Continuity mistake: In the opening scene, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman is making his speech and passes by Privates Cowboy and Joker on his way to the other side of the barracks. On his way he passes Private Pyle standing to the right of Private Joker. Later in the scene, when he rushes over to confront Private Joker and then moves on to Private Cowboy and then Private Pyle, Private Pyle is on the left of Private Joker. (00:02:00)
Continuity mistake: Pvt. Pyle is on the rifle range with Gunnery Sergeant Hartman right behind him. When filmed from Pyle's right side, he is wearing a white wrist wrap/brace but the shot moves behind him and it is gone. Back to the right side and it reappears. (00:35:50)
Continuity mistake: When Gomer Pyle is in the toilet with his rifle and after shooting the drill instructor, Pyle sits down on the fourth toilet seat from the back of the room. In the next shot where Pyle kills himself, he is sitting on the third toilet seat. You can see this already from the front shot of Pyle when he kills himself because there is a rise in the wall next to the third seat, which is visible through the whole scene. It is more obvious in the following shot where you can see the row of toilet seats and Pyle sitting dead on the third one. (00:43:00 - 00:43:35)
Continuity mistake: In the fire fight in the city near the end of the film, one of the men is firing a M-16 around a corner. As the camera angle changes he is seen firing left handed and right handed. Back and forth several times. Also in the same sequence the magazine in his gun keeps vanishing. One shot he has it and in the next there is no magazine in the gun and yet he hasn't moved. (01:14:32)
Continuity mistake: During the first firefight scene a soldier fires a M79 grenade launcher and hits one of the second-floor window. The glazing of the second window in the same floor is also destroyed. In the next shot the glazings of both windows are intact.
Continuity mistake: When D.I. Hartman dumps the contents of Private Pyle's footlocker on the floor, in the next few shots the layout of the clutter on the floor changes. Note that after Hartman confronts Pyle with the jelly doughnut and turns away, there is a clear path through the clutter for Hartman that disappears in subsequent shots. (00:25:35)
Continuity mistake: When Joker is riding along in the chopper we can see its shadow falling on the ground below, only it's the shadow of a Bell Jetranger, not the Wessex/UH34 he is supposed to be in. (00:58:33)
Continuity mistake: During the drill scene when Sgt. Hartman is asking Private Pyle if he knows the difference between his left and his right, watch the positioning of Pvt Pyle's cap. After being struck the first time, the cap is slightly cocked. After the shot returns to Pyle and before he gets struck for the second time, the cap is cocked further over. (00:09:14)
Continuity mistake: During the "blanket party" scene, Pyle appears to be sleeping on two (wrinkled) pillows. When Cowboy covers his mouth Pyle is sleeping on one very neat pillow. (00:28:39)
Continuity mistake: In the bathroom scene on the last night of boot camp, Pvt. Pyle is 'training' with a rifle. As he snaps to attention, the shot from behind shows him with legs slightly apart, a second later the shot from the front shows him with his legs perfectly together, yet he never moves.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where the sniper is shot, You can see blood on her face (especially on her upper lip) when she falls down after being hit, but when she lies on the floor afterwards, there is no blood on her face anymore.
Continuity mistake: During the graduation parade, if you look at the background you can see many large squad bay buildings with a few single trees in front of them, this scene seems to be shot at the actual Paris island. However when they show a close up of Joker's platoon in parade, the background changes to mostly trees, with only two or three small buildings behind them.
Continuity mistake: When the tanks are moving into the city with the Marines i.e. after meeting Private Cowboy, Animal Mother and the rest, they run into a firefight. When they stop shooting and are reloading watch the leader's ammo clip. It's missing in one shot of him, in the next he's ejecting the magazine and putting in a fresh one before shooting the two Vietnamese with it.
Continuity mistake: In the first Vietnam scene, while Joker is sitting having a drink, the same cars keep driving round and around behind. (00:46:04)
Continuity mistake: After Cowboy is hit by the sniper Animal Mother fires wildly and destroys part of the "My Toan" sign. A few seconds later you can see it is intact.
Continuity mistake: When Joker and Rafterman are in transit on the chopper, we see the gunner firing out the cargo door. We can see out the cargo door that the ground is pretty far away, the chopper is obviously pretty high up in the air, so high that if there were people down on the ground it would be rather hard to see them. However the camera switches to the gunner's point of view shooting at people, and the chopper only seems to be about 20 feet off the ground.
Continuity mistake: In the part of the death of Cowboy, before he looks through the corner of the building to see the position of the sniper, there is a wall in good condition behind another wall which is broken. Later, when he goes back and starts to give orders, the wall that was in good condition is now broken without any reason for it to be and now the sniper can see Cowboy so she can shoot him. (01:39:20)
Continuity mistake: After Lt. Touchdown has been shot, behind the tank, he falls to the ground with his rifle still grasped in one of his hands but when the marines move in to aid him his rifle has vanished.
Continuity mistake: When Hartman punches private Joker you can see Hartman swing with his left hand in one shot and a split second later (angle from the floor) when Joker has been struck, Hartman's right hand has made contact and is pulling back.
Continuity mistake: When Joker is talking to the colonel about his peace badge, it is there at the beginning of the conversation, but then disappears when Joker turns his back to the camera. It then reappears in the next scene when he is walking along with Rafterman.
Answer: It was Gustav Hasford's idea. It happened in the original book that the story is based on, "The Short Timers."