media access group at wgbh
zero hour: 9:00 A.M.
And I'm going to be high as a kite... what do you have
there, ned? It's for my dad.
I miss the earth so much, I miss my wife woman: Neddy?!
It's lonely out in space neddy, can you take that bowl
of potato chips into the family room? I've got flour on
my hands. Mom, I drew a picture of dad's plane with the
exact way that the wings are decorated, okay? Okay,
neddy. Because you said he's not flying in that anymore,
so he needs something to remember it by.
And I think it's going to be a long, long time mo I need
you to start the shrimp rounds! ( Imitating airplane )
I'm not the man they think I am at home, oh, no, no, no
I'm a rocket man who are you? Who are you? I'm ned.
Well, then I'm your dad, ned. You don't look like my
dad. I have his picture. Well, I'm a lot handsomer now
than I used to be.
Till touchdown brings me 'round again to find I'm home.
Oh, my god... carl...
I'm a rocket man
rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone hi. I
remember you. Hi.
... To raise your kids
in fact, it's cold as hell
and there's no one there to raise them ned: I made this.
If you did it's for you. These are the bracelets with
your name on them. Everybody wore 'em while you were in
And all the science, I don't understand big boys don't
cry, dad. I'm crying 'cause your mom spent so much money
on this box. No, I made it. Oh, yeah? What? ( Both
and I think it's going to be a long, long time
till touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home... ( thunder
crashing ) ( indistinct radio
transmission ) lieutenant stillman. Kat miller,
narcotics. I called you. Detective rush and valens. Glad
you could come down. We found something interesting
tossing this place. Rush: What are they? P.O.W.
Bracelets. Miller: All with the same name on them-- carl
burton. He was a navy pilot, a prisoner of war in
vietnam. He was shot to death back here in '73. You
remember that off the cuff? He was a war hero. Never
brought the job in? Never did. Where'd you find this?
Behind the water heater in the cellar. I just thought
that was off. Something sentimental to a murder victim
being stuffed down there. Valens: So were these like dog
tags? Friends and family wore them, not the soldier.
P.O.W.S that made it home like carl did, someone would
gather them up and make a presentation to them. Anyone
you drag out of this place know how they wound up here?
House was empty when we hit it. Skimpy new direction.
He's a P.O.W., Scotty. We got anything, we're going to
go with it. Yeah. Okay, sure. In fact, think of carl
burton like family. That's how I want this job worked.
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Carl burton, 35, lieutenant commander, U.S. Navy.
Valens: Shot down on his 23rd bombing mission over
hanoi. Go up enough times, luck runs out. His got even
worse. He was captured, spent five years in a prison
camp. Survives all that, gets gunned down in his own
area code. Seven months after he's home. Last place
carl's seen was the funeral reception of a P.O.W. Buddy
of his, rex potter. He was a roxborough guy, same as
carl. Didn't make it out of the prison camp. Interviews
with the family, people at the potter house that night,
no one sees anything unusual. Carl's body was found a
mile from the reception, gun was a few feet from him,
but rain washed away any prints. Had a bag of marijuana
in his pocket. That funeral's got to be intense, right?
Putting carl in the mood for some kind of escape? He
scores, gets shot on the way home. Being in the wrong
neighborhood. Doesn't explain the bracelets in that
house. Maybe he tried to trade them to the dealer.
They're not worth anything. Could be why he got shot.
Let's talk to carl's wife and son, see what they
remember about the day of the funeral. Could be another
vet burnout story, john. Lot of guys we served with came
home, turned to junk. Whatever we find, we follow it up.
You didn't have to fix up, mrs. Burton. Military wife:
Look right, live right. May I get you a drink? Pretty
early. Cocktail hour somewhere, boys used to say. Rush:
We're here about your husband's murder. Something come
up? We found his P.O.W. Bracelets in an abandoned house
in tioga. Kind of sketchy area back when carl was
killed. It's even worse now. Okay. Any idea how the
bracelets wound up there? No. This is embarrassing, but
i guess I lost track of them. You don't seem like the
losing-track type. No, but I lost track of myself for a
time then. Carl was carrying pot when he died. The
theory was he had a habit. Got him into trouble that
night. Doesn't sound like the gung-ho fighter pilot I
married. How about the guy who came home to you in '72?
