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"Angel of Mercy"

Episode#20

By Lee Russell

This episode is set just before the Jan 30, 1968 Tet Offensive, which turned out to be a turning point of the War. The previous Summer, the Politburo in Hanoi had decided to launch their 1968 Winter-Spring Offensive, targeting South Vietnamese cities rather than military objectives. As always, their real objectives were political. They hoped to demonstrate both their own power and undermine American popular support for the war.

Preparations for this attack naturally took several months and could not be entirely concealed. Copies of the briefing document shown in the episode were actually captured. As shown, it was bound inside a Buddhist religious tract. Titled "General Attacks, General Uprising," it was part of the political preparation for VC commanders. Only general military details were discussed. Specifics were to be locally decided. No date for the Offensive was specified either, only "very soon."

One of the ways the orders were distributed was by having a senior NVA/VC officer brief subordinate commanders, who would return to their units and brief their subordinates etc. This is what our NVA Colonel is doing when he is captured. The rickshaw with bicycle outriders is a joke by the writer. In the VC and NVA, even Generals walked. Slogans and catchphrases were an important part of orientation for a marginally literate force. Learning them EXACTLY was considered vital.

The confused backgrounds of Vietnamese on both sides of the war was common. The South Vietnamese nurse was actually born in the North. So was the real South Vietnamese Air Force Commander and President, Nguyen Cao Ky. Le Duc Tho, who negotiated the 1973 Paris Agreement with Henry Kissinger, on behalf of North Vietnam, was born in the South.

I don't believe ARVN nurses were assigned to US hospitals, and certainly not to work on US patients.

Period note: at this time, Nicki's pregnancy or abortion would have gotten her a General Discharge from the Army, had they been discovered.

Costume notes. The VC and VC didn't wear rank insignia in the field, but might have one of their rank devices in a pocket perhaps. US troops had to learn other ways to tell the officers from the enlisted men. Only officers were issued leather belts, for example. Another way is the Chinese tunic the Colonel is wearing, indicating he had trained in China.

Another costuming note. US troops were issued olive drab underwear, not the civilian print pattern Eric Bruskotter is sporting. One of the first things you learned in the field was not to wear undershorts. New soldiers who ignored this advice soon discovered why. In that climate, they inevitably caused a painful skin rash, much to the amusement of the "older hands."

About the music.... The midi's are songs from the original episodes


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