John Custer had a lot to live up to in his life. His father had been a Marine in the Pacific Theatre, and fought in a lot of the nastiest battles of World War 2. He taught John that sometimes you had to go and fight for the country you loved, and even if you fought and bled and died, your country was worth it.
So, when John was old enough, he joined the Marines like his daddy, only he went to Vietnam.
He very quickly discovered that his war and his daddy's war were two very different things. He lost friends and squadmates to fools in command, and watched Marines die for no value he could see. Still, he was a Marine, and he was ostensibly fighting for his country, so he fought. And while he never came to love the war he was in, he never stopped loving his country.
John Custer won the Congressional Medal of Honor late in the war for helping a wounded fellow soldier, Billy Baker, through miles of dense jungle. When they reached the nearest base, they found themselves in the middle of a Viet Cong sneak attack and made enough noise to attract the attention of the sentries, who immediately started firing. Baker and Custer were seriously wounded in the attack and spent the rest of their tours behind desks.
When Custer returned to Texas, he met the woman he would later marry, Christina Custer, who spit in his face and called him a baby-killer. She had been egged on by some friends, and reacted the way she thought they wanted her to. But she had an almost immediate change of heart and went after John. She apologized to him, he told her how he understood doing stupid things because you thought it was what you were supposed to do, and less than an hour after they first met, they were in love.
A year and a half later, they had a baby boy and named him Jesse Custer. They were a family, and they were happy. Until Christina's past caught up with her.
Two men from Christina's home, Jody and T.C. had been looking for her on behalf of her mother, Marie L'Angell. L'Angell was the matriarch of the clan, and had previously kept her daughter on a very short leash - Christina was to be married to a man of L'Angell's choosing so she would bear the family a son. By running away and having a child by John Custer, Christina had defied her mother in every way that mattered.
When Jody and T.C. found them, they were prepared to kill John, but stopped when they discovered that he was Jesse's father. Unsure of how to handle it, they brought the three of them back to Angelville, the L'Angell plantation.
There Marie L'Angell laid down the law. They would get married, and live as a family. They would raise Jesse according to her rules and conditions. And they would never leave Angelville. If they tried, John Custer would most certainly die.
John Custer waited for about a year, looking for his chance. One night, when Jesse was about five, the chance came. John sat down with his son and tried to tell him all he needed to know, just in case his father didn't make it with them:
"You gotta be a good guy, Jesse. You gotta be like John Wayne: you don't take no shit off fools, an' you judge people by what's in 'em, not how they look. An' you do the right thing. You gotta
be one of the good guys, son, 'cause there's way too many of the bad."
They were caught before they got two miles. John Custer was shot dead in front of his son.