John James Rambo
Weapon of Choice
Former soldier, mercenary, riverboat captain, snake catcher
Keep those close to him safe, live a quiet life
Justice, who he is, protection for friends
Raven, Lone Wolf (field names)
- "You know what you are. What you're made of. War is in your blood. Don't fight it. You didn't kill for your country. You killed for yourself. God's never goona make that go away. When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing."
- ―John Rambo [src]
John J. Rambo is the main protagonist of the Rambo film series and David Morell's novel First Blood. A former Vietnam veteran and highly skilled Green Beret, Rambo returned from the war a decorated, but disturbed hero. He is filled with self-loathing and hates killing, but is willing to use his skills to protect those close to him. This is the general plot line of the three First Blood sequels.
Rambo has a total killcount so far of 220, not counting the 59 confirmed Vietnam kills.
David Morrell says that in choosing the name Rambo he was inspired by "the sound of force" in the name of Rambo apples, which he encountered in Pennsylvania. Peter Gunnarsson Rambo sailed from Sweden to New Sweden in the 1640s, and soon the name would flourish in New Sweden. Today, many of his descendants can still be found in this region of the US. Morrell felt that its pronunciation was similar to the surname of Arthur Rimbaud, the title of whose most famous work A Season in Hell, seemed to him "an apt metaphor for the prisoner-of-war experiences that I imagined Rambo suffering". Furthermore, an Arthur J. Rambo was an actual U.S. soldier in Vietnam, but he never returned. His name can be seen on the Vietnam War Memorial wall in Washington, DC. By sheer coincidence, the Japanese word "rambō" (乱暴) means "violent" or "rough." He was granted the first name "John" as a reference to the song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again".
Throughout the film series, espescially in the first and fourth films, John Rambo is displayed as a tragic hero who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has difficulty adjusting to civillian life, which is espescially complicated because of prejudice against returning soldiers. He is shown to be prone to violence because of the torture he suffered at the hands of Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War.
In the next films and novelizations he is displayed as a man who wants to stay away from conflict but is willing to do literally anything to save his friends and the people he cares about from any danger. Due to his violent nature, many civil people tend to fear him. However, Colonel Samuel Trautman, who was his commanding officer in Vietnam and mostlikely his only friend, understands him and the pain and torture he had endured in the war and is the only one able to understand the problems he has.
Rambo has a muscular physique due to his time as a soldier in the army and his intense training regimen. He has a high amount of strength and stamina, as well as a great resistance to pain. Rambo is a survival expert in almost any terrain, espescially in jungles and dense forests. Rambo is also an expert in guerrilla warfare, and he is easily able to camouflage himself, create improvised weaponry, and nurse his own wounds. He is also an expert in operating various types of war machines like helicopters and tanks, firing artillery and machine guns and hand-to-hand combat. John Rambo has black hair and brown eyes.
Early Life and Military ServiceEdit
John J. Rambo was born on July 6, 1947 to R. Rambo and Marie Drago. He is of American Indian and German descent. His family was poor, often unable to buy food, and his mother died when he was young. His father was an abusive alcoholic who once tried to kill John with a knife. Rambo ran away that night, but not before shooting his father with a bow and arrow, nearly killing him. Rambo decided that the best way to get away from his problems was to leave for the Vietnam War. Rambo had a rough time with relationships and did not lose his virginity until he was 21. He intended to marry this girl, but he was deployed to Vietnam and when he returned home, he saw, to his disappointment, that she was now married and with two children. Rambo graduated from Rangeford High School in 1965, and was drafted into the United States Army at the age of 18 on January 2, 1966. He was deployed to South Vietnam in September of 1966. He returned to the U.S. in 1967 and began training in the Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was trained with a plethora of skills, including learning how to speak Vietnamese. Rambo would go on to recieve extensive survival and combat training, later becoming a Green Beret. In late 1969, Rambo was re-deployed to Vietnam where he served in the Baker Team, a Special Forces unit consisting of eight men; himself, Delmar Barry, Joseph Danforth, Ortega, Messner, Krackhauer, Colletta, and Jorgenson.
