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April 9, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


13min 57 sec

As I’ve been posting these I’ve been splicing together both sides of the tape into one file so you can listen to a whole tape at a time.

This tape was about 11 minutes on either side, totalling about 22 minutes. But something happened with this one.  At about 3 minutes in he says “Time for a pause here I believe,” at which point it goes quiet.

And says quiet.

For 8 minutes.

I’m guessing the mic wasn’t picking up audio or came unplugged or he muted it or something.  Either way I’ve removed the silent bit and created this file.  Just so you know what he’s talking about when he starts up again after the “pause.”


April 5, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

I find I have a few minutes before formation this morning, so I figured I’d start a letter at least.

I slept through a mortar attack last night.  Didn’t hear a thing.  In fact all the guys in my hooch slept through it.  Most of the rest of the unit was hiding in bunkers for a couple hours.

It also rained all night, and it’s cold now.  Rain was blowing in through the screen and got everything went.  Even the stuff that didn’t get rained on is damp.  All in all it’s miserable.

It’s noon now.  Really didn’t work too hard this morning for a change, but sure got wet.  And muddy.  Probably get a good cold now.  I’ve got perimeter guard tonight which should help it along.  I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Oh yeah, Clay said to say hi for him next time I wrote you, so — Hi!

Did I tell you our unit has it least two confirmed kills already?  Maybe more, but we won’t know for sure until the grunts get a body count.  Could be as high as a dozen or more.  Not bad for the first couple days.

This is Easter Sunday now.  I went to church this morning and took communion.  It’s the first time since we went together in North Carolina and I was surprised how much I missed it.  Sure wish it could have been with you though.

Since I had guard last night I wasn’t around for mail call yesterday afternoon.  But Kim picked it up for me so this morning there was a letter from my wife waiting for me.  Couldn’t have a better Easter present (I didn’t find any Easter eggs around here though).

I was surprised you hadn’t received any mail from yet.  Hope it starts coming through okay, especially the tapes.

What do I think about you going to New York?  Well — I’m a little undecided right now.  It seems to me it would be much more expensive in the long run.  Besides, I like to think of my wife safe at home, not running all over the country.  Of course you really haven’t told me that much about it.  I couldn’t really tell if you are seriously considering or not.

Kim P. is all in a sweat about a telegram from his fiancée.  All it said was she needed $800-$1000 dollars right away.  He doesn’t know what for or anything.  Since it was possible she was PG when we left and he hasn’t heard for sure one way or the other yet, he’s dreaming up all kinds of stuff to worry about.  And I can see his point.  Hope I never get anything like that from you!

Must go eat chow now and go back to work.  I’ll write again soon.  Say “hi” to your folks for me, and tell your mom we don’t have wooden nickels over here, just paper ones.

All My Love,


April 2, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

So, after digging through hours of audio, I found that this tape was actually made April 2nd, the day before the last letter was posted.  No biggie, just so you know.


17min 2sec

April 3, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Hi beautiful,

We just broke for noon chow so I thought I’d write a few lines before I eat.  Seems like it’s about the only time I can find during the day.

This morning they were dropping propaganda leaflets around the area and some blew into our area.  I’ll send a few long for you to see.  They call on the V.C. to defect and tell him how good they’ll be treated.  They also make a mess for us to pick up

We spent all morning filling sandbags again, and probably will do the same this afternoon.  I’m surprised I don’t dream about them at night.  I probably would if I wasn’t always too tired to do any dreaming.

I’ve been trying to get over to the PX to get those pictures I took developed, but I just can’t make it.  In fact, I haven’t been to the PX here at all.  I guess it takes two weeks to be developed so it’ll be a while before you get any.  I sent of some the slides for developing and the folks should get those a week or so after you get this probably.

Must go eat now.  I love you Rita, and wish I had time to write you more than just a short note.  And I’ll write you a long one as soon as I get a chance.

All my love,


March 31, 1969. Camp Evans, Vietnam.

