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The real life Sgt Barnes from the film Platoon

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  • #61
    Its at 33:31 of Stones commentary. Says 'Barnes' came from Montana and had been wounded 6 or 7 times, received a bad head/facial wound and spent 7 months in Japan where he married a Japanese woman before returning to the war.

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    • #62
      Originally posted by eddie3rar View Post
      Its at 33:31 of Stones commentary. Says 'Barnes' came from Montana and had been wounded 6 or 7 times, received a bad head/facial wound and spent 7 months in Japan where he married a Japanese woman before returning to the war.

      I never doubted this for a moment Eddie. If you thought that when I said you must have a different edition than I do that meant I was sarcastically saying I didn't believe you, that is incorrect. It meant exactly what I said. I may not believe much of what Stone says, but I am sure that if you said he says that, then he did.

      There were many editions of the film released and I suspect your edition has more information on it than mine. I am sure mine is not the Gold edition. On mine the extra bits that have stone in them are very brief. In fact, Dale Dye does the commentary on mine, not stone. There are a couple of short interviews with Stone but that is all.

      If I could remember where I put my copy I might be able to look at it again and see exactly what is on my disc

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      • #63
        Originally posted by Miss Saigon View Post
        While I am sure that some officers did look the other way, I am inclined to believe that the most significant problem faced by courts martial had to do with eye witness testimony from civilians. Given the nature of the conflict one could never be sure whether the eye witness was telling the truth, lying under duress, or an outright VC trying to use the system against the soldiers. I suspect that for this reason the courts worried a lot about the quality of the witnesses and probably erred on the lenient side because of it. None the less, I found some information on Long Binh Jail and there is no doubt that they did persecute and convict murders and rapists in Vietnam. It would be interesting to see a comparison between the rates of persecution and conviction in WWII compared to Vietnam. I believe that I read somewhere that they were similar, if I am recalling correctly.

        As for Bumgarner, you said that it was very well documented, but when I googled it after Eddie brought it up all I come up with are blogs and other partisan sites. Do you have a reliable link on the case?
        I dunno about persecuting murderers and rapists, but they did prosecute them

        The point I was trying to make is this. When criminal activity was reported, the investigative units of the armed forces (ArmyCID, AFOSI, NIS) did thorough and complete investigations. The breakdown came at trial and when the cases went before the Court of Military Appeals.

        It is my opinion that most sentences upon conviction were very lenient.

        Page 38 of this is about the Marine/Navy version of this - but it applied just as equally to the Army Court Martial process. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...p5tsM4516sy7TA

        In the case of Bumgarner, I don't think I said it was well documented - in fact it is not well documented. But the case involved Bumgarner and SP4 Rodarte who were involved in the killing of 3 unarmed Vietnamese civilians. Rodarte had given a statement that Bumgarner shot them and then ordered him to throw a grenade at the bodies. A separate Court Martial acquitted the other individual. Three US Army soldiers testified as witnesses

        http://www.latimes.com/news/la-na-vi...901880.acrobat
        Last edited by nbrooks503; 21 Oct 13, 17:23.
        Vietnam - US Army, Aug 66-Feb 68
        Vietnam - USG Civilian, Feb 68-Aug 71
        Special Agent/Criminal Investigator - US Customs Jan 72-Jan 2001
        Wannabe Concert and Sports Photographer

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Miss Saigon View Post
          If I had that level of detail I wouldn't have written this:



          I read on an MP site about the convictions for rape and murder, but they didn't get into specifics about cases and such.

          There is a book out there about LBJ, but I haven't read it. Although it seems to be more of an expose about conditions at LBJ rather than information about the jail and judicial system. Apparently some people didn't like the idea that they used conex containers as cells.

          This book probably has good information on Navy criminal cases in Vietnam, but it is not currently in my library so I am not sure.

          I have the book, the individual who wrote it was assigned to Danang, I don't think he covers any atrocity type of cases - but he does speak of the murder of an Australian entertainer. It seems he left the NIS after Vietnam.
          Vietnam - US Army, Aug 66-Feb 68
          Vietnam - USG Civilian, Feb 68-Aug 71
          Special Agent/Criminal Investigator - US Customs Jan 72-Jan 2001
          Wannabe Concert and Sports Photographer

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          • #65
            who was SSG Barnes based on?

