Flying Leathernecks (1951) Movie Script

Our story begins in the midsummer
of 1942 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Here the gentle surf
which rolled on Waikiki...
... occasionally drowned out
the roar of planes overhead.
Constant reminders of the task
to be done.
The Japanese had conquered
the island chain to Guadalcanal...
... and we had to start
the long climb back...
... despite the initial lack
of men and materiel.
This is the story of a group
of young American men...
... who comprised the
Marine Fighter Squadron...
... VMF 247.
Men representing and represented by
the American flag...
... which flew at the base
of a sleeping volcano.
Unmistakable evidence that our country...
... then, as always,
would fight against aggression...
... and all the aggressors
that challenged the rights of free men.
Here it is, Mac. Come and get it.
Come on, fellas. Let's celebrate.
Come on and get your beer.
Save one of those for me!
- Hey, beer!
- I'll always take a beer.
- Here he is!
- Come on, give me a beer.
Captain Griffin.
Being that I'm the smartest,
I was selected to make a speech...
...of congratulation.
- Attention!
Gentlemen, Major Kirby,
your new squadron commander.
This isn't usual, major.
May I speak, sir?
Go ahead.
Well, this is a joke, sir.
We thought when Major Hardy
was injured that Griff...
I mean, Captain Griffin
would be in command.
I mean, with the urgency
and all and us on alert...
...well, we arranged this, or I arranged it,
as sort of a rib, sir, to congratulate him...
...if you see what I mean.
I see.
Well, relax, men.
And you can hang on to that beer.
It's scarce enough in the islands.
I know we'll see no more beer
in the ready room...
...but this is an unusual occasion.
We'll forget it.
When the command meets the commander
for the first time, it's like a wedding.
Nobody knows how
it's gonna turn out.
Whether it'll be a happy
golden anniversary or a divorce.
We'll see.
What's this?
- On your way to a rodeo?
- No, sir. No.
It's just because I got high arches.
Almost all Texans got high arches.
Heredity. You know, like Eskimo babies,
they got thicker skin...
- But don't wear them when flying.
- My arches are as high in the air... on the ground.
- Not when flying.
- Yes, sir.
- Major.
This character takes some getting
used to. He's conversational.
But I put up with him for two reasons.
One, he's my brother-in-law.
The other reason is, this idiot is rich.
As soon as this ruckus is over,
I'm going to retire on his money.
I hope the major knows I was
just clowning about the boots.
Thank you.
This squadron has a warning order
to stand by.
I can tell you we will be receiving orders
to move out almost any minute.
Start getting your personal gear
and personal affairs up to date.
Well, anyway.
See? He didn't get the job.
Well, that's logical, since the minds working
under those brass hats work in reverse.
Fellas, I think we looked a little jerky when
our new CO got his first hinge at us.
I've heard about this guy. He's rugged.
He led close air-support training... North Island. He made them
come so close to the beach...
...they picked up seashells in oil coolers.
- You guys are wrong.
He's all right.
I know he's all right.
Here's the squadron roster and table
of organization. We're in good shape.
May I speak to the major, sir?
Go ahead.
I'd like to thank you, sir.
That letter sure helped my family.
I mean, it was written
in a way that...
Well, it helped us all, about my brother.
That's all I wanted to say.
- Your brother? What's your name?
- Malotke, sir.
My brother's name was Joe.
He served with you at Midway.
Oh, Big Joe Malotke. Good guy.
Sorry. If you're half as good
a man as your brother...
...l'll be proud to have you
in my command, lieutenant.
Thank you, sir.
Give me a rundown on each man,
job by job.
Captain Carl Griffin, executive officer.
And they call you Carl?
Captain Walter Tanner,
communications officer.
- Good man.
- Fine.
Captain Harold Jorgensen...
...operations officer.
- Major, may I speak frankly?
- Sure.
It's me you're worried about,
and naturally.
When they don't give
the squadron to the exec...'s because he hasn't
been recommended.
Naturally, the new CO
would be worried.
I like plain speaking.
- What was the beef?
- No beef.
I didn't think Major Hardy would
recommend me. We just didn't mesh.
You think he acted out
of personal dislike?
You know Hardy?
I don't think he ever acted
on an emotion of any kind.
I think it was his honest opinion
that I wasn't up to command.
I think he was wrong, but that's
just a case of different opinion.
Well, that's life in these Marines.
You want a combat command
and I want to sell the brass a pet theory.
- Close air support for ground troops.
- That's right.
Here we are, so let's get the job done.
The name's Dan.
- We'll make a squadron out of this.
- What else?
How can you call
this stuff personal effects?
Well, this concludes
my affairs in Honolulu.
- I'd like a copy of those conclusions.
- I bet you would.
What can you say in 10 words?
What did you say
your phone number was?
Come on!
Get the lead out of that pencil.
Ten words, Shakespeare.
Okay, Malotke, okay.
It's from Bert.
He just says he can't
write for some time.
Going away, I guess.
- I wonder if it's Midway, like Joe.
- No.
Midway, we got.
- Jorgy, I'll see you at the club.
- Okay, Bert.
Mrs. Jorgensen, it's from your husband.
The 10th word is "love."
Shall I leave it on the table for you?
- Okay, Billy.
- Thank you, my friend.
It's from that cute little Billy Castle.
I just love that boy.
Excuse me.
- Do you think we'll have time?
- Sure. We'll make the time, Charlie.
Okay, then.
Got word from your son, Charlie.
He says he can't write for quite a while.
But he knows that his
ma and pa will know that...
...he will act so that they can know there
will be no shame brought on his lodge...
...and to tell his sisters
to take good care of his horses...
...and to keep on with their schoolwork.
At this rate, I'll be here all night.
- Bedtime story.
- Bedtime story.
Your daddy sent you a bedtime story.
I'll read it to you.
Papa says he's on a big island.
But he's gonna fly away very soon...
...and then hurry back to us.
But in the meantime...
...he wants us not to do anything wrong...
...and to take care of each other.
As soon as he gets back,
we're going to live on the ranch.
- Can I have a pony?
- Of course.
