1967 is an explosive year in the Viet Nam War that culminates in the bloody Tet Offensive of 1968. Second Lieutenant Sam, United States Marine Corps, who as 1966 wound down considered himself least likely to join the military, by January 1967 was boarding a plane along with 287 other Marines headed for Viet Nam. He was headed into combat as an infantry platoon leader to slog through sniper infested, booby trapped rice paddies in search of the elusive Viet Cong. Painfully aware of his newness at the beginning of his 13 month tour, he wonders if he will be able to control his fear and gain the respect of the young war hardened Marines he leads. Wading through the wreckage of battle he considers how thin the veneer of civilization seems to be and while he considers its frailty his own moral compass loses its ability to find direction and leads him to his own "Heart of Darkness" moment.
On the long flight home, his tour ended, he traces his last thirteen months in dreams and flashbacks trying to define the young man who left on that January Viet Nam-bound air plane, and in so doing realizes that that young man never returned. The lights that once danced in his eyes are out. Home,the memory of which he clung to throughout his tour looms as a frightening place full of more booby traps that if he is not careful will bring his fragile world crashing down around him. Each operation, each patrol, each step each day he ticked off the calendar brought him closer to home and farther away from himself