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Wednesday, September 4, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Wife –

I’m pissed off!  I’m not going to get to have a monkey after all.  There are no more pets allowed in the unit.  That means everything has to go.  The dog will stay and be our official mascot (that’s the only way).  But I was looking forward to having a monkey, darn it all.

This is Saturday the 6th now, and the date up top should have been the 3rd, but I gained a day somewhere.  Anyway, I’m sorry I haven’t written for a few days, but things have been happening around here.

First off, we had an 18 hour stand down from 12 noon yesterday ‘til 6 this morning.  All that means is that nobody works and no ships fly – and it’s party time.

We were supposed to have a band and a strip show, but that fell thru. But we did have plenty of free beer – 80 cases.  Everyone got pretty well looped.  When the beer was gone and the ice in the trailer it was in melted, we started throwing people in.  It started with just a few of the guys, but before it was over all the officers and NCO’s had gone in, including Major Miller and the first shirt.  When most the water had been splashed out the beer baths started.  By supper time people were passed out everywhere – on top of bunkers and on the ground and in the road.  But everyone had a good time.

Today when we had to go back to work there were a lot of people who were hurting.  Hope we can do it again tho.  It was the first stand down we’ve had in six months, and most units get a three day stand down every couple months at least.

In the letter I got from you tonite you asked how long your letters have been taking.  Well, the letter tonite took three days – a record.  Most take 4-6 days tho.  And it’s not unusual to get your latest letters before some older ones.

Right now LZ Sally, which is about five miles from here, is getting hit hard by Charlie.  There’s about three companies of NVA roaming around raising hell, and they’re expecting us to get hit any time in the next three days.  They’ve said this before and it never happens, so I feel pretty safe.  We may catch a few rounds but that’s no sweat.  All you do then is lose sleep.  However, I’ve lost enough of that in the last few days, so I think I’ll hit the sack now.

I’ve still got three letters of yours I haven’t really answered.  I’ll try to get that done tomorrow if we don’t have to work all day.  Sure hope we don’t.

I love you Rita.  The words don’t sound like much, but they mean one heck of a lot.  I love you!



LZ mean Landing Zone.  LZ Sally was a small base that housed (and was base for) air missions into enemy territory.  The map below shows both Camp Evans (top left, where dad was stationed) and LZ Sally (where the attacks from the North Vietnamese Army were taking place).  The map below was posted on

 photo sallao2.jpg

Here is a home movie put together by a former serviceman, Michael Elliott, stationed at LZ Sally.

Monday, September 1, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Love!

We’ve got a new guy in our unit named Joe – he’s a monkey.  Really cool!  He gets so much attention that he gets excited tho, and he’s scratched a couple of guys.  The guy who got him has decided he doesn’t like the idea as much as did at first and wants to get rid of him.  So I’m going to take him.  Right now Joe’s down at a veterinary clinic for shots and observation for two weeks, but when he gets back it looks like he’ll be mine, unless the guy changes his mind.

So now our unit’s got a monkey, a dog, a cat, two chickens (one died) and a praying mantis.  I imagine an elephant is the next thing.

Today was a real nice day, cool for a change.  It was cloudy and sprinkled a bit and got rid of some of the damn dust. Then tonite it opened up and really started raining, and it’s been raining ever since – like you can’t see five feet out the door for the water.  But we needed it – we haven’t been able to get water for the last couple of days cause our water supply dried up.

The picture I’m sending with this was taken tonite (I hope I remember to put it in).  It kind of shows you a bit of our hootch, or at least my corner.  And if you look close you can even see my mustache.  It’s never showed up in a picture before.

So far this letter has taken me two hours for this little bit.  The problem is that there is some beautiful soft music being played on a big tape deck, and I just sit back and groove to the music and think about you.  I’m definitely going to get this stuff taped for our big set.  I’ve never heard most of it before coming over here, but I want to listen to it again when I’m with you.

Now it’s even more romantic, cause we just lost our electricity.  I’m writing by candle light.  It’s still raining cats and dogs, and our whole battery area looks like a lake.  Or maybe I should say like a river.  We’re on the side of a hill and our hootch is at the bottom.  It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we get washed away tonite. But who cares, as long as the beer holds out?

The writing by candle light isn’t the best, so I’m going to knock off.  It sure would be nice if you were with me tho.  Rain on the roof and candlelight.  It’s really a beautiful setting.  Especially if you’re with the one you love.  And I love you Rita, with all my heart!

Your Love Is My Life,


P.S. We just got hit, and had to go wading out to our bunker which has two feet of water on the floor.  Loads of fun.  This is going to get more common as the monsoons and bad weather comes around and the ships can’t get up.

