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"God didn't make Rambo... I made him."
―Trautman to Sheriff Will Teasle, his first lines.

Colonel Samuel "Sam" Trautman was a long-time friend and mentor of John Rambo, and the only character besides Rambo to appear in more than one film in the series. He was originally slated to be played by Kirk Douglas, and Richard Crenna was cast at the last minute when Douglas walked off the picture.

He was named after Uncle Sam and has been compared to Dr. Frankenstein by Sylvester Stallone, as he created a monster who wants nothing more than acceptance.

Trautman is well-known for his long, passionate speeches, usually dealing with how unpredictible Rambo is, and these have become the character's trademark. The speeches have been subject to countless parodies and homagessfilms..


Sam Trautman was born on July 6, 1929 in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from Hilldale High School in Columbus, he attended the University of Texas in 1950, where he earned a B.A. in Sociology. From the University of Texas, he was enrolled in the local ROTC program, where he was a second lieutenant. From there, Trautman joined the United States Army at the beginning of the Korean War. Trautman was trained for infantry at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After serving in the Korean War, Trautman was promoted to Captain in 1956 and, later to Major in 1959. He was then cross-trained with the CIA from 1960 to 1963 and went on active covert operations in Chile and Guatemala, however the missions were classified. At the start of the Vietnam War, Trautman began his first combat tour as an adviser to the ARVN after being deployed to South Vietnam in May of 1966. Trautman was promoted to Colonel in 1970 and became the unit commander for Baker Team from 1970 to 1973. Trautman joined the fledgling Special Forces and gained a commission, attached to the Fifth Special Forces Group, a Green Berets unit. Following his return to the United States, Trautman was selected to form a unit along the lines of S.O.G. It was here that Trautman first came face to face with a certain John Rambo, at that time a young man who had left both his home and an abusive, alcoholic father. Over the months in training, Trautman became a father figure to the young Rambo, especially since Rambo was the youngest of the group. When Trautman completed the group's Special Forces training, they were sent on the first of two tours of Vietnam. Trautman's team received the code name of Baker Team and usually consisted of eight men. Trautman then worked with the CIA on the Cambodian border from 1973 to 1979; however, information concerning his missions was classified. In the early 1980s, Trautman was then re-assigned to the Department of Defense headquarters, the Pentagon, where he continued consulting and in-field advisement for democratic insurgents combating communist and fascist forces. During his military service, Trautman earned one Purple Heart, five Distinguished Service Crosses and three Congressional Medals of Honor (no MOH, or DSC is shown on his class A uniform) . At some point, Colonel Trautman was married and became divorced.

First Blood (Novel)[]

Trautman's relationship to John Rambo in the book First Blood sharply contrasts that portrayed in the movie. In the book, Trautman was brought in to actually kill Rambo, who barely remembers him. In fact, after hearing his voice, Rambo strains to recall him. Trautman then identifies himself as "Director of the school that trained you" over the car radio. In the book, Rambo doesn't reply to him, and, in fact, says to himself, "The Bastard. Turning on your own kind [referencing Trautman's assistance to Teasle]." Their one significant interaction comes at the end of the book, when Trautman tells Teasle that he "took the top of his [Rambo's] head off with this shotgun."

First Blood[]

"You don't seem to want to accept the fact you're dealing with an expert in guerrilla warfare, with a man who's the best--with guns, with knives, with his bare hands. A man who's been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that would make a billy goat puke. In Vietnam his job was to dispose of enemy personnel. To kill! Period! Win by attrition. Well, Rambo was the best."
―Sam Trautman to Will Teasle.

Trautman's first appearance

He first appeared in First Blood, when he flew into Hope, Washington from the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., to warn Sheriff Will Teasle of the danger Rambo poses to him and his town. Trautman repeatedly attempts to get Rambo to surrender, but to no avail. After Rambo is reported dead, Trautman shows some pretty serious regret for not doing more to save him, distraught that his entire unit is dead. Still, he suspects that Rambo is still alive and faking his death because of the easiness of his defeat. For this reason, he decides to continue to stay in town for a while. After discovering that Rambo is still alive, Trautman attempts to get Teasle to give up and let Rambo go so they can pick him up down the road with no struggle.

Sam Trautman in First Blood.

Teasle refuses, and Trautman tells him that unless he (Teasle) backs off, Rambo will kill him. At the end of the film, Trautman stops Rambo from killing Teasle and Rambo breaks down, spilling out all his traumatic Vietnam War memories to Trautman before sobbing into the shocked and moved Colonel's shoulder. Trautman manages to convince Rambo to surrender to the police. He accompanies him away from the police station, but not before showing a scorned look to the injured Teasle, together with Rambo, when Teasle is taken to the hospital, because of his despicable behavior.