During his three year tour of duty, Rambo had 59 confirmed kills, going on to be decorated with two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, four Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Congressional Medal of Honor. In November 1971, Rambo joined a guerrilla mission behind enemy lines, where his unit was ambushed and Rambo was shot in the leg and captured, later being taken to a POW camp near the Chinese-Vietnamese border. At the prison camp, Rambo was tortured with a knife and kept in a ten-foot hole where excrement was often thrown on him, but he never revealed any information to his captors. As a prisoner, Rambo was required to do heavy labor and was deprived of sleep and food. In May of 1972, Rambo intentionally gave himself dysentery, and his guard left him alone to go get help when Rambo took the opportunity to run. Rambo fled the camp but was then re-deployed into the Army. Despite his many honors, Rambo ended his service with a nervous breakdown, having witnessed most of his only friends die excruciating, horrific deaths. Rambo was honorably discharged from the military.
After returning from the Vietnam war, Rambo found that hippies were intolerant of soldiers, and he was repeatedly pelted with dog feces and garbage at the airport. Rambo hid his emotions because he felt nobody wanted to help him. This led to an extreme case of Post traumatic stress disorder. Rambo was shunned from the country he would die to protect, and Rambo became a homeless drifter that often slept in the woods or went hungry.
- "I could have killed 'em all, I could've killed you. In town you're the law, out here it's me. Don't push it! Don't push it or I'll give you a war you won't believe. Let it go. Let it go!"
- ―John Rambo to Will Teasle. [src]
It takes place in December 1981, and begins with John Rambo (now a homeless, out-of-work drifter) searching for Delmar Barry, an old friend with whom he served in Vietnam. He goes to Barry's home but is told by his mother that he died from cancer due to Agent Orange exposure. This means that Rambo has now become the last surviving member of his Special Forces unit. He then travels to the small town of Hope, Washington (the movie was filmed in Hope, British Columbia, evidenced by the town sign), where he is quickly spotted by the town's paranoid sheriff, Will Teasle, due to his long hair, military-style coat and all-around scruffy appearance. Teasle soon picks him up and drives him to the edge of town, while stressing his dislike of drifters and "trouble makers." Rambo begins heading back into town immediately after being dropped off, and Teasle then arrests him when Rambo did not comply and takes him to the local police station.
When searching Rambo, Teasle discovers a large survival knife on Rambo's belt. At the station, the Deputy Sheriff, Art Galt, harasses and beats Rambo, who begins having flashbacks to the war, where he was a POW. When officers attempt to dry shave him, Rambo finally snaps and fights his way out of the station, retrieving his knife. Outside, he hijacks a motorcycle from a man driving past and flees into the nearby mountains while being pursued by Teasle in his police car. Teasle crashes his car, and Rambo escapes. Teasle calls more officers and a helicopter in for assistance, while Rambo abandons his motorcycle and makes his way into the deep terrain on foot. While climbing down a steep cliff face, he is spotted by the search helicopter with Galt in the passenger's seat. The helicopter gets caught in a thermal draft, and has trouble maintaining control to give Galt a clear shot. Galt fires at him a number of times with his rifle, forcing Rambo to jump off the cliff-side, or be shot. Rambo breaks his fall by landing in a tree, but his arm is wounded in the process. Galt continues to fire upon the injured Rambo on the ground. Before Galt can shoot again, Rambo throws and hits the helicopter windshield with a rock he grabbed. The pilot loses control, swerving wildly, and Galt is thrown to his death. Rambo grabs Galt's gun, and runs behind some cover. Rambo opens up the butt of his knife, taking out a needle and thread. He then stitches up the wound on his arm, without anesthetic. Rambo comes out from cover, and confronts the men on the cliff. Rambo tells them, "There's one man dead! It wasn't my fault!". Teasle tells Rambo not to move or they will shoot. Rambo says he wants no more trouble, and begins to back away. But the men then open fire, and their shots appear to graze Rambo in the face. Rambo then runs into the woods, Teasle and his deputies in pursuit.The men catch up to Rambo, and they release the tracking dogs. Rambo shoots two with his last bullets, and kills the other with his knife. The men begin to flank out and pursue Rambo, but Rambo easily disables them using guerrilla tactics. Rambo severely wounds each man, but does not kill any of them. Rambo jumps out of the brush and grabs Teasle, putting his knife to his throat. He tells him, "In town you're the law. Out here it's me." He tells Teasle to "Let it go" and give up his pursuit. Teasle refuses, and the State Police and National Guard are called in to assist in the hunt. Colonel Samuel Trautman soon arrives, taking credit for training Rambo. He is surprised to find any of the deputies still alive, and warns that it would be safer to let Rambo go and find him after the situation has calmed down. Teasle refuses to give in. Teasle asks Trautman to try and contact Rambo on the radio he took to get his position. Trautman gets Rambo to respond on the radio, calling out his Vietnam company. Rambo says that he cannot turn himself in and tells Trautman, "They drew first blood, not me." Rambo is eventually cornered by the National Guard in a mine entrance. Teasle gets word they have cornered him, and gives an order not to fire. The inexperienced guardsmen ignore this order, and fire a rocket launcher at him. The blast collapsed the mine entrance, trapping him inside. The men assume Rambo is dead, but unknown to his pursuers, Rambo has instead escaped into the tunnels of the mine.