I don't think about that man. I'd rather remember carl
as he was before. He was strong. He was a hero. I was
his wife. Would you have known if he was doing drugs?
No. We really tried. We just... never got to know each
other again. ( Soft pop music playing )
baby, I'm a want you oh!
Baby, I'm a need you this is very romantic. You turn
into a champagne girl while I was gone? ( Chuckles ):
Come on now.
Maybe I'm a crazy
but I just can't live without your loving and affection
giving me direction... after sleeping for years with a
guy in skivvies, showered once a week... I'm finally
lately I'm a prayin' that you'll always be a stayin'
remember when I broke up with you? You left a pathetic
note in my parents' mailbox. "I need to be free." You
came up to me in the parking lot. And I'm thinking, "oh,
no, here she comes. She better not cry." Remember? I
knew better than you even then. "Carl, I got your note.
I don't think so." That's right.
Lately I'm a prayin'
that's you'll always be a stayin' beside me mm...
used to be my life was just emotions passing by oh,
gee... I feel 18. ( Gasps softly ) what is it?! Your
shoulders?! It's okay. It'S... come back. Honey, no, not
if it hurts you. Come on. We'll dance later when you're
better. I don't want you to pretend it doesn't hurt.
Just let me pretend! My arms have been broken four
times! They're busted! They'll always be! I... I can't
lift 'em! I can't dance! I'm sorry. I'm should make sure
ned didn't wake up.
That you'll always be a stayin' I'm going for a walk.
You don't need to wait for me.
Used to be my life was just emotions passing by
then you came along and made me laugh and made me cry
he'd go for walks for hours. Is that when this started?
Any idea where he'd go on these walks? I didn't know
where carl was, truly. Even when he was right in front
of me. But you two stayed together. Hoping somehow we'd
find what we'd lost. But before we could... he was gone
again. So, you're not the kind of doc sees patients? No,
I'm the kind that does research. Better hours? Better
company. So, where did the bracelets turn up? Stashed
away in a crack house. Were they in the box? Yeah, there
was a box. I made that thing. Vera: The thinking is,
your dad wanted to buy drugs, maybe he got desperate,
tried to pawn the bracelets. Not exactly what you want
to believe about your father, but... we know you were
young when he got home. Seven. You remember anything
that, looking back, makes you think he was using? No. In
fact, uh, from the day he got back, he never missed
triple-nickel reveille. Waking up early? 5:55 A.M.
Exercised best he could, started his day. Not junkie
behavior. When'd you last see those bracelets? First
week he was back, he put them in the basement. Wasn'T...
big on war mementos. Trying to move on. Yeah. Anyone
around back then who could've got in the way of that?
There was someone... who he shouldn't have even known
about. So these people, they made me stay over in
vietnam. That why you didn't write me any letters? Only
way I could even talk to my friends there was through a
secret code we made up. A secret code? Well, each letter
had its own number of taps. We'd spell out words on the
walls between our rooms. Wow. Like, could you do an "n"?
Do "E." "D." That's my name, right? That's "ned" in our
secret code. Yeah. Do another. Uh, I don't know. What's
it mean? I said "bear." Want to go see the bears? When I
come here with ken, we always go see the lions first.
Who's ken? Mommy's friend. What kind of friend? Well, he
takes me to the zoo, and he takes mommy to dinner. At
some level, I knew I shouldn't have said that. 'Cause
you knew this... ken was your mom's
special friend? Guess I was a little messed up about the
dueling father figures. Because truthfully, I knew ken a
lot better than my dad at that point. Your dad follow up
with this guy? Not that I heard about. If I spent five
years in a box getting tortured while some guy's taking
my wife to dinner...
I'd follow up. Stillman:
Janet burton didn't mention anyone on the scene while
carl was gone? No, played the pained d patient wife. Not
big on airing dirty laundry. Doesn't she want to know
what happened to carl? Seemed afraid of what we might
find-- him not turning out to be the perfect hero. The
house with the bracelets? Yeah, what'd you find? Back in
'73, place still had renters, before crack ran 'em out.
