ARCHIVE FILES: Barnes’ and Elias’ past in the AirCav

2 08 2008

This idea started from a discussion I’ve had about the movie back in 1988. It came from the observation that the animosity between Barnes and Elias seems to come from something beyond the movie. One can sense it already in the scene when Barnes assigns Elias squad for the night ambush, later Elias accuses Barnes for causing Gardner’s death. It seems they hate each other, the village accident just brings it clearly to the surface. 

It was quite late at night, a time when people tend to have strange ideas, I think it was my friend who called the situation “your-enemy-was-your-friend relationship”, and we ended up musing about the possibility that Barnes and Elias were friends once, long ago before the movie starts, maybe in another unit.

Both were long enough in Vietnam to “grow” such relationship, alone from their different views on how the war should be led, or from some dramatic accident that turned them into adversaries.

It was just a feeling, a pure “mind burp” belonging rather to the fan fiction than movie theory. Until I’ve laid my hands on Dale Dye’s novelisation of the script and the script itself.

In the movie Elias mentions a place called Ia Drang. A place where an infamous battle took place, and 1st AirCav took heavy casualties. Elias seems to refer to this event, but… he says “it happened in 1966”, while the actual battle took place in 1965. It doesn’t look like a goof to me, it’s in the script and in Dye’s book too. But no matter what Elias is talking about, he has to know because he was in the AirCav before, which is indicated by the patch he’s wearing on his right sleeve.

In the book, and in the script the place appears again, this time in a reference to Barnes: Rhah says: “Barnes took a bullet right there. At Ia Drang Valley…”

I know, it is not much, and doesn’t support in any way the “friendship theory” but it somehow hints a common past. Vietnam is a big country, why the same spot should appear in both sergeants’ history?


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