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Big project due in school, plus turkey day.


June 13, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dearest Rita,

Once again there was no work formation tonight, so I’m all cleaned up and done with my shower and sweating again.  It’s real cool the way you start sweating before the water stops.

I had guard duty last night and am really tired tonight.  I got to sleep this morning, but in this heat it doesn’t help much.  Another reason is that I have KP tomorrow.  Just thinking about it wears me out.

I really don’t have much to say tonight — not much has been going on.  All our ships have had their periodic inspections and haven’t had much maintenance to pull last couple of days.  A couple or ships of come back with bullet holes, but nothing serious.

No one has fallen off any bunkers or gone to the hospital for any reason lately.  Oh, I guess Bill L. isn’t home yet; he’s still on a hospital ship over here, but will be going home soon.  It’s a gastric ulcer and mono.  He will be getting a medical discharge though, from what I hear.

I’m having the same problem several other guys are complaining about — not a thing to write.  Everything around here is getting old and boring.  It hasn’t been too bad so far, but I have a feeling things are going to start to drag before too long.

I suppose I could tell you that Kim is trying to teach me to play the guitar.  In fact, if I can’t think of something more interesting to say pretty quick I’ll just quit and practice for a while.

Saturday evening.

I just finished a day of KP and I’m not even tired!  Mainly it’s because I let everything slide and didn’t work any more or any harder than I had to.  I don’t usually like to do things that way but I’ve just about decided that the way to get along in the Army.  You don’t get any more or less whether you work hard or not, so why work up a sweat in the first place?

Okay, enough reflections on the trials and tribulations of Army Life.  On to something more important.  I received a long letter (11 pages) from you today and will now endeavor to answer it.

First of all you’d best tell the Knutson girls that I enjoyed their letters and tell them all hi for me.  Hope that will keep them happy.  I imagine they’ve been bugging you for a reply, right?

So — you went over the weight limit, huh?  Well, I love you anyway honey.  Popped any more pins lately?  If you’re having trouble keeping down there now, imagine what will be like in a couple of years.  I wish though, that rather than the semi-starvation diet you always go on, you would get on [one] that’s medically approved.  It would probably help you lose faster and keep it off without suffering from hunger pains all the time.

My concentration has been shattered by Pete (Kim) hauling out the guitar and distracting me.  He started an impromptu sing-along — he and I.  Everyone else is gone.  So if this doesn’t get finished tonight you can blame him.

This is Sunday now and as you can tell I didn’t make it back to this letter last night.  Maybe I can get it done today.

You mentioned china in your letter, and I’ve been looking around to see what is available.  You’re supposed to be able to order it through all PX’s over here, but you must remember that we are kind of out in the sticks, and the PX facilities we have aren’t quite up to par.  But I’ve got nine months left so I’ll do my best.  I’ll try to get a hold of a brochure to send to you and let you pick your own pattern.  Just to be on the safe side.

No, I don’t think I can find a Vietnam map over here.  We have plenty of maps around, but just area maps used for flying.  I haven’t seen a map of the whole country since I got here.  Wouldn’t you be able to find one at the bookstore or maybe Madsen’s?  Well, maybe not.  Anyway, I’ll keep my eyes open, but don’t count on it.

Have you been to any more of those waiting wives things yet?  You haven’t mentioned them for a while so I was wondering.

So you don’t see much of Bob, huh?  Well, I don’t even hear from him anymore.  The last letter was a month and a half ago.  So next time you do see him kick him in the rear end for me and tell him to get busy.

The year that has gone by since I gave you your diamond has sure gone by fast, hasn’t it?  I still remember how I felt — both excited and nervous — the night you got it, even if I was 1500 miles away.  You realize that if I had come over here when I left Eustis we would be looking forward to our wedding day in a couple months and wouldn’t have to worry about a long separation?  But think of what we’ve already had together.  Just remembering that and looking forward to it again will help the next nine months go by fast.

I know what you mean by that first date feeling.  That’s the way I always feel too, but in a more relaxed way.  Maybe that’s because we’ve never had to try to impress each other, even on our first dates.  I’m so impressed and proud of you the way you really are that anything else wouldn’t do it all.  I love you Rita, and always will.  Remember that when a year seems so long.  I love you!

Your Husband,


June 11, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

It’s noon now and I decided I’d start that long letter I promised you.  Don’t know what I’m going to say to make it long, but…

I’m on sandbagging detail today.  We’re making sure we don’t work too hard though.  We laid three rows of bags all morning (about a half hours job).

