Friday, October 17, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

 

Hi Beautiful!

Tonite I’m going to finish answering those two letters like I promised last nite.  And then I have one I got today to answer too.  Keep them coming like that and I won’t mind a bit.

Let’s see, where was I?  Don’t be surprised if I repeat myself from last nite.  I’ve answered all your letters in my head, and can’t remember which ones I put on paper.

First I’ll say that if I do extend for 2 ½ months, we should be able to save more than $300 in that time even after your school expenses.  For three more months a hundred dollars will go to the bank.  I’ll be over two years service then, so I’ll save about a hundred a month here, fifty more if I make five.  Plus your allotment.  So, if we could save it all, that extra time would be worth about $800 to us.  Of course it never comes out as much as you expected, but it would be a pretty penny.

What you said about getting into South Dakota during the winter is true.  Of course we could always fly into Sioux Falls which is usually open.  But, I figure I’ll probably want to use my whole 30 days at home, or at least most of them.  We’ll probably just leave early enough to have time to find a place to live before I report in.

What you said about even the motel people not seeing us for a couple of days when I get back made me stop and think about where we’ll live for that month.  Why don’t we stay at our place?  With Dex and Brian gone we could have the whole upstairs to ourselves.  Just move from room to room when the sheets get messed up!  And they will, believe me.

You know Reet, taking Duch[ess] along with us to our next post is going to cause some problems.  Many motels won’t allow dogs – at least that large a dog – and many places like trailer courts and apartments don’t allow them either.  Don’t get me wrong – I want to take her and we will, but I figured I’d warn you.

I like Les’ idea about you writing me twice a day. He knows how great it is to get mail from home when you’re over here.  But I don’t think you’d have enough to say after a few days, even if you could find the time.  So I won’t expect anything like that.

What’s this bit about your biology lab being 466 feet long?  What’s with the feet?  I don’t get it.

When you said all your ID cards are in your married name, does that include your driver’s license?  I would assume it does, but last I heard you hadn’t changed it yet.  Just wondering.

The idea of Xmas pictures is entirely up to you.  I really think it’s a good idea tho, if it doesn’t get too expensive.  I presume you mean getting them made up on Xmas cards, right?  You weren’t too clear on that.

Yes, you told me about wearing your grubs to Waiting Wives last time.  So this time, on grub nite, you had to go get dressed up, huh?  Figures.  But it sounds like you plan to go along with the formal one alright.  I doubt if that floor length bit would go over too big with most my friends when we entertain.  They like to use their imagination but not that much!

Say, I don’t believe I’ve told you about our hootch mother.  There’s a lady back in Maryland who sends our hootch a package full of snacks and magazines and candy every so often.  Nobody here knows her or why she does it, but it’s sure appreciated.  This week alone we’ve received three packages, altho it’s usually one a week.  This has been going on since anyone can remember, and some guys who were here nearly 18 months said it was going on when they first came here.  Some kind of gal!

One of the first friends I made when I came here was a SP5 names O.B. (just called O.B.).  He made Staff Sergeant the other day—went up for it from his old company.  Goes to show how a good company makes a difference.  He came over as Sp4 two months before I did.  Now he’s my section sergeant.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about our dog too.  We have a dog who belongs to the hootch.  His name is Sean (or Shawn, I don’t know how it’s spelled, and I don’t think anyone else does either).  He has the run of the hootch, and sleeps where he feels like it. That used to be on my foot locker beside my bed, but he’s found a new place lately.  Right now he’s asleep on my foot.  Friendliest dog I’ve ever seen, except towards gooks.  He hates them with a passion.  And he drinks more beer than I do.  Ever seen a dog with a hangover?  It’s hilarious!

So I’ve got a horny wife waiting on me, huh?  Well listen gal, you’ve got a horny husband too.  And I can wait to get back and do something about it for both of us! Of course you keep me horny whenever I’m around you anyway, but at least then I can do something about it.  And I will, believe me!

Good night Rita.  I love you with all my heart, and always will.   Keep counting – 156 days!

All My Love,

Jeff

 

Thursday, October 16, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam. 

 

Dearest Rita,

I got two letters from you two days ago, just as I was going out to guard duty.  I was planning on answering them last nite, then decided I’d best write the folks a quick note first.  I finished it tonite – two whole pages.  Don’t ask me why I was so slow, cause I couldn’t tell you.