All night, the coded messages said
"Urgent. Urgent. Urgent."
It seemed hard to believe that anything was
urgent on that beautiful Pacific dawn...
... when VMF 247 sailed
for Cactus Airfield...
... on the island of Guadalcanal.
What urgency there was.
The hard-pressed ground troops
were holding the airstrip...
... only by effort beyond maximum.
On the 16th day of August, the battle for
Guadalcanal was still very much in doubt.
Cactus Base. Richter speaking.
Put Colonel Riley on.
He's right here, sir.
It's Colonel Richter, sir.
Hello, Red. How's it going?
Your overlay got here. Let's get a look
at it. I'll call you back in a minute.
Ring off.
General, Red's in trouble.
He's committed his reserves
and can't contain the Jap attack.
His right flank has been turned and
he's lost contact with the 42nd Marines.
Ground command will send the reserve
battalion in a flanking movement...
...through this gap. Right, colonel?
- Yes, sir.
- Is there a new ETA on our air support?
- No, sir, not for two days.
When you contact them, see if it's feasible
to use them in a strike at the north ridge.
Yes, sir. If there still is a north ridge.
Cactus Base, this is Dogface.
Request air support. Urgent.
I say again, request air support.
Jigsaw 1. Jigsaw 1.
This is Cactus Base.
How is your fuel? Over.
Hello, Cactus Base. This is Jigsaw 1.
We are okay. What do you want?
Have a request you make
a strafing run on hill 702.
Runs north to south.
Acknowledge. Out.
This is Jigsaw 1. Wilco.
Jigsaw 2, 10 and 9,
join on me for a strafing run.
We have arrived.
All other chicks, pancake. See you later.
All Jigsaws, nice work.
Prepare to pancake. Check your...
Jigsaw 10, get back in formation!
Jigsaw 2 and 9, how is your fuel?
- 2, on reserve.
- 9, oranges sour.
We'll have to pancake. Out.
Hiya, Clancy!
How are you?
- Oh, a little grayer, a little older.
- Any smarter?
Haven't seen you since Midway,
major, but I'm sure glad you're here.
- How you doing?
- Not so good.
All right, let's have the regular beef.
What are you short of?
Except Japs.
Them mud Marines will get him.
Well, fancy little airstrip
we got here, eh, major?
Well, it's all ours.
So far.
This must be a pretty
valuable piece of real estate.
The down payment's been pretty high.
They got him.
How are we set on gas and refueling?
I've only got 400 drums of Jap gas.
We refuel by hand
and no spare parts either.
Give up?
I only regret I ain't got but one life
to give for my country.
Save it. We need a good line chief.
- Well, we better get these planes dispersed.
- Better not spread them out too much.
No transportation for a scramble.
Well, I don't like it.
- Get them refueled as fast as you can.
- Yes, sir.
Hey, Dan!
- Joe!
- Seems like I can't get away from you.
- How's the leg?
- Fine.
I had a good doc after I escaped you.
Hey! You took us in pretty close. Cowboy's
knees are still knocking and so are mine.
And so are mine. Doc Curan, this
is Captain Griffin, my exec.
- Glad to meet you.
- Same here.
- Doc was medic at Midway.
- Oh, we gotta be nice to you, huh?
Hey, fellas!
Come on over and meet the bartender.
Griff? Attention!
- Dan.
- Glad to see you, sir.
This is Captain Griffin, my exec.
Colonel Riley, Colonel Foster,
Major Kirby, Captain Griffin.
Glad to see you too, Dan.
- Climb in. We'll go over to headquarters.
- Thank you, sir.
- Is old grumble-guts still on the long island?
- Yes, sir.
- Dan.
- Yes, sir?
I was making a tour of positions
when you hit that ridge.
Nice going. Get all your people in okay?
- One pilot missing, sir.
- Condition red, sir!
I'm getting too old for this.
Get our gang.
Get everybody to help with those fires.
Those planes should
have been dispersed better.
Yes, sir.
Hey, captain!
- Where are you going?
- I'm all gassed up. Let me go.
You'll never get off the ground.
Better get yourselves quartered.
Then come back...
...and we'll see what we can
salvage out of this mess.
No report on Simmons
from ground intelligence.
I guess he's gone.
I guess so.
Let's go.
- It's okay, isn't it, major?
- Couldn't think of a better name.
Hope I can get a couple
of meatballs to put up beside it.
I think my pa would be pleased
if I kind of even things up.
- Hope so.
- You will, Malotke.
Hey, Cowboy, Ernie, come here!
Hey, Billy!
Hey, hey, I'm back!
Hey, Billy! Hey, hey, I'm back!
- You been taking a walk, boy?
- Well, it was such a nice day.
- I bailed out when my tanks went dry.
- Yeah?
- After I splashed a Nip.
- You got one?
A whole platoon of mud Marines
can confirm it.
My hero.
You fellas wouldn't want to take
a little word of advice...
...from a combat-hardened veteran,
would you?
Yes, major. I just got a Nip...
Knock it off.
There's no quarters for you
to be confined to...
...but you're under arrest.
Get ready to face a general court, because
that's what I'm recommending for you.
Griff, how about trying
to square Simmons, huh?
- Yeah, this is a pretty rough deal.
- Simmons was a stupid jerk.
Break it up.
So you knocked down a Nip, huh?
- That's right, captain.
- What kind?
Well, it was only a light observation.
I don't know,
I thought I was doing the right thing.
- Where did you go to school?
- Harvard Business School.
- What did your plane cost?
- $ 150,000.
And how much do you think
a light observation plane costs?
I don't know.
Come on.
...fresh air.
Seabees can lend us a couple mechanics.
I had a talk with Simmons.
He knows now that he cost us a combat
plane in exchange for an observation plane.
Didn't you wangle a couple of jeeps
out of those Seabees?
Used my best salesmanship. No soap.
I suppose you've got
to expect kids to act like kids.
I expect them to act exactly according
to the uniform they're wearing...
...and the insignia on their collar.
You trying to intervene for Simmons?
General court's a tough thing
to face when you're 22.
