Sunday, November 2, 1969 – Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Hi Lover,

Sure seems like a long time since I wrote you last.  I guess it has been about four or five days, and then just a quick one.  Today I’ve got all afternoon, so I try make this one worth while.

I can’t believe this is November already.  It’s supposed to be winter, but it sure doesn’t seem like it here.  I know it’s not going to seem anything like Xmas when it comes.  It gets kind of cold here at nights, but that’s about all.

No, I didn’t have a thing to do with Dex taking you out.  I hope you had a good time.  I’ll have to remember to thank him next time I write.  I just might get a little jealous too – I know what a hustler Dex is.

Yes, we have our hootch mother’s address, and we wrote her about a month ago.  Everyone put in their two cents worth and signed it.  We gave some money to one of the guys who Derosed* a couple weeks ago, and he was going to send her some flowers from Ben Hoa if he could, or else when he got back to the states.  Haven’t heard anything about that yet.

You asked what kind of dog Shawn is.  Darned if I know.  He’s a mutt, but must have some kind of terrier in him.  I’ll send a picture if I can ever get some film.  None of the P.X.s here or at Phu Bai have had any for better than a month now.

Clay was here the other day, or night I should say.  All the officers of the 5th Teams were having a party here, so he flew them up.  Sure was good to see him again.  He stayed until the party was over (about 11:00), but was kind of hoping there would be at least one sober pilot to get them back.  He made it tho, cause I saw him yesterday when I flew to B Company to pick up some stuff we needed.  Didn’t have a chance to talk to him then tho.

Clay is going to be a father any day now, if not already.  Barb went on a trip to Europe this summer, but is back in California now.  They plan on getting married as soon as Clay gets back.

Why didn’t you send me that letter full of reasons not to extend?  I’ve got quite a few good ones myself, but I would like to hear yours also.  I don’t really think I will, but I’ve got to do it by the end of January if I do.  That’s plenty of time to think up reasons not to.

OK, where are those pictures you said you were going to send me a long time ago?  I’m beginning to think you forgot how a camera works.  Please try to get some to me soon, would you Reet?

It just started raining again.  For a minute it was coming down so hard I couldn’t see the next hootch, which is only about fifteen feet away.  Now it’s just a nice light rain, which isn’t bad.

Speaking of pictures again – Dave did take a couple more pictures of me a couple of weeks ago, but hasn’t had a chance to get to the photo lab to develop them yet.  I’ll send them when I get them.  I’ll also send some pictures I took at Evans along with this letter (if I remember).  This damp weather makes them stick together, so I hope you can get them apart when you get them.

OK, I see what you mean about sending cards to the friends of mine you’ve met.  Bill and Kim you can use my old address for. I don’t know any of their serial numbers, but that doesn’t matter.  Clay is at B Co. 5th Trans.  How about Skip G.?  He’s at my old address too.  He may be out of the Army by Xmas tho – no, I guess it’s right after Xmas he’ll be getting out.

How did your rummage sale go?  Make a lot of money?  And did you buy that instamatic?   If you did, use it. (Hint!)

By now you should have your government check, and the other one should be in the bank.  That means the loan I took out is all paid up.  Now we are 100% out of debt, and a hundred dollars a month goes into saving from now on, plus what you can put in.  Let me know what we have in there again, will you honey?  After this month it should mount up fast.

I’m in a bind about what to get my family for Xmas.  The gift catalogues (I’ve got three) list only junk or expensive stuff like cameras and electronics equipment.  There is very little in between.  Don’t know what I’m going to do.

Sure wish I could be home for Xmas this year.  You and I have never really had a Xmas together.  Kind of funny, isn’t it, after everything else we’ve had.  Even the year before last we each celebrated with our own families.  Next year it will be different tho.  The two of us will spend our first Xmas together in our own home. We’ll go shopping together and do everything like it should be done.  And most important, we’ll have each other.

I’ve been kind of lucky – I’ve been too busy the last couple of weeks to miss you as much as usual.  But when I do get a chance to for a while, I miss you that much more.  I still find it hard to believe that someone as wonderful as you can be all mine and mine alone.  That you can love me as I love you seems impossible, more than I ever expected to find.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s really true.  I’ll find out in 140 days.  I love you Rita, with all my heart.

Your Love Is My Life,

Jeff

P.S. I could be home on leave for Xmas if I extend for six.

P.P. S. Pictures in another envelope.

It’s been said before but bears repeating from time to time: Deros (DEROS) stands for Date Eligible for Return from Overseas.

