Sgt. “Chip” Saunders

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Sgt Saunders with the iconic helmet cover and Thompson

Sgt. “Chip” Saunders played by Vic Morrow.

He’s the prototypical, no nonsense, alpha male type of squad leader.

Saunders was a hardened veteran from the African and Italian campaigns, where he was wounded and earned a Purple Heart.

His age is around 25 years old. Home town is (probably) Cleveland, Ohio.

After Aftica and Italy, Saunders was sent to England to recover from his injuries. He was reassigned to the 361st Infantry Regiment. This unit consisted of mostly green troops. He’s friends with Hanley, who is a Staff Sgt. Hanley then gets promoted to 2nd Lieutenant after D-Day.

Interesting thing about the 361st. They never participated in the fighting in France during WWII. 361st Infantry Regiment

Although he’s a no nonsense type of Sergeant for most of the series; while in England, he enjoyed going into town and running around and having fun. Often finding creative ways in order to do so and at Hanley’s expense.

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Saunders with a puppy

He was always the only one with a Thompson Machine Gun. I never saw another one for the entire series. (just saw Sgt. Dane carrying one in Lost Sheep, Lost Shepard) Apparently, Rick Jason was originally supposed to carry the Thompson but he complained that it was too heavy so they gave the weapon to Vic Morrow, which became the iconic weapon for the entire series. Morrow also complained about the Thompson’s weight so they made him a prop machine gun and only substituted the real one when he needed to use it.

Another iconic item was Saunder’s helmet. He had the camouflaged cover on his helmet which has been criticized as being for the USMC and not the Army. What it actually is, is a piece of camouflaged parachute fabric that he must have found someplace.

While on the subject of helmet covers. Everybody had their own particular aberration on their helmets. This is so that everybody would be able to quickly identify their own helmet whenever they needed to grab it in a hurry. You’ll notice that soldiers like Kirby and Caje had the same tears on the helmet netting for most of the series.

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Sgt Saunders and the Squad

Saunders never showed very much emotion. There was only a couple of episodes where he showed any.

When he gave an order, he expected it to be carried out.

One thing that I noticed was that he followed a moral code of conduct. For example, he would never shoot a prisoner and always strove to help out the wounded, whether they were enemy or friendly. That’s not to say that he didn’t shoot the enemy in the back as they were running away. I took those as being “convenience” killings, where they couldn’t be inconvenienced by taking prisoners or perhaps having to face those same men in the future. Sometimes, he was a pure sociopathic killing machine. He often never showed any remorse or emotion at the men that he had just killed. I suppose that all goes with the territory of being a “hardened vet”.

The men in his squad all looked up to him and considered him to be the last word and an authoritarian father figure. If he heard any griping, that’s when he snapped his men’s head’s off because his way was the only way.

He never asked his men to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. He would often take the most difficult and dangerous assignments on himself. For example, he would instruct his men to create diversions on both flanks so that he could go straight up the middle. This has gotten him into trouble in more than a few occasions.

He has been wounded on multiple occasions.

Time Wounded –

Rear Echelon Commandos – Wounded in leg
Far From the Brave –               Knocked down from artillery, concussed
The Celebrity –                           Shot in left leg
Reunion –                                    Shot in lower left side
The Medal –                                Sign shot on top of him and entangled in barbed wire

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