Fallen Angels | Study Guide

Walter Dean Myers

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Fallen Angels | Chapter 15 | Summary



The new base at Tam Ky is even more remote than the one at Chu Lai, and the territory is more dangerous. The squad is sent out on a night patrol with a group of soldiers from the South Vietnamese army (ARVN). The group lays an L-shaped trap, but Gearhart tells them to hold off the ambush, and the squad realizes that they are vastly outnumbered. They wait, take up their mines, and make it back to the base safely. The squad hears that enemy movements are increasing everywhere and that Captain Stewart has volunteered them for more dangerous missions in an attempt to secure his promotion to major. Gearhart leads the squad out on a patrol, and they encounter a Viet Cong force on a mountainside. They manage to push over the top of the ridge, but artillery rounds injure Brew, and then, as Perry tries reach Brew, Perry is taken down by gunfire.


The ambush that the soldiers lay adopts the guerilla warfare tactics—characterized by surprise attacks and sabotage—practiced by the Viet Cong. Lieutenant Gearhart redeems himself in this ambush, making a decision that likely saves the life of everyone in his squad. His training in intelligence informs his decision here, allowing him to conclude that the North Vietnamese soldiers are too confident for their small number. His performance stands in contrast to that of the last ambush, in which Lieutenant Gearhart mistakenly sent up a flare and endangered the entire squad.

The squad grows increasingly upset with Captain Stewart, whom they understand is volunteering them for more dangerous missions so that they can increase their body count and improve his chances for promotion. This leads to an increasing distrust of his orders and a lack of respect for their superior officer that promises difficulties in the future.

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