The Pentagon Wanted No Part of This Oliver Stone War Movie
Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War movie, Platoon, is bleak. Unsurprisingly, the Pentagon refused to assist in its production. A key objection was the rampant drug use. However, the movie, if anything, understated the military drug epidemic at the time. Until 1969, the only drug widely available to American troops in Vietnam was marijuana. But in 1969, heroin became widely available. It was cheap, and so pure that servicemen could get high smoking heroin mixed with tobacco. That made it less objectionable to those reluctant to inject the drug.
By 1971, almost half of US Army enlistees in Vietnam had tried heroin. Of those, about half exhibited signs of addiction. In May, 1971, US congressmen Morgan Murphy of Illinois and Robert Steele of Connecticut visited Vietnam on a fact-finding mission. They uncovered disturbing facts: 15% of American servicemen in Vietnam were heroin addicts. Even more were recreational users of heroin and other drugs. Worse, the addiction epidemic had spread from Vietnam to other US military installations around the world. The American garrison in West Germany was especially hard hit.