In 1968, American soldiers are participating in operations in the mountainous jungles in the northern part of South Vietnam. While on patrol investigating a road that is a suspected supply route from North Vietnam, the Americans are ambushed on a steep hillside. In the fierce firefight, two soldiers, William Tracey and Carl Hulls are separated from their unit. They climb up through the thick jungle, and in trying to reach high ground and escape an American air strike, they discover a cave carved into the hillside, hidden by the dense undergrowth. Inside the cave they find a small statue made of gold and encrusted with precious gems. Knowing they can't take it out with them, they agree to bury it in the floor of the cave with the hopes they can return to Vietnam someday and retrieve it. They then make their way to the top of the mountain where there is a huge rock formation that resembles an Eagle's head. They are able to signal to an American Chopper to pick them up.
Ten years later, either man's life has gone well. Tracey, pursuing a PhD has been dismissed from the program in the final stages of his dissertation after an altercation with his adviser. Hulls, suffering from the trauma resulting from his experiences in Vietnam and the wounds he received, has seen his life and marriage fall apart. Tracey reconnects with Hulls and convinces him to return to Vietnam and retrieve the statue.
They recruit a former soldier, Norman Cheney to assist them. Cheney, the son of a career NCO, was a Special Forces soldier who spent much of his three tours in Vietnam on Long Range Patrols and was outraged by the US withdrawal from Vietnam and the abandonment of US POW/MIA. He agrees to take them into the jungle. His motives, however, are different from theirs.