The ubiquitous transistor radio’s voice cuts through the muggy, stifling, heat of the jungle. "When a man loves a woman, can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else. He’ll trade the world for the good thing he’s found. If she’s bad he can’t see it, she can do no wrong." Turn his back on his best friend if he put her down.
This is I Corps – Vietnam, the year 1968. This is the music of a generation. These young Marines, their friends at home with their hair growing longer and their attitudes changing, are that generation. The music, the times, the war. It is a pivotal moment in history, heralded by Percy Sledge, Simon and Garfunkle, and the Mama’s and the Papas. Here, in the hell that was the Vietnam War in 1968, these boy soldiers are coming of age…listening to their music.
Mick Holtzman is a Marine Corporal leading a squad through the jungles and highlands of the I Corps area. He and his men have one major focus…survival. Survival and the plane ride home. A home that becomes less recognizable with each day endured in Vietnam.
Letters are the primary method of communication and the most important thread in connection to the world back home. "Words, They’re only words. And words are all I have , To take your heart away."
Mick and the men of first squad see the war, its confusion, chaos, heroics, stupidity, and horror up close and personal. They must make decisions that would paralyze older, more seasoned men. The hard part is that they must live with the outcome of these decisions for the rest of their lives.
Where? What? How? How to get there and back without dying! Where does the knowledge come from? Mick questions himself daily and all his First Fire Team Leader can think of is his fiancé.
Joe Sokouski, Mick’s First Fire Team Leader is totally enamored with his fiancé Rosemary Antoni. Rosmary’s attitude changes with the times…on the War, soldiers in general, and particularly Marines. Ski “Can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else.” He receives a Dear John from Rosemary which he reads, and another letter from a neighbor girl which he does not read. The DJ puts Ski over the edge. While on a night action ordered by Mick, Ski is mortally wounded. Mick drags him to safety where the Corpsman and Mick work on Ski for hours in an attempt to revive him while the medevac chopper, with a cowardly pilot, circles overhead, refusing to land. The Squad Leader discovers two blood spattered letters in his friends pocket. These letters lead him back to the WORLD, into Ski’s past, and open a window to his own future. Mick is devastated. He has lost men before, but none so close. This is personal, he blames himself. He reads the letters, one damning, one sweet. Heartbroken over his friends death and unsure what to do, he keeps the letters. Mick, angered by the helicopter pilot’s refusal to land and save his friend, makes inquiries that stir up a political hornet’s nest. Mick’s new Company Commander, Captain Blackwell leads Mick’s persecutors in an attempt to promote his own career. The Corporal is threatened, cajoled, and coerced to “leave it alone.” He can’t. Mick continues his quixotic quest despite the potential consequences. He is caught up in the swirl and fog of internal military politics…a battle for which he has no training. Driven by his commitment to his men and the Corps that he loves…and hates, Mick keeps striving. "And the beat goes on, The beat goes on."
Throughout Mick’s travails’ battles occur, friendships develop, soldiers die, survive, accomplish heroics, or hide in their cowardice. Mick and his squad tell the story of a thousand young men, “The Best of the Best.” The sixties generation, boys on their high school senior trip…the war is the lens that focuses the intensity of a lifetime into a thirteen month tour of duty.