            A recent documentary on the Smithsonian Channel on Stone's making of "Platoon", Stone says that the character of Barnes is loosely based on a sergeant he was under for a while during his time in a company in 1st Cavalry Division. Stone would not reveal the name of this sergeant, but said he was assigned to be his radio man for him next to him and got to know him pretty well. He said this Sgt. had been shot six or seven times, kept re-enlisting, and said he was "scary". Stone didn't say anything about him murdering any villagers or any fellow GI's. He may have been an ***hole, but I and anyone else who served all had our share of them.

            I have a hard time believing that a psychopath like the character Barnes would rise to the position of Platoon SSG.

            As stated before, Sgt Elias was based on the real Sgt. Juan Angel Elias that Stone became friends with, but Stone says that he too was loosly based on a real Elias whom he says was a really good guy. Stone said he was not shot. but was accidently killed while setting a booby trap.
            Last edited by Shoot First; 15 Sep 14, 15:30.

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            • #66
              One thing to bear in mind is that the original screen play of Platoon was very surrealistic; so its obvious from the start that Stone wasn't trying to write a biopic with himself as an observer and occasionally stepping into the spot light, he wanted to write how Vietnam made him feel in his heart. Had he himself been an E-6 or Officer he probably would have had a different view on things but assuming he was just another grunt, his perspective and emotions ruled his view on the conflict. Dale Day helped hone this view into a more 'generic' boots on the ground feel to the movie with the **** burning, patrols, booby traps and ambushes. But still with Stone's sentiments in place, if he had known two people similar to Elias and Barnes and wondered what would happen if they crossed, combined it with actions he had heard of happening whilst shooting the **** with buddies back at base camp; then viola it makes for a blockbuster of a movie. Sadly whilst I think Platoon covered a lot of ground of infantry life in general (from an outsider perspective) its a shame that he had to tarnish that with lays of drugs and atrocities. Did they happen? Sure. All to one Company...hell Platoon? Very much doubtful. But this was the 80's and there was money to be made.

              A real shame if you ask me; I'd love to see something that portrays servicemen in Vietnam the same way WWII heroes were portrayed in the media; men doing their jobs regardless of the politics, their sole "just cause" being patriotism to their country. Really would do justice to those gave the ultimate sacrifice; physically and mentally.

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              • #67
                We were Bottom of the Barrel

                Sorry for side tracking the thread...and I have watched the movie numerous times. Hollywood and Stone made a pretty good stab... Although I STILL take great offense at being called the "unwanted" and "bottom of the barrel"...I dunno if these lines were from the author or stones... ....Russell

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                • #68
                  Hemphill's book Bravo Company

                  Originally posted by History fan View Post
                  In the the film Platoon, Oliver Stone based the 2 sgts (Barnes and Elias) Charlie Sheen serves under from the real life versions he served under.
                  Yet understandtably he does not mention the real Sgt Barnes name, So who was he and was he really the pyscho as portrayed in the film.
                  I only went thru the first page, so this is probably redundant. I have no info on the platoon Sgt Barnes character, but there's a nonfiction book out by the CO of Stone's company, then Capt Robert Hemphill. I believe the book is _Bravo Company_. Been a while, but that book might comment on Stone's platoon sgt.

                  FYI here's a review of the movie "Platoon" written by Hemphill.
                  http://platoonics.wordpress.com/2008...ew-of-platoon/

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                  • #69
                    the movie

                    I couldn't help looking back over some of the comments on the movie. I remember how spooky it was going to see it in the theatre at first. I wouldn't have dreamt of taking wifey or gf. I had to watch it 3 or 4 times before I could settle down, and I don't have PTSD and I ain't even an actual combat vet. My biggest complaint with all the VN war films is they always have to add some big Hollywood twist, as though what actually happened in VN wasn't film worthy enough. (Same-same the big frontal charge at the end of We Were Soldiers). Having thought it over for 25+ years, (I think I saw it in '87 or so) seen "Platoon" prolly ten times, own the dvd (watch the extra feature about training the actors!), I think Stone and Dye did a pretty good job of including a huge pile of seminal VN experiences from various time frames and places in the war in a pretty realistic way. The idea that they all happened to one guy, one unit, is way too far out, but it's only a movie. Ya got your cherry arrival incountry, squaring away your **** for first patrol, heat exhaustion, ants, a night ambush with a starlite, claymores, wiping the muck of the watch dial, m-60, frags, dustoff, the rear, the brothahs, the heads, partying, great characters, good leaders, bad leaders, shamming, burning ****, "lifers", humping, arclight aftermath, daytime firefight with rounds popping on an anthill (didn't hear no good hornets), exuberance, fire mission, bad grid/short rounds, rousting a ville, a few bad apples, rape and illegal killings, a guy tyring to stop it, CO warning about policy, enemy buildup before Tet, B-40's, night attack/overrun fixed position, air strike on the LZ, two assassinations, kids fighting for their lives, going berserk, another dustoff. What else for ya, now? Pretty damn good war flick. Some of all of it really happened somewhere sometime in Vietnam. IMHO It just didn't need the Barnes versus Elias rivalry to wind up in two GI-on-Gi killings to make a movie. At least they didn't throw a VC out of a helicopter. (BTW in real life, I heard that story came from when some guys threw a dead VC out of helicopter twice near the same FSB, to make sure they got a good pic.)...I'm a ramblin' guy...