Tuesday, October 28, 1969 – Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Hi Lover,

It’s late, so this may not be very long.  Before I started on this I wrote Brian and the folks.  Didn’t think they would take so long.  In the folks’ letter I kind of got carried away when I answered Mom’s question on what I thought of M-Day.  One thing’s for sure tho – I can’t express myself in writing very well, at least not to my satisfaction.

I have three letters of yours here to answer – written three days in a row.  Keep it up – I love it!

First off I’ll answer your question about china for your folks.  Remember I said your Xmas gift was on its way?  That’s china.  You can give that to your folks if you wish, and we can get yours later on.  Or you can keep it yourself, whatever you decide.  I should tell you that it’s as close to your favorite pattern as I could find, so unless you’d want the same pattern as your mom you’ll have to settle for something else.

This is Thursday the 30th now.  Sorry this is taking so long, but I’ve got a ship in the hanger that’s giving me a headache, so I had to work last night.  I’m a team leader now, which means twice the work.  Hope to get it and tomorrow.

Did I tell you about the crashed ship they lifted in the other day?  I don’t think so.  Seven people had been killed in it. The two pilots were still trapped inside, so we had to take crow bars and hack saws to get them out.

I’d like to make this a long letter tonite, but I’m just too damn tired.  So I’m going to bed and dream about you.  That’s the next best thing to being with you.  I love you Reet!

Forever,

Jeff

P.S. It was all Dex’s idea – your date.  Came as a surprise to me.

My father has worked to remove the dead bodies of soldiers from a helicopter.

There are some things you just can’t imagine, and this falls into that category.  You look at people walking down the street every day, strangers and people you know, and never really know what they’ve experienced in their lives.  How many of them have had to do something like this?  Or worse?  How many people do you know who have never told you about the pain and suffering they’ve witnessed?

Would my father, if he were still alive, have ever told me this story?  Or would he have been like so many veterans and kept it all inside to avoid laying the burden on those he loved?

I desperately hope we would have the type of relationship that would allow him to share these painful experiences.

Saturday, October 25, 1969 – Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Hi Beautiful!

I’ve got two letters in two days to answer now.  I thought the one I got last night was great, but today you apologized because it was in installments.  Didn’t bother me a bit – I really enjoyed it.

You asked me how I feel about the war.  I could write a book on that, and on how I feel about the Vietnamese people.  Maybe I’ll try answering that later in this letter, or write a separate one about it, I don’t know.  But I’ll tell you this now – I’d rather spend ten years over here and away from you than desert these people and make the lives of so many dead Americans a worthless waste.  You asked if I feel that I’m doing some good over here.  Yes I do.  I’ve often wished I were more directly involved in the fighting (like when I was flying) but overall I’m probably doing more good where I am.

You said you found out a lot from that vet in your class – like what?  I’ve often wondered what vets back home feel about all this anti-war stuff.

What did Pete say that upset you so much?  And what were those “truths” you mentioned?  Wish I was there to agree or disagree with him.  Everybody has his own experiences and forms his own ideas and opinions, but they just can’t be put into a letter clearly.  I’ll have a lot to tell you when I got home tho.

No, I haven’t gained weight like you asked in your first letter, nor have I lost any like you asked in your second.  At least I don’t think I have, but with no scale it’s hard to tell for sure.  True, I sometimes don’t get much sleep for several days, but I’m pretty well used to that by now.  And the food isn’t too bad here, usually.  So now will you quit worrying? (How’s your weight?  You’re not getting fat on me are you?)

I don’t mind you getting yourself some clothes.  I know you needed them, and I’ll get as much out of them as you do when I get home.  And I know how badly you needed shoes even back in Bragg.  Only one problem – now I’ll have to learn where all the zippers are.

I don’t know about getting clothes for myself over here.  Sure they’re cheaper, but that won’t mean much if I don’t like them when I get them.  Besides, they don’t make Levi’s.  I may get a sports jacket or a suit, but probably not much more than that.

I don’t know what to say about using the Chrysler again.  I had always figured on buying a used car around five years old or so, depending on what was available and what we felt we could afford.  I had thought of buying the Chrysler from your folks to use as a trade in, but never really thought of actually keeping it to use.  It’s not really such a bad idea tho – if you really think it will make it.  Remember, if we do go west there are mountains that make the ones we crossed look sick.

And since when have I been too proud to be sensible?!!  Sometimes I think I try to be too sensible most the time.  But one sensible thing to consider – how long will the Chrysler go without giving us trouble.  And if we have to pull a trailer, would it take it?  And eventually we’ll want to get another newer car anyway.