Tough thing to face when you're 90.
How's Kelvin?
I don't know. He's still in sick bay.
Finish this flight schedule, will you?
How goes it, Kelvin?
- All right, major.
- He's got magnesium burns.
I was puffing a fire extinguisher
into the cockpit of my plane.
The very signals must have exploded.
Relax. It's ours.
That PBY's been trying to sneak
in here all day between raids.
Bring in personnel and evacuate wounded.
General Finney's supposed to be aboard.
I better get down to the strip.
Anything I can do for you, Kelvin, holler.
Simmons has really taken this to heart.
I think the major was just hoping and
praying for somebody to get out of line... he could lower the boom,
teach us all to be good little boys.
- Fine guy.
- Look.
This is a battle, not maneuvers.
The major's got himself
a short-handed squadron...
...with no replacements,
planes, parts or pilots.
And we're flying off an airstrip that may be
retaken by the enemy almost any minute.
He was absolutely right in racking up
...and I don't want to hear any more
of this kind of griping.
Does everybody tune me in loud and clear?
Speaking for one,
I'm receiving you loud and clear.
Well, maybe after
the heat's off a little...
...the major will get softhearted
about Simm.
Softhearted? Don't you know a heart
is strictly non-regulation equipment...
...for a professional soldier?
And Kirby's a professional soldier.
You interest me no end.
You know I didn't mean you
in that crack, Griff.
- You've worn a uniform all your life...
- Some guys take a look... the world when they're young...
...and they don't like what they see.
They realize some of us
will have to fight...
...for the rest of us from here on in.
I'm a professional soldier...
...and I don't mind saying
that I'm kind of proud of it.
Well, I hope Griff didn't think I was
including him in that remark.
I know you weren't,
because if I thought you were...
...l'd knock you for a series of slow rolls.
Because you know something?
I'm a rarity.
I'm a guy who's fond of his brother-in-law.
- Let's watch it, Black.
- Take it easy.
Sorry, Injun.
You flyguys have sure got it easy.
What a break.
Imagine, sleeping under cover.
The lieutenant made a funny.
Thank you and good night, lieutenant!
- Naval bombardment! Come on!
- It's a raid!
You guys get this kind
of treatment every night?
Not every night, sir.
They didn't come down this slot
last Thursday night.
Hope we still have this strip
for you in the morning, major.
- Get under this.
- Thanks, sarge.
Hey, Cowboy!
Let's get off the deck
and get upstairs.
- Count them off.
- Right.
All right. Let's line up.
- Griff, how are you?
- How you been?
- Good.
- Attaboy.
- Malotke.
- Never knew what hit him.
What a guy.
He won't get even to collect
what they owed him.
- He never even got off the deck.
- Hit the sack. You'll need some sleep.
He was the nicest guy in the squadron.
- Of course, you never got to know him.
- Get some sleep, Griff.
I knew him. I knew
a whole squadron of him at Midway.
I knew him, all right.
Jigsaw 1, this is Jigsaw 4.
My engine's running rough.
I'm returning to base.
Jigsaw 1 to Jigsaw 4. Negative.
Stay with us as long as you can.
Jigsaw 1, this is Jigsaw 4.
I can't keep up.
My engine's still running rough.
I'm returning to base. Over.
Jigsaw 1. I roger.
Tallyho. Bandits.
Ten o'clock, low. Two miles.
Jigsaw, commencing attack.
Jigsaw 4, get back in formation.
Jigsaw 4, they're on your tail!
Well, the way I figure it,
Jorgy might have made it.
He bailed out at 12,000 feet,
about 3 miles north of the beach.
The wind was about 15 knots
to the east.
With any luck,
he might have hit the island.
If he did,
I hope the natives find him first.
Charlie's right.
He could've made it, with a little luck.
We haven't had any luck so far,
why should it change now?
- Man, who could win a war without coffee?
- Who's winning what war?
Excuse me, gentlemen.
Is it anybody's birthday?
- All right, what's the gag?
- I found a cake.
What do you mean, you "found a cake"?
Where did you find it,
in some deserted galley?
Certainly not. It was cooling
over at the artillery mess.
Oh, buddy, and how. It is a cake!
I suggest you eat it in a hurry.
A slight beef may develop any minute.
Where would them guys in the artillery
get the stuff to make a thing like that?
They must have influence.
- Want a piece, Clancy?
- Sure.
- Here you are.
- Thank you.
Old, ugly and mean.
But his honesty's never been questioned.
It's never even been mentioned.
- How about a piece?
- Here you are.
- Tanner?
- Here you are.
- How about another piece?
- Here. Here.
- Thanks a lot.
- How is it, good?
I want everybody to go over
to Graves Registration.
The mud Marines just brought in
Jorgensen's body.
I want you to take a good, long look
and remember what you've seen...
...the next time you feel
like going hunting on your own.
You heard what the man said.
You didn't win any friends there,
but you certainly influenced people.
With two divisions set up
for today's strike...
You made your point.
The object lesson was brutal.
You're making your point
by your tone of voice. You disapprove.
The wet blanket could've waited.
Clancy saved that cake to give them a lift.
Let Clancy win the popularity contest.
We got a different job.
I know we can't have them
leaving formation...
...and you were right about
Simmons' court-martial.
Otherwise, they'd wind up
like Jorgensen.
No, I was wrong about
the Simmons thing.
And now your wet-nursing them's
gonna come in handy.
Go tell them you talked me
out of the court-martial.
I don't get the change of pace.
Between jungle fever and Japs,
we'll run out of pilots soon enough.
And anyway, they've had a better
object lesson now than Simmons.
- McCabe?
- Yes, major?
I'm rearranging divisions.
Ernie's gonna fly on your wing.
Whatever you say is the word, sir...
...but is it good for morale to make a
section when the guys dislike each other?
You don't like Ernie?
About Ernie as a person,
I'm neither hot nor cold.
I just don't like guys
who have rough engines.
Order rescinded.
By making this beef, have I
gotten myself in trouble with you?
Pudge, you just keep speaking plain English
to me and we'll get along fine.
Put a new chamois on there.
