Search and Destroy
By: Will Bruce
Rick Ward has many strengths and weaknesses. He is strong but also weak at some things. To start, Rick has strengths. He has the courage to enlist in a war that is so gruesome and has such a high rate of deaths that it is ubimaginable. He has the strength and desire to want to serve his country. He feels like the war what America needs and he feels that he needs to take part in it to find out what kind of man he really is. "Maybe I need to go to Vietnam and find out what I can about myself"(Hughes 25). On the other hand, Rick has his weaknesses. He is very naive in thinking that going to war is the only way to find his true self. He is also weak in the mind. For his first few patrols in the book, he is scared to fire his weapon. Instead, he hides under a log and waits for it to be over. All together, Rick has a strong soul, but a weak attitude.
The setting in this book is absolutely influential to the story. It is key. Te story takes place in an unsettling time in America. The U.S. is at war. Many of Americans do not support the war and want peace. Soldiers are being spit on and are being treated poorly. This is the time that Rick Ward lives in. He betrays his hippie friends and instead enlists in the army. The first thing he notices in Vietnam is the heat. "When Rick stepped off the airplane at Ton Son Nhut airfield in Vietnam, he felt a wave of heat that unlike anything he'd ever experienced" (Hughes 65). It is absolutely miserable. Not only the heat is frustrating, but he jungle is as well. Many soldiers did not know the environment like the Vietnamese did. The NVA took this to their advantage. The author shows Rick being wary of this setting the entire book. Rick always kept his eyes peeled. He never knew what was watching them. The NVA often set up traps on trails throughout the jungle. Many US soldiers were victims to them including Ricks Good friend, Kent. Kent fell victim to a land mine and had his foot blown off the instant he touched it. As you can see, the setting played a detrimental role in the book.
The author of this story incorporated a strong theme to go with it. It is to care for each other. The author shows this theme numerous times throughout the book. In war, you have to rely on your teammates to save you and they rely on you to save them. We can see an example of this when Rick gets Whiley to the helicopter. The patrol is ambushed by NVA on all sides. Whiley is shot several times in the stomach and chest. Rick and his comrade, J.D. escort Whiley to the Helicopter. While doing so, J.D. is shot in the head and killed. "Rick glanced toward J.D. just as the mans head exploded" (Hughes 180). Rick places himself in front of Whiley while putting him on the helicopter and is shot severely in the leg and stomach. Rick and J.D. gave their lives, and or risked them and took bullets for one person. Whiley is very grateful for their care for him. These war brothers love each other more than anyone could imagine. Clearly, this is the point that the author is trying to make.