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John James Rambo (born July 6, 1947) is a fictional character in the Rambo saga. He first appeared in the 1972 novel First Blood by David Morrell, but later became more famous as the protagonist of the film series, in which he was played by Sylvester Stallone. The portrayal of the character earned Stallone widespread acclaim and recognition. The character was nominated for American Film Institute's list 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains. The term "Rambo" is used commonly to describe a person who is reckless, disregards orders, uses violence to solve problems, enters dangerous situations alone, and is exceptionally tough and aggressive.
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David Morrell says that in choosing the name Rambo he was inspired by "the sound of force" in the name of Rambo apples, which he encountered in Pennsylvania. These apples, in turn, were named for Peter Gunnarsson Rambo who sailed from Sweden to New Sweden (SE Pennsylvania/Southern NJ/Northern Delaware) in the 1640s, and soon the name would flourish in New Sweden. The name Rambo was likely derived from a shortened form of "Ramberget" (a hill on the Hisingen island near Gothenburg, where Peter Gunnarsson was born) plus "bo" (meaning "resident of"). Today, many of his descendants can still be found in this region of the US. Morrell felt that its pronunciation was similar to the surname of Arthur Rimbaud, the title of whose most famous work A Season in Hell, seemed to him "an apt metaphor for the prisoner-of-war experiences that I imagined Rambo suffering". Furthermore, an Arthur J. Rambo was an actual U.S. soldier in Vietnam, but he never returned. His name can be seen on the Vietnam War Memorial wall in Washington, DC. By sheer coincidence, the Japanese word "rambō" (乱暴) means "violent" or "rough". He was granted the first name "John" as a reference to the song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again".
In the novel and first film, Rambo appears as a soldier who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and has difficulty adjusting to normal life. 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. In the next films and novelisations he is displayed as a man who wants to stay away from conflict but is willing to do 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 is probably his only friend) understands him and the pain and torture he had endured in the war and is the only one able to reason with him when he becomes an outlaw after murdering police officers in the town of Hope.
Rambo 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. Rambo is an expert in surviving in dense forests against a large number of enemies due to his experiences in the Vietnam War. He is also an expert in guerrilla tactics, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat. Rambo has black hair and brown eyes. His height is 5'10". In the DVD commentary for First Blood Morell remarks that the inspiration for Rambo was World War II hero Audie Murphy.
According to the first film First Blood, Rambo's full name is John Rambo. He was born on July 6, 1947 in Bowie, Arizona, to a Navajo father (whose name according to the last film was probably R. Rambo) and an Italian American mother Marie Drago. However, in Rambo: First Blood Part II, Marshall Murdock states that Rambo is of Native American and German descent. Rambo enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17 on August 6, 1964, although he states in Rambo IV he was "drafted into Vietnam." After he graduated from Rangeford High School in 1965, his military service began in January 1966. Rambo was deployed to South Vietnam in September 1966. He returned to the U.S. in 1967 and began training with the U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina under Colonel Trautman's tutelage.