No, I haven’t decided anything about extending yet.  Actually, I kind of doubt if I will – I don’t want to be away from you any longer.  But we’ll see.  No, that wouldn’t get me an early out.  I’d have to extend for the full six to get that.  I’ve even thought about that a little, but not too darn seriously.

I got a picture of you and Tresa, and now I’ve got a gripe.  How come you never send pictures where I can see you?  If you’re not looking at Duchess you’re looking at something else, half turned away from the camera.  Try looking towards the camera sometime, so I can see you too, okay?  After all, that’s who I really want to see in the first place.

Now that I’ve griped for a while I’m going to say something nice for a change.  I really liked your hair pulled back like in that picture.  (At least from the side).  Whoops, I was going to cut that out.  Really tho, I think it looks very good that way.  Besides, I’ll have fun untying it – like when I unfasten other things.  Can’t wait!

You know Reet, it would probably be a good idea to start looking for another job now, instead of waiting for Xmas vacation.  If the D.Q. starts cutting down on hours, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you found another job – it wouldn’t be leaving them short of help on anything.  Besides, by Xmas you’ll have so little time before I come home that that will work against you.  So at least it would be a good idea to ask around and keep your ears open.

I don’t know if you misunderstood me when I talked about going to Denver, or if I’m misunderstanding you now.  Here you say “Steve and Gail really want us to go along with them.”  Well, that’s what I meant, only we wouldn’t go back with them – we’d go on to our next post.  But you’d better tell them that it’s pretty hard for us to plan anything definite right now.  And there’s a lot of things I want to do and people to see right in Brookings.  After a year and some it’s going to take some getting used to the place again.

Well, Rita, I wanted to make this a real long letter, and I’ve got plenty more to write about, but I’m dead tired.  I’ll do that tomorrow nite.  Just keep counting, and every day you count off I love you that much more.

Good night, Love.

Forever,

Jeff

157 days!

 

POEM??

Why should I laugh?

When the world crys out,

When the times cry out,

When my heart crys out.

How can I sing?

While my world simply shouts,

While our nation struggles,

And a young man strives.

Yet –

Why should I cry?

For the flowers are beautiful,

And the stars light the sky.

Though the miles they part us,

Our love never dies.

MB

I’m not sure where that last poem came from – it was written on the back of the letter.  I haven’t had any luck in my searches for its author and it not written in dad’s handwriting, so perhaps it was penned by one of his fellow soldiers?  Copied from a latrine door?  Who can say… but with the misspelling of “cries” as “crys,” I’m guessing it wasn’t a published poet at any rate.

Sunday, October 12, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

 

Dearest Reet,

I finally found someone who had a tape tonite, so I borrowed and raced back here to listen to it.  Then I found out that it only had one speed and you had used the other ones, so you sounded like Mickey Mouse.  After looking around for a while I finally located another one with two speeds, so I finally listened to your tape.  I wanted to tape back to you, but his mike was broken and the other guy’s didn’t fit.  So it doesn’t look like you’ll be getting one in return.

At any rate, now I’ll try answering it, if I can remember what all you said.  I didn’t write any notes this time, which may have been a mistake.

First of all, I thought last month you said we had only twenty dollars worth of bills left.  So I was surprised when you said you paid out ninety this month.  At any rate it’s good to know we’re free and clear now.

Yes, we could save another thousand dollars between now and my Deros, if you could put a hundred a month from your check into the bank.  I kind of doubt you make enough on your job to do that, do you?  If I make five it will be easier, but I’m not counting on that until it happens.

Don’t count on me coming home with much money either.  I’ve got less than three hundred bucks riding the books now, and most of what is riding before my Deros I’ll spend on such things as China, a stereo recorder, Christmas gifts, and other things we need.  True, we don’t really need the recorder, and whether I get it or not we’ll depend on how much I have here and how much we have in the bank.  We could live without it if necessary.

I know you don’t like me to go on and on about money, but I have one more thing to say – I’m proud of the way you’ve handled our money.  You’ve done a great job, and I’ve got no complaints.  I’m sorry if at times I’ve sounded a little grouchy about the subject.  I guess that it’s just that I want us to be free of money worries when I come back, at least for a while.  Being debt free is the first step.  Now were on the way up, thanks to you.

Now on to other things.

