If you read much fiction about Vietnam, or even watch movies about it, chances are you’ll frequently bump into a character who has become a stereotype of the subgenre. This stereotype was rarely, if ever, seen in film or fiction before Vietnam.
The character is eccentric on his good days; psychotic the rest of the time. He is almost oblivious to regulations, protocol, rank and military traditions. He wouldn’t last a day in a professional military force…if he wasn’t such an effective killing machine in the bush.
He is almost a super-soldier when in the field. He’s got the hearing and smell of a dog, the vision of an eagle and the lives of a cat. His instincts are far beyond Sgt. Rock’s “combat antenna.” He’s fearless in battle, probably because there’s nobody as scary as him on the battlefield. He’s rarely seen in garrison, but when he is, he’s a peacetime/rear echelon sergeant-major’s nightmare.
In short, he’s not so much a soldier as a warrior. And he’s probably as insane as the Vietnam War itself. At least he seems so to your average civilian.