                    *the backlit NVA was a little too much--where'd the light come from down in there--the moon?

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                    • #70
                      Hey dabbling,rambin man,I also have the dvd,it was a gift. 18:45 into the movie,when the Bro falls asleep on his night watch shift,Stone has a shot of a" fu<k you lizard"and that's the first and only time I've heard that damm thing since Nam.It's the most intense part of the movie for me.
                      I've gone over your laundry list of" seminal VN experiences"and I have to say as one guy,two tours,"been there,done that". All except"the ants"I don't have any ant memories of Nam.Plenty of maggot scenarios,no ants.
                      As for the "GI on GI killing,been there too.Nothing as dramatic as Stones good guy vs bad guy story just the bad luck of a white bush Marine meeting up with a black Marine r.e.m.f. in the same chow line after Third Marine line companies stood down and were ordered back to base camp at Quang Tri.,before they collected our ammo from the bush Marines. White one shot black one dead in the chest with his 45 cal. 1911. After that base camp became a brigg,complete with floodlights which the enemy took full advantage of.The white Marine who did the shooting vanished off the face of the Earth.Too bad,he was a good,reliable bush grunt and should have gone home.
                      I was sent to Camp Hanson Okinawa and became a glorified gate guard MP right in the thick of the military race wars of 69-70, and make no mistake,it was a War.

                      And that story you mention of the vc being thrown out of a chopper,could be something to that too Jeffy.You see one of my fireteam leaders,a Japanese American lad,a friend,by the name of Esaki must have heard that story too.After he was badly wounded by a mine someone else tripped.Waitting for a medevac chopper,I had to get my face close to his because he was hit in the neck and weak.He asked me to be sure that the chopper crew knew that he was an American-from Los Angles,he told me he was afraid he might be thrown from the chopper. This made me sick and fearful for him.I told him that he could count on me.Nothing else to say,I kissed him goodby.
                      As we carried Esaki onto the chopper,a gunship,I took hold of each crewmans arm and wouldnot let go of them until they understood and acknowledged that they knew Esaki was an American from L.A. The pilot drew his sidearm on me and ordered me out of the chopper.I would not have left Esaki alone if I was not a squadleader,but we were already shorthanded men.

                      The backlit target enemy,never got that lucky myself,but there were a few times at night when the pavn would use penlight flashlights when attacking or in transit.They paid dearly for that.
                      The history addict asked me,"Where did you fought?"
                      Me...Damn..."I'm not sure."

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                      • #71
                        I’m sitting here at my desk, hesitant to post, yet feeling not only compelled but obligated to do so. You see I am a relative of Roy Edward Bumgarner Jr., or “R.E.” as he was called in the family. I just stumbled upon this thread and the info regarding Sgt. Roy E Bumgarner Jr. this past Sunday. I was visiting my parents at their home when the widow of Sgt. Bumgarner showed up to visit them. Her unannounced arrival prompted me to search for R.E.’s obit and to my surprise I found more than just his obituary. I found this thread.

                        First let me say I do not condone the killing of innocent civilians or non-combatants. I sit here in astonishment having just learned about R.E.’s conviction for Manslaughter and the other accusations I have read about him in the last two days.

                        He was my father’s cousin. My father was with him and R.E.’s brother one morning when they were walking to school when R.E. stopped, announced he was quitting school and joining the Marines, then turned and walked away.

                        I know he served about 10 years in the Marines before joining the Army. I know he met his wife while he was in Korea. As far we know his face was never badly injured, although he was a multi-tour vet. He wasn’t killed in Vietnam like Barnes was in the movie. Although he was wounded numerous times he was not from Montana. He was from Hickory, N.C.

                        Was he the real-life Sergeant that Barnes was based off of? Only Oliver Stone knows for sure.