It sounds like Les really showed you and Kathy a good time.  That was real nice of him, and I sure appreciate it too.  I’m glad there are people like him (and Brian) to look after my wife for me while I’m gone.

What you said about Les changing was interesting, and made me think too.  I guess I’ve changed a lot too since I’ve been here.  My ideas on most things haven’t changed (remember when Dale W. said they would?), but I appreciate things more.  No, that’s not what I mean, that’s just part of it.  My values have increased.  I’m proud to be here, even tho I want to be with you.  And I hate the indifferent attitudes of people back there.  I hate seeing the U. S. change from a winner to a loser.  For the first time in my life I’ve learned to hate.

But I’ve learned to love too.  I don’t mean the way I love you.  That just grows every day.  I mean I’ve learned to love the people of Vietnam.  The country.  Their way of life.  I’ve learned to love a bunch of guys thrown together by the Army.  I’ve learned to love life and all its experience like never before.  That’s how I’ve changed.

I hope Les hasn’t become bitter or anything like that.  Mom said Tom B. had.  I think Les is too smart for that.  I can understand his reluctance to come back tho. It’s so damn lonely at times!

I wouldn’t worry about Les spending a few bucks on you and Kathy that night.  He’s making some pretty big dust while he’s over here.  His base pay is almost as much as my base pay, combat pay, and your allotment combined!  I think he could afford it.

No, Kim won’t be going home when I do.  He’s planning on taking his thirty days over Xmas and New Year’s.  If he goes to see his sister in Nebraska he promised to drive up to see you and Nancy.  I kind of think he’ll stay around Seattle tho.

I’ve been thinking about having some clothes made over here, but you know how I am.  I can’t go in and pick a material and color and style and know I’ll like it.  I have to see it and put it on before I know whether I like it or not.  So I kind of doubt if I’ll get any made.

Okay, I won’t get any melmac.  And I’ll look for those sauce pans, but I haven’t seen anything on that order yet.  Of course I haven’t been looking that close either.  I will now tho.

I must get to bed or I’ll never get up in the morning.  And tomorrow I’ll be one day closer to seeing you.  That’s the best part of everyday.

I love you Rita.  I’ll show you how much in 160 days.  And I’ll show you how much tonite in my dreams.  Good nite my love.

All My Love,

Jeff

Well, we’re back to our regular schedule I hope.  I apologize for the long delay but between the show and Christmas break, lots of work to be done.  I’ll try not to let it happen again.

Saturday, October 11, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Hi Beautiful!

I’m frustrated!  I got a tape from you today, and nothing to play it on.  The one I borrowed for your last tape is gone – the guy left this morning for the states.  So far I haven’t found anyone else who has one.  That’s as bad as getting a blank one.

One thing made it a little easier, I got a letter from you too.  The one telling me about your classes.  How many credit hours does that make – must be 12 or 14, huh?  That’s just guessing, cause I really don’t know how many credits those two art courses count.

No, I didn’t take any biology in college – it wouldn’t have counted for credit toward an engineering degree anyway, if I remember.  Or else I was exempt from it, I’m not sure.  I took Chem instead, and flunked it flat.

Sure wish I were back there going to school with you now.  I hope that when I get out we can afford to both of us go to school for a while.  I think I’d kind of like that.

If we can put a thousand bucks in the bank it would be just great.  With what we have now that would put us up around fifteen hundred.  That would mean you putting just about your whole check in the bank tho, and won’t that be kind of hard?  Great if you can, but don’t cut yourself too short.  And besides anniversaries and Christmas, remember that you’re going to have car insurance coming up again before too long.

Yes, I’ve thought about my folks’ 25th wedding anniversary coming up, but I didn’t realize your folks was too.  And I’m in the same old bind as far as getting a gift from over here.  I’ll write Dex and Brian and have them decide on something from all of us, and you can draw our share out of the bank, okay.  Unless of course I get my MACV card and get straightened out at finance first.  There’s some nice stuff I could send from here if they’d let me.

Yesterday I spent all day guarding gooks who were hauling trash.  It was kind of fun, even tho we couldn’t understand each other.  There were six on my truck – two women and four men.  I didn’t believe the way they would scrounge stuff, especially food (fruit and C rations) and clothes.

The night before last a guy committed suicide in a bunker next to our hanger.  I guess he got a “Dear John” from his wife, and bam, instead divorce.

