Lest We Forget... the end of Captain 'Rusty' Wallace
"Pushin' Too Hard" is an episode of "Tour of Duty" which captures the tough pressure that is applied on military leaders from the top brass at headquarters to get satisfying results such as body counts, prisoners and intelligence from their recon patrols. The pressure in question is being applied on Captain Rusty Wallace, who opts to lead the men of Bravo Company on a reconnaissance mission into a very hostile area where he himself was wounded on a previous tour. Captain Wallace has just received a Dear John letter from his wife, and at the beginning of the episode we watch as he burns the letter. So he is carrying a lot of emotional baggage and pressure going into this mission, and it certainly doesn't help matters when a naive but beautiful reporter - Vicky - joins the mission with her cameraman in order to show the American people back home what the war is really like. Sgt. Anderson immediately takes a disliking to her, if for no better than reason than for the fact that she will be a cause of distraction for his men. His worries are proved when before they set out, he notices that Ruiz has shaved and that Taylor is wearing aftershave. He immediately orders the men to get themselves dirty like the dogs they are before they head out, because Charlie will be able to smell them from a mile off.
Out in the jungle, Captain Wallace - who now feels more under pressure as he tries to impress the media - pushes the men too hard, much to the worry of Lt. Goldman and Sgt. Anderson. The cameraman and Vicky are constantly distracting the men, and taking their minds off what they are doing, and this angers Sgt. Anderson. In a fit of rage, he takes the camera and tears out the footage reel after the cameraman captures one of the men being killed while he is messing around trying to get coconuts down from a tree for Vicky. He tells Vicky that he won't be telling the man's parents that he died a hero, but that he died from hostile fire and that he did not want them to see their son being killed because he was acting like a clown. The naive Vicky still wants more action, and encourages Captain Wallace to keep pushing on with the mission despite Lt. Goldman's and Sgt. Anderson's expert opinions that they should head back to the LZ after their prisoner escapes. However, they push on and attack a bunker, but in the ensuing firefight, Captain Wallace, Sgt. Anderson and Vicky become cut-off and surrounded, and Captain Wallace is killed after being shot multiple times. Anderson eventually takes a flame thrower and burns out the bunker, after escorting the wounded Vicky to safety.
"Pushin' Too Hard" is a brilliant episode in which we see a very sensitive and logical side to the brilliant Sgt. Anderson, who explains to the reporter that he would rather that they go out on these missions and not get into any trouble as his duty is just to keep these men alive. He wants to be able to go past the memorial cemetery someday and be able to say that he was not responsible for not one man being in there. In a sad moment, the much loved Captain Wallace is killed, despite his questionable judgements he made before his death, at his sending-off, Lt. Goldman highlights to the men how he was a man who genuinely cared about them, and had put his neck on the line numerous times to help them. Lest we forget Captain Wallace, or the rest of the men who died that day.
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