- Ernie?
- Yes, sir?
I've had to reorganize
since losing Jorgensen.
- You're gonna fly on my wing.
- Major, my engine was running rough.
If you say it was rough, it was rough.
I got $ 100 to 50 that says
some of the guys refused to fly with me.
- You're on my wing.
- Hey, major?
Lt'd be easy for me to claim
that my engine was rough.
If you're telling me that,
you're gonna get a court-martial.
- And I'll lose a good pilot.
- Good pilot?
Major, does a good pilot get so scared
he breaks out in a sweat on a mission?
- His mouth gets so dry he can't...
- Every one of them.
- You?
- The second I push that throttle forward.
And any time you meet a guy
who says he doesn't, avoid him.
He's an idiot.
See you, Ernie.
You got yourself a wingman, major.
What are you doing,
painting my portrait?
Just practicing a little
exterior decoration, junior.
I'll be catching up with you soon.
- Hey, fellas.
- Hi, Griff.
Come here. I got news for you.
There's a tropical front with
a thermodynamically warm cumulonimbus.
Hydrometeor's moving east at 13 knots.
Longitude 17.
Why, that's absolutely fascinating.
What do you want us to do...
...jump up and down, kick our heels?
- Maybe you should.
It means the Jap bases are socked in.
They can't get a plane
off the ground for 24 hours.
I'm gonna get myself a neat,
sweet, 24-hour sleep.
In that case, it's a bath.
The Seabees are beginning to sniff
whenever they get downwind of me.
All pilots report to the operations hut.
Clancy never brought
any good news in his life.
Colonel Riley and his battalion
have hit a snag.
They want assist from us,
so we're going in... a little different method of attack
this time, which the colonel will explain.
My outfit's pinned down... a heavy concentration
of machine gun emplacements...
...just below the top of the ridge.
We need some help.
Our front lines are marked
by intermittent panels like these.
A hundred yards to the rear,
you'll see this arrow.
If possible, your run should be made
parallel to our lines.
Exactly at 1340, my mortar crews
will outline the target area.
We're counting on you
to kick the door open.
That's just what we'll do. We'll come in
from seaward hugging the deck...
...and holding our fire
until we're right on top of them.
- Did you say something?
- No, sir.
Well, yes, sir. This mission
comes as a surprise to me.
There was a bright rumor
about a vacation.
Here, you believe 1 percent
of the bright rumors...
...and 200 percent of the dark ones
and you'll win most of your bets.
I know you fellas haven't
been trained for close support... observe my first run.
I'm coming in at treetop level.
I don't wanna see anybody above me.
Just remember those guys need our help...
...and we can't do them any good
unless we come in low. Questions?
Yes, sir. If we're gonna be
that close to the deck...
...l'd like to get a bayonet
on my propeller hub.
That might be pretty hard to rig. But if
you hop in the jeep with the colonel...
...and go to the forward area
as our observer...
...l'm sure somebody will hand you
a bayonet with a rifle attached to it.
And you may get a chance to use it.
That's an order.
- Colonel.
- Thank you, major.
See you, men.
Carry on.
Your brother-in-law.
That idiot.
Making jokes in a briefing session.
I'll eat him out when he returns.
You should. It's your fault
he's acting the way he is.
This "bring your troubles to Pop" attitude
is what's making them all act like kids.
- Well, that's what they are.
- Not out here.
This is where we separate
the men from the boys.
I'm still saying what I think
until you tell me to shut up. Here it is.
This is no time to play eager beaver
to prove a pet theory.
- These guys rate a rest.
- Nobody rates a rest out here.
- Why isn't Castle in flying gear?
- I scheduled Black in his place.
Castle's been throwing up too much.
He's high-strung...
Castle flies. Nobody's ducking
these missions because of bellyaches.
We're all sick.
We don't have to gas by hand no more.
I rigged a dishwashing machine pump.
- A dishwashing machine?
- Yeah.
Imagine them Seabees in the mobile field
kitchen with a dishwashing machine.
What's the Navy coming to?
Can't wash dishes with their hands?
The rate we're going, we'll be
able to refuel with an eyedropper.
Can't you put more in the air?
My conscience bothers me
about a few going on this mission.
Hey, you flyguys. Major.
- You flyguys got your own galley?
- No.
We eat with the mud Marines. Why?
I'm checking all the galleys.
Some joker stole my dishwasher.
Somebody stole his dishwasher.
What's the guy look like?
- Ain't a guy. It's a machine.
- A machine? For washing dishes?
Has everybody gone nuts?
Have you ever heard anything so crazy?
- Never did.
- I have.
It's part of a mobile kitchen unit
and checked out to me. If I find the guy...
Did you look in the artillery mess?
Them artillery men steal.
No ethics. They're over in that area.
All right. Thanks.
I'm beginning to worry about
your chances in the hereafter.
Does the major mean he approves
of using dishwashing machines...
...with amphibious assault groups?
The major means that he approves
of line chiefs who can improvise.
Here they come.
- You a flyguy?
- Yeah.
- Can't fly much lower than that, can you?
- Only if you're a bachelor.
In here, colonel.
We were late because we tangled
with Zeros on the way to the target.
- How'd it work out?
- Could've been tragedy.
We thought you weren't coming.
A patrol overran the panel.
Well, that's what we've
been screaming for.
We need better coordination
between ground and air.
- Did we hit any of your men?
- You didn't.
- Can you make another run at it?
- That we will. How about 1500?
Fine. I'll get an okay
from the old man.
Billy Castle.
- How many of us have jungle nausea?
- Almost everybody.
Castle have it any worse
than anybody else?
We lost Castle today.
Schedule another mission.
1500. Same target.
Shall I take your observer along?
Get me airborne. It's too rough
down here with these ground guys.
Flying scares me.
- I'll send you up another man.
- Right.
The strafing runs looked really great.
If the target had been right...'d have clobbered that Nip position
and the mud Marines would've been set.
Why don't they always use
this close-ground air?
Because the brass
hasn't been convinced yet.
Griff will probably want you
on this strike.
Yes, sir.
