You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

The laptop I use to post is dead.  Gotta find a new power cable before it’s up again and I can do any more.

Keep checking back.

Apologies,

Ethan

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I’m back in school and, it would seem, distracted.  Turns out I missed an audio post.  It’s a June 2nd tape so it’s only late by a day but I don’t want to put any more up before I get it edited and ready to go.

Look for it on Thursday.

Ethan

June 3, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dearest Rita,

Don’t expect this to be too long, ‘cause I just have a few minutes.  I should be eating, but I’ll just grab a bite before they close down the line.

I’ve been working my ___ off for the last couple of days.  Tomorrow we have a C.M.M.I. inspection.  Don’t ask me what it stands for, but a bunch of bigwigs come down and over our equipment with fine tooth combs.  Anyway, just a couple days ago Ron G. and I were assigned as drivers of the maintenance platoon trucks.  So for three days straight we’ve been working on it.  I know we’ll be working till midnight or after tonight, and I also know everything won’t get done.  But I quit worrying about it.  If it doesn’t get done, to hell with it.

I’m back now and it’s 10:00.  Got off earlier than I expected.  Mainly because the night crew needed to use it.  I really should be hitting the sack but I’m determined to get a letter finished tonight.

Remember when I told you about our weapons being taken away?  Well, several guys wrote letters to their congressmen about it.  And lately our CO and first Sergeant have been getting all sorts of letters from DC.  Also, the inspector general jumped in, the battalion CO was down and chewed top* out Sunday, and today General Wright, our new division commander was here and did the same.  Makes us all feel pretty good.  The result is that tomorrow we get our weapons back and go to the range to sight them in.  Most of us have never fired the weapon we have now.

Okay, I’m going on to answer your last letter.  I think I’ll start out with your loan to Nancy.  No, I’m not mad, but I do think it was a poor idea when you are somewhat low yourself.  Or did you draw it out of the bank?  I hope not.  If you did, I want you to be sure to get it back in, pronto.  And honey, please don’t draw any out unless there is a dire emergency.  The only other reason would be for school, and I had hoped you could save enough out of your checks for that.

Honey, I know I promised I wouldn’t bug you about money but I’m afraid I’m going to have to.  You get $130 a month from the government, and make approximately $120 at your job.  That’s $250 a month, hon, and you said you haven’t saved any yet.  I know there are bills and expenses, but that much?  The two of us lived on less in North Carolina and we were paying rent, food, gas and the works.  Surely it’s not more expensive living at home, is it?

I’m sorry Reet.  I shouldn’t go on like that.  It’s just that we’ll need all the money we can get when I come home.  And if it keeps on like this, I won’t be able to afford an R&R in Hawaii, and I want to see you there more than anything in the world.  But I won’t take it if it looks like we’ll be short when I come home.  So do me a favor, will you Rita?  Try to put $50 a month in the bank as soon as you get your check from the government.  Try your darndest to save every penny you can besides.  Thanks, honey.

Okay, I’m all done blowing for tonight.  But it’s getting late and I’ve got to get some sleep.  I promise I’ll get off a more cheerful letter tomorrow, okay?

Goodnight, Reet.  I love you.

For ever,

Jeff

PS.  Here’s the picture I forgot to send you in my last letter.


I’m assuming “top” means the high ranking offers at the camp.

Ethan

June 1, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dear Rita,

Hi lover, how’s it going?  I’ll tell you know it’s going here — lousy.  My biggest problem is that I’m horny as hell, and I miss you something terrible.  Yes, I’d even go so far as to dig out a green towel if I had to.  You know, it really seems longer than four months that we’ve been married.  I guess I got used to the idea pretty quick.  One thing’s for sure, I’d never want it any other way.  I love you Rita.

I’m kinda glad your neighbor John is getting married.  If he weren’t, I think I’d be afraid of some competition.  No, not really — he sounds like a great guy.  I hope you and Sue do get along as well as you hope. I’m sure you will if she makes friends have as easily as you do.

I got a letter from mom yesterday as well as one from you.  She said dad really liked the sweater you gave him for his birthday.  It even sounded real nice from your description.

I imagine that since Bob is home now he’s busy trying to drink the town dry.  Back in my wilder days I might’ve helped him if I were home.  However, now I know that a nice, warm, cuddly wife beats the heck out of boozing it up all over town.  Instead you booze it up at home with her, right?  Right.

