August 8, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam


Dear Reet,

I’m drunk.  Well maybe not drunk, but as close to it as I’ve been in a long time.  And it didn’t take much.  I have a feeling that when I get home you’ll be able to drink me under the table.  You almost could before.

I don’t know why I started drinking tonite.  Nothing special.  We just did.  We (the guys in my hootch) started drinking right after chow and were drunk by eight o’clock.  That’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?  Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I love you, so I’m telling you.  I love you.

We got a new theatre today.  We moved our old tent hanger down to the battery area and it’s now our theatre.  We watch shows there.  The beer hall is going to be there too, so we can drink beer and watch the show.  The show tonite was screwed up so I left to write you a letter and tell you I love you.  I love you!

Remember the last time we got drunk?  It was the weekend Clay stayed with us.  When we finally were getting ready for bed at 5:30 you started crying about my smoking and kept saying “I want you to know your children.”  Clay thought we were having a fight.  I was having a hell of a time keeping from laughing.  I can imagine how pleased you’d be if I had.

Rob just got sick.  He’s my team leader and he’s been drinking all day – and he doesn’t drink.  He made a bright observation – “Noses are an inconvenience” cause he puked and got it in his nose.  Now he’s trying to tape a letter to his wife.  Should be good.

Right now Rob’s been talking for ten minutes after the tape ran out.

Gotta go hon, the party’s still on.  See you soon.

I love you!



Well shit.  This one hits a little close to home.

When I was 13 my dad, Jeff, died from cancer.  Guess what kind?

So hearing that mom was warning him about smoking twenty six years before it would kill him is heartbreaking.  I remember after he passed away (and maybe this happened before his death, I’m not sure) our house wasn’t crazy healthy, but wheat bread and food co-ops were standard and mom was (already?) getting serious about her own health.  I remember going to college and having access to all the bad food I could want, making it problematic to eat well.  For every meal I would still get milk instead of soda because I knew that’s what Mom would want.  Sometimes though I would split the difference and get chocolate milk.

The refrain “I want to be there for my kids,” was something I heard often and still do to this day.  Now she occasionally adds: “I want to be there for my grandkids.”

So Mom, I guess this is my opportunity to thank you for working so hard to keep yourself in good working condition.  I love having you around for advice and encouragement and so the boys have wonderful memories of their grandmother.  I hope you’re happy and healthy for decades to come.

You make me very happy.

I love you.