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Monday, August 11, 1969. Camp Evans, Vietnam.

 

Hi Love,

Just 223 days and counting!  The first part of next month I’ll go into the hundreds.  Doesn’t seem so long that way, does it?  Just so it keeps going fast.

Have you sent that correspondence thing for me yet?  Hell, I know you probably haven’t gotten it as I write this.  But I’m real anxious to get going on it – exercise my brain a bit cause it’s getting rusty.

I’m really anxious to see that outfit you bought for R&R. From the way you described it and the way I picture it, it should be outstanding.  Of course, by then you’d look good in anything (or nothing!).

Guess what – Charlie hit tonite.  It’s now one thirty and the all clear just sounded.  I was awake and heard the first one coming.  So we all stumbled around in the dark trying to find our helmets and flack jackets.  Dave was trying to get in the bunker and fill in – got a few scratches.  Rob, the last I saw before I ran out the door, fell and was laying flat on the floor with his helmet and combat gear on – in his shorts.  Once we got to the bunker we put our weapons inside and went out to watch the war.  Then every time we heard one coming our way everyone would dive for the bunker again.  It was really funny.

Then some red flares started popping up all over and the siren started blowing – meaning a ground attack.  So we grabbed our weapons and machine guns and started for our perimeter.  Guess it was a false alarm, cause nothing happened.  So on our way back from the perimeter, while we were right out in the open – boom – the artillery started firing right behind us.  After an attack, we weren’t prepared for it, so we hit the ground (we is Kim, Dave, and I).  Now nobody but nobody hits the ground on outgoing unless you’re brand new in country.  We’re just glad no one was around to see us, and we’re sure not telling!

Anyway, it’s late, and I’m going to bed.  Good nite Honey.   I love you.

This is Wednesday nite now, the 13th.  Sorry this letter has dragged out for so long, but I will get it finished tonite.  The reason is that I had guard last nite so I couldn’t finish it then.

That attack the other nite was rockets mainly.  One hit down by our flight line.  It leveled an area about fourteen feet across.  One of our ships about fifty yards away was hit by shrapnel, but only minor damage.

Right now I’m sitting here with a glass of Jim Beam.  First I’ve had in a long time.  We’re going to kill a fifth here then go to another hootch and work on another bottle.  Should be an interesting night.

No, nobody is teaching me to play the harmonica, and you can tell it.  I just kind of hunt around till I find the note I want.  Sounds bad.  As for the guitar, I haven’t played that in better than a month, so I’ve forgotten all I learned.  I’m afraid I’m just not the musical type.

I got a letter from Jeanie tonite, written just three days before the wedding.  She said she had been down with mono for a month, and still wasn’t feeling good.  I hope that didn’t change their plans for them.

I wonder if Virg will make Jeanie run around without a bra, or if they’ll spend Saturday mornings in bed?  Maybe not, but I’m sure they’ll have their own little things like that.

I’m glad you don’t regret getting married when we did.  I don’t either.  I only regret having to leave you for so long.  But now I have something back there to look forward to, something I never had before.  And I know it will be worth any amount of hardship and separation once I have you in my arms again and can tell you “I love you.”  And I do.

Your Love Is My Life,

Jeff

 

I too have a story about Jim Beam.

Let me start by saying my father, by the time I was born and was old enough to begin forming memories, was a bit of a drinker.  Because of this I was a more than a little paranoid that I would become an alcoholic if I ever got started, so even most of my college years were rather dry.

At the time it was customary for all the bars in Brookings, South Dakota (of which there were many), to give you a free shot on your birthday. On my 21st birthday I went around to each bar, got my shots, and promptly gave them to a friend.  I kept myself on the straight and narrow by having a Zima instaed, the most manly drink ever created.

Jump forward a year and I’m in the Kansas City, MO, Doubletree lobby.  Why I’m there isn’t important, but I’m there with a guy named Criag.  Imagine John Belushi from Animal House, and you’re close.  I enter the lobby and there’s Craig, just sitting and holding court with some people he had met, a bottle of Jim Beam on one side of him and some Coke and ice on the other.  I had never drank much but he was welcoming and offered me a glass .  I accepted.  It tasted terrible.

So I had another.

A lovely evening was had by all and Beam & Coke became my drink of choice for the rest of my college days.  Haven’t had one in forever and I like to think I’m better for it, but it still holds a special place in my heart, even if it tastes like feet.

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Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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