Rambo eventually finds an old exit vent, near a main road from out of which the troops are clearing. Rambo hijacks a passing Army truck (throwing its driver out onto the road in the process) and returns to town, crashing it into a gas station. He blocks the highway to anyone in pursuit, by igniting the spilled fuel. Now heavily armed with an M60 Machine Gun, Rambo destroys transformers knocking out the power to the town. Rambo spots Teasle on the station roof, destroys a few other businesses and a gun shop before making his way to the police station. Rambo destroys the police station before making his way inside. Teasle spots Rambo and fires at him, but misses. Rambo shoots back at Teasle, injuring him. Teasle falls through the roof onto the floor. Rambo steps over him, prepared to kill him. Before Rambo can shoot Teasle, Colonel Trautman appears and tells him that there is no hope of escaping alive. Rambo, now surrounded by the police, rages about the horrors of war, and the difficulties he has faced adapting to civilian life. Breaking down, he then weeps as he recounts a particularly gruesome story about witnessing his friend dying. He tells Trautman how they were in a bar, talking about his friend's Chevy and driving to Las Vegas in it, when a boy came in with a booby-trapped shoeshine box. Rambo had gone into the bar to buy two beers when the box suddenly exploded, tearing his friend's lower body off. Rambo then turns himself in to Trautman, and is arrested.
After sobbing, Rambo decides that he has finally had enough and wants to end his suffering and not turn himself in. Rambo takes Trautman's pistol and tells Trautman to kill him. Trautman does not respond and Rambo proceeds to grab the gun out of his hands and pull the trigger himself, shooting him in the chest. Rambo subsequently dies of his wounds and Trautman then is left alone in the station and walks away.
After the incident in Washington, John Rambo found guilty after a jury trial and sent to a labor camp prison. In 1985, after four years of imprisonment, he was visited by Colonel Samuel Trautman who offered him the chance to be released from prison if he went to Vietnam to search for American POWs. Promised a Presidential pardon if the mission succeeds, he accepts and is officially reinstated in the army temporarily. He later meets with Marshall Murdock, an American bureaucrat who is in charge of the operation. He tells Rambo that he is only to photograph the POWs and not to rescue them, nor is he to engage any enemy soldiers. Rambo reluctantly agrees. He is then told that an agent of the U.S. government will be there to receive him in the jungles of Vietnam.
