‘Nam – Episode 101
Episode 101 – Wake Me When The War Is Over
[Dec. 1968. Mekong Delta. Camp Cleveland. 1800 Hours.]
(Pete Hormel plops a pile of pork and beans on the plate of Lt. Rick Berry..)
Berry: Hey thank your dad for us, Heiress.
Hormel: Will do.
Lt. Ken Carrington: Yeah, thanks Heiress!
Hormel: (heaps a pile of pork and beans on a Staff Sergeant’s plate, sighs)
(PFC Pete Hormel, heir to the Hormel Foods Corporation fortune, is serving dinner to the rest of the 47th Battalion’s Company D. The cases of canned Hormel meat and vegetables have been provided by Pete’s father as a sign of goodwill to the troops..)
Riley: What’s up, Pete?
(PFC Zig Riley, a giant generally relegated to holding mortar charges in place, picks at a chunk of pork before Pete slaps his hand..)
Hormel: We’re on serving duty, Ziggy. We eat last.
Riley: (groans) But it’s right here under our noses!
Hormel: We wait. Besides, it smells horrible. I hate Hormel meat.
Gen. William Forsythe: (pushes his plate up the line, frowning) I love Hormel meat, son.
Hormel: (plops down a slightly larger pile of pork and beans) Me too, sir.
Forsythe: Hormel is a good American company. You should be proud, soldier.
Hormel: Yes, sir.
Riley: Aren’t they German?
Forsythe: That’s enough outta you, Private.
(The camp’s new resident RN, Annabeth Bisch, is the last in line..)
Bisch: (smiling) Evening, Private Hormel.
Hormel: (voice cracking) Evening, Nurse Bisch.
Hormel: (elbows Zig) Would you like some pork and beans, Nurse Bisch?
Bisch: Thanks, Private Hormel. But hold the pork.
Hormel: Shut up, Zig.
Bisch: (giggling) Yeah. Shut up, Private Riley.
Riley: Yes, ma’am.
(At the other end of the tent, Lt. Berry starts vomiting violently and collapses to the floor..)
Bisch: (rushes over, checks his vitals) Oh my God.
Hormel: (sprints over in his apron, ladle still in hand) What happened? Did he choke on a pork bone?
Riley: (scoffs) Pork doesn’t have bones, numbnuts.
Bisch: (looks up, white-faced) He’s dead.
Hormel: Oh jeez.
Riley: Oh shit.
(The entire tent of soldiers begin convulsing and falling to the ground around Pete, Zig and Annabeth. Annabeth races around but cannot get to any in time before everyone’s gone. The three stand among the bodies in the tent for a moment in stone silence..)
Riley: Do you think it was something they ate?
(A low-level grunt, Tim Winslow, saunters in..)
Winslow: Ooh, pork!
Hormel: Tim, no!
(Tim tosses the pork chunk up in the air, catches it in his mouth and swallows..)
Winslow: (glances over at the three) Hey, guys! Oop!
(Tim falls straight back and is dead before he hits the ground..)
Hormel: Oh, sweet Jesus.
Bisch: (shaking her head) Dead. All dead.
Riley: So, just so we’re clear: We shouldn’t eat the pork?
(An hour later, Pete and Zig are in the middle of digging a mass grave, while Annabeth tries to radio for help..)
Bisch: Echo, echo. Tango echo. Over.
Hormel: (sweating over his shovel) This is bad, Zig. Everybody’s gonna blame me for this. I’m a war criminal!
Riley: Don’t be ridiculous, Pete. How were you supposed to know?
Hormel: I told you it smelled bad!
Riley: Yeah, but you hate your dad’s meat. (snickers) Sorry. But you did tell me how bad it smelled growing up, working in that meat factory as a kid.
Hormel: Yeah, but this was like…extra bad.
Riley: Oh jeez, then maybe you are in trouble.
Hormel: Thanks, Zig.
Riley: No problem, buddy. (hollering up out of the hole) Hey Anna, anything on the radio?
Bisch: Nothing. I think we’re too far out.
Riley: Guess we’ll just have to wait ’til daybreak and start hoofin’ it.
(Annabeth comes tumbling down into the hole in a heap. Pete rushes to her side, helping her up..)
Hormel: Annabeth! Are you alright?
Riley: (grinning) What are you doin’ down here, ya goofball?
Bisch: (puts a finger to her lips and points up)
(Pete and Ziggy look up to the rim of the hole to find a short, stocky Vietnamese soldier pointing his rifle at them with a toothy grin..)
Dung: Hello, boys.
Hormel: Ah, shit.
Riley: Hey there, mister. You hungry?
(Vietcong soldier Haht Dung is marching Pete, Zig and Annabeth through the dense jungle, their wrists bound..)
Dung: You boys sure did a number on that camp back there. They insult your haircut, tall boy?
Riley: This from a guy in a country full of bowl cuts.
Dung: You no talk, tall boy. I talk! I in charge!
Hormel: Then talk. Tell us where you’re taking us.
Dung: I take you to see General Nguyen. He give Dung promotion when he see I bring him three American.
Riley: (guffaws) Hold up. Did you say ‘Dung’? Your name is ‘Dung’?
Dung: Yeah. Is Dung, Haht Dung. What so funny about Dung?