I’m dying to know what music he was listening to at the time.  Was it Pink Floyd? The Doors?  It’s killing me.

 photo Dad with Beer.jpg

I’m attaching a photo that could be the one he’s referring to, but I doubt it.  If you were to squint just right though, you might just see the slightest trace of a mustache.  And as this is the ONLY photo I have where this peach fuzz is visible, I post it here.

Not gonna lie, it reminds me more than a little of the ‘stache on this guy:

 photo Westley.jpg

August 30(?), 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Link to part 2 (16:20).

The 2nd tape was skipped, but I thought naming this one #3 would mess with people, so it is going to be called 2, even though it isn’t.  Please direct all questions to someone else.

August 30(?), 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Link to part 1 (11:10).

He spends a bit of this tape rehashing some stuff from his last letter, plus a few extra thoughts.   Somewhere near the end of this side of the tape it seems like he recorded over a previous letter or reversed the tape or something…  or it was a demon trying to get through into our world.

Or something.

There are actually three parts to this audio tape, but the entire second one sounds like a scene from Twin Peaks.  We’re going to skip it, I think.

Friday, August 29, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Love,

I’ve got two letters from you to answer, but I’m afraid it won’t get done tonite.  I’ll start on them tho.

I’ve been working on my Algebra again tonite.  Started right after supper and just quit – it’s 9:30.  That’s the way it’s been for the last three nights, and I’m only about half done with the first lesson.  Never studied so hard in my life!

First off I guess you’d best apologize to Nancy for me about the mix up in names.  Must be your writing, huh?  That’s the best excuse I can think of at the time.

You’d best warn her that Kim may try to blow her mind with his letters.  He got a kick out of hers and wrote back the same nite he got it.  Just be sure she takes it with a grain of salt.

I know that no one else has much trouble getting R&R’s, but they’re not in our unit either.  If something’s going to get fouled up it will happen here.  But in our unit married people don’t get first shot at Hawaii.  They go by the date arrived in-country.  That’s why each month anyone who got here before me gets ahead of me on the list, even if it’s only two days.  I’ll agree that it doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the way it is.

Yes, there are pamphlets of China around – if you can get to a PX that has them.  Our PX doesn’t even have shoe polish.  We’re out in the sticks, Honey, and don’t have all this stuff available.  When I did get to a decent PX down at Vung Tau, they were out.  But I’ll keep trying.

You keep telling me to say hi to Clay for you, but I can’t.  I’m sure I told you (twice that I remember) that he was transferred to a unit at Phu Bai.  I stopped and saw him on any way to Vung Tau, and he came up here once.  That’s all I’ve seen of him for 2 months or more now.

You asked where Camp Eagle is.  Well, it’s near Phu Bai – does that tell you anything?  It’s south of Hue, maybe 15 miles (?) (not sure).  We’re maybe 15 miles northwest of Hue.  That’s about all I can tell you except that it’s a good sized place.  Evans is actually considered a fire base more than a camp.

It’s late so I am going to get to bed.  Wish I was going there with you to try some of your “hit and miss.”  It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to share each other that way.  But we will again, and when that day comes it will be worth it!

I love you Rita!


Lots of links to locations and terms in this one, just to jog your memory if you’ve forgotten.

Also, I don’t know what “hit and miss” means, but it sounds dirty.

Wednesday, August 27, 1969. Camp Evans, Vietnam.


This is going to be short cause I have one hell of a headache. And I’ve got to write the folks tonite.  I haven’t written them for close to two weeks.  That’s getting kind of bad.

I got my Algebra course last nite.  I was on guard then so I didn’t get at it until tonite.  It’s going to be tough, I can tell that already.  But it’s kind of fun for a change.

Dave D. had a little girl yesterday morning, 5 lbs 14 ozs.  Hope he gets the word down at Vung Tau.  That makes four girls and a boy born this month.

I’ve got a birth announcement from Gail and Steven.  I want to drop them a line if I can.  But I can hardly find the time to write my wife and folks, so I’m not sure I’ll get it done.

I had to buy a new watch today.  Mine gave up the ghost.  I took it apart and fixed it once, but it was so corroded from the humidity here that I didn’t figure it would last long.  And there’s no place to get them fixed here.

Anyway, I bought a Seiko for $22.  It’s a good looking watch and a lot cheaper here than in the states.  It’s really going to leave me short on dough this next month, but I can’t stand to be without a watch.  (I had to borrow some of it from Bill L.).