Last night I had guard duty, so didn’t get any sleep then.  I worked all day and now I’m on C.Q. tonite, so I won’t sleep much tonite either.  But I think I’m getting all day off tomorrow to catch up on my sleep.  Sure hope so.  I could use it.

Oh yes, I gotta tell you this.  It stopped raining!  Finally.  And I don’t miss it a bit.  It will probably start up again before morning tho.

Well Honey, must close now and go wake up some people

Remember that I love you Rita.  We’ll have those days by the lake and out in a field again, don’t you worry.  It’s memories like those that make our love so strong, until we can create new ones again.  I love you!

Forever,

Jeff

 

You have all been very patient.  Thank you.

I swear I haven’t forgotten.

Things are still crazy around here.  Planning on returning next Monday.

Apologies.

e.

See you next Monday.

Ethan

Wednesday, October 8, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Hi Beautiful!

I got a letter from you today!  Sure was glad to get it.  It was the first time mail got thru this week.  I also got a nice long one from Brian, and finally got his address.  Wrote him a quick letter this afternoon.

Maybe you’d better remind Nancy that Kim doesn’t have all the time in the world to write her. I make time to write you because you’re my wife and I love you.  The same doesn’t apply to Kim and Nancy.  He’s got his own family and friends to write to.  I think she’s expecting a bit too much.

Remember what I said about pictures of you in my last letter?  Well I just remembered that I still don’t know what you look like in your new glasses.  They’re not new to you now I know, but they are to me.

This is Thursday now, and I spent all afternoon at the photo lab.  A guy named Dave M. is teaching me how to develop pictures.  We developed a roll of his film, but couldn’t do mine because they are only set up to develop black and white.  But I did take some negatives along to print.  We ran out of time tho, so I only got one of mine printed.  Actually it was from a roll of Kim’s that he gave me the negatives from.  It’s a lousy picture of me (I didn’t realize until it was printed how bad it is).  I may have sent you the original print already, I don’t know.  Anyway, I had a ball and want to do some more when I can.

Say honey, if you can find the negatives of that picture of you in f front of that Texas motel, would you send it to me? I know it’s probably been lost or thrown away by now, but I would love to get it and blow it up.  And the one of you in my field jacket saluting – that’s a little more recent so maybe you can find that.  In fact, send any negatives of yourself you can find, okay?  I want to see what I can do with them.

Oh yes, just about forgot to tell you.  My platoon sergeant told me yesterday he’s putting me up for E-5.  I’m not really too excited about it cause I expected to get five long before this, but he said it was definite.  So maybe… He also said he’s going to make me a crew leader as soon as one we have now leaves.  There’s another guy next in line for it, but SFC S is going to jump me over him, both for crew leader and for five.  He went on and on about what a good worker I am too, which is really funny.  I haven’t worked so little since I’ve been in the Army.  It’s just that when there’s something to be done, I do it, which nobody else does.  That really impressed him.

Even if he does put me in for five this month, it will be a while before I get it.  They don’t go in to battalion until the 25th of this month, and it takes about a month for them to send it down to Bien Hoa to have my records checked and get it back.  Then I have to go up before a board, whenever they decide to have one.  Then, if I pass, I have to wait for a n allocation to come down.  Shouldn’t be any problem there since we’re short of E-5s anyway.  Still, it’s going to be a while.  But as long as I make it before leaving here, I’ll be happy.

You know something Rita?  I miss you something awful tonite.  I don’t know why it should be worse tonite than it usually is, but it is.  I guess this is just one of those times when it all seems so far in the future.  I want to be with you now.  I want to hold you and kiss you and make love to you.  I want to be with you.  More than ever.

It’s late Reet, and I’m half stoned and feeling sorry for myself, so I’d best give this up and go to bed.  I love you Honey, more and more each day.  Always remember that – I love you!

Your Love Is My Life!

Jeff

I think, in light of the previous letter regarding marijuana, we should be clear he’s almost certainly talking about alcohol.  You know, like in Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” when he says “And the waitress is practicing politics, as the businessmen slowly get stoned…”

 

Sunday, October 5, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam

Hi Wife!