                        As far as the real Sgt. Bumgarner goes, I cannot access official records online to actually read for myself so I won’t jump to any conclusions, although It does appear he was convicted of Manslaughter, but was sent right back to ‘Nam where he served another tour or so before coming home. When he got out and came home to stay he and his wife lived with his mother a while before buying a new home for themselves. My brother and I helped them move.

                        As far as I know the family didn’t know about his conviction. Nothing like that was ever talked about.

                        The info you find on the internet can surprise you. I’m still trying to process all this having just learned about his “exploits” in Vietnam this past Sunday. In one way I am proud of his service to our country, yet in another I am ashamed.

                        I hope some of these facts shed some light on whether or not he was the real life Sgt. Barnes, although I feel the question is still unanswered and only Oliver Stone knows for sure.

                        FWIW I joined this forum mainly to respond to this thread. I did not serve in the military.

                        THANK YOU to all of those who have served and are serving now.

                        Alan B.

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                        • #72
                          Originally posted by eddie3rar View Post
                          Its at 33:31 of Stones commentary. Says 'Barnes' came from Montana and had been wounded 6 or 7 times, received a bad head/facial wound and spent 7 months in Japan where he married a Japanese woman before returning to the war.
                          Highly unlikely. The US military does not deploy anyone wounded more than three times into combat. It's been official policy for a long time.
                          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by Jeffy View Post
                            the movie

                            I couldn't help looking back over some of the comments on the movie. I remember how spooky it was going to see it in the theatre at first. I wouldn't have dreamt of taking wifey or gf. I had to watch it 3 or 4 times before I could settle down, and I don't have PTSD and I ain't even an actual combat vet. My biggest complaint with all the VN war films is they always have to add some big Hollywood twist, as though what actually happened in VN wasn't film worthy enough. (Same-same the big frontal charge at the end of We Were Soldiers). Having thought it over for 25+ years, (I think I saw it in '87 or so) seen "Platoon" prolly ten times, own the dvd (watch the extra feature about training the actors!), I think Stone and Dye did a pretty good job of including a huge pile of seminal VN experiences from various time frames and places in the war in a pretty realistic way. The idea that they all happened to one guy, one unit, is way too far out, but it's only a movie. Ya got your cherry arrival incountry, squaring away your **** for first patrol, heat exhaustion, ants, a night ambush with a starlite, claymores, wiping the muck of the watch dial, m-60, frags, dustoff, the rear, the brothahs, the heads, partying, great characters, good leaders, bad leaders, shamming, burning ****, "lifers", humping, arclight aftermath, daytime firefight with rounds popping on an anthill (didn't hear no good hornets), exuberance, fire mission, bad grid/short rounds, rousting a ville, a few bad apples, rape and illegal killings, a guy tyring to stop it, CO warning about policy, enemy buildup before Tet, B-40's, night attack/overrun fixed position, air strike on the LZ, two assassinations, kids fighting for their lives, going berserk, another dustoff. What else for ya, now? Pretty damn good war flick. Some of all of it really happened somewhere sometime in Vietnam. IMHO It just didn't need the Barnes versus Elias rivalry to wind up in two GI-on-Gi killings to make a movie. At least they didn't throw a VC out of a helicopter. (BTW in real life, I heard that story came from when some guys threw a dead VC out of helicopter twice near the same FSB, to make sure they got a good pic.)...I'm a ramblin' guy...

                            *the backlit NVA was a little too much--where'd the light come from down in there--the moon?
                            Between Stone and Hollywoody, the idea was to cram as many different experiences into a single film as possible. Pretty good film overall.
                            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                              Highly unlikely. The US military does not deploy anyone wounded more than three times into combat. It's been official policy for a long time.
                              And yet I met an exception to that policy. He had been awarded four purple hearts. He had been on an A-Team in the central highlands, recon with B-52 Project Delta, and recon with MACVSOG CCN. This was verifiable. He was not a poser.
                              Last edited by KRJ; 10 Oct 19, 23:16.
                              "Shoot for the epaulets, boys! Shoot for the epaulets!" - Daniel Morgan

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by KRJ View Post

                                And yet I met an exception to that policy. He had four purple hearts. He had been on an A-Team in the central highlands, recon with B-52 Project Delta, and recon with MACVSOG CCN. This was verifiable. He was not a poser.
                                I would also note that MOH recipient Robert Howard was awarded eight purple hearts.
                                "Shoot for the epaulets, boys! Shoot for the epaulets!" - Daniel Morgan

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