Riley: (guffaws uproariously, wipes his eyes with his wrist rope) Oh, nothing. It’s just kind of a shitty name.
Dung: (pokes Zig in the back with his rifle) You shut up now, tall boy. Or I make you shorter.
Hormel: Mr. Dung, do you really think you’re going to get a promotion out of this whole capture? I mean, we’re pretty low on the totem pole, so to speak.
Dung: I see what you do to all those soldier back there. You bad man.
Riley: (snickers) “Dung”.
(After an eight hour hike through the dark dense jungle, Haht Dung and his captives enter a Viet Cong encampment just as the sun begins to rise. A crowd of soldiers and local civilians forms around Pete, Ziggy and Annabeth; and they are soon joined by a taller goateed gentleman in full NLF Army regalia..)
Dung: General Nguyen, I brought Americans; just like I promised.
Nguyen: (holds out his hand to who he assumes is the leader of the group) Gen. Hung Nguyen, welcome to my camp.
Riley: (holding out both hands, still bound) Uhh, PFC Zigfield Riley. 47th Battalion, Company D.
Nguyen: (glowering at Dung) PFC? You bring me a Private?
Riley: (smiling, motioning toward Pete) Two Privates, actually.
Nguyen: (pointing at Annabeth) And what is she? The nurse?
Bisch: (glaring) Hey! (looks down) Yeah.
Nguyen: Dammit, Dung! I told you to bring me high-level officials! Lieutenants! Generals! Lieutenant Generals! Not…privates!
Riley: (chuckles) “Privates”.
Hormel: (shaking his head)
Dung: These were all that were left. They killed the rest. I saw them digging a grave and everything!
Hormel: (holding up a finger) That’s not entirely true.
Dung: They war criminals! Very big deal! America pay big money to get them back.
Nguyen: (face turning red, towering over Dung) These three wiped out an entire company of American soldiers and you brought them to my camp?
Dung: (smiles, stands at attention, salutes) Yes, sir!
Nguyen: (slaps Dung across the face and he tumbles to the ground) You fool! You could’ve brought American forces with you! They could be searching for these three as we speak; hot on their trail! Huynh, lock them all in the bamboo cage. We have to break camp at once. These Americans are a liability.
(Huynh grabs Dung and the Americans by the arm, dragging them to the opposite side of the camp..)
Dung: But sir!
Nguyen: No ‘buts’, Dung!
Riley: (guffaws) Do you guys get it? Because poop.
(Pete, Ziggy, Annabeth and Haht watch from a bamboo cage twenty feet in the air on long poles as the NLF forces pack up camp and make their way west. By midday, they are the only ones left in the vacated clearing..)
Dung: Hope you guys like bamboo. We gonna be here awhile.
Riley: Isn’t there, like, some secret way out of this thing? You Japs are small, just shimmy your way through one of these holes.
Hormel: You have got to stop calling them Japs, Ziggy.
Dung: Why don’t you chew through it with your big dumb American teeth, tall boy?
Riley: Oh, I’m the one with the big teeth!
Bisch: Stop it, you two! I’ve got an idea.
(Annabeth leans back and then bursts forward, slamming into the opposite wall. The cage sways a bit and Pete’s eyes light up..)
Hormel: That’s perfect, Annabeth.
Bisch: Thanks, Pete.
Hormel: Here, let’s do it together.
(Pete grabs Annabeth’s hand and they slam into the other side of the cage. The cage sways a bit farther and rocks back in the other direction..)
Riley: Whoa, guys. I’m a little scared of heights and this is like a fifty foot drop, so..
Hormel: Not quite, Ziggy. And it’s the only way, so c’mon.
(Before Ziggy can move, Haht springs off his feet and into the opposite wall..)
Dung: (fist in the air) Bonsaiiiiiiiiii!!!
(The poles holding the bamboo cage in place bend, crack, snap and the entire cage plummets twenty feet down to the ground; as Ziggy lets out a high-pitched shriek. The bamboo cage hits the ground in a dust cloud and Pete, Annabeth and Haht climb out of the rubble with only minor scrapes and bruises..)
Hormel: (high-fives Annabeth) Nice thinkin’ up there.
Bisch: I have my moments.
Dung: (holds up his hands, smiling) Hey, let me try that.
Riley: (lying on his back under the crumbled bamboo cage) Oh God, my leg! It’s broken!
Bisch: (rushes over, looks down and rolls her eyes)
Riley: I can see the bone!
Bisch: That’s a bamboo stick, you imbecile.
Hormel: (chuckles, picks up one of the NLF’s discarded radios) Check this out, guys.
(Pete fiddles with the knobs until he finds a United States Army broadcast..)
Radio: …repeat. The missing soldiers are a PFC Peter Jacquelyn Hormel and a PFC Zigfield Petrovich Riley…
Riley: (dusting himself off) Hey, cool!
Radio: …they are believed to be armed and extremely dangerous. Hormel and Riley are wanted for the deaths of one-hundred-and-ninety-eight United States Army officers and soldiers. They have possibly taken a hostage in a Ms. Annabeth Lily Bisch, RN. Privates Hormel and Riley are to be considered as war criminals and should be pursued with great caution. If necessary, terminate on sight.
Hormel: Aw, fubar.
Riley: Your middle name is ‘Jacquelyn’?