Today a Sp5 names Denny E.,  whose been with the unit since Bragg, left for the states.  He’s getting out, the lucky dog.  He was one happy guy this morning.  A couple of days and he’s a civilian.

Bill is taking his R&R in November.  He’s just about assured of getting Hawaii since he came over with the advanced party.  He’s already making plans.  He’s also talking about extending for six over here, so he won’t get sent over again.  He’s got about 18 months left when we get back to the states.  What he’d really like tho is an assignment in Germany.

Well, Honey, I’d best close.  Just remember I love you with all my heart, and always will.  Good night Rita.

All My Love,


You can decide whether you want to click on the link below (it’s 5MB pdf file), but it will take you to the 1969 Seiko watch catalogue.

And it’s awesome.

Monday, August 25, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Honey!

I meant to write you yesterday, but I didn’t quite get to it.  I was busy doing nothing – absolutely nothing.  It was beautiful.

Yesterday was a real nice day.  It was sunny but not really hot.  Gene W. and I decided it was only about 90° out.  Then Kim came in and said the thermometer at the hanger was reading 113°.  Must be getting used to the heat when that feels cool!

The nights here have turned quite cold lately.  At least about three in the morning it turns cold.  We’ve been sleeping under blankets or poncho liners lately.  I guess it’s because the monsoons are coming. They’re supposed to start around October.

You said you didn’t know what Virgil and Jeannie would be doing in Watertown.  Well, they’ll both be teaching at the high school.  She’ll teach seniors and he’ll teach sophomores, I think.  I guess I didn’t tell you this before because I just don’t think of telling you what’s going on back there.  I guess it seems like you should know everything.

You’d best believe I hit the ground when rockets and mortars start popping all around us.  Only an idiot or someone bent on suicide wouldn’t.  But the time I told you about wasn’t necessary because it was our own stuff going out.  We were just still on edge from their stuff coming in a few minutes before that.

From your letter it’s easy to see you hadn’t received mine about out R&R when you wrote it.  I’m sure you have by now tho.  I’m sorry you were making so many plans and sewing dresses, and then get disappointed.  I know you can use it anyway, but it was for a special occasion and I wish I could do something about it.  Besides, I’d like to see it too, as long as you were in it.

No, I don’t really think we’ll live in Australia someday – but – I kind of like the idea too.  I’ve been thinking about an R&R there to look around a bit.  That’s what I had always planned on before we were married.  Now tho, I feel more like saving the money if I can’t be with you.  It’s tempting tho.  Sounds like a lot of opportunity there.

Say, I’ve got a question I meant to ask when I was talking about Virgil and Jeannie earlier.  What church were they married in?  She doesn’t belong to any, I know, so I was curious.

By the way, if I didn’t say this before, that little purple man and I are in complete agreement.  I could use a little more “joy” in my life right now.  What I could really use tho is you.  Then I’d have everything.

I love you, Rita.  And in six months and days I’ll tell you that myself.

I Love You!


Still unsure about the identity of the “little purple man.”  I’m betting it was a type of Duncan brand yo-yo, who back in the day had a little guy on the purple package.

Anyone who has another idea what it might be, let us know in the comments.


Saturday, August 23, 1969. Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Beautiful!

Just sitting here drinking my beer and having a good old time.  I’d be having a better time if we didn’t have to work tomorrow.  But what the heck.

I moved today, but not far.  I’m in the same hooch but in a corner now.  Gives us more room in the center, and we’re down to nine guys now (they’re six man hootches).

Dave D. left for Vung Tau today for school.   His first child is due right now, so he’s worried about not getting the word.

I’m glad to hear that Curt’s back.  Seems about time some guys from our area start making it back in one piece.  We had a pretty poor average for a while there.

Yes, I remember that day at Bob’s cabin.  Them was the good old days.  Sure seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?  Better than two years ago.  Funny how that seems longer ago than a lot of things that happened before that.

Well, honey, half our time is almost gone!  The 22nd of next month will be half way as far as months go, and the 18th is halfway counting days.   And the 6th of next month I’ll break 200 – I’ll have 199 days then.  Doesn’t sound so long that way, does it?  If this doesn’t jive with your figures it’s because I’ve added two days to my Deros.  It’s March 21, not the 19th like I said earlier.

I’m going to the flick tonite, so I’ll close this up now.  But I’ll try to keep them coming pretty regularly now.  They’ve been better lately, haven’t they?

I love you honey, and I always will.



Friday, August 22, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Wife!

Time has got to be going fast.  It seems like every time I turn around I’m sending you a card.  We’re getting toward the halfway mark – won’t be long now.