One of 'em: Ken westin. ( Chuckles ): Our perfect wife's
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You belong at aol. Man: Step lively. Lively. Quietly.
Giving you a heads-up, dorothy-- tour group's heading to
ceramics. Over. Ken westin? Absolutely. Detective
valens, homicide. Hey, mind if i ask you to step to this
side of the rope here, please? We found some P.O.W.
Bracelets hidden in your old house, ken. Belonged to a
murder victim, carl burton. Whoa. Carl's bracelets. I
must have left those when I moved. Why were they in your
house in the first place? Already got the skinny on your
relationship with janet, so you can pick up from there.
I'm confessing to the act of a heartsick young man.
Okay? I took 'em... day she broke up with me. To make
myself feel better, I snatched the bracelets. Low, I
know. It's real low, ken. Guy was a P.O.W. I appreciate
that. I was over there, too. 11 months, before...
illness befell me. So, let's say the bracelet snatch
doesn't do the trick and you're still stewing. Makes me
wonder where you were the night carl gets shot. I was at
smoky'S. My regular night spot. Sheesh! I stole from the
guy. I did not wish him to be dead. Know anyone who
might have? I'll tell you this, when he came back, carl
wasn't exactly winning friends and influencing people.
What do you mean? Little unstable. And you'd know how?
Did some research, check up on the guy, make sure he was
worthy. I asked you to take that down, wes. Wes: You
kiddin' me, hero? Sign's worth at least two cars a
month. Be three if I could teach you a little hustle.
Making a living the old, hard way
taking and giving... she's a beauty. Can I send you home
together today? Oh. Hello. I need to think about it.
...Sunshine excuse me a minute.
Draggin' the line
draggin' the line
my dog sam eats purple flowers
we ain't got much, but what we got's ours... you can't
keep showing up here, daniel. You gonna talk to me? No.
Well, you gotta someday. Kid's got hustle. Washing cars
for free. You know him? I told you to beat it. Look, I
just want to know about my dad. Okay, I've asked you
three times; now I'm doing your work for you. What's it
gonna take? Leave this alone! Leave my father alone?
Believe me! There are some things you don't want to
I'm talking about peace... now, get out of here!
I'm gonna take my time you know, I've been real nice to
Good times you're gonna wish you were nicer to me!
Draggin' the line
draggin' the line
draggin' the line
draggin' the line... so, who was this kid daniel? I
can't say for sure, since I was no longer a member of
the inner circle. But this looked like a personal thing
to you. Kid got under carl's skin. And I'd done enough
research. That was the last time I saw the moody son of
a gun. Ken westin was a mistake. He was a neighborhood
guy, kept me company while carl... was... well, he was
pretty wounded when you two broke up. Stole carl's
bracelets. Ken did? Oh, for pete's sake. Do you think he
would've gone a step farther, got into it with carl?
Confrontation was not ken's style. Janet, you know
anything about a kid named daniel? Yeah. Daniel... he
was... would coffee help you? No. Daniel potter, his
father rex was a P.O.W. With carl. Didn't make it home.
It was rex's memorial carl went to the day he died. You
have any idea why carl and daniel were fighting at the
car dealership? Daniel was hounding carl, trying to get
stuff out of him about his father. But carl wouldn't
talk about that. He saw horrible things in that prison
camp. He wouldn't revisit them for anyone-- not me, not
daniel. When he said no to daniel? Kid put a rock
through our window. He was angry at the world. But
taking it out on carl. Valens: ...About their age when
your dad was in prison? Yeah. Must have been rough,
never knowing if he was coming home. Well, I thought
it'd be easier somehow if I knew the details about what
he was going through. But... carl wouldn't say. He was
trying to protect me. Pretty understanding for a guy
that threw a rock at carl's house. Yeah, th-that was
awful. You take it any further? Me being angry with carl
stopped with the rock. Yeah? Why? Caught me redhanded.
Finally gave me what I wanted. ( Glass shattering )
you're gonna pay to fix that. Let go of me. No. You want
to talk, let's talk. Go ahead. We're getting this over
with. Where's my dad? Still in prison in hanoi. Why?
