battle with Allied forces were devestating and the Viet Cong never really recovered, most of the fighting afterwards conducted by the NVA. However the world media portrayed this as a huge victory for the communists, hence Percell's bitterness.
On the Communist side there was North Vietnam and also Communist guerilla movements in neighbouring Cambodia and Laos, the Kyhmer Rouge ('Red Brigade') and Pathet Lao ('Laotion Communists'). They were all helped by advisors from the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and other members of the Communist world. On the anti-Communist side there was South Vietnam, US forces and troops from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand and The Philipines. In season 3 we see the characters work with Australian/New Zealand ('ANZAC') Special Air Service (SAS) troops as part of the special forces group.
The NVA were the regular North Vietnamese Army (although they never referred to themselves as North, to them they were just the Vietnamese Army as they considered Vietnam to all be one country with the South occupied by the US). They are always portrayed as wearing khaki uniforms with pitt helmets and normally carrying AK-47 assaut rifles. The Viet-Cong are indigineous Communist guerillas (the name simply means 'Vietnamese Communist') from South Vietnam who are portrayed as wearing black pyjamas, coolie hats and using a wide variety of weapons. In NATO phonetic code the VC are 'Victor Charlie' or just 'Charlie' for short and the NVA are 'November Victor'.
Most of a cast use standard M16 assault rifles with Zeke Anderson using the shortened CAR-15 version. Zeke also carries a cut down Remmington 870 pump action shotgun for close combat whilst Lts Goldman and McKay use Colt 45 pistols as sidearms. Oddly Ruiz who is the smallest member of the unit carries the heaviest gun, the M60 machine gun. The team seem to take turns in carrying the M79 grenade launcher and also occasionally employ LAWs (Light Anti-tank Weapons), one-shot disposable rockets (the weapon Johnson is seen aiming in the opening titles).
Once they join the special forces group they have a lot more variety. Goldman switches to an AK-47, McKay an M14, Taylor an M1 carbine, Ruiz and Percell Carl Gustav 9mm submachine guns and Johnson an M3 Grease-gun submachine-gun.
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