Just got off KP a while ago, so figured I’d write a few lines.  I was going to leave it for tomorrow nite, but I think I may have bunker guard.  Not that it makes much difference – no planes are flying because of the weather, which means no mail going in or out from here.   So don’t be surprised if this takes a while to get to you.

Yep, it’s still raining.  Has been all week without a let up.  What used to be a creek you could walk thru without getting your feet wet is now a big, deep, fast river.  Since it’s between us and the perimeter, and it washed all the bridges away, the guards have to be taken out by helicopter.  It’s gonna get worse too.

In another unit nearby, which happens to be in a low spot, their hootches are filled to the windows with water. They were paddling around inside on their air mattresses, but I don’t imagine it’s too comfortable sleeping that way.

Yesterday I had a chance to play grunt.  Our unit sends out a patrol every couple of days outside our section of the perimeter.  It’s to check for any weapons or rockets Charlie might hid out there.  Anyway, we went tromping out thru jungle and rice paddies and the whole bit.  It was interesting for a change, but I wouldn’t want to do it every day like the grunts.  It would get old quick.

This is Monday now.  Worked this morning and stayed in the hootch this afternoon.  Just ain’t no work.  Too bad.

I heard on the radio a few minutes ago that we’ve had 21 ½ inches of rain in the last 24 hours.  And it’s been like this for a week.  No wonder everything is flooded.  The South China Sea comes right up to Highway 1 now, and it used to be miles away.

I can’t get to the laundry to pick up my clothes either.  There’s a river between here and there that wasn’t there before.   So I’m sitting here with a big bag of dirty clothes and no clean ones to wear.  War is hell.

We haven’t been getting any mail because of the rains, so when we do get some I should have quite a stack.

Say, you still haven’t told me how many hours you’re taking this semester, or what your subjects are.  Did you cut down on hours this time like you once said you were going to?

And when am I going to get some more pictures?  You said quite a while ago that you were going to have some taken to send me, but that was the last I heard of it.  You know, Gene W.’s wife had a great idea (and this is a hint).  She sends him a picture a week of herself.  And I’ve got to admit he’s got a great looking wife, but not as great as mine.  Anyway, if you wanted to do something like that, I wouldn’t kick a bit.

I keep looking over the pictures I have of you, and you know which two I still like best?  One is that picture of you at that Texas Motel.  The other is the one I took in the car after the Revere and Raiders concert.  I like the first because it’s a good picture of you and shows off you’re bod something beautiful.  The one I like because I remember all the fun we used to have.  The pictures of our home in North Carolina run a close second, but they don’t concentrate on you, and I do.  That’s about all I concentrate on anymore.  I love you Rita.  Before long I’ll have more than just pictures to look at and hold.  Then I’ll be the happiest guy in the world!  I love you!

Good night, Love.

Forever,

Jeff

167 days!

mom-raiders-hat

The photo above I believe is the one Jeff is talking about when he refers to the
Revere & the Raiders, who, by the way, are pretty great.  Their most famous song is “Kicks,” which you can see here.

I feel like I’ve seen the other photo he’s mentioning, but can’t find it for the life of me.

Friday, October 3, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Dearest Reet,

Finally!  My mails coming thru!  You don’t know how nice that is.  I got these letters and a tape from you today.  Best day I’ve had since I’ve been here.  I know I’m still missing some mail that was forwarded from Evans tho.  So if there’s something I don’t answer, that’s why.

The tape recorder that Kim and I bought I left with him.  He’s going to pay me for my half.  So I had to borrow one to listen to your tape.  The guy is leaving and wants to sell it to me – it’s just like yours – for $10.  I don’t think I’ll buy it tho cause it drags pretty bad.  At any rate, I’m not going to be able to answer your tape right away at least.

You asked for Kim’s address – it’s the same as my old one, silly girl.  At least it will get to him that way.  He’s actually C Battery, so if you put that in place of 388th TC you’ve got his correct address.  By the way, if you’re interested, Clay’s address is the same as mine is now except “B” Company instead of “A”: Skip, Rich S.’s, and Bill’s are the same as Kim’s (either C Battery or 388TC will get it there.)

I suppose by the time you get this Gail’s Pete will be home.  Lucky guy.  And I’ve heard that Stewart is a good place to be stationed.  And it is not as big as Bragg.  Bragg is either first or second in size in the U.S. and Benning is the other.  The main post area itself may be bigger tho, I don’t know.