What'd he do? He's an american soldier. To the north
vietnamese, that's a crime. What's it like there, the
prison? There's not a lot to eat. Water makes you sick.
Guards are monsters in human clothes. But your dad and
the other guys, they have each other. Can't they just
get together and break out of there? I mean, my dad can
take some vietnamese guy. ( Quietly ): Maybe he will. Is
he gonna live? Yes. Your dad's one of the strongest
people I've ever met. If I had to trek into hell, he's
the guy I'd want by my side. He's coming home to you.
You guys are brave. No, you are, carl. I knew it. Your
dad... he's a hero. Not me. I'm a coward. "Coward." Why
would carl say that about himself? Doesn't make sense,
right? He survived five years of being tortured. Humble
guy. Or troubled. You get the feeling he really meant
that, daniel? Saw him a few times after that, talked to
him about my dad, but every time I could always feel
it... something was eating him up. Carl burton's
military service record. I don't see anything in there
make a guy call himself a coward. Awarded bronze star,
purple heart. Oh, this is it-- he took early release.
What's that? Means he left the prison camp early. I
thought you couldn't leave. Well, not under honorable
circumstances, you couldn'T. The code of conduct among
P.O.W.S is that the sickest and longest serving go
first. But carl wasn't either of those. How does he get
to the front of the line? ! Tells the vc guards what
they want to hear, let's 'em use him for propaganda.
That doesn't sound like a gung-ho fighter pilot. Why
would he do that? Why? He's sick of getting beat nearly
to death five years in a row, misses his family, he's
stowed in solitary. It's hard to know what a code like
that starts to mean at that point. But a lot of guys did
hang in. Yeah, hundreds of 'em. And they would not have
been fans of carl'S. Lily: And they came home a week
before carl was killed-- end of march '73, main group of
P.O.W.S got back. Any of 'em come back to philly? Guy
named raitt, from antioch. Roger raitt, a navy
commander? Yeah. You know him? I served with him. @
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With you. For life. Been a long time. I'm not much for
the reunions. Truth be told, I'm not either. But working
in the defense industry, it pays to keep in touch. Sure.
There's one this saturday in old city. I can't make
small talk out of it. I'd rather just leave it behind.
And here you are carrying a gun every day. That's what I
couldn't revisit. Roger, I want to talk to you about a
guy you were in prison with. Carl burton. Wound up dead,
shot right after you guys got back. I remember. Coming
home, it had to be hard to adjust. Well, it made me
realize any day I wake up with a doorknob on the inside
of the door, it's a good day. Maybe someone else didn't
see it that way. Came back angry, wanting to settle a
score. Everyone has a breaking point. Carl reached his
over there. I didn't respect it, but I understood. Hard
to imagine all the P.O.W.S did. We were like brothers,
john. One of them went after carl, I would've known.
We're talking about a lot of soldiers and a guy they
thought was a traitor. We'd only been home a week, and
all of us already knew: Carl's worst punishment was
living with what he did. ( "Stranger in a strange land"
by leon russell plays ) rex's 51st bombing run, he gets
hit, ejects, comes down outside hanoi. He spends a few
hours hiding in a cave trying to get up enough strength
to move. But when he hears a north vietnamese patrol, he
takes off on a broken leg, with only his pistol to hold
off 20 guys chasing him. For hours, rex dragged himself
along just ahead of them till he comes to this
hollowed-out tree, and squeezes inside. How dare you?
Share the simple secret... I'm here to pay my respects.
How dare you sneak in here... stop it! You don't know
what this man did to your father, daniel. Let's calm
down. We're here for rex. Rex wouldn't want you here.
You betrayed him, betrayed everyone. You're a disgrace.
Daddy? Okay, ned. I'm sorry, ruth. Carl... I think it's
better if you don't go to the reception. Yeah. I'll tell
the guys that... tell them I died over there, roger.
Tell them I'm already a ghost.
How many years till it's done...? Guys who stuck it out,
resisted the most, did better when we got home. Ones who
gave in had a tougher time. Yeah. How bad do you think
it was for carl? Bad enough I thought he'd kill himself.
No, the gun was found five feet away from his body. You
remember how long it takes a man to die from a gut shot.