I tell you what.  Ask your dad if there’s anything wrong that would be too expensive to fix.  If we do take it, I think we should buy it from them, rather than just use it too.

I’ve thought about asking Dad if he’s about ready to get rid of the ’64 Chevy.  If I could talk him into selling that to us reasonably, that would be a good car for us.  He should be getting in the trading mood again before too long… Think I’ll mention that next time I write them.

I’m sorry to hear about your grandfathers – both of them yet.  I know how you feel about your Grandpa Page – knowing it’s only a matter of time.  Sometimes you wonder if it wouldn’t be better if they went quickly, especially when they’re in pain, yet you can’t stand the thought of them being gone.  Just remember that it’s in God’s hands now – that will help.

So Galen and Ann are expecting again huh?  And Jim and Vicky.  Following the normal sequence of events (marriages) we should have ours next August.  I’m afraid we’ll disappoint them tho on that.  Did you happen to get Galen’s address?  That’s something I don’t have.  I don’t’ have Jim and Vicky either, but if I remember right it’s 1710 Trailer Court, isn’t it?  Unless they’ve moved of course.  I should write them both – meant to a long time ago, but when I don’t even get around to writing my brothers, who can blame me?  You take up too much of my time, so it’s your fault.

Oh yea, I got the word officially today from our platoon leader, Captain R. – I am going up for 5 next month.  The board will be between the 20th and the end of the month.  There’s only one way I could get screwed – you’re supposed to be with a unit 90 days before being put in for promotion.  They could delay it since I’ve only been here a month and a half, but I doubt they will.  That means I’ll get my orders in December, the same month I go over two – which means a hundred dollars a month raise.  Not bad at all.

Full moon out tonite Honey.  It may be snowing there, but here it would be a beautiful night to lay outside on a blanket.  I could really go for that now – and all that goes with it.  I love you Reet, and I miss you so damn much on nights like this. But it won’t be long til we will spend these nights together again.

Good night, my Love.

All My Love,

Jeff

I’m always interested in what my father thought about the war he was a part of, and I look forward to hearing his thoughts in future letters.   I hope he doesn’t wait to tell it all to mom when he gets home, though; while mom is a fantastic source of information on dad, everything we know and remember about the people we love is tainted by time and affection.

Feelings towards vets have changed significantly, as most people generally honor soldiers even as they rail against the government that sent them into harm’s way.

Maybe I’ll learn more in future letters…

 

Tuesday, October 21, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

 

Dear Reet,

This is going to be short I’m afraid.  It’s still early, but I’ve got K.P. tomorrow which means getting up at 3:30 and going til 7:30.  I’m tired just thinking about it.  I’ve got letters from Dex and Brian to answer.  But they’re just going to have to wait.

Dave M. and I went to the steam bath yesterday for the first time.  Steam bath, hot shower, and massage.  Never felt so clean since I’ve over here.  I was a little leery of the broads giving the messages, at first.  I don’t make a habit of running around in front of a bunch of females half naked.  But I ended up darn near falling asleep on the massage table it was so relaxing.  Then we got all sweaty and dirty on the way back to the company.  You can’t win.

I told you that wouldn’t be too long, and it wasn’t.  This is now Wed, and I’m off K.P.  It really wasn’t bad today.  Tomorrow I’ve got perimeter guard, then I should be done for a while.  I hope.

Exactly when is your folks’ anniversary?  All you said was November in your letter.  You’ll have to take care of the gift end of the deal for both of us, but I want to send them a card too.  (If I can find one.)  Dex and Brian will have to take care of our folks for all of us, unless you’d rather you and I went separately.  Then that would be another gift you’d have to find.

Your Xmas present is on the way now.  I had Dave M. get a money order for me the other day, altho it’s against division regs.  It’s not going to be free tho – you’re going to have to pay for the customs fee when it arrives, which will be around fifteen dollars.  Same goes for other gifts for my family, if I can order them the same way.  They won’t be as high as yours tho.  And as soon after Xmas as I can I’ll order your china (as soon as I get the money).

I got ahold of some mail order catalogues the other day, and I found some of those wear-ever sauce pans.  But it doesn’t give the colors available.  They show a green and what looks like your orange, but I can’t tell for sure.  Are those the only colors they’re made in?  If so they must be the ones.

I haven’t really got any idea from the catalogues on what to get the rest of my family.  There really isn’t much available.  Makes it kind of difficult.