I finally got a letter off to my folks last night after I got off KP.  They probably gave up on me.  Today I managed to dash off a note to Jeannie A. since I couldn’t get a graduation card.  Now I should write the Larsen family and my aunt and uncle in Minneapolis (remember them?).  Don’t know when I’ll get that done.

Yes, I can imagine how excited Nancy is about now, and Bernie too for that matter.  I know how I’d feel in his place.  I would guess that she’s going with him to his next assignment, right?

You answered most of the questions I asked in your letter yesterday, except one.  What’s the bit with the poster?  Just explain what it says or shows and I’ll be happy.

At a gook shop over here they have some pictures on a felt cloth that are really outstanding.  I was tempted to send you a couple (orange of course).  They’d look great hanging someplace.  Only one problem.  They were mostly pictures of naked or semi-naked females.  There were in real good taste mind you and very beautifully done, but I couldn’t see them hanging in your room, or our living room later on.  I’ll try to find some more appropriate ones to send you.  (I might buy one for the hooch though, to hang beside your picture — how does that grab you?)

Which reminds me — when do I get that picture of you in your négligée?  I’m waiting for it very patiently.  But it would be nice to get it before my tour is over (hint!)

Oh yes, another thing.  Is Dale A. around yet?  When I was home he didn’t know how long they’d be there or if they would stay for awhile.  If he’s there are the still living out of Marks Trailer Park?  I’d like to drop him a line too sometime.

Is Bob N. racing again this year?  If so, how’s he doing?  Have you been going out there much?

You should be getting your check about now, and the bank should be getting theirs.  How much do we have in savings now, hon?  And have you had your teeth taken care of yet?  And don’t forget a picture of you and your new glasses as soon as you get them.

Must go to chow now.  I’ll write again as soon as possible.  I love you Rita — remember that.  Can’t wait to tell you and show you once again.

Your Love is My Life,

Jeff

May 29, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dear Rita,

I’m writing this while on guard duty.  May not be very long because it won’t stay light, but I do my best.

Since I just mailed a letter this evening and it won’t go out until the morning, you’ll get both of these at the same time probably.  That should make you happy.  It’ll be different anyway.

I picked up those pictures I’ve been promising you.  I’ll try to get them on the way tomorrow.  I had forgotten how long ago I had taken them.  They were taken when I was down at Da Nang when our ships came in.  You can see from the pictures how soft they have it compared to us.

It’s raining now, I have a feeling it’s going to be a thoroughly miserable night.

Honey, send me any clippings you see about the fighting in the Ashaw.  We only hear about our part of the fighting, and never get the whole picture.  It sure would be appreciated.

It’s getting too dark to write now, so I’ll finish tomorrow.  Guess you won’t get two the same day after all.

Back again — late Friday afternoon now.  I slept all morning but I’m still dead tired.  I’ve got to get to bed early tonight, since I had KP tomorrow which means getting up at 4:30.  I’m not looking forward to that at all.

You mentioned Dean’s mustache — that I ever tell you I was growing one too?  That is, I was.  I cut it off about a week ago.  It was nice and long but so darn blonde that it didn’t show up.  Maybe I’ll try again one of these days.

I just got a letter from Curt tonight.  He yelled and screamed at me as I called him a lifer.  He said he had 92 days left, and that was the 14th.  Now it’s down around 80.  He said that he hasn’t taken his R&R yet — it was his seven-day leave.  And he went to Manila, not Japan like I thought.

Mom mentioned something in her last letter about the change in Becki’s wedding date.  I guess she’d been talking to Sonny’s wife (can’t recall her name).  She wasn’t sure about it though.  It’s a shame they can’t have a double wedding like they planned.  It was getting so close it’s too bad they had to blow it.

I told you that Clay is back, didn’t I?  He’s going to have a real cool scar now.  It’s a perfect “T” in the middle of his chest.  It’s about 6 inches long and three across.  He has to go back tomorrow for a check and may get some of the stitches removed.

Still no word at all on Bill.  I wish I had Shirley’s address so I could find out from her what the hell is going on.

Clay was just here.  He was looking through my photo album and said to tell you that you definitely look better with long hair.  (By the way, how’s your hair coming?)  He also saw that one of you in bed, which he seen before but couldn’t remember.  Of course he had to give me a hard time about it.  Then Kim joined in, claiming he hadn’t seen it before either.  Needless to say I was on the losing end of the deal.

