Arizona Moon describes a fictional no-name operation in Vietnam’s infamous Arizona Territory and Golf’s 1st platoon of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines operating west of the Tu Bon River in Quang Nam Province. The story centers on a squad leader, Corporal Raymond Strader, and a Apache Indian, L/Cpl Noche Gonshayee. Strader has only three days until his thirteen month tour of duty ends, and Gonshayee, whose tribal name is “Moon”, considers all anglos potential enemies. When Strader is sent from the field to begin processing out of the An Hoa combat base, Moon is accused of murdering two members of his squad on a night listening post, and Strader is pulled back into the field to escort the Indian, restrained and with a serious head injury, back to the base. The helicopter transporting them is shot down and the two Marines find themselves evading the NVA in the Ong Tu Mountains.
An NVA unit, moving munitions toward Da Nang in anticipation of the TET Offensive - with orders to avoid contact with American troops - finds themselves butting heads with the platoon of Golf Company as they scramble across the face of the Ong Tu. Among the NVA are two students from a university in Hanoi, volunteers eager to carry supplies and weapons south. One is a student of literature and an avid reader of American pulp fiction, especially that of America’s wild west, and is enamored of the American Indian, sympathizing with their historical plight. The murders attributed to Moon were actually the work of the NVA, and in that contact, a spirit pouch is stolen from the Indian to become the prized possession of the student as his unit tries to run beyond the reach of the Marines.
After surviving the helicopter crash, Strader and Moon find themselves in the path of the fleeing Vietnamese and, secreted on the mountainside, Moon sees his coveted spirit pouch pass by hanging from one the enemy weapon’s bearers. After separating himself from Strader, Moon goes after the NVA in hopes of retrieving the pouch he equates with his honor. Strader discovers he has been duped and pursues the Indian into the mountains.
The platoon brings artillery, Phantom jets, and helicopters into play in an attempt to destroy the NVA unit, but only slow it enough for Moon to catch them and confront the student with his spirit pouch.
Moon recovers his pouch, Strader finds Moon, and together they try fighting their way back to their platoon with the NVA hunting them. With no ammunition and the enemy closing in, the two Marines envision little chance of survival, but a squad from 1st platoon finds them, and together they lead the Vietnamese to where the platoon waits in ambush.
Throughout Arizona Moon the characters exemplify the camaraderie, esprit de corps, and brotherhood of the United States Marine Corps.