"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 gonna make that go away. When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing."
Rambo was born in 1947 in Arizona. He lost his mother at an early age to cancer. His father was a very abusive alcoholic who constantly beat Rambo. One day his father, in a drunken rage, attempted to stab his own so with a knife and Rambo was forced to shoot his father with a bow and arrow to defend himself, nearly killing the abusive drunkard. Rambo then ran away from his father and his home altogether. After graduating high school and drifting from one meager job to another, Rambo enlisted into the Army (although he keeps on saying he was drafted).
Rambo's military service began in January 1966. Rambo was deployed to South Vietnam in September 1966 and had his first experience in combat. Rambo survived, and he returned to America in 1967 and due to his excellent and hardened physical condition and experience in combat, he became a Green Beret, began training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina under Colonel Trautman's tutelage. At some point in his military career he also received training in flying helicopters.
But in late 1969, Rambo was re-deployed to Vietnam as a member of Studies and Observations Group (SOG) brigade. He is involved in special forces' long-range reconnaissance patrol missions commanded by Colonel Trautman. Trautman's team received the code name of Baker Team and consisted of eight men.
During a particular mission in November 1971 Rambo's team came under surprise attack by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA or Viet Minh). Delmore, Rambo and some other surviving members were captured by NVA near the Chinese-Vietnamese border and held at a POW camp, where many other American POWs were imprisoned and repeatedly subjected to incredibly brutal and inhumane tortures. Most of Rambo's captured team members perished during the ordeal; only Delmore and Rambo managed to escape captivity in May 1972 when there came a day security in prison camp was lax. Taking advantage of that Rambo and Delmore escaped. Astonishingly, when the pair escaped no Vietcongs were killed; it was as if they just disappeared. After being lost in the jungle for what seemed to be eternity, Rambo and Delmore were eventually rescued by US Army personnel. By his own request Rambo was immediately re-deployed afterwards.
Rambo finally received his official military discharge on September 17, 1974. It is speculated that he was discharged as a commissioned officer (judging from the crossed arrows insignia on the lapel of his Army Alpha Dress Green uniform, a clear indication of an officer, it is safe to assume that he was either a 1st Lieutenant or Captain).
Ten years after he left Vietnam, Rambo became a drifter. Wandering from town to town he eventually wandered towards Delmar Barry’s old household. Excited to greet an old friend, Rambo was horrified to learn Delmar died of cancer several years prior. Feeling alone, Rambo continued drifting on until he reached the small town of Hope, Washington where he met the sheriff Will Teasle, who offered him a ride. After asking if he could get something to eat, Rambo was surprised to hear from the sheriff that he wasn’t welcome there. After being taken to the edge of town, Rambo decides to return, upon which he was unjustly arrested by Teasle for vagrancy.
After being taken to jail, the head deputy Art Galt began abusing Rambo for his own amusement. After being forcefully restrained by Galt so he can be shaved, Rambo cracked and began fighting off his oppressors and escaped the police station.
Now a fugitive and hiding in the woods, Rambo continued to run from the police until he was cornered behind a tree. Galt (now in a helicopter) attempted to kill the veteran, forcing Rambo to throw a rock at the helicopter, causing Galt to fall to his death. Rambo was horrified and tried to turn himself in to Teasle. Unfortunately for him, Teasle had become so angry and vindictive bu this point, he vowed to kill Rambo to avenge his friend's death.
Using his training, Rambo incapacitated the remaining deputies without killing them. He then cornered Teasle warning him to leave him alone or he’ll fight harder, a warning Teasle doesn't take kindly to. Hiding in a cave, Rambo is contacted by his old mentor and best friend Sam Trautman who tells Rambo to turn himself in. Rambo informs him that he was arrested unjustly and only wanted something to eat. Claiming that it was Teasle who drew first blood, not him.
Now with the National Guard on his side, Teasle continues his assault on Rambo, cornering him in the cave. After the guard fires a rocket launcher at him, Rambo escapes into the cave and hijacks an army truck carrying an M60 machine gun. Returning to Hope, Rambo goes on a rampage, destroying several buildings without killing anyone to track down Teasle. Upon finding the corrupt sheriff, Rambo shoots up the police station and heavily wounds the sheriff. Before he could kill him, Rambo is stopped by Trautman who tells him to stand down and that the mission is over. Rambo then breaks down and starts crying about his past traumas (most notably Damforth’s death from a booby trapped box). Completely broken, Rambo gives himself up and turns himself in peacefully.
