Billy Baker knew he'd never really put Vietnam behind him. Few veterans did. But when he found himself with the son of one of his best friends from the war, it all came back to him hard. Jesse Custer was the spitting image of his father, John Custer, and Billy Baker, known to his friends as "Spaceman," had a great chance to tell a young man about his long-dead father.
In the late '60s, Spaceman was in the thick of 'Nam. Those on the ground knew it was a lost cause, but the brass wouldn't hear of it. They tortured themselves with the thought of measuring up to their fathers' honorable service in an honorable war. The air was heavy with humidity, the mosquitoes as big as helicopters, and every day was a chance of being shot dead by an unknown adversary in the trees. In that world, friends were a soldier's greatest asset, and John Custer - known to his buddies as "Texas" - was Spaceman's greatest friend.
They experienced horrors in that place, and lost a lot of good friends. Their last days in country were days of terror.
Baker was wounded by enemy fire, and he and Custer lost their transportation back to base. They were a long way from safety, and only forty days and a wake-up from home. Surrender, of course, was out of the question. So together, they made their way through the jungle. Custer, who hadn't been wounded, helped Baker every step of the way, refusing to let him quit. Even on the edge of suicide, Custer wouldn't let his friend down and together they found their way to safety.
In the dead of the night, they stumbled upon a VC sneak attack in the middle of a minefield outside a U.S. base. They foiled the attack, but got shot and wounded in the process. They both spent a long time in the hospital, finished their tours in easy postings, and Custer got the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Spaceman never saw his friend again, and never knew what had happened to him. Thanks to Jesse, though, he was able to put his friend to rest and give a young man some memories of a father he had lost so long ago.