History in Platoon: Firebase Burt again

20 08 2008

Platoon: the Real Story 
By Michael Pectol

This story is about the battle upon which the final scene of the movie PLATOON by Oliver Stone is based. Oliver, about 500 other men of the Division, and I were all there that night. I thought it might be interesting to know more details of the story of that battle, or at least part of it. It really was a 10 hour long battle with roughly 500 stories. I know around 10 of them. I think you will find that the true stories are even better than fictionalized ones. Professionals, and draftees, were doing a soldier’s job, which is essentially the same it has always been: go into hell, raise more hell than the enemy, and get the hell back home to the country you helped make safe. (…)

Set out during the Christmas “Truce” of 1967 as bait, the base was only about two kilometers from Cambodia, and sat astride the Ho-Chi-Minh trail. The 25th, at the time, was charged with a sort of glorified Border Patrol for interdiction of supplies and troops the NVA were trying to infiltrate to support the Tet Offensive of Feb 68. We needed a base small enough to look tempting. If the enemy moved fast and furiously, they had to think they just might pull it off. We needed a base large enough to hold out until all the priority Air support reserved for our sector of the border could come on station. Most of all we needed to be sitting astride their route, so they more or less had to act against us or cause themselves untenable delays by going around us. And we were going to stay. We stayed for a month after the big battle there, performing our mission of interdiction. We stopped a lot of men, and equipment from reaching its destination-TET Offensive.

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