Not too much has been happening around here lately.  Oh yeah, four people were assassinated in the village by the V.C.  And a guy in the unit next to us went berserk and killed his first sergeant and wounded his C.O.  Four gooks were killed on our perimeter, one inside the wire other day.

They needed some guys to go out to a fire base tomorrow and Sunday, so nearly all of us in maintenance volunteered.  But they wouldn’t let us go, cause we wanted to.  Now if we had tried to get out of going…?

So far tonite I’ve spent reading the new Playboy.  New to us anyway – it’s been out for a month back in the world.  Say, what happened to our calendar?  It didn’t get left in North Carolina did it?  I recall that it got hidden when the folks came.

When does college start again?  I know you probably don’t like to think about it again, but by the time you get this it should be getting close again.  Sure wish I could be there to go too.  Can’t you imagine us walking to class together?  I really think that would be cool.

Even tho time is going fast, I’m still impatient to be back with you.  Our short time together was so much more beautiful than I had imagined it would be, that that is all I can think of. Now we’ll both know how to appreciate what we have when we’re together – (As if we didn’t then!).

I just re-read that last bit and it doesn’t make much sense.  I’m sorry.  I guess I was trying to say something that can’t be put into words. What I meant was “I love you.”  And I do Rita, very very much!  I Love You!

Your Love is My Life!



Wednesday, August 20, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dearest Reet,

Today was a great day.  I was in pain the whole day.  Last nite on guard duty one of my rear teeth abscessed.  So today I went to the dentist and had a wisdom tooth pulled.  The novocain didn’t do anything on the inside of my jaw, so it was painful.  After I got back it was so bad I couldn’t swallow or even talk.  So I popped about five pain pills and finally took a short nap.  Now it’s a little better, but not much.

Get this, the dentist said I couldn’t eat, drink, or smoke until tomorrow.  The first two okay, but smoking?  Sorry about that.

He checked all my other teeth too, and didn’t find one cavity.  Not bad for not seeing a dentist for over two years.

So, we’ve got a new niece now.  Glad she didn’t have all the trouble she had when Tony was born.  They wanted a girl this time, didn’t they?  And born on the same day yet.  Seems funny to think of them calling us Aunt and Uncle, doesn’t it?

You were wrong about being down at Colton with you once – it was twice.  I sure would like to see your Mom high.  Must be good!

That letter I wrote when I was drunk – I don’t remember much about it really.  I do remember talking about that night in North Carolina where you were drunk.  Maybe I shouldn’t have, but –

I’ll tell George the dinner date is still on, but it might be a problem collecting.  He gets out of the Army in January.

I think I told you that Skip got the psych course he sent for.  Same books and all they use at State.

I just read in the paper about a guy I went thru basic with.  He got shot in the back, but the bullet hit his pack and bedroll, and he killed the gook.  He’s on a recon patrol team.

I think I’m going to start sending you the Screaming Eagle, the 101st newspaper we get here.  You might be interested in what’s happening here, and I’d like to save them.  They’d be great for telling war stories to our kids, all about what a hero their old man was! (?)

Well Honey, that’s about all for tonite, except to say that I love you.  I say that a hundred times a day, and I’m waiting for the day I can tell you that in person a hundred times a day.  I love you Rita, with all my heart.

Your Love is My Life!


Now, I would have to go back and dig into dad’s military files (which are around here somewhere) to know exactly which regiment he was attached to, but the Wikipedia article HERE, and the fact he said in his last letter that he was now in artillery, indicates he was probably a part of the 2nd Battalion, 94th Artillery Regiment.  The 101st Airborne Division had taken over Camp Evans by this time and I’m guessing that’s the newspaper he’s referring to.  There’s a good chance he was patching up a bunch of bullet holes in their helicopters.

For those interested, a quick Google search revealed some interesting information about the division, including that they have an active Facebook page.

And for the record, I agree with dad.  I too would like to see my grandmother high.

Sunday, August 17, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Beautiful!

I just got back from church and have a little time before chow, so I figured I’d start a letter.  I meant to write last nite, but it seems another party got going here in our hooch, so it was impossible.  I guess it lasted until after two, but I went to bed long before that.  Looks like everyone’s getting an early start today.  They’re all up drinking already.

Last nite I got your tube of summer sausage and on the box you said you forgot to mail it with the rest.  I presume that means I’ve got one coming yet with a yo-yo and a purple man (?) in it, right?  Maybe I’ll get that today or tomorrow.

Now I’m back from chow, and we had real mashed potatoes today!  That’s quite a treat after five months of eating the dehydrated stuff.