Must go hit the sack now.  Seems that’s how I end all my letters but that’s how it goes.

I love you Rita.  And I’m waiting for the day I can have you in my arms again, forever.

All My Love,

Jeff

PS.  Sending more pics with next letter — 294 days to go!

May 28, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Love,

I just got off work, ate chow and was ready to relax for a while when I was informed that I have to work all night too.  The night shift is shorthanded tonight, so guess who’s the lucky one.  Piss me off!  So now I’m here skipping the formation to write you a few lines.  It’s been a couple days since the last one.

I got paid today and found that I have $208 riding the books.  Maybe more — I’m not sure of their figuring.  I’m going to check on that tomorrow (I hope).  At any rate, I should have a pretty nice pile by the time R&R rolls around.   Are you going to have enough to get to Hawaii?

Tomorrow I hope to get those pictures I’ve been promising you.  I’ll send them right away.  I’ve got another batch of slides I’m sending to the folks too.

Clay is back.  They weren’t going to let them out for a while, but last night some guys smuggled him some clothes and he came down here for a couple of hours.  The doctor found out and decided if he wanted to do that he may as well release him.  He’s on light duty for at least a week though.

Get this — our weapons have been taken away.  We have to go check them out when we need them and turn them in afterwards.  And this is Vietnam!  Several things brought this on — for one the threats directed at our first Sergeant.  For another, several guys have pulled guns on someone they were mad at.  Like the other night in a poker game a guy drew a revolver on the other players and chased them out of the hooch.  The 1st pig came running up but when he saw what was going on he turned tail and ran.  Finally the CO came and took it away from him at gunpoint.  Real cool.  That’s about the fifth or sixth incident like that since we’ve been here.  Still, it would be nice to have a weapon if Charlie comes running through here.

Enough of what’s happening here.  I’ll answer the last couple of letters I’ve received from you.  The thing you’ve been talking about most is the puppies.  Well, congrats, grandma.  Now what are you going to do with them?  Hope you don’t have any trouble giving them away.  No, I don’t mind getting a couple pictures of the pups, but it better not be before I get one of you in your négligée!

Thanks for the clippings hon.  I was really interested in the one of Petey.  She’s really a cool kid.  It sounds as if that Whip to White bit was kind of a dud.  Most have been if they couldn’t drink up 900 cases of beer.  That’s chicken feed.  Maybe it was because they didn’t have Wakeman there.  But what was the bit with Art B.?  Just something you tossed in?  I couldn’t see any reason for it, but it was funny.

When his graduation at the college?  I just realized this week that Jeannie A. will be graduating.  Since I can’t get a card I’d like to get a letter off to her if I can find time.  Don’t know if I will or not.

This is Thursday now.  I worked until 5:00 this morning, so I got the day off.  I am going to the PX today, if I can remember how to get over there.

Okay, I’m back.  I did make it to the PX and got everything I need.  In fact, I bought you a birthday present too.  I’m going to send it as soon as I find a box, since I don’t know how long it will take to get there.  But you can’t open it until your birthday.  Don’t even open the package, since I have no way to get any wrapping paper over here, okay?  Just let it sit and build up your curiosity.

Must get ready for guard duty now.  I’ll write again as soon as I can.  I love you Rita,

All My Love,

Jeff

May 26, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Reet

I’m sitting here on my cot being eaten alive by bugs and I ran out of bug spray.  I hope you appreciate the utter agony I’m enduring to write you this letter.  I guess it would be the same if I wasn’t writing, except then I would have both hands free to slap them.

I just got back from visiting Clay.  He’s feeling fine and wants to come back to the unit.  Of course he wouldn’t be able to do much for a while, but at least he’d feel more at home.  He’s awfully bored there.

Kim went to see the doctor today too.  He figured out he has athletes foot — on his ear.  It could only happen to Kim.  It bothers him a lot though, and seems to be spreading.  He’s been getting a lot of crap about it too.

Our battery seems to collect casualties right here at Evans, without ever going to the field.  Bill, Clay, and Kim I told you about.  Another guy had a piece of burning match fly in his eye .  Another one went to Da Nang for a day — 2 weeks ago.  He hasn’t been heard from since.  Still another split his foot open stumbling around in the dark going to the showers.  At this rate, who needs Charlie?

