Page 151. " You know, man - root beer "

Root Beer
Creative Commons AttributionRoot Beer - Credit: Nirzardp

Root beer is a carbonated, sweetened beverage, originally flavored with the root of a sassafras plant (or the bark of a sassafras tree). At one point this ingredient was banned, as the oil in it is harmful to humans. Root beer may contain alcohol.

Root beer was first sold as a commercial drink in 1876 by Charles Hires. In 1919, Roy Allen started selling A&W Root Beer - the top-selling brand today.

Page 151. " A slim, hipless young carhop passed by "

Carhop
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCarhop - Credit: Royalbroil
Carhops were waiters or waitresses that would bring food out to your vehicle. They often wore uniforms with a military, airplane or space age theme.

Page 155. " In the spring of 1975, near the time of Saigon's final collapse "
Fall of Saigon

The city of Saigon was captured on April 30, 1975 by the National Liberation Front and the People's Army of Vietnam, bringing an end to the Vietnam war.

Before the attack, a massive evacuation of the city was organized--the largest in the world--referred to as Operation Frequent Wind. On April 29 the North Vietnamese troops used artillery to bombard the city. The last two U.S. troops to die in Vietnam were killed in this attack. By the next day the attacking forces had taken over the city.

 

Page 158. " Going After Cacciato "

Going After Cacciato is a war novel by Tim O'Brien, first published by Doubleday in 1978. It won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.

The story traces the events that ensue after a soldier decides to go AWOL by walking from Vietnam to France.

 

Page 161. " the silver star for Valor "

The Silver Star is awarded to service personnel who show gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.  The only higher awards are the service crosses and the Medal of Honor. 

 The Department of Defense doesn't have a definitive record of Silver Star awards; estimates suggest the award has been made 100-150,000 times since 1942.  An individual may be awarded the Silver Star multiple times.

Page 165. " One more redskin bites the dirt "

The term redskin is slang for Native Americans, used since the colonization of North America by Europeans.  It is often considered to be offensive.

The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, conducted by the US government, found that people of  color or minorities had a much harder time adjusting to life after the Vietnam War due to abuse in Vietnam.  Many Native Americans were looked down on and nicknamed "Chief".  They were often stationed in the most hostile areas, with  dangerous duties such as walking point or being "tunnel rats."

Page 167. " he had signed up for the Reserve Officer Training Corps without much thought "

This is a college program that pays for college and guarantees a career in the military. The individual participates in classes as a regular student, but also takes part in regular drills throughout the year and extended training during the summer.

The first ROTC Program was launched in 1862.

ROTC Website