Time for me to hit the sack if I expect to get up tomorrow morning.  Wish I was hitting it with you and the next day was Saturday.  Can’t think of anything I’d enjoy more.   Before long we’ll be able to do things like that again.  I love you Rita, with all my heart!

Forever,

Jeff

151 days – four months and days (sounds shorter than 5 months)

Sunday, October 19, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

 

Hi Lover,

Boy do I feel good now.  I lay down after noon chow and slept like a baby til after five.  Then I went and ate, took a shower, and popped a beer.  Now I’m ready to write.

The reason I was so darn tired today is that for the last three days I’ve been working my ___ off on a Cobra.  Worked till after dark last nite, then had tech supply guard until two.  Then up again this morning.  Finally finished just before noon chow was over.  I was beat.

While I was sleeping a guy took a picture of me which I’ll send along.  It’s not very good, but I don’t know what I’d do with it.  Dave M. also took a picture of my nose with a telephoto lens.  Have to wait til he develops it to see it.  That will probably be the best picture I’ve ever taken.

Yesterday I finally got at least some of the mail I’ve been missing since leaving Evans.  One letter from you (Sept 15) and two from the folks (Sept 3 and 24).  One was even written by Dad, which surprised me.  He usually doesn’t write, but sends tapes.

I’ve also got two new letters of yours to answer again.  Keep up the good work – I like it.

Say, that snow really sounds great!  Sure wish I could have been there with you.  Yes, I remember that walk in the snow we took.  That was one of these special times I’ll always remember.  The snow in your hair was beautiful!  Everything was that night.

Yesterday was Hobo Day, and I suppose the opening of pheasant season.  And I missed them both, darn!  I’d give anything to be back there to do some hunting right now.

Dad’s getting his master’s degree, huh?  I haven’t heard a word about it – didn’t even know he was working on it now.  He has been off and on for several years tho, but I’m surprised that he or Mom never said anything to me about it.  You said Vicky told you about it.  Who’s Vicky?  I mean, which one?  I presume you mean Vicky L.  And how did she find out?

Also I didn’t know anything about Mom having a wig.  Surprised the hell out of me.  Wonder why she’s never said anything about it.  Maybe she wanted to keep it as a surprise but I don’t know why.

No, I don’t think both of us need to but gifts for both sets of parents.  I think I suggested once before that you get gifts for your folds from us, and I’ll get gifts for mine.  Of course, if I don’t get a MACV card pretty soon, I won’t have time to get gifts there for Xmas.  I’m sure the folks will understand tho.  I will send them to you to give to them – I think that’s a good idea.

I couldn’t believe it when you said twenty of those Xmas cards printed for one dollar!  If they’re good quality for that price, go ahead.  I know a lot of our relatives would like that.  By the way, did you take our wedding pictures down to show my Grandmother?  I suppose everyone but me has seen them, huh?

Why don’t you forget sending one to Kim and Bill.  If they get one, I’d just about have to send one to five or six other guys in the hootch.  If you want to do that tho, I’ll send you the names.  You could send one to Clay if you want.  He’s at B Co 5th Trans.  I know he’d like that.

About that “building” we had dedicated to us. It’s not exactly a building.  It’s a fifty-five gallon drum sunk in the ground, with four tin walls wrapped around it – commonly called a “piss tube.”  Still, it’s the thought that counts.  I wonder what that was?

Dave D. still has my copy of Atlas Shrugged.  I’m going to try to get it next time I’m up there.  I may just read it once more before I send it to you.  There probably won’t be much left when you get it.

You and Mom were both right in your agreement about how long most guys have been here.  About half of them are cherries, and half are short.  There’s only about eight or ten of us in between.

I’m starting to feel short myself.  Another two days and I’m down to five months.  After that I can say four months and days.  We’re getting there Honey, slowly but surely.

You know, when I think about how great it will be to be with again, that’s when I just don’t feel like extending.  And I think about that all the time, so I really don’t think I’ll extend.  A year away from you is long enough.  Too long in fact.  I want to get back to those walks in the snow, and those afternoons on a blanket in a field, and the days by the lake.  I want to love you for real again, not just in memory.  Until that day my love for you is still growing.  I love you with all my heart.  Good night Reet.

All My Love,

Jeff

“About half of them are cherries, and half are short.  There’s only about eight or ten of us in between.”

I’ve been racking my brain and I have no idea what this means.  Anyone?

Also, alas, I do not have the photo of him sleeping or his telephoto nose.

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.

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

Photobucket

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