“My father used to call all soldiers angel warriors,” he said. “Because usually they get boys to fight wars. Most of you aren’t old enough to vote yet.”

Lieutenant Carroll speaks these words following Jenkins’s death in Chapter 4. His statement emphasizes one of the most important aspects of the novel: the extreme youth of the soldiers. Carroll’s reference to the voting age highlights the tragic irony of the military: the fact that the people defending America are not old enough to have any say in the way the country is run and likely not mature enough to understand what they are fighting for. The irony only deepens when we remember that Carroll himself—who is seen as the wise, older leader—is only twenty-three years old. Carroll’s reference to soldiers as “angel warriors” gives the novel its title, Fallen Angels, and suggests the innocence and naïveté of these young male soldiers. The statement also highlights Carroll’s kindness and sensitivity, two of the traits that make him such a beloved commander and a good role model and leader. Unlike many other officers, such as Captain Stewart, Carroll is deeply affected by every death he sees. He does not try to increase the enemy body count to raise his chances of promotion. His only aim in Vietnam is to keep as many of his men alive as possible. It is his death—which occurs several weeks after he makes this statement—that shakes the squad irreparably.