F. Larry Heinemann, “The Fragging”

Larry HeinemannLarry Heinemann was a US Army infantryman in Vietnam.

The story: A series of events cause enlisted soldiers in Vietnam to consider killing their platoon leader.

Characters: Lionel Calhoun McQuade, an Army lieutenant in Vietnam. Humphrey Eberhart, an Army company commander. Franklin Giacoppo, a soldier in McQuade’s platoon.

Themes: Enlisted-officer relations, war’s violence

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does Lieutenant McQuade do wrong? Why? What does he not understand about leading troops in Vietnam?
  2. What is the attitude of Captain Eberhart and the chain-of-command toward McQuade and the events of the story? Have they done all they could? Are their actions beyond reproach?
  3. Are the soldiers justified in killing McQuade? How do they feel about it at the time and how do they feel about it years later?

For further exploration, watch this video of Larry Heinemann speaking about writing about Vietnam:

“The Fragging” can be found in the June 1997 issue of The Atlantic magazine.


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