Alternate ending[]

Rambo feels that he's had it with his life. He unsafeties Trautman's gun and goes to get him to shoot him. Before the Colonel could move his arm away, Rambo tricked him into shooting him.


Rambo: First Blood Part II[]

"Pressure? Let me just say that Rambo is the best combat vet I've ever seen. A pure fighting machine with only a desire--to win a war that someone else lost. And if winning means he has to die, he'll die. No fear, no regrets. And one more thing, what you choose to call hell... he calls home."
―Colonel Sam Trautman to Marshall Murdock.

Colonel Sam Trautman in Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Trautman's appearance in the sequel is much different than in the first film. Trautman's skin is much more tan, presumably because he is working in Southeast Asia. He also seems to have aged quite a bit, because he has more wrinkles and his hair color has gotten lighter and gray in places. Trautman is also wearing a different beret, one with a higher rank.

Trautman first appears at the beginning of First Blood Part II, when he visits John Rambo while he is serving out his hard-labor sentence, for his actions in the first movie, by working in a labor camp prison quarry. Trautman tells Rambo that he is now working in Southeast Asia with CIA beaurocrats with the First Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (ODD) or Delta Force and that Rambo will get a presidential pardon if he goes back into the jungles of Vietnam to locate American prisoners of war and photograph their whearabouts. Rambo accepts, but asks if they get to win this time. Trautman tells Rambo that it is up to him. It then cuts to the military base in Thailand, where Trautman introduces Rambo to CIA operative Marshall Murdock, who tells him about how he is to only take pictures.

Trautman heads along with Lifer and Ericson when they are to pick up Rambo, who is being attacked by hostile Vietnamese soldiers after rescuing a POW. Murdock orders the mission to be aborted, and Trautman protests, only for Lifer to pull a gun on him, and a reluctant Trautman backs down. Trautman gets back to the base and angrily argues with Murdock, who attempts to defend his heartless actions. When Rambo manages to arrive back at the hangar at the end of the film, Trautman shows Rambo where Murdock is. As Rambo is leaving the base, Trautman tells Rambo that he will receive yet another Medal of Honor for his service in the mission. But Rambo is repulsed by this and tells Trautman that they should give it to the POWs, as they deserve it more. Trautman says that Rambo shouldn't hate his country, and Rambo states that he does not hate it; in fact, he would die for it. A confused Trautman asks Rambo what he wants and Rambo responds by saying in anger that he wants America to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love America, says that he will now live 'day by day,' and then leaves to live in Thailand.


Rambo III[]

"Every day, your war machines lose ground to a bunch of poorly-armed, poorly-equipped freedom fighters. The fact is that you underestimated your competition. If you'd studied your history, you'd know that these people have never given up to anyone. They'd rather die than be slaves to an invading army. You can't defeat a people like that; we tried! We already HAD our Vietnam! Now you're gonna have yours."
―Colonel Sam Trautman to Colonel Zaysen.

Colonel Sam Trautman in Rambo III.

Trautman does not see John Rambo again until Rambo III, when he arrives at a Buddhist monestary where he is working. Trautman had earlier seen Rambo win a stick fight at a Bangkok warehouse and give the money he won to monks. Trautman asks Rambo if he wants to come to Afghanistan so they can supply weapons to the Mujhadeen fighters to use against the invading soviet armies. Rambo declines because he needs to stop fighting, and Trautman tells Rambo that he needs to come "full circle", and realize that he has to stop tearing away at himself and come to terms with who he is: a combat soldier.

Trautman is later abducted by the sadistic Colonel Zaysen, who informed him that he was the first American to be captured in Afghanistan. Zaysen demands Trautman give him any information of the FIM-92A Stinger missiles he is giving to the rebel Mujhaideen armies, but Trautman refuses. Throughout the course of the film, Zaysen tortures Trautman with the help of his henchman, Kourov. Although Trautman is beaten severely, starved, his arms are ripped out of their sockets, a submachine gun is held to his throat and he is nearly burned with a makeshift flamethrower, Trautman refuses to give up any information on the whereabouts of the weapons. This infuriates Zaysen, although it is quite clear that pain does not bother Trautman, as he often mocks Zaysen to his face. For instance, when he is being yanked up by a makeshift rack, Trautman seemingly agrees to give up the location of the missiles and then says to Zaysen that they are "up your ass". As Zaysen loses his patience, it becomes clear that he won't keep him alive for much longer, although he won't kill him quite yet, as he needs the locations on the missiles.