Honey, I’m all out of tapes, so if you want to get any more you’ll have to send one first.  I can’t get a hold of any more over here.

I know what you mean about that carnival.  I remember how big it seemed when I was a kid.  Now it’s hard to see why I bothered to go.  Maybe before too many years we’ll be taking our own kids to it.  Then it should be a blast.

I’m glad you finally got your glasses.  I hope they help your eyes so you don’t have any more problems like you did with your old ones.  And I hope you wear them when you’re supposed to.  Don’t forget to send me a picture (négligée picture too!).

I was surprised to hear about Les K. extending over here.  I thought he was in a hurry to get back stateside.  But an early out does look good.  There is talk about a nine-month early out now, and if that goes through I may extend for a month to get it.  But no more than that.

This is six o’clock now.  I’ve heard rumors that we aren’t going to have a work formation tonight, but I don’t know whether or not to believe it.  It’s too good to be true.

I got a letter from you which was mailed before the one I got last night.  It’s the first time that has happened.  Anyway, I’ve got two to answer now.

One question I guess I’d better answer right off is about our food.  Well, I could describe it very vividly, but I won’t.  Suffice to say keeps me alive.  My biggest gripe is the iced tea — I hate iced tea.  And that’s all they have, so I stick to water.  Goes great with the meals.  I think I have lost a little weight, but nothing serious.

Thanks for the Times, and yes I would like to get them regularly.  Any current news is hard to get over here, and Time does a darn good job of presenting it.

That bit about Jeannie & Virgil — I kind of expected it, and I’m real glad.  For awhile I thought it was all over with them.  Wish I could be there for their wedding.

Why bug your mom about getting bulbs for the camera?  Couldn’t you pick some up?  Or is that just an excuse for not taking the picture?  If it is I’ll cut you off — whoops, guess I can’t do that, can I?

A picture of me with my mustache would look just like the same as a picture without one.  It’s too light to show up.  However, I started another one and when it gets long enough I’ll darken it with a grease pencil and have a picture taken, okay?

Well, Reet, it’s 6:30 now and no work formation yet.  So I’m going to take a shower and change close now.  I’m going to put on some civilian clothes! That will be different.  Be back shortly.

Okay, this is shortly.  I didn’t get all dressed up like I was going to because it’s too hot yet, even though it’s raining.  Instead I’m keeping cool by sitting around in my underwear.

I hope it was just a trim job your mom did on your hair.  I know what you call a “trim.”  But that’s another reason I want some pictures.  Got to keep tabs on my wife’s hair.

He said you saw Gene C. — where has he been?  I thought he was over here somewhere, but he couldn’t have completed his year yet.  And if he’s coming over at all he won’t really have too long.  He’s only got about nine months left in the Marines.

You know something Reet?  It’s too bad we didn’t get you pregnant before I came over.  Then he could have the doc say there complications and I could get a 30 day emergency leave.  Maybe that’s not so bright after all — I’d go back just as horny, wouldn’t I?  Oh well, it was a thought.

Seriously, I wish we could have children right away, but I guess there’s plenty of time for that.  First there’s a million things I want to do with just you.  And they start out with just being with you, forever.

I love you Rita.

All My Love,


June 10, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

I’m being yelled at to turn out the lights and go to bed, but I want to get off a quick letter to you.  It won’t be long but I’ve been thinking of you and feel like scrawling a few lines.  I finally found a box for your birthday present and got that ready to go.  I’ll send it in the morning.  Remember, I don’t want you opening it until the day of your birthday.  I also got some slides and a tape ready to send the folks.  So you’ll have some more slides to look at.  We are definitely going to have to pick up a projector in the future.

A guy who used to be here with us was wounded in a mortar attack at a fire base last night.  A friend of his was killed.  Things are getting hot over here (not where I am).

The letter I got from you tonight I’ll have to answer tomorrow.  Maybe then I’ll have two, huh?

Must turn in now.  I’ll try to get a nice long one off next.  I love you Rita.  Always remember that.

Your Love is My Life!


June 7th, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

The first song is a parody of “Working in a Coal Mine,” by Lee Dorsey

The second is the Colonel Bogey March.

The third I don’t recognize.  Anyone?


June 6, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Hi Beautiful!