Hunter Army Airfield is right next door to Stewart, in fact, they are almost considered one installation.  That’s another place with a lot of aircraft where I might get stationed if I don’t get my choice.  I don’t suppose you’d mind that, would you?

How much longer does Pete have in the Army?  I had just kind of figured he had extended to get an early out.  I was surprised to hear he had time left.

Say, Rita, here’s something I’d like you to let me know how you feel about.  What would you say if I extended for about 2 ½ months over here?  I don’t want to spend that extra time away from you, but there’s a couple of good points too.  First, you could get in another semester of college.  Second, we’re just now starting to pull ahead money wise, and another two months would help that way (I actually collect three more months of the combat tax free pay, and I’d be over two).  This is just something I’ve thought about, so let me know how you feel, okay?

I’m glad you feel like you do about R&R.  I know every cent it would cost would be worth it, but we could put it to better use when I get home I think.  Right now, just getting a car and insurance on it will take over half (well over) of what we will probably save.   An R&R would leave us broke again I’m afraid.  And I don’t want to have to worry about money again like I did in North Carolina, do you?

Honey, let me know how much we have in savings after the beginning of October.  I mean exactly, too.  Then I’m going to try to figure out how much we can plan on saving in all.

Honey, like I said in one of my last letters, I’d rather not have you fly out to Washington to meet me.  I want to come home to you.  That may sound dumb, but that’s the way I always think of it.  Besides, it’s hard telling when I’d be getting there.  Some guys get drops of up to twenty days when it’s too late to let anyone know.  Others don’t get their orders until after they should have been gone.  A couple guys here got four day drops today and will leave here day after tomorrow.  So you see, you’d never know when to be there anyway.  And I can’t see me going thru the processing knowing you were waiting for me close by: I’d go nuts!

I’m not surprised to hear about that marijuana bit.  It’s too big a thing not to hit Brookings sooner or later.  I just hope Dex and Brian steer clear of it.  I wrote Dex about it the other day.  I don’t have anything against it, it’s just that the risk involved isn’t worth it.  If you ever hear of Dex or Brian using the stuff, let me know quick won’t you?  I don’t really think they will, but…

You wouldn’t believe all the dew (marijuana) that is used over here.  I knew it was bad in the states, but it’s easier to get here.  I’m willing to bet that ¾ of my unit at Evans used it at least occasionally, and half pretty regularly.  A couple of guys were high 24 hours a day.  Here I don’t think it’s quite as bad, but still pretty popular.  Everyone to their own thing I guess, as long as they don’t try to push it on me.

Those sayings I talked about – I don’t even think about using them like “beaucoup” (boocoo) are used so much over here.  Another one I’ve picked up is “Jack,” like “Hey, Jack.”  Maybe I’ll have more when I get home, huh?

Oh yes, the Whop.  He’s name is Greg T.  He’s Italian, and Italians are called Whops or Wops.  So, that’s the name he got.  By the way, when Greg and I left we had a building dedicated to us – a latrine next to the hanger.  Kim painted a neat sign saying “Dedicated to the fond memory of Greg (the Whop) T. and Jeff (Motor) Johnson.”  The motor part was from a personal joke between Kim and I from the book Atlas Shrugged.  I really thought that was great – the maintenance people will see it every day.

Tell Nancy “Hi” for me, too.  She should have another letter from Kim by now – at least he was writing one when I left last Monday.  Oh yea, Kim’s limping around on a cane now.  He told Nancy about it so you probably know by now.  Bill has his leg in a cast – broken leg.  Don’t know exactly how it happened, but he fell off a ship.  Caught it between the rocket pods and the ship I guess.

Well Honey, it’s getting late and chow’s almost over.  If I want to eat I’d better get going.  Remember that I love you with all my heart, and always will.  Good nite Rita.

Your Lonely Husband,

Jeff

I find that I’m often pleasantly surprised by how nonjudgmental dad is in his letters.  He’s about 20 years old here, I believe, and in the course of his letters going back two years, he’s given very level-headed commentary on race, the war, drugs, and all sorts of other topics on which I would expect him to be more conservative.

I don’t know why; we never talked politics (he died when I was 13), or any other substantial topic that I can recall. I look at old pictures of him and see a Republican in an 80’s tie going off to his job as a finance manager in Arizona.  But why do I see a stalwart Republican?  Because he was a gun owner?  Heck, I still own three guns and I’m a Democrat.