He is then parachuted into the Vietnamese jungles. However, while parachuting, he loses some of his equipment and is left with only his knives, his bow, and arrows. On the ground, he met with Co Bao, a local woman working with the Americans. She takes him to a POW camp where he is able to rescue a captive. However, escaping requires him to kill a number of enemy soldiers with his bow. The trio then escape by boat but are attacked by a gunboat.Rambo destroys the gunboat with a rocket-launcher. When Rambo calls for extraction, he is denied as Murdock fears what will happen to him and his party if the American public come to know about it. Rambo and the captive are both captured, and back at the camp Russian advisors soon arrive to interrogate Rambo. Meanwhile, Co enters the camp under the disguise of a prostitute and comes to the hut in which Rambo is held captive. There she witnesses Rambo being tortured by Russian Colonel Podovsky, who is demanding that the American contact his base and confess to war crimes. After being electrocuted on a bedspring and then burned with his own knife, Rambo pretends to agree to Podovsky's condition, but instead threatens Murdock on the radio that he is coming to get him--after which he promptly escapes with Co's help. They hide in the jungle and Co aids Rambo's wounds. She then asks him if he will take her with him to the U.S., he agrees and he kisses her. But they are attacked by some Vietnamese soldiers and Co is shot down. Enraged and distraught by Co's death, he kills them all (except for their commander, who escapes, but is later killed by one of Rambo's exploding arrows) and then buries Co's body in the jungle so her body is not scavenged upon by animals.
After the violence at the camp and on the river, Soviet and Vietnamese troops were scrambled to search and kill Rambo. While hunting for Rambo in a forest, Rambo kills a number of Soviet and Vietnamese soldiers using guerrilla tactics. Vietnamese soldiers continue to chase Rambo into and through a village. In the village, there grows a patch of tall grass where Rambo sets a booby-trap explosion that ignites a fire, burning many of the Vietnamese soldiers.
While still running away from the soldiers, a Soviet attack helicopter finds Rambo and drops a keg of explosives down on him. Rambo dives off a cliff into a river as the keg explodes. The Soviet helicopter pursues him, shooting bullets into the water. As the helicopter gets closer to the water while shooting bullets, Rambo jumps up from under the water, yanks the gunman into the water, and climbs into the helicopter where he confronts the Soviet soldier who tortured him. As they wrestle inside the helicopter, the helicopter flies away and Rambo throws the Soviet soldier out of the helicopter to the latter's death. As Rambo approaches the pilot, the pilot also jumps out of the helicopter. Rambo gains control of the helicopter and flies it back to the POW camp to rescue the remaining POWs. He kills the remaining guards and picks up the captives in the chopper. While flying to Thailand, another Soviet attack helicopter tails Rambo's. After its pilot loses Rambo's chopper in a haze of smoke from firing at it, it finds Rambo's vehicle smoking in a river. As the Russian chopper flies in low to investigate and finish off the bird once and for all, Rambo—who appears to be knocked unconscious—suddenly sits up, shoulder-firing rocket in hand, fires through the windshield and finishes off his would-be assailant once and for all.
Rambo then returns to the base and, using the M60E3 medium machine gun from the helicopter, destroys Murdock's command center. He then unsheathes his knife and threatens Murdock to find and rescue the remaining American POWs in Vietnam, snarling almost under his breath, "You know there's more men out there...you know where they are. Find 'em...or I'll find you." Trautman then comforts Rambo and tries to pacify him and to convince him to rejoin the Special Forces, also telling him he would get another Medal of Honor for his actions. Rambo, however, visibly angry and fighting back tears, says that the soldiers he rescued deserve the Medal of Honor more than he does, and he only wants the same thing as the soldiers he rescued; for America to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it. Rambo then moves towards an unknown destination. Trautman asks him, "How will you live, John?" To this, Rambo replies, "Day by day." The film ends as Rambo walks off into the distance while his mentor watches him. Because of his actions of saving the POWs, Rambo is granted the Presidential pardon he had been promised and decides to live in Thailand.
