"Out here, due process is a bullet!"
Description: Military sentiment of John Wayne as Colonel Mike Kirby, a Special Forces officer fighting during the Vietnam war in the motion picture The Green Berets (1968). His controversial response was prompted by George Beckworth, an American journalist in the field (David Janssen) who witnessed the execution of a Vietnamese soldier who betrayed his troops to the Viet Cong.
"They had to be the toughest fighting force on earth - and the men who led them had to be just a little bit tougher! " - Movie Tagline
Colonel Mike Kirby is assigned to the U.S. Army training camp at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At a ceremony where Kirby displays his Green Beret units to the public, George Beckworth is suspicious of the military involvement in Vietnam, the whole communist domination of the world scenario, and so he asks hard questions about why America is interfering in "their" war.
To give Beckworth a chance to see what the military is all about, Kirby allows the journalist a first hand look at the war in progress. While in Vietnam, Beckworth witness both the good and bad about the soldiers stationed there.
On one hand, he sees Green Berets digging irritation ditches for the locals, providing medical attention and giving candy to children. And one of Kirby's officers Sgt. Petersen (Jim Hutton) takes a special interest in a war orphan named Hamchunk (Craig Jui).
On the other hand, there is a bad side to his visit, namely, witnessing the beating and torture of a suspected Viet Cong spy to get a confession from him by strike force leader Captain Nim (George Takaki) at the ARVN basecamp.
"Foreign policy decisions are not made by the military. A soldier goes where he is told to go, and fight whom is told to fight." - Sgt. Muldoon
Colonel Kirby justifies the action because this is war, and the enemy does not deserve special treatment, especially the ones who murder his troops. A silver cigarette lighter found in the tortured soldier's possession, which belonged to a Green Beret medical specialist murdered by the VC was proof enough that the soldier was guilty, that and the fact that he was seen pacing off distances inside the camp that would be later used by the enemy in preparing an attack on the compound.
Before George Beckworth leaves Vietnam he experiences the horror of the battlefield and what soldiers must face on a regular basis, such as bridges rigged with explosives, booby-traps meant to impale the unsuspecting, and attacks by patrols of local militia.
|Beckworth:||Petersen, what was all that talk about the enemy building ladders and coffins?|
|Sgt. Petersen:||Well, when Charlie knows he's got a nice box to be buried in, he's just as brave as hell.|
|Beckworth:||What about the ladders?|
|Sgt. Petersen:||They throw the ladders across the wire to get at us. And later on, they use them for litters to stack on and carry away the dead bodies.|
|Beckworth:||Later on... you mean after everybody's dead?|
|Sgt. Petersen:||Yes, everybody. Men... women... and children. Everybody.|
When Beckworth travels to a village in the nearby mountains and finds most of the men dead and the village chief executed by the Viet Cong for collaborating with the Americans, he slowly begins to change his mind about America's involvment in Vietnam.
By the end of Kirby's tour, he loses (among others) Sgt. Petersen to a bunji-stick boobey trap and kidnaps General Tai, a Viet Cong General Tai who is shipped off for interogation courtesy of a transport plane that soars by and sweeps up the man via a balloon delivery system (Skyhook).
After the raid that procures the general, Beckworth decides to accompany a group of newly arrived US soldiers whom are being sent to the warzone. And, Colonel Kirby approaches Hamchunk to inform him that his friend Peterson was killed.
When the boy asks, Kirby, "What will happen to me now?" the Colonel puts Petersen's green beret on the boy's head and says, "You let me worry about that, Green Beret. You're what this thing's all about." Then Kirby takes the boy by the hand and walks along the beach into the sunset.