Rambo: First Blood Part II
After being sent to jail, he is released for an assignment in Vietnam to search for P.O.W.S. Instead of just searching, Rambo rescued a prisoner and tries to escape but Marshall Murdock betrays him and Rambo is captured. Rambo is taken before Col Podovsky who demands that Murdock call off all rescue operations but Rambo refuses to give in then attacks Podovsky and Yushin before escaping.
Later after Co and a number of Russians and Vietnamese are killed, Rambo rescues the prisoners then blows up Podovsky. Back at Murdock's base, Rambo warns, "You knows there's more of them out there. You know where they are. Find them or I'll find YOU." to Murdock to rescue other P.O.W.S. Before leaving, Rambo tells his mentor, Trautman, he will live "Day by day".
Col. Trautman visits his old friend and ally John Rambo in Thailand. He explains that he is building a mercenary team for a CIA-sponsored mission to supply the Mujahideen and other tribes as they try to repel the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Despite being shown photos of civilians suffering at the hands of the Soviet military, Rambo refuses to join, as he is tired of fighting. Trautman proceeds anyway and is ambushed by enemy forces near the border, resulting in all of his men being killed. Trautman is captured and sent to a large mountain base to be interrogated by Soviet Colonel Zaysen and his henchman Sergeant Kourov.
Robert Griggs informs Rambo of Trautman's capture but refuses to approve a rescue mission for fear of drawing the United States into the war. Aware that Trautman will die otherwise, Rambo gets permission to undertake a solo rescue on the condition that he will be disavowed in the event of capture or death. Rambo immediately flies to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he intends to convince arms dealer Mousa Ghani to bring him to Khost, the town closest to the Soviet base where Trautman is held captive.
The Mujahideen led by chieftain Masoud hesitate to help Rambo free Trautman. Meanwhile, a Soviet informant in Ghani's employ informs the Soviets, who send two helicopters to destroy the village. Though Rambo manages to destroy one of them with a turret, the rebels refuse to aid him any further. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid, Rambo attacks the base and inflicts significant damage before being forced to retreat. Hamid, as well as Rambo, are wounded during the battle and Rambo sends him and Mousa away before resuming his infiltration.
Skillfully evading base security, Rambo reaches Trautman just as he is about to be tortured with a flamethrower. He and Trautman rescue several other prisoners and hijack a Hind gunship helicopter to escape the base. The helicopter is damaged during takeoff and quickly crashes, forcing the escapees to flee across the sand on foot. An attack helicopter pursues Rambo and Trautman to a nearby cave, where Rambo destroys it with an explosive arrow. A furious Zaysen sends Spetsnaz commandos under Kourov to kill them, but they are quickly routed and killed. An injured Kourov attacks Rambo with his bare hands, but is overcome and killed.
As Rambo and Trautman make their way to the Pakistani border, Zaysen and his forces surround them. But before the duo are overwhelmed, Masoud's Mujahideen forces attack the Soviets in a surprise cavalry charge. Despite being wounded, Rambo takes control of a tank and uses it to attack Zaysen's Hind gunship in a head-on battle with both vehicles firing high-calibre machine gun rounds, Rambo firing the tank's main gun and Zaysen unleashing volleys of the Hind's high explosive rockets and missiles. The final charge sees the two vehicles collide, but Rambo survives. At the end of the battle, Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to the Mujahideen and leave Afghanistan.
Rambo rescues a group of Christian missionaries that have been captured by the Burmese Military. He led a squad of mercenaries to infiltrate the Burmese army base camp where the missionaries were being held.
The mercenaries successfully rescue all the missionaries and Rambo ended up killing Lt. Aye who was a drunk Burmese soldier who attempted to rape a missionary named Sarah Miller. Rambo killed the intoxicated man by ripping his throat out with his bare hands. In the morning, the Burmese army found out that the missionaries were missing and started a massive manhunt throughout the jungles of Burma. They eventually caught up to the group and recaptured the missionaries and mercenaries sent to rescue the missionaries.
But before the firing squad can finish off the group, Rambo hijacked a jeep mounted Browning M2 .50 cal machine gun and used it to mow down the entire army in a massive gunfight. After killing off the entire army with the help of the local Karen freedom fighters, Rambo spots Burmese Army commander Major Tint trying to run from his defeat. Rambo then caught up to him, jammed his machete into the man's stomach, sliced it open, and kicked the man down the hill causing his intestines to fall out, killing the last man of the Burmese Army, and saving the missionaries.