Things have slowed up a bit this week.  All the ships are flying and we’ve only had minor maintenance to pull.  We still have to fill sandbags in the evening, but we keep running out.  Funny thing.  It seems that three or four empty bags accidentally get shoved in every one we fill.  Can’t figure out how that happens.

I got your last package the other day, so now I’m busy munching sunflower seeds.  The fudge is real good, although a little gooey.  I put it in the refrigerator next door, so it’s better now.

I also received the pictures you sent.  Boy do they make me homesick for you and our trailer.  They really brought back the memories.  When I saw them it hit me harder than ever how much I miss you.  I love you Rita, and I want everything to be just like it was then — just the two of us in our own home again.  But it won’t even take that to make me happy.  Just as soon as you are my arms again I’ll be the happiest man in the world.

Must close now and get some sleep.  I’ll be dreaming about you honey.  I love you!

Forever,

Jeff

PS.  Get that picture taken of you in your négligée.  Immediately!  Take a whole roll so I won’t have to wait.

PS again — only 299 days to go!

May 25, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dearest Rita —

I’m sorry about that last tape.  I hope you could understand some of it at least.  We put new batteries in now, so the next one should be okay.

I’ve got some bad news about Clay.  He’s in the hospital.  We were on guard duty last night and some sandbags gave way while he was on top of the bunker.  He fell off and landed chest first on a metal fence post and stuck there.  He pushed himself off and fell another 8 feet or so to the ground.

I was sleeping at the time, so at first I thought he had just had the wind knocked out of him.  Then the other guy up top told me about the post.  I opened his shirt and there was a good-sized hole in him just below the breastbone.  First time I ever saw the insides of a human being, and it had to be a friend of mine.

I had Wally (the guy on top) call for an ambulance while I did what I could for Clay.  After he got his breath back he wasn’t in much pain.  I didn’t let him get a look at it or tell him how bad it was, but when the Sergeant of the guard came down, he told Clay was real bad and that he was bleeding internally.  I just about shot the S.O.B.  Here I was trying to help keep him calm and all so he wouldn’t go into shock, then that idiot tells him something like that.

It took about half an hour from the time he fell until they hauled them away in an ambulance.  Most of that time was wasted by the OD (officer of the day) deciding if one was needed or not.  He wouldn’t believe us or the Sergeant and finally came down himself before he called one.  I could have shot him, too.

After church today I went to the hospital to see Clay and bring in some books, writing paper, and cigarettes.  He was sleeping, so I went back right after chow.  He was awake then and feeling pretty good.  His whole chest is one big mass of bandages and he has all sorts of tubes sticking out of his arms.  He’s not sure how many stitches it took to close him up, but they had to do some sewing inside, too.  Also he has a cracked breastbone than a couple of cracked ribs.  He’s already bored with lying around in the hospital and wants to get back here.  I know exactly how he feels, but I’m sure they’ll keep them up there for a while yet, then give him light-duty or bed rest when he does come back.

Something else — remember when he was afraid Barb was pregnant?  Well, it turns out she is.  She wasn’t going to tell him because she didn’t want to force him into marriage right now.  She planned on giving it up for adoption.  Why she decided to tell him now I don’t know.  Anyway, he’s got that to think about now, too.

Enough of that for now.  I’ll keep you posted on him though.  I still haven’t heard a thing about Bill and I’m beginning to wonder what the hell is going on.

I received a letter from you today so I’ll go on to answer that.  First I want to thank you for writing as much as you do even though I can’t keep up.  Your letters are about the only thing that makes this place bearable, and I love you for it.

Honey, you sound as if you expect me to bite your head off for getting new frames.  Nothing of the sort!  If you wear your glasses more I’m all for it.  But if you don’t wear them they’re not worth it, right.  So wear ’em, okay?  And send me pictures of the new ones on you as you can.  I’d kinda like to see what my wife looks like now.

Okay, you mentioned that darn poster several times now and keep saying you’re going to send it, then change your mind.  What’s it about and what does it say and you’d best tell me or it’ll drive me nuts.  Got that?

You asked for ideas for Brian’s* graduation.  I would suggest something he could use when he goes away to college.  Even a travel alarm like you got Dale would be good.  I don’t believe he has one, but you might check with mom to be sure.