Mom has often mentioned that he was registered to vote as independent… so why am I surprised he’s not condemning the drug use in his unit?  I guess the man I new was a father of three and quite a bit older than the one who wrote this letter, but I like that he didn’t seem to have much of a sanctimonious streak in him.

Wednesday, October 1, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam

Hi Beautiful!

I’m sitting here with one heck of a headache.  Just popped some pills so I hope that will take care of it.

Now, finally, I’ll try to do a good job of answering your last letters.  I still haven’t received any mail here, and I’m beginning to wonder why.  There’s been plenty of time.  Maybe they lost me.

First of all – those names you sent.  I liked most of them except Kevin Travis and Laura Sue., and the middle name of Paula Janelle.  The two boys names I like best are Nathan Reed and Matthew (one or two t’s?) Scott.  I don’t think I’d like to use my middle name if you can think of a different one.  I’m surprised you didn’t suggest these as twin’s names – Matt and Nat.

As far as the girls names go, I really like Nicole Cherise.  I assume you pronounce cole like coal, right?  That’s the way I’ve heard it anyway.  Of course, you know how I like Paula, but not that middle name.

You asked what all the fathers at C Battery names their kids.  Well, I only know two of them.  Larry R.’s is Michelle Rene (not sure how they spelled it).  Dave D. is Carla Sue, which I don’t care for especially.

I noticed that you counted 176 days left on September 22.  Wrong!  Here’s the official count – 172 days left today, October 1st.  That’s counting up to the 21st of March, which is my Deros date.  I just finished recounting them to be sure, and crossing out the last of September on my calendar.

That deal about going out to Denver when I get home sounds good, but…  I don’t think we had best.  First off, I want to spend some time just relaxing when I get home.  And I don’t want you flying out to Washington or Oakland – I want you waiting for me at home.  Can you understand that, Honey?

Also, I was thinking that maybe I wouldn’t take a full thirty days when I get back.  That’s all the time I have left, and I thought maybe we should save some for later, like Christmas.  Let me know what you think of that.

One way we could work it tho, especially if I get stationed on the west coast.  We could go toward the end of my leave time and spend a few days in Denver with Steve and Gail, then they could go back and we’ll go on to our new home.  Maybe you could suggest that to them.

No, you hadn’t mentioned Les being home before.  Where is he going next, do you know?  Tell him hi for me and give him my address (if he isn’t gone already – he probably is).  Did you get that dinner?

This is later on in the evening.  I just finished reading the book of poems you sent for about the tenth time.  I have to agree with you on the one you marked as your favorite.  Did you get a copy for yourself too?  I hope so.  You know, the picture as well as the words make me feel so lonely, because I want to share all the feelings of joy and love with you like we used to.  I love you Rita!

Must hit the rack now.  Care to join me?  Boy, what I wouldn’t give if you could.  Anyway, I dream about it.  Good nite Reet.

Your Lovin’ Hubby

Jeff

For those who don’t know, I have his middle name.

🙂

Tuesday, September 30, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Hi Love,

This is the night I was planning on answering all the letters I got from you when I was at Evans.  But – I’m dog tired and I doubt if I’ll get it done.  I’ve got some from the folks to answer too, and I know that won’t get done tonite.

 

I just got back from Evans yesterday in time to go out on guard duty.  And after spending three days there they didn’t pay me any way.  I got paid in the morning at battalion, but they tried to screw me out of $60.  I’ve got to go to finance tomorrow and straighten it out.

Remember what you said about our not having to adjust to each other much?  I believe I said something about that once too, and it’s true.  I guess that’s why we got married in the first place, isn’t it?  That was the smartest thing I’ve done in my life, and I think God every day for you and for our love.

Honey, I want so much to write you a long long letter for change, but I can’t see straight enough to write.  Good night Rita.  I love you so much!

 

All My Love,

Jeff

 

Sunday, September 28, 1969.   Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Hi Beautiful!

Well, I finally got some of my mail, mainly because I came up to Evans and got it.  That’s where I am now.  Sure was good to hear from you again – after almost two weeks.  I got four letters from you and the mail clerk said some had already been sent down to Eagle.  So I’ll probably get that tomorrow.  Sure hope so.