Well, why hasn't the brass
been convinced?
I don't know.
My grandfather claimed there'd
never be a horseless carriage.
- Two divisions warming up.
- Good.
You take Cowboy on your wing,
I'll take Ernie on mine.
I'll lead the run.
Major, I found a couple of tents.
Three of them, to be exact.
We sure can use them.
Where do you want them?
- Anyplace in the area.
- You'll find a small hole in the side.
Artillery gyrenes came over
claming they were their tents.
They claimed that the hole
is where the serial number was.
So I said, "Prove it.
Otherwise, knock it off."
Very intelligent attitude, Clancy.
Yeah, there's officers.
Then again, there's officers.
- Sergeant!
- Yeah?
There was a supply truck parked
over there about an hour ago.
Ten Coleman lanterns
are missing out of it.
Got any ideas that might help?
Don't quote me, but I saw some of them
Seabees over there this afternoon.
They're down in that area.
- Thanks.
- You're welcome.
Hey, fellas! Hey! Fellas!
Clancy found it.
He says he found it.
One of them mud Marines
give me a big beef.
Said he had it stashed
in back of a palm tree...
...after he took it off a Nip officer
which he killed.
I gave him a smash in the kisser,
this mud Marine, that is.
He was smaller than me.
Them guys will lie about anything.
Sake, huh? Now, you gentlemen
know the regulations.
Why don't you stop it.
Beware of booby traps,
particularly foodstuff or potables.
- Potables?
- That means booze, gentlemen. Booze.
I think we can find a little regulation
that'll allow us to open the bottle.
Who will volunteer?
Eenie, meenie, minie, mo,
catch a Cowboy by...
- What do you know?
- It's me!
You know, this stuff
could be booby-trapped.
It is.
- Major.
- Fix it?
Fix it? It's better than brand-new.
Quite a clambake they're having.
They're really sopping up all that sake.
- You ought to go over...
- Thanks, Clancy.
Yes, sir.
Dear Dan, this is for you at Christmas,
wherever you may be.
Go ahead, Tommy.
Hello, major... Dad.
This is for you and all the flyguys.
And the mud Marines. And you.
We miss you.
We miss you.
And it's hard to say good night
when you aren't here.
When I say good night,
I say, "Our Father... "
I didn't mean to read
over your shoulder, Dan.
That's all right, Joe.
But listening to that kid made me feel
like the man in my favorite story.
My kid sent me that for last Christmas.
It caught up with me at Midway.
I've been carrying it around
with me ever since.
- Kind of childish, I guess.
- I don't think it's childish.
- Do me a favor?
- What?
Play it again.
- Busted again.
- Too bad.
- Have a belt?
- No, thanks.
That's a prescription.
There's a headquarters messenger
to see you, sir.
- Send him in.
- Yes, sir.
If it's about missing tents, and this ain't
one of them, remember, you've seen me.
You've had them for years.
Hey, you. Come on in.
The general would like
to see you immediately, sir.
- Right away.
- Yes, sir.
I hope the major don't forget, because
as far as them tents are concerned...
I know.
You're pure as the driven snow.
Yes, sir.
- Good evening.
- Sit down, Kirby.
- All the comforts of home.
- Yeah.
Some sergeant scared that up for me.
- He wears an old campaign hat.
- The name couldn't have been Clancy?
Yeah. That's the name.
Two new squadrons
are coming in tomorrow...
...and 12 replacement aircraft
are being ferried in for you.
Thanks. I can sure use them.
Dan, like you, I've always claimed
that air ground support...
...can put the foot soldier on enemy
real estate faster than any other tactic.
And that's just how much faster
the war will be won.
We've gotta prove our point here.
You made a good start today.
Unless I absolutely need you...
...your squadron will be exempted
from flying interception missions.
Work with the infantry.
After we prove the tactic,
the information will go through channels.
We'll probably use it in the next war
or the one after that.
Major Kirby, are you criticizing the
standard procedure of the armed forces?
Not at all, sir.
Me too. Good night, Dan.
Good night, general.
- Why don't you hit the sack.
- Because I gotta write a letter.
You've been in this game long enough to
know that should be left to the chaplain.
Let the padre write them.
He was killed today.
On the ridge, with the infantry.
What drivel.
Suppose I told the truth.
What if I said:
"Your son is suffering from
jungle nausea and malaria...
...and ordered to fly by a man
who couldn't send him to sick bay"?
- Dan, I prescribed that drink for you.
- I don't want it.
Operation Cactus.
This ought to be called
Operation Shoestring.
Hi. I am loaded.
And don't you knock that sake.
It's got a very high octane rating.
Why don't you get some sleep,
my tough commandant.
You'll need oxygen for that hangover
in the morning.
- And we haven't any more oxygen.
- In that case, I will suffer.
Good night, tough guy.
He'll suffer?
The proverbial penny.
- I wasn't thinking about anything.
- That's a psychological impossibility.
The human mind is never at rest.
Even while sleeping, the mind works.
You want me to lie down on the couch
and tell you my dreams?
I can tell you sitting up.
I dream of scheduling a mission where all
the pilots and all the planes come out even.
Where there's blank number
of operational planes...
...and blank number
of available pilots.
Everything's even.
Good pilots, good planes...
...there's nothing to decide,
everybody flies.
And even Major Daniel Xavier Kirby
can't work up a lather.
I don't think Dan
started this war, Griff.
Even if he did,
I don't think he did it on purpose.
- I can't help feeling sorry for Castle.
- Don't you think Dan does?
Dan's a mighty man.
The classic commander.
"Come home with your shield
or on it."
I got work to do.
Oh, Dan.
I think there's a problem building up
for you. Griff's got the jumps.
I know. Well, he's the best man
in the squadron.
I don't know what the outer edge of his
endurance is, but I've got to use him.
I ought to be getting
80 bucks an hour for this.
For what?
Of course, I'd have to grow a little beard
and have an office in the swankiest area.
If you've got something to say,
now's the time.
Griff's identifying you as the villain.
It's your fault this air operation
hasn't enough men or equipment.
Knock it off, Dr. Freud.