Might have crawled a ways after. But who commits suicide
by shooting themselves in the stomach? Guy aiming for
his heart whose arms don't work anymore. Could be my
last cheese steak for awhile. Oh, yeah? Julie's talking
about tofu. Lieutenant. Miller. How you doing? Just
dropped a guy in lock-up. How's the burton case panning
out? Uh, nick vera, this is kat miller. She's the one
that turned up the P.O.W. Bracelets. Good work. Thanks.
So? Well, the latest is carl might have committed
suicide. Close fire would've left lead residue on his
clothes, right? Lab's checking. So, I hear you're doing
well over in narcotics. Oh. Good. I like it, so... that
your long-term area of interest? I never thought I'd be
a cop in the first place, so I'm game for whatever crops
up. I thought being in blue was every girl's dream. You
got something else in mind? It's a long story. But, here
I am. My options are open. That's good to know. Ken
westin copped to taking your dad's bracelets. Ken did?
Really? A dumb reaction to your mom dropping him. That
maybe make the drug scenario less likely? Maybe. Ned,
there was an incident at rex potter's memorial. Day your
father died. Yeah, I remember it. The rest of the
P.O.W.S took issue with your dad showing up. You could
see it in their faces when we walked in. They hated him.
Must've been pretty crushing for him. One of those
P.O.W.S thinks maybe he couldn't take it any longer. You
mean killed himself? However he died, ned, it ain't
going to change what he was to you. I know a reason why
he might've killed himself. Me. What I did. Hey, buddy.
I know it's not fun to be around people yelling like
that. It's okay. I love you. Me, too, daddy. So you
don't mind if I eat all your ice cream? You could have
your own. Oh, what can i get you guys? Bomb pop, please.
Hey, I remember you. You came in last summer with your
dad. I'm his dad. Carl burton. Hi. No, it was another
man, a soldier. He'd been over in a vietnam prison camp.
Had some break-your-heart stories about it. I was not
here last summer. I was... that was not me. I'm sure it
was this little boy, with... who was that? Who was it,
ned? Ken. Ken was... not a P.O.W. He used my name? Told
this lady he was your dad? Yes. And you let him? Why,
ned? I don't know. So ken's not just moving in on carl's
wife while he's gone, he's pretending to be him. I was
with him a few times when he did it. Didn't stop him.
You were seven. But I knew it was wrong. So after your
dad found out... marched me home, went down to the
basement for awhile... then left. Where was your mom?
Asleep. Has been ever since. Lab results are back. No
traces of lead on carl's clothes. That rules out
suicide. So even if that's what carl was thinking that
night, someone got to him first. Look, if it's me, I'm
heading after the guy posing as my kid's dad. It says
here carl was at rex potter's funeral reception. Even
after roger raitt told him not to show. Ken lived near
the potters, knew them. So maybe he's at the reception.
That's where carl goes looking for him. So after carl
gets something out of the basement-- maybe a weapon-- he
goes to confront ken. And never makes it back. H
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shipped out. Had a nervous breakdown. Discharged before
he left U.S. Soil. All right. Want us in there? I got
it. Sorry to pull you from work, ken. ( Door closes ) I
needed to talk to you. Oh, sure. So, it sounds like carl
burton was coming apart at the seams when he got back.
He seemed to have trouble adjusting. It's tough to watch
that. Guys over there snapping out. "Got to go home, get
out of here." You can see they're never going to be the
same. You know what I mean. I do. Everybody going,
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you're thinking, "I'm with him..." in your weak moments.
( Chuckling ) you lay scheming at night. Come close to
doing some crazy stuff. ( Chuckles ) so carl turns up at
this funeral reception where he's disinvited. What's he
like? Antagonistic. He's looking for trouble. So you saw
him the night he died. That's funny, 'cause you didn't
tell us that. You said you were at the bar tossin' back
a few when carl was shot. Yep. Went there after. Okay.
