Puffin Jack is a United Nations peacekeeper in Cambodia in 1993. In a country ravaged by civil war and recovering from the horrific consequences of genocide and displacement at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Puffin Jack finds an opportunity to prove to the world that he is a hero.
Puffin Jack is an Australian soldier, a peacekeeper on posting to Cambodia as part of the United Nations Transit Authority Cambodia. An idealistic dreamer living on the fringes of society, he embraces the barbed nickname given to him by his peers. He finds himself deployed to a remote one-man retransmission station deep in the rainforest of the Cardamom Mountains as part of the UN communications network.
Here he services and monitors a bank of VHF radios with the only other camp inhabitant for the company, a 17-year-old Khmer boy named Horrie by the previous UN resident. A lonely posting, Puffin Jack begins to entertain fantasies of a secret mission he believes has been tacitly authorised by his superiors to rid the region of Khmer Rouge influence.
In defiance of the United Nations Charter and contrary to any orders issued, Puffin Jack, with the hapless Horrie in tow, commences his quixotic and clandestine forays into the rainforest in search of the Khmer Rouge.