A couple of things before you hit play:

First, listen for mom’s 19-year-old voice (and giggle) right at the very begining. They reused tapes many times and these overlaps were common.

Second, don’t turn the volume up too far, about 35 seconds in dad figures out he’s holding the microphone upside down and it gets much louder. God help you if you’re wearing earphones and don’t read this warning first.


9min 31sec

March 29, 1969.  Camp Tien Sha, Vietnam.

Dearest Rita,

I just finished a quick letter to my folks — first one since I’ve been here.  I just haven’t had time for any more.  I’m sorry my last letter to you was so abruptly ended, but I figured I’d best get it sent, otherwise you’d still be waiting.

I’m at camp Tien Sha at Da Nang now.  We’ve been here since Thursday — thirteen of us.  It’s like an R&R center compared to Evens.  I would have written before this, but I had to guard the ships Thursday night, so last night I was too tired to think straight.  Tonight I’ll get this done though, and that’s a promise.

You’re going to have to tell me all about your trip to S.D.  And by now, the one to California.  In fact this will probably reach Brookings while you’re gone, huh?  So let me hear about it when you get back, okay?

Say — any word from Roe on our pictures?  You said something about sending them over, but best you don’t.  It probably wouldn’t survive the trip.  The picture of you (senior) just about didn’t make it.  The glass was broken, but the frame and picture are still okay.  I’m trying to get the glass replaced now, but without much luck.

I bought a little instamatic camera, and will be sending you some pictures before long.  I have some slide film too, but I’ll send that to my folks and they’ll show you.

You know something honey?  I miss you.  And I’m thankful that I don’t have much time to think about it or it would be a lot harder.  The best part is knowing that this will be the last time in our lives we’ll be separated like this.  I love you Rita, and I hope this year will go as fast for you as I think it will for me.

Your husband,


March 25, 1969.  Camp Evens, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

This is the first chance I’ve had to write, and would you believe it’s by cigarette lighter light?  It’s the only light I’ve got, except during the day when we’re too busy.

We got to Nam Sunday night around 11:00.  Spent that night sleeping on the cement apron by the runways.  We get hit by rockets and mortars about 5:30 the next morning.  I found out I can wake up and find a bunker real fast like though.

We got to Evans Monday afternoon.  I wish I could send some pictures.  It’s a fair sized place, but looks like hell.  Nothing but red dirt and sand bags.  Last night (this is Wednesday now) I got a shower for the first time since I left.  Felt dirty again right away though.  It’s not really so hot here, just real muggy.  Summers coming though and I can imagine what that will be like.

This is Wednesday noon now.  We were making bunkers and filling sandbags all morning again and will this afternoon too.  I’m sick of it.  Have to start again now so I’ll try finish this tonight.

Back again, but not for long.  Looks like I’ll be going to Da Nang for a couple of days starting today.  So I’m just going to send it like it is.  At least you’ll know I made it.  I’ll write again as soon as I can, and tell the folks the same, will you?  I love you Rita, and wish we could be together again.  I’ve had enough of Nam, I just want my wife now.

All my love,


Quick synopsis as to what happened between the wedding and now:

1. Honeymoon

2. Mom went to Fort Eustis for 7 weeks with dad.

3. Dad went to Vietnam and mom went back to South Dakota

Also, check out the Evans link.  Interesting look from someone else who was stationed there.


I have all this audio that I’ve been trying to timeline, but unfortunately dad never gave the date on his tapes so I’m having to search all of his words for hidden chronological meaning.

Over the weekend while prepping today’s post I found that he had sent some tapes BEFORE he went to Vietnam, and, not wanting to deliver a bunch of stuff out of order (again), I’m pushing back another post.



Finals are tonight and I’m working like crazy for school…

Plus I’m sick.

And my wife is sick.

And she has morning sickness too.

Monday we start in Vietnam proper-like.

How are you?


Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


How it all works

We publish every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
For a quick rundown of the family, start by reading this post
Make sure you read the comments. People who are mentioned in the letters will sometimes expand on whatever is being discussed in the posts.


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July 2009