- Say yes and I'll give you what you've wanted all these years. [...] A war that lasts forever, a war that never ends, but you have to say the word, Frank--
- -- Voice
Appearing in "The Last Day"
- Captain Frank Castle
- Private Steve Goodwin (Death)
- U.S. Marines
- U.S. Army
- Bill Torrance (First appearance) (Unnamed)
- Maria Castle (First appearance)
- Lisa Castle (First appearance)
- Frank Castle, Jr. (First appearance)
Synopsis for "The Last Day"
What's left of the soldiers at Firebase Valley Forge attempt to hold off the advancing Viet Cong forces. A soldier reports to Captain Frank Castle that they've been unable to make radio contact with their superiors in Da Nang, but made temporary contact with an armored division to their east that was cut off. Unfortunately, Colonel Ottman isn't letting them use the radio anymore, instead repeatedly telling them "don't rock the boat," so Castle tells the soldier to shoot him.
The VC break through the front and left flanks, so Castle gives the order to fall back to the command post and have the artillerymen shell their recent position with all their high explosive. As the soldiers are making the move, Angel--who's running along with Private Goodwin--is killed. Goodwin ducks behind a bunker, where Coltrane grabs him from behind, planning to use his razor to exact revenge for the last few days troubles over Angel. Captain Castle saves Goodwin from his marine brother by striking Coltrane with an entrenching tool. He informs Goodwin that the command post has been overrun and the gunners bayoneted while they watch Coltrane's bunker of junkies go up in flames.
Together Castle and Goodwin make a run for it, with Goodwin thinking to himself how sure he was that he was going to make it out alive, when a jet flies over dropping napalm. Castle has to scream at a shocked Goodwin to "pop smoke" or the jets will never know they're down there. Goodwin imagines himself as having made it on his freedom bird, beautiful stewardesses bringing him beer and all as the voice begins talking to Castle again. The voice tells Castle it's "time to shit or get off the pot," it tells him that he's been "seeking without realizing" and that he wants and needs this, and it will give it to him--for a price--if he just says the word. Castle finally says "YES."
The next day, helicopters land, bringing American soldiers in to survey the area. The soldiers find a field of dead bodies, all burned by napalm, except for Captain Frank Castle, who is standing in the middle of the field. The soldiers quickly load him onto a helicopter and get him out of the area.
Back home, Frank Castle's wife and children meet him at the airport. After he tells his wife he won't be going back the voice speaks to him again, it reminds him that it said there would be a price and zeros in on his family. The voice says it's too late to go back on the deal now, but in a moment he won't even remember this conversation. While he still does, Castle hugs his family, telling his wife to "Hold on tight."
- Born uses a lot of US Marine and military terminology and slang. Terms from this issue include:
- Arty: Artillery
- Cannon-Cocker: Artilleryman
- Dustoff: Medical evacuation helicopter
- Flechette: anti-personnel round fired from an artillery gun, packed full of metal darts.
- Freedom Bird: Any airplane taking soldiers out of country towards home.
- K.I.A. (Killed In Action): A soldier killed by an enemy during combat.
- Pop Smoke: Marking a location with a colored smoke grenade.
- Wake up: The last day in country. Literally the day you wake up and board a transport home.
- The "shovel" that Captain Castle uses as a mêlée weapon is an entrenching tool, standard issue field gear for a soldier.
- The Punisher's iconic skull can be seen in the smoke in the background of the splash page revealing Frank Castle survived the battle (pg. 17).
- One of the soldiers has an Ace of Spades playing card on his helmet. A number of real soldiers did the same or similar things with the card, believing (wrongly) that the Vietnamese soldiers thought of the spade as a symbol of death and misfortune.
- Born is later retold during the final hours from Steve Goodwin's younger brother, Michael Goodwin, through his book Valley Forge, Valley Forge: The Slaughter of a U.S. Marine Garrison and the Birth of the Punisher as a sub-story in the Punisher MAX story "Valley Forge, Valley Forge".
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