Fallen Angels | Study Guide

Walter Dean Myers

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Fallen Angels | Chapter 3 | Summary



Perry, Peewee, and another soldier named Jenkins are assigned to travel to Chu Lai by plane. Upon arrival, they are loaded onto the back of a truck and driven to Headquarters Company, where they are to wait for a helicopter that will take them to join Alpha Company in a remote area, referred to as "the Deep Boonies." While they wait, they meet Johnson, a big, strong African American man who is assigned to join the same platoon. Perry asks about his medical profile again, hoping to be removed from active duty, but the captain in charge says no medical profile is associated with his orders. After an overnight in the barracks, the four soldiers join Alpha Company, are assigned weapons, and meet the rest of their squad, including Sergeant Simpson, Monaco, and Brunner. The squad goes out on patrol, which goes smoothly until the helicopter returns them to a landing zone outside the camp. As they walk through the minefield surrounding the camp, Jenkins sets off a land mine that kills him.


The long delays in processing Perry's medical profile and his commanding officers' lack of concern with his condition draw a picture of an inefficient and bloated administration of the U.S. Army. At this point, Perry is still hopeful that his medical profile will enable him to avoid combat duty as he had been assured it would. Perry's knee, the reader learns, was injured during a basketball game that he played while already enrolled in the army, which should make documentation easy to find. Richie's reminiscences about the early days of his army career offer context for how he ended up in the infantry even though he had not chosen it. This too suggests poor management on the part of the U.S. Army.

The death of Jenkins shocks Perry, Peewee, and the other new soldiers and is a first, rude awakening to the realities of the theater of war. The new soldiers had not expected to see much action while they were in Vietnam. They have been told that the fighting is almost over and that the ongoing peace talks in Paris will put an end to the war. Sergeant Simpson even raises the possibility that the platoon will be withdrawn to Hawaii in the near future. In reality, peace talks in Paris started in 1965 and, after five different significant peace proposals, only ended in 1973 with the Paris Peace Accords. Perry and the others appear naively hopeful to the reader, who knows that, in 1967, the end of the war is still years away. Jenkins's death begins to remove the new soldiers's naiveté.

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