Wish I were with you to tell you just how beautiful you are and how much I love you.  That is my biggest dream.  And someday it will come true if I can just live through the waiting. It’s awfully hard at times.  But when the time comes it will be worth the wait.

If my writing looks different it’s because I’m writing on a table for the first time since I got here.  I sneaked off long enough yesterday to slap one together.  After writing on my knee for so long this really feels weird.

I got a letter from you tonight, and, as you said in it, it has been a couple of days since I heard from you.  But the long letter I got tonight more than made up for it.

Clay was just in so I showed him the part of your letter you talked about him.  He said he’d pass up a hug and kiss for now because I just wasn’t his type, but that he’d be sure to collect it in person when he gets back.  I don’t think I like the idea of you hugging and kissing everybody like that though.

Kim says he stopped picking his ears with his feet. He uses his tongue now!

Yes, I know how it is trying to figure out where money has gone or where the money you need will come from.  It’s frustrating.  But the experience will be good for you.  And now maybe you can realize how I felt in North Carolina when I was worrying about food on the table and a roof over our head.  Things worked out fine there and I’m sure they will now.  It’ll be nice to have a little to back us up so things won’t be so tight in our next home.

You mentioned Pat P.’s short hair — the first time I ever saw her she had it the same way.  I couldn’t see what Ward saw in her at the time.

But when her hair grew out and I got to know her better I liked her.  Last time we were home I thought it was real cute.  I hope we see more of them once I’m out.  For relatives living in my own town I sure don’t know Ward very well.

If you find Shirley L.’s address, send it to me.  I don’t know if my last letter will get through to Bill or not.  I’ll write again if I don’t hear something in a week or two.

Clay just bought a tape recorder today.  It’s a good size set and cost him better than $130.  I’d like to pick up a good one for us if money permits before I leave here.  Also a good camera.  I could save a lot of dust on some real good equipment.

I think I told you that Clay’s Barb was pregnant, didn’t I?  Well, she’s going to have the baby and keep it.  Don’t know why they don’t get married in Hawaii — the chaplain would arrange it for Clay.  But, I guess that’s their business.

I really meant to write on the backs of all those pictures, but I kept forgetting to mail them.  When I did remember I just tossed them in the way they were before I forgot again.  I did write on a couple though, didn’t I?

Well, Reet, I think I’d best close pretty quick.  Clay wants to record the music off our (Kim’s and mine) recorder.  Oh, say, if you can, would you get a hold of the Outsiders album Dex has and record for me?  I think you know which one I mean.  I’d really like to hear that again.

So long, honey.  Remember that I love and miss you and you are on my mind 24 hours a day.  I love you.



June 4, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

Okay, here’s that cheerful letter I promised you, and I am in a pretty good mood, so…

One reason I’m in a good mood is because today I worked on helicopters, after not being near one for three days.  That’s a big help.  Also, no one was bugging us for a change.  Real different.

This morning we did go out to the range and sighted in our weapons.  I found that I had a real fine one.  I’m going to send one of my targets to Bob and let him eat his heart out.  The rest of the time we shot the hell out of tin cans and anything we could find.  And we got our weapons back.  That makes me feel better (not that I think I’ll need it, just in case).

I got a tape from the folks last night.  After I wrote you I listened to it, about 11:30.  It was really good.  They started at April 15, and I guess they just left it out so whenever anyone had anything to say they just said it.  I really should write them tonight, but I doubt if I will.

Today is Dave’s birthday so we’re having kind of a party.  We just got back from the beer tent.  Everyone is sitting around singing new words to old songs.  I’m going to try taping some to send along in my next tape if I can.

Okay, back again.  I taped some of the songs and will send them in my next tape.  I hope to get it made tomorrow night.  I’ll sure try anyway.

I just got your letter tonight about the car insurance and all.  I’ll wait for the tape to say anything about that.  It’s much easier than trying to write but don’t let money bug you too much, hon.  Just do the best you can.

I’m going to close now and go to bed.  Wish it was with you, Reet.  I sure would go for that right now.  I love you, Rita, and I wish I could tell you that as we crawl into bed again.  Just remember that I’m saying that to you every night when I go to sleep.  I love you, forever.



So you know that audio tape that I “missed” and therefore stopped everything to go back and edit so I would have everything posted in order?  Yeah, it was a July 2nd tape, not a June 2nd.  A month away.  There is a June 7th coming up in a few days, but I essentially freaked out about nothing.

Did I mention I’m back in school?


Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


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November 2009