October 8, 1968.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Dear Rita,

Don’t have much time right now, but I figured I’d start a letter anyway and finish it tonight.  It’s noon now, just about time to go back to work.

In fact, that first paragraph was all I got done.  It’s now about 4:30.  I was planning to finish this letter tonight, but “Wait Until Dark” is on at the theater, so I’m skipping chow instead.  Remember when we saw that show?  We both jumped about ten feet out of our chairs!

Yesterday I got two letters from you, one from Bob, one from the church, and one from Jeannie.  Then today I got an envelope full of napkins from you.  Pretty great after not getting any in over a week.  I can’t figure out why those two of yours took so long though.

I tried calling you Sunday night, Hon, but no answer.  But your letter today explained why.  I don’t suppose you were back from Iowa yet.  I tried calling the folks too, but same story there.  I put away all the change I had and will try again this weekend, like Sunday evening.  Tell my folks I’ll call them too if you see them.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to get a letter off to them or not this week.

Say, Honey (I never know whether or not to capitalize that word), I want you to send me some of your artwork — if there is any of sendable size.  I’d really like to see some of it — and not just what you like or think is good either.  I don’t know if I like the idea of thinking, eating, and breathing art.  I’d like to think that you’ll think of me once in a while too.

Say, if you see Lynn R. again, see if you can get Galen’s address for me.  I want to at least write and congratulate them, even if I can’t afford a gift right now.  I’ll bet they’re happy as all get out about a girl.  I know I would be if it were our baby.  Someday, and not too far away —

Honey, go ahead and use that money for your bill at Coles.  I’m sorry I hadn’t suggested it, but I thought you are pretty well caught up on them.  What other ones you have right now?  Shouldn’t that just about cover them all?  But if you can put some away it might be a good idea.  I may be pretty short of cash about the time my leave comes around.

It looks now like my next leave will come around the 20th of December to the 6th of January.  That’s just two weeks, with two weeks later before we ship out.  I’d sure like to get 30 days all at once, but chances look slim right now.  Things could change though.

That bit about letting your hair grow — I know you too well to count on it.  It sure would be nice though.  But when I see it I’ll believe it.

Honey, how about sending me some more pictures of yourself?  The ones I have now are getting worn out from me pulling them out to look at.  Sure would like some more!

I may have 18 months and six days to memorize all that, but it wouldn’t do much good.  I can tell you right now I wouldn’t be able to remember a word once I got up front.  The “I will” part will go okay though, if I can still talk.

He said something about April.  Well, you’d best change your plans to March.  We’re scheduled to deploy 28th of February.  Even if we don’t leave right on date it should be close.  Which means I’ll be back a month earlier than you thought.  Every little bit helps.

No, I don’t mind it when you mention the time involved before we can get married.  Only I like to think of it as when I get back from Vietnam.  Somehow it doesn’t sound as long then.  In fact a year in Nam doesn’t seem as long as the time before we go over.  Over there I’ll be looking forward to coming back — to you.  And to our life together.  I just hope that eventually I can give you all you deserve.  I love you, Rita!

About your little wedding announcement — I can’t wait until they’re being sent out.  But first a couple revisions: as I said, March instead of April; and that Sergeant bit — that will probably be Sp5 or Sp6 if I’m lucky.  I know that doesn’t sound as classy, but that’s what it will probably be.  I keep hoping for six, but after seeing this unit I’m not counting on it.  But then I can’t complain.  I know guys in for ten years and better who are still fives.

I could write all night, but I think I’ll save some for my next letter.  But before I close I have to tell you I love you.  I love you!  There.  And don’t you forget it.

All my love!

Jeff


Cole’s was a department store that survived in downtown Brookings for almost 60 years.  I believe it is now a party store.

Ethan

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