After this is over, Griff and I will
go out and get tight and forget it.
I got a mission to fly.
Jigsaw 4, this is Jigsaw 1.
How badly are you hit?
I'm badly hit on the knee.
My engine is losing rpm's. Over.
This is Jigsaw 1.
Return to base immediately.
All Jigsaw planes, this is Jigsaw 1.
Simmons, join on Shorty.
All other planes, join on me. Out.
Grab the stuff. Go get the doc.
Hello, Charlie. How you making it?
Pretty rugged, major.
I don't feel like there's
anything missing.
I guess I'm still all doped up.
If that transport sneaks in tonight,
we're gonna get you started stateside.
That's fine.
- Say, major.
- Yes?
- Write a letter for me, will you?
- Well, sure.
- Your folks?
- Well, yes.
But send it to Mr. Peters.
He's an Indian agent.
Monument Valley Navajo reservation.
He'll read it to them.
See, they... They can't read.
What'll I write, Shorty?
Oh, you write it, major.
Just say what happened to me,
that I still have the other leg.
Say it your way.
Tell them that they might
just as well sell those colts...
...they were raising for me to break.
I don't guess I'll be busting
many broncs from here on in.
I guess the automobile is sure
to replace the horse, eh, major?
I wrote you up for a citation, kid,
not that it matters much.
I understand, major.
Just relax, and the doc will give you
something to help you go to sleep.
Good night, major.
Good night, Charlie.
Caught your slipstream.
I didn't think I could pull out.
I'm a bachelor, but going in this low
is strictly for the birds.
I swear one of those jokers
was throwing rocks at me.
Next time, I'm going in on my back.
Make sure I see the ground.
If we'd covered each other
yesterday like we did today...
...maybe Charlie wouldn't have
got knocked down.
- We could have used Charlie, couldn't we?
- Sure could, Cowboy.
You loused up the scheduling
of these two missions.
You've got the older guys flying
this tough ground strike...
...and replacements are flying cover
for a bomber mission.
That's a milk run. Let's switch it.
No. Send the replacements
on the milk run.
The older guys have had
some ground strike experience.
They've also had it tougher
than the law allows.
That they have. But I didn't make
the rules, I only live by them.
Maybe I did make one mistake.
You ought to go with the bomber group.
That'd give them a commander
who understands combat...
...give you a little command experience.
Pick out one of the replacements
to take your place on the ground strike.
Well, let's see.
I haven't got any training reports
on these guys yet.
I don't know which one of them's
had the most air-support training.
Let's leave it how it is.
I'll fly the ground strike with you.
Sure. You'll fly
the ground strike with us.
You beef at the decisions I make,
but you're too soft to make them yourself.
You can't bring yourself to point your finger
at a guy and say, "Go get killed."
You gotta tear your guts out
worrying about his flight record.
Or because some dame back in the States
is giving him the brushoff.
Or whether he knows
whether his baby's born yet or not.
You got enough troubles of your own.
Stop trying to pack
everybody else's around.
- Schedule that mission.
- Roger.
I got a bellyful of you...
...and I'm not buying
the bill of goods you're selling.
In my book,
it's easy to be a turtle.
Put a shell between yourself
and the rest of humanity.
Maybe I'm not making my point clear.
Four hundred years ago,
a poet said it better than I ever could:
"No man is an island."
When the funeral bell rings,
it isn't just for the dead guy.
It's a little bit for all of us.
Each man's suffering belongs to everyone.
Why else are we shooting off
these guns?
I don't know what your reaction will be,
but here's what I hope:
I hope you say, "Let's take off our insignia,
step out in the boondocks and settle it!"
Major, you're wanted at
general headquarters right away, sir.
The pilots think they'll be
relieved right away. Is that true?
Definitely not.
Kirby. Bill.
Gentlemen, the biggest Jap convoy
ever sighted is heading down the slot.
Flattops, cruisers, cans, transports
and barges full of Jap reinforcements.
This looks like their Sunday punch.
We'll send everything flyable
after that force...
...and continue round-the-clock
operations until we smash them.
The TBFs will carry torpedoes...
...the dive-bombers, 500-pound S.A.P. S...
...and the fighters, 100-pounders.
I know we can do it.
Thank you, gentlemen. That will be all.
Let's get the show on the road.
Major Kirby.
Dan, your outfit has had it the roughest,
but this calls for everything we've got.
- I understand, sir.
- I knew you would.
- Let's hope it won't take too long.
- Right, sir.
We're making some jungle juice.
Come cut yourself in.
Save it. We got another mission to fly.
Alert the pilots and tell
Griff and Curan to come to my quarters.
- This will come as a wet blanket.
- I know.
Well, into each life
a little rain must fall.
You've been doing all right catching up,
but don't get careless or ace happy.
- A live Marine's better than a dead hero.
- Yes, sir, skipper. I've got the word.
Bandits, 9 o'clock, low.
There it is, boys. The Tokyo Express.
All Jigsaw planes, this is Jigsaw 1.
It looks like the show's over
for quite a spell. Let's go home.
There were two Zeroes and one
of their new modified fighters.
- Yeah, the second Zero came in on Kelvin.
- Anybody beside Kelvin and Simmons?
- No, that's all.
- I was flying Simmons' wing.
I didn't see Simm after he was hit.
Anybody see if he got a chance to bail out?
- He didn't.
- We were going in and Simmons banked...
I saw him explode
while he was trying to open his hood.
- You're Martin, the replacement.
- No, Mathin.
- Have a belt.
- I didn't want anybody to think...
Don't think.
- I want to know if I jumped the sprocket...
- You heard the man. Don't think.
Come on, kid. Mix yourself
some varnish. Come on.
I suppose you've heard.
I've been relieved. I'm going stateside.
I guess they've got another job for me.
I'm sure the rest of the squadron
will be relieved in the next couple of days.
I guess the guys
won't squawk about that, huh?
- What do you think?
- In my opinion, I welcome being relieved.
- I wanna speak some plain English.
- Go right ahead.
I recommended that you not
take over this squadron.
- You want to know why?