The boat is stopped by Burmese pirates who demand Sarah in exchange for passage. After negotiations fail, Rambo kills them all. Although his actions save the missionaries, it greatly disturbs them. Upon arrival, Michael says that they will travel overland and will not need Rambo's help for the return trip. The mission goes well until the Tatmadaw, led by Major Tint, attack. They kill most of the villagers and two missionaries and kidnap the rest, including Michael and Sarah. When the missionaries fail to come back after ten days, their pastor comes to ask Rambo's help in guiding hired mercenaries to the village where the missionaries were last seen.Rambo agrees to transport the soldiers. At their destination, Rambo tries to accompany the mercenaries with a black-wrapped package in hand, but their leader, described as a former "old school" and egotistical S.A.S trooper, refuses. After arriving at the destroyed village with their guide, Karen, they are forced to hide when some Tatmadaw arrive by truck and force their villager prisoners to run a gauntlet of hidden land mines thrown into the village rice paddies. The mercenary leader will not order a rescue, as he is concerned that the missing Tatmadaw will put the rest on alert. However, Rambo shows up with what is revealed to be his bow and shoots down the Tatmadaw. Rambo confronts the leader when the man threatens him, and with his arrow pointed at his eye socket, Rambo tells him and the others that soldiering is what they are and do, and says to them, "You can either live for nothing...or die for something." When Rambo stands down and tells the others to come, they follow without question with the leader in tow. They plan to save the hostages at a P.O.W. camp. Rambo helps Sarah and the others to escape. The Tatmadaw unit finds the hostages missing and organizes a massive manhunt. Everyone except for Rambo, Sarah, and the mercenary sniper "Schoolboy" is captured. But just as the group is to be executed, Rambo seizes a truck-mounted Browning M2 and minces the Burmese army, giving an opening for School Boy to shoot down the Tatmadaw near the others and provide them also with weapons. Karen rebels join the fight to help Rambo and the mercenaries win. Major Pa Tee Tint attempts to get away, but is personally disemboweled by Rambo.
Encouraged by Sarah's words, Rambo returns to live in the U.S., walking along a rural highway past a horse farm and a rusted mailbox bearing the name "R. Rambo". He then makes his way down the gravel driveway as the credits roll. Rambo killed over 80 people in the fourth rescue mission, the most in the series.
Although his country is much more supportive of veterans now, John Rambo still is a very traumatized man, and coming home to support will not change the fact that he can't live with himself due to the horrible things he has done or witnessed. If another film is made, this will likely be the central focus of the film, as Sylvester Stallone says that he would like to take the franchise in a different direction and see the character "go out in a blaze of glory", although he has said that there likely will not be another film.
- Medal of Honor
Rambo: First Blood Part IIEdit
- 2 Silver Stars
- 4 Bronze Stars for Valor
- 4 Purple Hearts
- Distinguished Service Cross
In a deleted scene, Rambo's Class A uniform is shown in his footlocker with the following ribbons:
- Medal of Honor - Awarded one and refused another
- Army Distinguished Service Medal
- Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)|Distinguished Flying Cross
- Soldier's Medal
- Bronze Star Medal
- Purple Heart
- Air Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon - Awarded one for a joint-service operation with USMC, (2nd Battalion 3rd Marines) in Battle of Khe Sanh 1968.
- Vietnam Service Medal
- Prisoner of War Medal
- Army Service Ribbon
- Vietnam Wound Medal - This award is actually a South Vietnamese (ARVN) forces medal and was not permitted to be worn on uniforms.
- Vietnam Campaign Medal
- National Defense Medal
- Good Conduct Medal
Various special duty badges can also be seen on Rambo's uniform.
- Combat Infantryman Badge
- Aircraft Crewman Badge
- Senior Combat Parachutist Badge
- Expert Weapons Qualification Badge
Rambo's Social Security Number is 936-01-1758, although citizens in Arizona are issued ones with the prefixes 526-527, 600-601, and 764-765.
In Popular CultureEdit
Rambo's name has become an eponym for a tactic of military aggression or, alternatively, a person demonstrating great heroism through extreme violence and skill, especially when outnumbered. However, the term can also be used somewhat derogatorily to describe someone who thoughtlessly charges into a fight with no regard for personal safety or careful planning. This term is referred to as "Going Rambo" or "doing it Rambo style." The name is also used in a more figurative sense to describe any action or approach which is deemed to be aggressive.
Rambo has been mentioned in other action films such as 1988's Die Hard, 1995's True Lies, and 2008's Taken.
- In Japanese dubs of the Rambo series, Rambo's voice was done by Japanese singer Isao Sasaki, actor Ken Watanabe, and seiyus Banjo Ginga, Michio Hazama and Tessho Genda.
|V • D • E|| |
|Films:||First Blood • Rambo II • Rambo III • Rambo IV • Rambo V|
|Cast:||Sylvester Stallone • Richard Crenna|
|Video games:||Rambo • Rambo III • Rambo on Fire • Rambo: The Video Game|