This episode was one of my favorites, with it's depiction of burned-out
Special Forces sergeant Ray Michaels. The Green Berets were a fairly small
force and had been operating in Vietnam since the late 1950's. Their people
had all served multiple high-risk combat tours. The original script was much
less sympathetic to the character, but a lot of changes were made. (The title
of the episode gives you an idea what the original concept was like.)
Army PAO objected to Michaels smoking the Montagnard pipe in the beginning of
the episode: "We know what is in the pipe!" they laughed. But they relented.
I supplied both the pipe (purchased for the show from a Vietnam collector)
and the Chinese land mine Michaels disarms. I "commissioned" the land mine from a
machinist friend of mine who made it out of wood. I have a photo
of it someplace before it was painted. I also supplied the "skull and
crossbones" pocket insignia the SF sergeant wears in the beginning.( I
Xeroxed a real one from my collection. As it is black and white, and sealed
inside plastic, it didn't matter that it was a piece of paper and not a piece
of cloth.) I also supplied the "cat's-eye" sapphire ring Michaels is wearing,
one of the trademarks of the Special Forces (along with a steel diver's watch
and an Army demolition knife. In the 'States he would also have the other two
SF trademarks: a sport's car and a divorce! LOL ). I personally screwed up
one line in the script. Michaels says he is from the 5th Special Forces Group
at Nha Trang.
When SOLDIER OF FORTUNE magazine reviewed the show, they
pointed out that he was assigned to MAC-SOG, and their Headquarters was in a
hotel in Saigon. Oh yes, Michaels brings his personal bodyguard on the
mission. This man is a Nung, a Vietnamese of Chinese extraction.
The Vietnamese looked down on enthic minorities and the Nungs had a hard time
of it. The US Special Forces trained them and found them tough and loyal
fighters. Many SF soldiers retained them as personal bodyguards and paid
their salaries out of their own pockets.