- No regulation says you owe an explanation.
In a way, I feel it's my failure.
As you know,
it's a commander's duty to train...
To train the man under him
for fitness in command.
This is all unnecessary, major.
I know the Marine manual
as well as anyone, even as well as you.
And section 9 of the manual:
The Duties of Leadership and Command.
- So long, Griff.
- So long, major.
We can save the stamp.
Darling, I could divorce you
for coming home without notice.
A girl's entitled to know
in time to have her hair done.
You look pretty good to me.
Pretty good, that is.
Hello, major.
You're a little formal, aren't you?
But then, it has been a long time.
Tommy, give your father a kiss.
Oh, he's too big to go around
kissing men, aren't you, boot?
- Do you surrender?
- Unconditionally.
- Look what he brought you.
- Gee, thanks. How'd you get it?
- Buy it from some of the mud Marines?
- I took it off a Jap officer...
...whom I defeated
in single combat, hand-to-hand.
Oh, flyguys never get souvenirs.
Ground echelons get all the souvenirs.
He sounds like he's served a hitch.
The neighborhood's full of servicemen's
children. They compare notes.
- We wives do too.
- Was it rough, baby?
Look who's talking,
a guy from Guadalcanal.
They just call it Canal.
Your squadron Flying Wildcats, major?
- Yep.
- Don't call your father "major."
You can call me "colonel" pretty soon.
Vandergriff said, "Buy the insignia."
- Second colonel?
- Lieutenant colonel.
Well, it's better
than being a mere major.
Mere? I like that.
- Oh, Mom.
- Lights out.
How about some cocoa?
I'm hungry.
No, and no raids in the night.
The kitchen's out-of-bounds for you.
Well, I could use some cocoa.
Then you could bring him a cup.
Your order's countermanded, Mom.
Not even a four-star general
outranks me in this house...
...but I'll bring you in a cup.
- Good night, boot.
- Good night, maj... Colonel.
- Good night, Dad.
- Good night, son.
He was asleep.
I've been building myself up
to ask the $64 question.
How long?
How long what?
- Answer me or I'll dent your head.
- You're gonna have me for a long time.
- I have a station job at Goleta.
- A station job?
Oh, what a beautiful sound.
And Goleta, that beautiful,
hot, dirty little town.
We'll probably have to live
on the wrong side of the tracks.
- I'll never complain about Goleta again.
- You're not the complaining type.
- Are we all buttoned up?
- Cat's out, door's locked.
All secure, sir.
Hello, Dan. Sit down.
How have you been?
Fine, till I got this call from you.
- Cigar?
- No, thanks. I'm a cigarette man.
Dan, I've just received a dispatch
to form a new squadron...
...that has to be ready for combat
in a forthcoming major operation.
I have orders to go to Washington.
We'll get them canceled
if you'll take over this squadron.
Hey, colonel...
There's a lot of opposition
to close air support.
Maybe you don't know, but the brass
think we can't pinpoint targets...
...without hitting
our own ground troops.
Which has happened too often in the past.
But this time your squadron
will be all first-team.
Okay, coach. Put me in,
even though I ain't got no headgear.
I've assigned pilots
who were with you at the Canal.
Major Griffin will be your exec.
- Griffin?
- Yes. Why?
- Nothing.
- Okay, Dan.
I'd like to see you get flight operations
started right away.
Maybe there's something to
this nonsense about esprit de corps.
- I don't speak French, colonel. So long.
- So long.
Scuttlebutt has it
they're forming a new squadron...
...with you as CO and me as exec.
Is that right?
That's what the man said.
Is it okay with you?
Well, I'm not too happy about it...
...but contrary to popular opinion in certain
quarters, I think I can handle the job.
You'll get a chance to prove it.
- Hi. How are you?
- Fine.
- Dan, how about having a drink with us?
- No, thanks, Cowboy.
- You know my wife, Virginia.
- Been a long time.
Hello, Dan. Meet Jack and Jill.
Hey, Jack looked like he'd
already tumbled down the hill.
Jack ran into a haymaker from Jill.
- You sure you won't have a drink?
- Joan's cooking dinner.
Oh, I'm looking forward
to seeing Joan. I'll be by.
- Good.
- Cowboy for you and the cowgirl for Griff.
Come on.
- See you, skipper.
- So long.
There's a strange man in the house.
Anybody wanna kiss him?
- What goes?
- I'm putting "lieutenant colonel"...
...on all your gear so you won't lose it
while you're traveling.
You know more
than you've been officially told.
Spies should concentrate on wives.
They always know
what's going on on any base.
Maybe I've been finding it hard to tell.
That you turned down Washington
to get a squadron?
That shouldn't be hard to tell me.
- Well, l...
- It's simple as this. They wanted the best...
...the best is Colonel Kirby. I understand.
No wonder those beautiful gals on those
lovely tropic isles couldn't tempt me.
I've seen pictures
of those isles and the gals.
Are you telling me you love me?
Why don't you just say it.
I love you.
I'm glad I didn't marry one
of those burst-into-tears dames.
What good are tears? Excuse me.
Hey, Mom, can I have 20 cents to buy a...?
Hey, why are you crying?
Take a walk, darling.
Hey, Dad, Mom's crying.
And when I asked her why,
she said, "Take a walk."
Well, then maybe
we'd better take a walk, kid.
Come on, colonel.
- Hello, major, glad to have you aboard.
- Happy to be aboard, sergeant.
Sorry, PFC.
- MPs?
- MPs.
- Hello, Griff.
- Hello, colonel.
- Dan.
- Could have expected to see you here.
They sent me along for the ride.
I got my orders the day after you left.
Well, this is what we asked for.
The 47th Marines have hit a stone wall...
...and haven't been able
to keep up with the advance.
Hill 708 here is a solid arsenal
of Jap artillery, mortars and machine guns.
- Our troops are on three sides.
- 300 meters, that's pretty close.
That's what you were trained for.
Just make your runs accurate
and stay on the target.
- We've got to flatten their position but fast.
- How fast?
Air control's waiting to brief you.
Let's go.
- Roger and out.
