Forrest Gump Could Have Been a US Marine
The US Army wanted nothing to do with Forrest Gump. The original script had Forrest serve in Vietnam in a unit comprised entirely of intellectually challenged soldiers, and that part of the movie did not sit well with the Army. The Marines had no problem with being depicted as dimwits, and offered to help if the producers made Gump a Marine instead. The film’s creators declined, because they thought the Army was an integral part of the story. In real life, hundreds of thousands of intellectually challenged GIs had served in the US Army during the Vietnam War.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed office in 1963, America had 16,000 troops in Vietnam. In 1964, the figure grew slightly to 23,000. In 1965, however, in response to requests from American commanders in Vietnam for ever more troops, the figure mushroomed to 185,000. By 1966 America had been sucked into a quagmire, and the troop count more than doubled from the preceding year to 385,000. That insatiable demand for more troops put LBJ’s administration in a bind: where to get them, without a public backlash? The answer was to cut corners, and send unfit soldiers to Vietnam.