This episode's title refers to the song "Somewhere over the rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz
Vivica A. Fox's TV debut.
The closing title card reads: Three Red Cross women, eight military women and an unknown number of American civilian women died in Vietnam.
The award of Boonie's medal takes it's inspiration from two real Viet Nam War sources. During the My Lai Massacre Warrant Officer One Hugh Thompson, Jr. became aware of ongoing execution of innocent civilians by American soldiers despite his initial disbelief that it was possible. With the support of his two door gunners: Crew Chief (S-4) Glenn Andreotta and Door Gunner (S-4) Lawrence Colburn (who agreed to fire on the soldiers if they fired on Thompson, a court-martial offense) he landed between a group of soldiers and a group of 11 Vietnamese Women, children and old men and convinced the soldiers to let a circling Huey Gunship to land and remove them from the battle (something that was unheard of) to a location 10 miles away. Hugh Thompson Jr. flew back and they were able to save one young boy found in a ditch filled with "100 corpses" and covered in blood (none of it apparently his own). On returning to base Thompson quickly made his commanding officer aware of the execution of "Hundreds of civilians". His commanding Officer asked a few simple questions, dismissed him and he never heard anything about the Massacre. Andreotta was killed in combat 3 weeks later. Thopmson was assigned to fly ever more dangerous combat missions until after his helicopter was shot down for the 4th time he was injured seriously enough to return to the United States. The Army covered up the Massacre and Thompson and his door gunners were awarded the Bronze Star for bravery in combat in the 'official' report. Their Bronze Stars were quietly taken back after the story of the Massacre broke. In 1998, 30 years after the events, the three men were awarded The Soldier's Medal given to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. The mission into Laos is based on the CIA involvement in conducting covert raids on the Ho Chi Minh Trail into Laos and Cambodia using 'sterile' American special forces units (who did not even wear dog tags) This violated stated Official U.S. and Military policy, and international commitments to respect these countries neutrality.
One of the characters asks the vets "Kill any babies?" As early as 1966 U.S. Troops were being called "Babykillers" by some opposed to the war. On December 26, 1969 the "And babies" iconic anti-Vietnam War poster was released. The poster uses the now infamous color photograph of the My Lai Massacre taken by U.S. combat photographer Ronald L. Haeberle in March 1968. It shows about a dozen dead and partly naked South Vietnamese women and children in contorted positions stacked together on a dirt road. The picture is overlaid in semi-transparent blood-red lettering that asks along the top "Q: And babies?", and at the bottom answers "A: And babies." The quote is from a Mike Wallace CBS News television interview with one of the soldiers, Paul Meadlo, who participated in the massacre. This poster would haunt many vets after the war, insulting their service and equating all of them with the dishonorable actions of a few. Not until the era of Vietnam movies and China Beach did America begin to seriously attempt to embrace the Vets and repair the rift between the men who served there and the Country that sent them there and abandoned them after they got home.
McMurphy's line, "If we only had the right kind of flush valves...," seems a reference to the toilet valve invented by actress Dana Delany's grandfather.
The closing title card reads: During the Vietnam War, 402 American combat medics died in the service of their country.
The "Dogman" story told by Sgt. Pepper is true. It is based on actor Troy Evans' actual Vietnam War experience.
The photojournalist preserving a man's execution was inspired the the real life execution of Nguyen Van Lem, a Viet Cong soldier, on February 1, 1968 in the wake of the Tet offensive. He was executed by notoriously corrupt General Nguyen Ngoc Loan in retaliation for Nguyen Van Lem's participation in the execution of one of the General's chief officers and his family. The general executed him by pistol shot to the head and it was preserved on both still and moving picture images. These would be broadcast on the national news back in the United States horrifying the American public and contributing greatly to opposition to the war.
Every scene airs backwards in chronological order.
The "Sid and Nancy" poster on the wall of Karen's room that she points out and videotapes is from the film starring Chloe Webb, and is a nod to her for having portrayed Laurette in the first season of China Beach.