I remember dad’s birthday on his birthday.  Real cool.  I’m going to write him a letter as a combined birthday / Father’s Day card.  They have cards at the PX but I haven’t been able to get over there for better than a month now, and it will have to be mailed tomorrow if I expect it to get there on time.  As far as gifts go on birthdays and other occasions, our family usually just sends cards.  So don’t go gift crazy over them, okay?

I’m going to have to close this now and start that letter to dad.  I’m thinking of you all the time Reet, and I love you very much.  So long for now, Mrs. Johnson!

Your Hubby,

Jeff


*Jeff’s brother

May 21, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Honey —

I’m starting this during the noon hour.  The way things have been going lately it’s the only time I have.

That last letter I sent you — I can’t remember what I said or anything but I remember it was short and that I couldn’t even read it.  Sorry about that one.

I’m not flying anymore.  They quit using gunners.  The ships didn’t have enough power to carry that big a load in this heat.  So I’m back in maintenance again.  Between KP, guard duty, IG inspections, and working until midnight, I haven’t had time to blow my nose.  I hope that changes in a hurry, but I don’t think it’s going to.

I’ve been going to get another tape off to you too, but it’s the same story.  So don’t look for one until it gets there.  The questions you asked in your last letter (a nice long one) I’ll answer in this.

Back again and it’s now 8:15 p.m. I’m all showered in cleaned up and read a letter and listened to a tape from you.  I really should make a tape to send you but I figured since I already started this I’ll just keep going.  The next one will be a tape, okay?

I really can’t believe I’m off this early.  It’s the first time in about three weeks that I can remember.  They should start improving though.  Tomorrow we start working three shifts around the clock.  I’ll be on the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift to start out.  That means we’ll be off from 2 p.m. until 6 at night.  Then there is a detail formation — usually end up filling sandbags for a couple hours.  But it will give me the afternoon for writing and maybe I can even get to the PX once for a change.

I read the letter I got tonight before I listen to the tape.  In it you mentioned your ankle without any explanation.  I don’t know what the heck you were talking about.  Had me a little worried.  I hope it’s okay by the time you get this.  The tape made it a little clearer though.  Okay, I’ll answer your often asked question about the guys in my hooch.  Nick V., Dave D., Kim, Mike E., Pete V., Gene W., Ed K., Larry R., Gordon C., a guy named Washington (new) and me.

The guys I underlined are the ones I hang around with and may mention in my letters.  Clay is in the barracks in front of us.  Skip is on one side and Spargo is on the other.  Bill is two hooches down, but it still in the hospital somewhere or other.  No word at all how he is.

Now, a question for you — what do you mean by the notation at the end of your letter “And I don’t do things backwards”?  I take it to be an answer to something I said but I can’t remember what.

That island you mentioned in the slides was actually a peninsula and a Vietnamese fishing village.  I took it mainly because of the mountains and clouds in the background.  If it weren’t for that knee in the corner it would have been an outstanding shot, I think.  Of course I haven’t seen it on the screen.

Why don’t we have sandbags all the way around the hooches?  We do — now.  Remember, those were taken shortly after we got here, and there weren’t any around them then.  The “sidewalks” you mentioned are entrances to the bunkers.

No, I haven’t seen the rat since I mentioned it on tape, we put some poison out the next day and I hope that took care of them.  The worst thing about rats around here is that they carry bubonic plague.

I’m drawing $60 a month over here and letting the rest ride the books.  I’ve been a little short towards the end of the month (like now) but that’s because of things like cameras, film, and a trip to Da Nang.  This month I’m paying off Spargo for the TV and then that should be more than enough.  I figure I got pretty close to fifty a month riding the books.  I’m not sure of the exact amount.

What’s the bit with Dutchess?  You keep saying she looks like she’s pregnant, but you’ve never actually said she was.  I take it she is though, huh?

Tomorrow I’ll listen to your tape again and takes notes.  I’ll try to get one on the way back tomorrow too.  Right now I’ve got to write a letter to the folks — I can’t recall when the last one was.  I imagine they’ve been letting you hear about it, huh?

I love you Reet.  I can understand exactly what that poem meant.  I hope you can get out of “I love you” everything I put into it.  I love you with all my heart.

Forever,

Jeff

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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