During the Vietnam War in 1968, Captain Sam Cahill has been working hard to create good relations between American soldiers and Montagnard Vietnamese in the village of Dak Nhe. The U.S. Army is looking to monitor enemy Vietcong operations from a clandestine weapons supply route which passes through the village at night. Cahill is coming close to his retirement, and explains to his successor Captain T.C. Doyle, the delicate nature of Vietnamese customs as well as the counter intelligence involving covert enemy activity. In a lapse of judgment with surrounding Vietnamese children, Doyle accidentally lets the Vietcong know of their cooperation with the local villagers. In punishment, Colonel Nguyen of the Vietcong shoots the villager's elephant dead, right before a spiritual festival. To aid the villagers, Cahill promises to replace the slain elephant before their upcoming ceremony.
Cahill and Doyle enlist the help of Pooh And His Friends and three other soldiers; CW3 Davis Poole, Sp4 Harvey Ashford and Sp5 Lawrence Farley to secure and deliver a new elephant to the villagers. The soldiers agree to purchase an elephant from a Vietnamese trader in a village a few hundred miles away. They also agree to accompany the elephant's handler Linh, who has experience with verbal commands in guiding the elephant. Along the way, Vietcong soldiers attempt to halt their advancement with the elephant towards Dak Nhe; but without success. Following a failed air transport move, the soldiers use a combination of land and sea methods to reach Pleiku Airbase before their final journey towards Dak Nhe.
At the base, Major Pederson, notifies the soldiers that the mission to deliver the elephant as a favor, has been cancelled. Pederson informs the soldiers that the enemy supply route has changed direction, and the army no longer needs the support of the local village. Against regulations, the soldiers commandeer a cargo aircraft with the elephant on-board to deliver to the villagers as promised. The aircraft comes under enemy fire as the soldiers along with the elephant aboard a crate, parachute out to safety. The company land unharmed within the village, but one of the soldiers who parachuted out, Ashford, gets stuck in a tree and becomes separated from the corps. Vietcong forces suddenly appear to disrupt the operation, threatening to take the remaining soldiers hostage and kill the elephant. Ashford however, is able to free himself and create a diversion long enough to distract and incapacitate the Vietcong troops. The soldiers complete their original intended mission, and to the delight of the U.S. Army, capture high-ranking enemy combatants in the process.