So that was a lie you told us. Not intentionally. Been a
long time. Memory's middle-aged now. ( Chuckles ):
That's okay. That's a small time lie for you. (
Chuckling ) does that bother you, ken? 'Cause it doesn't
seem violent to me, I'm used to it. Maybe because guns
have been part of me since I was a kid. I was 17 years
old when I went over there. I thought it was a toy,
until I watched a human die slowly. Well, you know what
I'm talking about-- what this does. Not 'cause you were
a solder, because we know you weren'T. Uh... ( clears
throat ) lieutenant. How long did carl bleed? This is
serious! How long did carl bleed? I could never...
extreme circumstances, you learn about human nature. But
what kind of person would pretend to be a ? I'd like a
lawyer. Why? What did you do? I didn't do anything to
carl. You took what belonged to him and you walked
around like it was yours. Do you really think someone
who had a nervous breakdown at ft. Hood would survive
five years in the hanoi hilton? It was a bad lie you
told. I know. I think I may have a disease. You tell
people you're a race car driver, a brain surgeon... not
a P.O.W. Now talk about that night. Carl confronted you
at that reception. Yes. Then what did you do? Nothing.
Got called out. I didn't have much time. After I
parachuted down, I had to start my escape on a busted
leg. I hear you want to be me. Excuse me? Might as well
take these. You use my name, my wife, my kid. So now you
got everything that means a damn thing to me. Carl, this
is awkward. You got something wrong with you, you know
that? ( Scoffs ) oh, that's the pot calling the kettle
black. You're a fraud. Daniel, I'm sorry. Hey, carl,
let's play a game. This is a grenade, and you're you. (
Imitates explosion ) daniel... get away from me! (
Thunder crashing ) and that's how you got the bracelets.
A few minutes later, daniel left the house, went after
carl. I told your detective the kid was a problem. Yeah,
well, you're a real solid judge of character, ken. You
found out the truth that day, huh, daniel? What truth?
About carl. He wasn't the guy you thought. He was,
underneath. Hearing about early release didn't change
that. So why the big scene at the reception? You were
real keyed up; giving carl what-for. Called him a fraud.
Look, vietnam was complicated. The P.O.W.S are getting
tortured and all they hear from america is that the
war's a mistake. I get it. I get carl throwing in the
towel. See, that interesting, but that's what an adult
thinks. What's a 15-year-old who just lost his dad
think? That carl abandoned rex potter to die. Valens:
And he runs home with his tail between his legs while
your dad's still taking it; busted limbs, broken...
don't talk about my dad! You don't know what it was like
for him. But carl did. And he still left him there. I
got one letter from my dad, but the government blacked
it out half way. He took the time to write me and they
blacked it out. I thought I could get the black off. I
put it in water. The only letter he sent. I just wanted
to know him. He was gone a long time. I thought that
carl could help me. Fill in the gaps. And he was right.
I didn't want to know. Do you want to just follow me or
do you want to talk? I want to ask you some things. Are
you stoned? Do not get into this. This is bad news. Shut
up! This time we're talking and you're going to answer
me for real. After you left today the other P.O.W.S told
me that you gave up. Said things you should be ashamed
of, then left my dad to die. Is that true? Is it true,
carl? I left the prison and your dad was still... you
left him. All his friends said it. I didn't want
anything to happen to him, but I had to go home. They
played you on a loudspeaker in the prison and everyone
heard you say that the war was wrong. You said they were
war criminals and that the vietnamese saved you. I said
things I didn't mean because I wanted to get home. Why?
Why couldn't you do like my dad? Because they broke me!
They chained us up and kicked our teeth in and killed
our friends and that's what they did. To my dad? To all
of us. And I couldn't do it one more day. I wanted to
see my wife and my son. You're saying my dad didn't want
to see me? Hey, daniel, put that down. Answer me! Your
dad was crazy about you. Why didn't he come home then?
'Cause he wouldn't give in. He was the toughest guy I
ever met. He could stick it out and I couldn'T. What if
they were breaking his arms and kicking his teeth while
he heard you saying that stuff over the loudspeaker?!
Daniel! He heard you say he was wrong and he wasn't! He
wasn't! ( Gunshot ) ( thunder crashing ) ( gagging ) oh,
god... carl, I think I hit you bad. Go. Don't be here.
Go. It's okay. Carl, I didn't mean it. Go! Run! (
Thunder crashing )
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