Rambo then returns to the United States and starts a new life in his late father's ranch in Bowie, Arizona.
Rambo: Last Blood
Eleven years later, Vietnam War veteran John Rambo lives in Bowie, Arizona at his late father's horse ranch, which he manages with his old friend, Maria Beltran, and her granddaughter, Gabriela. Gabriela tells Rambo that a friend of hers, Gizelle, has found Gabriela's biological father, Miguel, in Mexico. Both Rambo and Maria tell her not to go to there, but Gabriela secretly drives there to ask why Miguel abandoned her and her mother years ago. Gizelle leads Gabriela to Miguel's apartment, where he coldly tells her that he never really cared for Gabriela or her mother.
Gizelle takes a heartbroken Gabriela to a nearby club, where Hugo and Victor Martinez together kidnap and hold Rambo's niece Gabrielle hostage in while in Mexico. Rambo travels to Mexico and interrogates both Miguel and Jezel about Gabrielle's whereabouts. Jezel reluctantly leads Rambo to the club where Gabrielle was last seen and confronts El Flako, the man who last spoke with Gabrielle.
El Flako leads Rambo to the location of the kidnappers while being followed by a mysterious woman, not before being immediately confronted and beaten by the cartel. They steal his driving license, getting to know the locations of Rambo's farmhouse and a photo of Gabrielle, whom Victor recognizes. Unaware of Rambo's brutality, the cartel vow to mistreat Gabrielle further due to Rambo's actions to break him.
The mysterious woman reveals her identity as Carmen Delgado, who is an independent journalist reporting the deeds of the Martinez siblings who had kidnapped and murdered her sister. Rambo later raids the brothel, killing several men until he finds a drugged Gabrielle. On the way back home, Rambo thanks Gabrielle for giving him hope for ten years before she dies from the forced overdose.
Rambo sends Maria away and rigs the ranch with traps for a confrontation, later returning to Mexico to ask Carmen's help in finding Victor. Carmen refuses initially, believing it will solve nothing but is convinced after Rambo appeals to her grief and frustrations.
Rambo raids Victor's home, killing several guards and decapitating Victor while he is taking a shower. In retaliation and realizing he and his brother mistake for underestimating Rambo, Hugo leads a group of heavily armed hitmen to Rambo's ranch, where each falls victim to the rigged traps. Saving Hugo for the last, Rambo mutilates him and rips his heart out, ending the heartless monster for good as well as his crime organization. In the aftermath, a weakened Rambo sits on the porch of his father's house, vowing to continue fighting and keep the memories of his loved ones alive. During the credits, flashbacks to scenes from the first four movies in the franchise are shown, with Rambo finally saddling up his horse and riding off into the sunset.
Throughout the film series, especially 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 civilian life, which is especially 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 North Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War. Rambo has difficulty talking about his problems and he is too scarred from trauma to open up to most people. The only person he really trusts in the world is Trautman, and he still has only told him about one of the brutal deaths he witnessed. This makes Rambo look like a quiet thug or super soldier to people who don't understand the character, but in reality he is so overwhelmed with self-hatred and nightmarish memories that he can't talk to anybody.
As a result, conversations with Rambo are fairly one sided, as he chooses not to engage with most people and only speaks directly to a few people. As he grows older, as he becomes bitter and angry at the world, even leading to him casually swearing and making snide comments under his breath at people, and downright insulting people. This is especially elaborated upon in 2008's Rambo, where he refuses to be even remotely social with anybody, even Sarah Miller, who is displayed as a kind soul who wants to learn about Rambo's life and why he is the way he is. He often replies with one-word answers in this film and is terse with people so they will leave him alone. There is a scene, where Michael Burnett tries to get Rambo to take them down the Salween River. Rambo declines and Sarah asks, why he rebuffed the man he was talking to. Rambo replies that he wasn't talking to anybody and Sarah changes her statement to "the man who was talking to you".
It is evident that Rambo did care deeply for all the men in his unit, forming a brotherly bond with them. This is shown at the start of First Blood, when Rambo arrives as the home of Delmar Barry, he walks with a bit of a spring to his step, he is very polite and talkative to Barry's mother, making small talk and even cracking a joke. It's one of the few times he's seen to smile, being visibly excited at the prospect of seeing his old friend again. However, upon learning of Barry's death, Rambo is disheartened, offering the photo of his unit that he carries around to Barry's mother before giving his condolences and leaving, his walk having slowed to a trudge as he departs. During his breakdown to Trautman, he talked about how they had planned to go on a road trip to Las Vegas in Danforth's Chevy Convertible. In Rambo III, Rambo is seen wisecracking one-liners, he cracks several of these, poking fun of the state he and Trautman are in and the predicaments he has gotten himself into.