Because Trautman is Rambo's only friend, when Rambo hears of Trautman's abduction, he launches a rescue mission with the help of the Mujhaideen rebels. Zaysen hears about this from an informant in Mousa's shop and asks Trautman who Rambo is. Trautman triumphantly says that he will soon find out, and this angers Zaysen. Rambo's first raid on the Soviet camp fails, however, and Rambo takes shrapnel to the torso. Despite his serious injury, Rambo caused signifigant damage and casualties to the camp. Zayen barges into Trautman's cell that night and tells him the results of the rescue attempt, which have caused serious injuries to his men and their unit. Zaysen says that this has not happened before and angrily demands to know if he thinks that Rambo is God. But Trautman responds that God would have mercy, and that Rambo will not. The second time around, Rambo successfully rescues Trautman and numerous other prisoners. Rambo hijacks a Soviet helicopter, but they are hit badly during the escape, and one prisoner is killed. Rambo has to make an emergency landing, forcing them to have to continue on foot towards the Pakistan border through the mountains, while the other prisoners escaped safely and wishing them good luck.

Trautman is captured by the Soviets.

Rambo and Trautman hide from a Spetznaz team in a cave and Rambo uses his Compound Bow equipped with Blue Light to massacre the commandos. Trautman also saves Rambo's life from a Spetznaz commando by shooting the Soviet in the back with an Hungarian AMD-65 rifle. When Rambo thanks him for this, Trautman says, "What are friends for?" Later on, when Rambo is getting attacked by Kourov, Trautman attempts to kill Kourov, but cannot get a good enough shot; he thus worries that he will hit Rambo by mistake. Later on, they are ambushed by an entire Soviet platoon in trucks and Zaysen in a helicopter. Rambo uses an M203 40mm grenade launcher to destroy several trucks, but as they have begun to run low on ammunition, things are looking grim for the two.

Luckily, the Mujhaideen fighters arrive just in time and help the two out. Rambo commandeers a tank and kills Zaysen while Trautman fires an Oerlikon 20mm AA gun at approaching gunships. After a while, the battle is won and as they are driving away from the chaos, Trautman remarks that he and Rambo may be getting soft. As they drive away, Rambo replies, "Just a little."



Following the events of Rambo III, Trautman likely retired from the military. However, this is just speculation as the character's fate after Rambo III was never clearly specified in Rambo IV, because Richard Crenna died before the fourth film was made. Crenna was originally going to be replaced by James Brolin, but Stallone felt it would be disrespectful to replace Crenna. Stallone says that the character died the same day Richard Crenna died, so it can safely be assumed that Trautman passed away between the events of Rambo III and IV. Trautman's passing can be further confirmed at the end of Last Blood where Rambo states "All the ones I loved are now ghosts".

In the fourth film, he only appeared in flashbacks.

The fourth film is dedicated to his memory.


  • Trautman in the video game.

    Rambo has said that Trautman is the only person he trusts.
    • This is given further credence since Trautman is the only person who seems to care for Rambo's personal safety, despite being occasionally cold when talking about him.
    • It has also been said in interviews that Trautman is the only person that Rambo can talk to about his experiences, which is why Rambo is so quiet.
  • Trautman's death may have been a contributing factor to Rambo becoming even more reclusive and angry in the fourth film, given that he was shown to be deeply upset upon learning that Delmar Barry had died. After the events of Rambo III, Trautman probably kept closely in touch with Rambo over in Thailand until his death.
  • Colonel Sam Trautman and John Rambo both share the same birthday (which is also Sylvester Stallone's), except Trautman is eighteen years older.
  • If what Colonel Zaysen said was true, than Colonel Trautman was the first American captured by Soviets in Afghanistan.
  • Due to his military service in Korea, this was likely how Trautman managed to maintain a civil interaction with the first film's antagonist Will Teasle, who is a fellow Korean War vet like him.
  • Richard Crenna parodied Trautman himself in the 1993 comedy film Hot Shots! Part Duex, a parody of the Rambo films.
Films: First BloodRambo: First Blood Part IIRambo IIIRamboRambo: Last Blood
John Rambo on: First BloodFirst Blood Part IIRambo IIIRambo IVOn-Screen Kills
Cast: Sylvester StalloneRichard Crenna
Video games: RamboRambo: First Blood Part IIRambo (1987)Rambo IIIRambo on FireRambo (Sega)Rambo: The Video Game
First Blood Rambo First Blood Part II Rambo III Rambo
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