Page 55. " I remember the wind in my ears, the sound of the old outboard Evinrude. "

Evinrude is a company that builds outboard motors for boats. The company was founded by Ole Evinrude in 1907 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Page 55. " at a place called Whitefish Lake "

Whitefish Lake (pictured) is located in Ontario and is surrounded by forests.

There is another Whitefish Lake located just west of Glacier National Park in Montana.

Page 58. " and a blind poet scribbling notes, and LBJ, and Huck Finn, and Abbie Hoffman "
Abbie Hoffman
Creative Commons AttributionAbbie Hoffman - Credit: Richard O. Barry

Abbie Hoffman was a political and social activist who co-founded the Youth International Parties or, for short, the Yippies. He started riots and protests in the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He was later known as one of the "Chicago Eight". He contiuned his activism in the 1970s and became a prominant icon of the Youth Rebellion of that era. He also protested against the Vietnam war.

Page 59. " There was a slim young man I would one day kill with a hand grenade along a red clay trail outside the village of My Khe. "

My Khe village is near My Lai, where a massacre perpetrated by US forces on March 16th, 1968 cost the lives of over 500 innocent men, women and children. The following clip with journalist Seymour Hersh gives details about the incident. He also speaks of the brutality that dehumanization and conformity allows, the impact of the repression of memories, and the utter lack of authority in war--many of the same themes O'Brien deals with in the book.

When asked if there had been similar My Lai style massacres that were unreported, Hersh says, "It turns out another unit of the same task force to which Charlie Company was attached — it was called Task Force Barker — I think there were three companies — they ended up killing over a hundred people, innocent civilians in a village a couple of miles away or less — My Khe 4, My Khe-something, whatever it was called. And so, clearly, you had a pattern of very wild, indiscriminant fire."

O'Brien's platoon had previously been involved in the My Lai massacre.



Page 62. " While we were out on patrol near LZ Gator "

About Landing Zone Gator, O'Brien  wrote, "In February 1969, 25 years ago, I arrived as a young, terrified pfc. on this lonely little hill in Quang Ngai Province. Back then, the place seemed huge and imposing and permanent. A forward firebase for the Fifth Battalion of the 46th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade, LZ Gator was home to 700 or 800 American soldiers, mostly grunts. I remember a tar helipad, a mess hall, a medical station, mortar and artillery emplacements, two volleyball courts, numerous barracks and offices and supply depots and machine shops and entertainment clubs. Gator was our castle. Not safe, exactly, but far preferable to the bush. No land mines here. No paddies bubbling with machine-gun fire."

This video was shot on 8mm film in 1968 at LZ Gator and nearby Nuoc Mao village by Rick Herbert:


Page 66. " Later we heard that Strunk died somewhere over Chu Lai "

Chu Lai was a United States Marine Corps base from 1965 to 1971. Its airfield supported the major base at Danang.

The airfield is now an international airport.

Page 66. " Rat Kiley put on a tourniquet and administered morphine and ran plasma into him. "

A tourniquet is a piece of cloth or cord tightened around a limb to reduce blood flow to a body part. In some cases it is used while amputating a limb, but in this case it was used to stop the bleeding from a missing limb. Many men were mutilated and lost limbs in Vietnam. Wounds like this were often caused by grenades, booby-trapped equipment and landmines.

If a tourniquet is left on too long, the tissue below it will die from lack of oxygen.

Page 69. " The game involved smoke grenades, which were harmless unless you did stupid things "

The M-18 smoke grenade was used in Vietnam as a means of signaling aircraft or concealing movement.

M-18 grenades use an exothermic reaction, which makes the casing extremely hot. Otherwise, they are harmless, unless used in an improper manner.

Page 71. " I heard this one, for example, fom Mitchell Sanders. It was near dusk and we were sitting in my foxhole along a wide muddy river north of Quang Ngai "

Quang Ngai
GNU Free Documentation LicenseQuang Ngai - Credit: Vardion
Quang Ngai is a city in central Vietnam. It is located on a large plain and is home to about 200,000 people. 

Page 75. " Like Brigadoon- pure vapor you know? "
Scotland Village
GNU Free Documentation LicenseScotland Village - Credit: Wojsyl

Brigadoon is a play about a village in Scotland that only appears on one day every hundred years.