May 24, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia

Dearest Rita,

Boy, things are getting more complicated all the time — as far as what I’ll be doing when I get out of here goes.  Besides what I told you about before (L.O.H., jump school, O.C.S) I may, I mean may have a chance to stay on here as an instructor!  Now don’t go telling anyone, ’cause it may not work out or I may not take it if I could.  The deal is, if I get it, I don’t know how long I’d be here.  It could be for a year, or it could be for the rest of my enlistment.  It would help if I knew, because if I’m going to Nam I’d just as soon get it over with.  If I knew I was staying here, we wouldn’t have to wait so long to get married (like maybe October?).  But, if I wanted to be an instructor, I’d have to forget about jump school and L.O.H. for now.  I could still sign up for O.C.S., and when I could get in I’d go, but there again is a sure trip to Nam later.  And I want to go now or never.  It’s a hell of a mess!

Oh well, I’ll let you know whatever I find out about any of this.  And you let me know what you think about it.  I sure wish I could talk this over with you.  It would make things so much easier.

Enough of that.  On to something else.  I’m sorry to hear about Judy, but maybe she’ll still pull through.  I sure hope so for her sake.  Say hi to her and Doug for me.  Tell him he doesn’t know how lucky he is to be able to be with Judy instead of a thousand miles away.  I suppose he realizes that though.

Say, I don’t know if I like the idea of my little brother taking you away from the phone when I’m supposed to call, and then you to go out and hit the bottle.  I’ll bet he has ulterior motives.  You best tell him to cool it or I might have to take drastic action (from way out here?).  Yeah, I’ll send him a dirty postcard.

Hey — when is Bob going to be back, have you heard?  It should be pretty quick, according to what his folks said when I was home.  He never seems to get around to writing anymore, so I don’t know much about it.  I guess he’s going to be stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, which is only about 200 miles from here, so we should have a chance to get together when he gets out here.

Okay, I give up.  What’s with the clipping from the Messenger I just found in your last envelope?  Something about a tent and pool tables and stoves and things, and a Volkswagen for sale?  If it was meant to be in there I completely lost the meaning.  Some kind of hint maybe?  Or did you even know it was there?

Honey, I was just talking to were the instructors, and he said a good instructor is often kept on here for two years.  If that would happen, I couldn’t get an overseas assignment because I’d only have six months left then.  But you’d never know for sure that I’d be here that long.  The trouble is you can’t figure on anything in the Army.  Also, if I stayed here I could go to college part-time.  William and Mary College is only about ten minutes from here, he said.  Of course I’d never get any combat pay and probably no flight pay, so things might be kind of tight for us if we get married.  Off-base housing is awful expensive and on-base is almost nonexistent, and we’d need a car.  So, actually, if I stayed here we’d probably have to wait just about as long anyway.  There are just too many pros and cons to this thing.

This just may be the last letter I’ll be able to send you until payday.  I’m flat broke.  I’ll take that back, I’ve got $1.04 and I have to get a haircut, which cost one dollar, get some laundry done, and buy boot polish.  I don’t think I’m gonna make it until next Friday.  I haven’t bought any cigarettes even for five days, and I hate to bum, so I’ve cut down considerably.  Tomorrow I’m going to splurge and use my four cents to buy a Fudgsicle.  That’s what they cost here.

I got to go now, Rita.  It’s nearly 2:00 Saturday morning now, and we have classes tomorrow (this) morning at 8:00.  Remember that I’m always thinking or dreaming of you, and that I love you very much.  If I don’t get a letter to you before next week, have a happy graduation, okay?

Love you,

Jeff

I spoke to my mom and she doesn’t remember exactly what was going on with Judy and Doug.  Maybe a pregnancy.  For some reason the tone of dad’s letter, and living in the age we do, made me think that maybe Judy had cancer or something, but mom is pretty sure whatever it was wasn’t life threatening.

Ethan

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