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April 15, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia

Hi Love!

Got a little free time this morning so I decided I’d at least get a start on a letter to one of my favorite girls.  Would you believe the favorite girl in my life?  How about the only girl I love?  I like that better.  I just wish I could tell her how much.  And how much I miss her, and how I’m counting the days until I can be with her again.  Then I’ll be happy.

Honey, things are getting bad at this end.  We had a free weekend, and I just about went nuts thinking about you.  I even wished for something to do to take my mind off you for awhile.  I tried calling you a couple of times yesterday, but being Easter Sunday I figured you were probably away to relatives when I didn’t get any answers.  I wanted to talk to you so bad though!

Okay, enough of that.  On to other things.  Today we’re training in a lot of our gear, getting ready to get the hell out of here.  This afternoon we have our final PT test.  I’m not looking forward to that — too much like work.

One guy got word today that he’s being recycled back into the second week of training.  That would be pretty hard to take — it means six more weeks in this hole.  Another guy is getting a general court-martial.  He stole a $300 camera two days ago.  For him that probably means a year in the brig, at least.  I’d desert if something like that happened to me with just a week to go.  I hope I’d be smart enough to stay away from that stuff to begin with.

Yesterday, with all the free time, I read Matthew 5 that you told me about.  I think I see what you got out of it.  I’m glad you’re continuing your Bible study classes.  I know how much this means to you.  We’ll read the Bible together when I’m home, okay?

Honey, there are so many things I want to do when I’m home.  I’d like to take off and spend the day in Sioux Falls, just us two.  I’d like to go down to my grandparents, and I know they’d love to see you again.  I’d just like to ride around with you sitting beside me.  I miss doing all the things we used to do.  And now in just a few days we’ll be able to again.  Yet it seems longer now than when I had a couple weeks to go.  Must be because I think about it constantly now.


It’s Tuesday now.  We just got through with a formal inspection.  We had to stand outside in the cold for 2 1/2 hours.  We froze our buns off!  The battalion commander inspected us — Colonel George Armstrong Custer.  Honest!  That’s his name.  And he complimented me on my appearance and weapon.  That never hurts.

Yesterday we had our final PT test.  I did okay except on the mile run.  I had eaten too much at noon chow and started getting cramps.  I ended up with my worst time ever, but I still had over 125 points more than was required, so that’s not too bad I guess.  I was still about 30 points down from the last test though.

Right in the middle of the test it started raining, and then it turned to hail.  And it really pelted down too.  All the officers and drill sergeants ducked under some sheds, but we had to stay out and get soaked.  Lotta fun!

Sure was great to talk to you last night.  When I talk to you it doesn’t seem like I’ve been gone so long.  But when I think of the three days left before I can get out of here and get back to you, it seems like forever.  This week has gone slower than the other eight weeks together.  And I know I’ll have the slowest plane in the sky.  Nothing could get me back to you fast enough.

Tuesday evening now.  Got to get this finished so it will get to you before I do.

I got a letter from you today.  That daydream of yours sounds great.  Who knows…?  I’m afraid parts of it were a little far-fetched though.  But don’t I wish?

Today was our last day of formal training, and guess what I did.  I stabbed myself with my bayonet.  Now before you panic out, it was just in the foot.  In fact, just my little toe.  Sure didn’t do my boots any good though, and I got a lot of kidding from the rest of the platoon.  I’ll tell you how it happened when I get home, okay?  I’m getting E-2 pay grade for sure now honey.  Seventeen out of the platoon get it, and the squad leaders for sure.  It’s no big deal, just a few bucks a month, but it’s a step closer to E-3.

The other night the fourth platoon got caught with beer.  The platoon sergeant and three of the squad leaders got busted and were given Article 15’s.  That a company punishment just short of a court-martial.  They don’t get their E-2 rating and will have some deductions from their next pay.  Also they’re on KP and any detail that comes up during the rest of the cycle.  Sure glad we didn’t get caught.

Well honey, I have to close this up and get it sent.  Remember I love you, and in just a few days I’ll be telling you that myself.  And I’ll tell you so often I’ll sound like a broken record.  That’s a promise.  I love you, I love you, I love you!

So long for now,

Jeff

Arrrgh!!  It kills me that he didn’t say how he stabbed himself.  As I was transcribing this I was literally yelling at the letter “No!  Don’t wait until you get home!  Tell her now!”  I called mom but she couldn’t remember with any certainty how it happened.

The colnel he mentioned is probaby Colonel George Armstrong Custer III, great grand-nephew to the legendary Colnel Custer who died at Little Big Horn.  You can find his picture and a story about him by another soldier here.

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Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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