- Roger and out.
Roger and out.
- Roger and out.
- Roger and out.
Red Rock 1, Red Rock 1,
this is Ant Pace.
- Hello, Ant Pace. This is Red Rock 1.
- Jap emplacements... target areas 3726, 3727,
3824, 3825.
Make continuous attacks
until all ordnance is expended.
Attack north to south. We'll mark target
with white phosphorous and red smoke.
- Are you in a position to observe? Over.
- Affirmative. Out.
Red Rock 1, commence attack
when in position. Out.
Any closer and those guys will be
using bayonets instead of propellers.
That's the way I feel,
so that's what I told him.
My mother says if I'm polite
to my commanding officer...
...l'll be sure to be advanced.
In the interest of being polite...
...l'll run down to the gunnery course
of this battlefront...
...and check my guns like the man said.
You know, everybody keeps giving advice
on how to get along. It's all so simple.
The general tells the colonel, the colonel
tells the major, the major tells me, I do it.
Every time I go out to do it, though,
I'm more scared than I was the time before.
It figures. With every mission you fly,
your chances get smaller and smaller.
Did you ever hear of Balt's law
of percentages?
I always flunked math.
This mathematician, Dr. Balt,
proved that the percentage possibility...
...of lightning striking twice
in the same place... exactly the same
as it striking anywhere else.
Oh, maybe you're making
some sense, but not to me.
You're taking exactly the same chance
as a fellow flying his first mission... matter how many
previous missions you've flown.
Did they check up real good
on this fellow Balt?
Oh, yes.
You wanna hear something funny?
Unfortunately... This is from my tailor.
Unfortunately, if he receives
any future orders for suits from me...
...he'll have to make them
without vests...
...because of the material shortage.
Government restrictions.
Boy, what a rough time
they must have stateside.
If you feel that jumpy,
why don't you go see doc?
There's nothing the matter with me, Griff.
I'm just scared.
So am I.
But I figure there's no sense
in yelling about it.
Somebody upstairs is rolling the dice.
A guy hasn't any control
over what number comes up.
- Well, it's almost 1400. I've got to go.
- Griff...
...there's one good thing.
If my dice stop on seven... know, Virginia, the kids...
Shut up. It's the same way
about you in my book...
...if my dice stop
on a miss-out number.
See you later.
Direct all fighter aircraft
to discontinue mission...
...and proceed to repel
kamikaze attack on the fleet.
Divert all fighters from present missions... repel kamikaze attack on the fleet.
Calling all Drake and Ruby aircraft.
This is Sourdough. This is urgent.
Proceed at once to point X-ray
to repel kamikaze attack on fleet.
This order supersedes
all previous orders.
Flight leaders acknowledge. Over.
Hello, Sourdough. This is Red Rock 1
with eight chicks orbiting at point Able.
Will proceed as directed. Out.
Sourdough, this is Red Rock 9
with eight chicks proceeding to X-ray. Out.
Sing on the air once more
and I'll eat you out.
All right, all right, all right.
Red Rock 9, this is 12.
Oil temperature in the red.
Can only turn up 1800 rpm.
Losing rpm's steadily. Over.
This is Red Rock 9.
Head back for the field. Out.
Red Rock 12, roger.
Red Rock 9, this is Red Rock 12.
I got a couple of Zeroes on my tail.
Position, 30 miles northwest
of point Zebra.
Give me some help. Over.
This is Red Rock 9.
Head for the deck.
Take evasive action.
I can't help.
Griff, let me take my section
after those Zeroes.
Get back in formation
and stay off the air. Out.
Red Rock 12, mayday! Mayday!
This is Cowboy bailing out over point Zebra.
Griff, let me go help him.
Shut up, Red 10.
Sourdough, this is Red Rock 9.
Angels, eight. Seven chicks. Out.
Bail out, skipper. Bail out.
Only eight of our ships were hit,
but we're all afloat.
Pancake all fliers.
Give the boys a "well done."
Pancake all fighters.
Well done. Well done.
My division went in on a destroyer.
She was listing to one side
as we came on.
And there was
a Tugasaki-type tugboat.
- We stayed in formation.
- That's about it, major.
So we lost a guy we didn't have to.
We could have covered him.
Save it.
Major Griffin, group commander
wants to see you right away, sir.
Right away.
So I said it.
We could have covered Cowboy.
What difference would a couple
of planes more have made in that shindig?
Don't ask me questions.
I'm not information, please.
All packed?
I'll put your gear aboard, sir.
Colonel, if you find a jug
in your footlocker...
...don't have no false suspicions.
I bought it fair and square
from a transport pilot.
I hate to stoop this low, but there was
nothing for your going-away present loose.
I'm sure this one blot on your record
will be overlooked. So long, Clancy.
So long, sir.
And I've served under worse skippers.
And I've had worse line chiefs.
If I have to go where there's another war,
I hope Clancy will be there.
- And you too, doc.
- So long, Dan.
So long.
I didn't expect to get the squadron
on your recommendation. You were a heel.
I was, and you're going to be.
I didn't do you any favor, Griff.
I'm sorry about Cowboy.
I know how tough it is to make
a decision like that.
You're gonna wind up staggering
into your bunk every night...
...with your hip pockets dragging.
And then you'll lay there and look at the
ceiling while your stomach turns over...
...and you hope to God you called
every shot right during the day.
The next morning you'll wake up,
wish you were a flight lieutenant again... all you'd have to do
was what the man told you.
And you'll get bad-tempered
and snarly, just like me.
You'll probably wind up just like me...
...climbing into an aircraft with
your hip pockets dragging... go back to some desk job.
Brother, I didn't do you any favor.
I'm going to say something dizzy.
If and when we meet stateside...
...will you get drunk
with me as my guest?
- I'll be happy to come aboard. So long.
- So long.
I'll try to call the plays right.
I had a good coach.
Well, I'll be looking forward
to that stateside wingding.
- So long, colonel.
- So long.
What's this? You're CO and I'm exec?
That's right. Get me a status report.
Have all the pilots assemble.
Right away?
For the future record,
all orders are right away.