Often receiving harsh criticism as a film glorifying U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, "The Green Berets" was produced in 1968. The director and star of the film, John Wayne, desired to create the movie in response to antiwar sentiments felt throughout the United States at the time. Wayne had visited South Vietnam several years earlier and wanted to produce a film dedicated to the American Special Forces Soldiers deployed there.
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
The film begins with U.S. civilians being taken on a tour of U.S. Army Fort Bragg in North Carolina by American Special Forces Green Berets. A newspaper reporter named George Beckworth, played by David Janssen, is part of the briefing, in which Green Berets discuss the spread of communism throughout Vietnam. Weapons from the Soviet Union and China are on display for the reporter to view, shown as evidence of international communist support of North Vietnam. Colonel Mike Kirby, played by Wayne, speaks to the skeptical Beckworth regarding the fact that Beckworth has never been to Southeast Asia. This prompts Beckworth to go into Vietnam to report on the war.
Kirby Deploys to Vietnam
Soon after, Colonel Kirby deploys to South Vietnam with two small groups of Green Berets, known as Special Forces Alpha Teams. These A-teams are going to replace and augment two teams that are already in-country at the time. After arriving in South Vietnam, Kirby runs into the reporter Beckworth, whom he permits to imbed with the teams at their base camps. At the camp, Beckworth sees the various types of humanitarian aid the Green Berets are providing, such as irrigation systems and medical care.
Attack on the Camp
While imbedded with the Green Berets at their base camp, Beckworth survives a ferocious attack by the North Vietnamese Army. At this time, one of the Green Berets, Sergeant Petersen, played by Jim Hutton, befriends a young South Vietnamese orphan boy named Ham Chuck. After seeing the violence the North Vietnamese have brought upon the soldiers and their selfless defense of locals such as Ham Chuck, Beckworth's mind is changed to be in support of the war.
After the attack, Colonel Kirby and his A-team prepares for a secret mission to capture a high-ranking North Vietnamese Army general. This commander takes advantage of the local civilians, living in a mansion and having plenty of food for himself while they are hungry. Kirby, his Green Berets and a group of South Vietnamese soldiers they trained raid the mansion, capturing the general and airlifting him out via helicopter. Unfortunately, many of his men are killed in the raid, including Petersen. The film ends with Ham Chuck at base camp searching the incoming helicopters for Petersen. Kirby stops him, places Petersen's green beret on Ham Chuck's head and says "You're what this thing's all about," as the two of them walk off into the sunset.