I came up here yesterday, figuring we’d get paid either yesterday or today.  But we don’t until tomorrow, so I’ve got to stay til then.  Too bad!  It’s been a good weekend just shooting the bull with the guys again.

I’m not going to answer your letters tonite – I’ll wait until I’m back at Eagle.  There is a lot I want to talk about and answer, and I’d rather do that when I’m alone.

I will say here that I loved that book of poems.  And you’re right, it does express that special feeling of love much better than you or I could in our own words.  Just remember it goes for me too.  I love you, Rita, more and more every day.

All My Love,

Jeff

No idea what the book of poems is about, but I’d love to know its name.  I’d probably order a copy ASAP.

Friday, September 26, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

 

Hi Love!

Just finished with my shower and feel good and clean again.  There’s no flick tonite, so I have a feeling this would be a nice long letter.  I hope it turns out that way anyway.

We had an I.G. inspection yesterday, so the three or four days before that we’re kind of hectic.  The officers and NCO’s get all upset and excited about it, and just can’t understand why we’re not.  It’s just that after just so many inspections a guy just doesn’t give a damn if we flunk it.  We’re just glad it’s over.

The other nite there was a live band here – Filipinos.  They were really pretty good, and had four good looking chicks dancing and singing.  Seeing some good looking broads just makes me miss you more.  It reminds me what I’ve got waiting for me at home.  Can’t wait!

Remember what I said about those dream sheets not meaning much?  Well tonite I was talking to a guy who just got his orders to go home and his next assignment.  He and three others had put in for the west coast.  They got Fort Eustis.  So, like I said – I’m not counting on getting the northwest like I put in for.  Who knows, maybe we’ll go East again.

I talked to my crew leader about going up to Evans tomorrow afternoon and staying over til Sunday.  He said okay, but now I have to clear it with my platoon sergeant.  I don’t think he’ll be any problem but you never know.  I’ll have to get paid up then, but I don’t know if they’ll be paying tomorrow or Sunday.

Today my platoon sergeant (SFC S) asked me if I’d like to go to “B” Co. 5th Trans.  I said sure cause I’ve got a lot of friends there (Clay and others).  But then he said it would be to work on CH 47’s (Chinooks), cause we’re sending all our Hook people there and won’t work on them here anymore.  I told him no, definitely not.  I want nothing to do with those monsters.  I hate the eight of them even.  So I’m staying here now.

He also said he needed two men to crew a LOH (one of those little jobs) and I said I’d love to get that.  But he has some LOH people who would have to get first chance, so I imagine they’ll grab it.  But I may try getting on the LOH maintenance team, just to try something different for a change.

I’ve just been talking with a couple guys here about tape recorders and china.  Those are two things I’m definitely going to get while I’m here.  One other thing I’ve been thinking about too – Melmac.  Why don’t I order a set and we can use it for everyday instead of those good dishes?  I’ve been looking for them too, but without much luck.  Why don’t you tell me the brand name and send a picture if you can get one from Watson’s and I’ll keep trying.

You know, after getting all that stuff and Xmas presents too.  I’ probably end up not saving much over here.  But the savings in price is too great to pass up.  I hate myself forever if I didn’t, and you probably would too.  Especially if I didn’t get china, huh?  And it’s all stuff we need or will want for our home, so I feel it will be well worth it.

Oh yea, I should tell about our short timers hootch.  The eight shortest guys in our platoon will live there.  The will get partitioned rooms, real beds and mattresses and won’t have to make any formations or pull extra duties.  That will really be a nice way to spend your last month or so here.  I guess they figured that no one works when they’re that short anyway.

Well, Rita, looks like I managed to make this a fairly respectable letter.  I wish I had the time to do this more often.  But now it’s getting late and I’m going to hit the sack.

Good night Reet.  I love you with all my heart!

Forever,

Jeff

Okay, so lots of “things”  in this letter.  I’ll try to clear a few up.

  • If you didn’t recall, Fort Eustis was dad’s first posting after basic (I think, it’s been a while).
  • B Company, 5th Transportation Unit were stationed in Phu Bai as best as I can tell.
  • LOH = Light Observation Helicopter.  Like the ones you see in the show opening of M*A*S*H.  Many different models have been used over the years.
  • Melmac is a brand of plastic dishware.
  • Also, Melmac is the name of the home planet of Alf.

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

Photobucket

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