As an attempt to convey the harsh realities of Marine life during the Vietnam War, and the mental and emotional toll it took on those who fought it, there are no real positive messages in this movie.
Frequent war violence. A recruit in Marines boot camp shoots his drill sergeant with a rifle before turning the rifle on himself, sticking it in his mouth and pulling the trigger; the suicide is graphically shown. Soldiers killed in battle, graphically shown dying. An American soldier in a helicopter shoots his machine gun at Vietnamese civilians. Boot camp recruits stage a "blanket party" in the middle of the night, an act in which they pin down a soldier in his bunk, cover his face, then hit him repeatedly in the chest and arms with a bar of soap wrapped in a blanket.
A Vietnamese prostitute propositions two servicemen, using the phrase "me so horny" while talking of what sex acts the servicemen will get if they make a deal with her. While on the battlefield, a soldier in the South Vietnamese Army brings a prostitute to American soldiers. When an African-American soldier pays for her, she refuses to have sex with him, claiming his penis will be too large for her. While talking of upcoming stories in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, the editor discusses how the actress Ann Margaret will be making an appearance, and tells the photographer to find a way to take a picture of her "fur and early morning dew." A drill sergeant talks graphically of gay sex acts as a method to belittle the recruits he's training. Recruits make jokes about having sex with each other's sisters.
Frequent profanity throughout, covering pretty much every expletive in the English language, including regular use of the f-word. The drill sergeant uses racial slurs in reference to African Americans, Jews, and Italians. He also makes homophobic remarks intended to belittle the manhood of the recruits he's training. The Vietnamese are called "gooks" by American soldiers. A Vietnamese prostitute propositions two American servicemen with the phrase "me so horny" while saying what sex acts they would receive for money given. A racist joke about African Americans told amongst soldiers. Talk of a dead soldier who was about to be sent home due to compulsive masturbation.