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 most likely 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.
Skills and Abilities
"You don't seem to want to accept the fact that you're dealing an expert in guerilla warfare... with a man who's the best with guns, with knives, with his bare hands... a man who's been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that'll make a billy goat puke. In Vietnam his job was to dispose of enemy personnel... to kill, period... win by attrition. Now, Rambo was the best."
―Sam Trautman to Will Teasle
John J. Rambo is a Vietnam War veteran soldier and a Special Forces Green Beret decorated with a Congressional Medal of Honor; he is a war hero. Colonel Sam Trautman recruited him to Baker Team (an elite group), trained him and commanded him in Vietnam for three years. He was taught to stay alive in the line of duty. According to Colonel Trautman, Rambo is the survivor of countless incursions behind enemy lines.
- Master Marksman: Rambo is incredibly skilled with many types of weapons. Being able to use any weapons he finds in the field, including Kalashnikov Variants, M16s, Hunting Rifles, Shotguns, RPGs and Various M60 variants. His size and strength allow him to use an M60, without the aid of a turret, with barely any loss in accuracy from recoil. Rambo is also a very talented Archer, preferring to use a bow, in times where he needs to be stealthy, but also uses explosive tips when he needs to cause destruction, even using one to take down a helicopter. Rambo is either left handed or ambidextrous, since he uses his left hand as his arrow hand while using his bow, and uses his right hand for firearms.
"There were three of us on him in a cell block down there. He went through us like we weren't even there."
- Master Combatant: Rambo is also adept in unarmed combat, he 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, he is able to hold his own against larger or multiple foes single handed. His strength allows him to pull off a man's throat with his bare hand.
- Knife Mastery: Rambo has an affinity for knives, both as a weapon and a tool for survival. He has used his knife to create a spear, to make a make-shift torch, to pass a minefield, and to kill numerous foes.
- Stealth: Rambo is a master of stealth techniques, and blending into his surroundings, making a makeshift ghillie suit, and covering himself with mud, to hide from enemy forces, sometimes in plane sight, using bushes or camouflage of some sort, climbing trees to stay out of enemies line of sight, setting diversions to draw enemy attention, such as scarecrows, light sources, and even captive enemies (also used as a scare tactic.) His combat prowess stems from his knowledge of guerrilla warfare, he is known to make improvised traps, to kill and disable enemies, using minimal resources, such as a glow-stick, a hand grenade, a tripwire stake trap, and even lured enemies into a field using the blood of a chicken, before igniting it with gasoline. He is able to use his terrain and darkness to turn things to his advantage.
- Gifted Intelligence: Rambo is also very intelligent. He can speak several languages, is a capable pilot and a skilled hunter. He is also trained as a medic. He is shown to perform medical procedures on himself, such as stitching and cauterizing his own wounds. Rambo is also very capable at orienteering, rock climbing (without safety equipment) and traversal of the wilderness, with minimal resources. He is also skilled at horse riding due his time at father's farm, he is also a skilled motorcyclist. Rambo knows English (his native language), Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Spanish. In the fourth movie, Rambo is able to communicate with Burmese river privates in Burmese. Having lived in Thailand for many years, he also speaks Thai. Further, he may have learned at least practical Vietnamese in the duration of his military service. In Last Blood, Rambo is shown to be able to understand Spanish like when interrogating a Mexican human trafficker on where Gabreila is.
Rambo: First Blood Part II
- 2 Silver Stars
- 4 Bronze Stars for Valor
- 4 Purple Hearts
- Distinguished Service Cross
In a deleted scene, Rambo's Class A dress 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 United States Marine Corps, (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. Rambo may have the medal of a KIA ARVN soldier he fought with that he wore out of respect to their memory.
- 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
Actor Sylvester Stallone has portaged the character in films for over 37 years.
Rambo: The Force of Freedom
An 1986 American animated series based on the character and the subsequent films First Blood (1982) and Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). The series ran for 65 episodes, and was produced by Ruby-Spears Enterprises. It debuted on April 14, 1986 as a five-part miniseries, and was renewed in September as a daily cartoon. It was not renewed for a second season.
Info to be added.