I just saw the list of the order for R&R to Hawaii.  I’m 15th, and the first four get it.  Next month I’ll probably be lower.  So don’t go buying any clothes for me – I won’t be needing them.  I’m sorry you won’t be wearing that outfit I bought to Hawaii, but I’m sure you can use it for plenty of other things.  Like when I get home and take you out to dinner.  Let’s make that a date, huh?

This is Sunday evening now.  I got three letters from you tonite!  I’m only going to answer parts of them now, since I probably won’t get any more for a couple days. Okay?

First, thank Nancy W. for the card and note.  I thought that was real nice.

So someone knew what the transportation brass meant, huh?  That’s a surprise.  I had forgotten you had them.  But, I’m not in transportation anymore – it’s artillery now.  I suppose to keep you up to date I should send you some of those.

Say, do you see Jim C. around?  If you do, ask him if he know of a Dave G., a coach at Wayne State in Nebraska.  He probably does.  That’s Kim’s brother-in-law.

You must really be getting used to taking showers now instead of baths.  It used to be you’d say a little bit about whenever you took one, but now you mention them just as casually as you’d mention a bath.  Can’t wait ‘til I can join you.

Honey, I wouldn’t make a table cloth for my table if I were you.  First of all my footlocker sits on it when it’s not in use.  Then when it is in use it gets pop and beer spilled on it and cigarettes laid on it and the works.  I don’t think it would last long.

Tonite I got a “dream sheet” to fill out.  It’s a form where you can pick the area you want to serve in after you leave Nam.  It’s called a dream sheet cause they don’t seem to do any good.  I haven’t decided to put down the midwest or northwest.  Chances are I’ll put down the northwest, which would include Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.  I don’t think there’s much in that area other than Ft. Lewis, but that’s got a lot going around there.  But like I said, it doesn’t mean much.

I think I’ll go to a flick tonite.  So – good nite Rita.  I love you always.




So, the “purple man” seems to be a reference to a character on a yo-yo.  I did all kinds of research and that’s the best I could come up with.  The question mark in the letter was not put in there by me, it is in his original letter.  It seems like even he wasn’t entirely sure about the name.

Also, the “transportation brass” probably refers to some type of insignia that mom had of dad’s transport unit.  Something like this.  If he’s in artillery at this point, it would look like this.  I’m pretty sure I have one or two of these upstairs in my drawer, but there is an 8 month old baby sleeping in there right now and that’s not a risk you take.

It also kills the English teacher in me just a little bit when he writes “nite,” and “tonite.”

Last weekend before school starts and I’m sick as a dog.

Back on Wednesday. 

Friday, August 15, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Reet,

Bad news Honey.  It doesn’t look like I’ll be getting Hawaii for R&R.  We were told that today.  Too many people want R&R in Hawaii, and they are going by the date you arrived in country.  Since I was in the last group to come over my chances are almost zero.  Only four allocations a month have been coming down, and there’s about ten guys each month who came in ahead of me.  By October that means twenty guys or better ahead of me, and just about as many equal to me as far as time in country goes.  So, I guess seeing each other in Hawaii is definitely out.  I’m sorry Rita, I know you were looking forward to it – so was I.  But I guess there’s nothing we can do about it.

I left my name on the Hawaii list anyway, altho the chances of getting it are about a thousand to one.  They asked if anyone wanted to change, but I couldn’t see it.  If I can’t get to Hawaii to see you, to hell with it.  If I got to feeling like I’ve got to get out of here, later on, I may try to get to Australia, but I doubt it.  If I can’t see you I’d rather save the money.

I guess that’s one thing we can console ourselves with.  We’ll have nearly six hundred dollars more without the R&R.  But I think it would have been worth more than that to both of us.

Well, enough of that.  I guess we’ll both live, but it will be harder.

Now, what’s this bit about my romantic greetings?  I know I start my letters lots of ways besides, “Dear Rita.”   Maybe not quite as often as I used to, but pretty close.  When I’m in a good mood I always start them different, but so often I’m tired and not bright enough to write anything else.  Anyway, I’ll try to do better, okay?

Kim said he’d marry Nancy as soon as he gets back, but feels to be fair to her they should wait at least a week.  He’s very thoughtful that way.  But he’s not sure whether she was serious or just playing with his broken heart, leading him into another one.  He wanted to write her, but I don’t know the address.  But maybe it would be nicer if she wrote him, a lonely G.I. in a strange land.  I know he’d like that and would know she is sincere.  But you’d best warn her he may blow her mind with his letters.  Battle fatigue, you know.

Hi Hon.  This is later. I just went and took a look at the psych course Skip got today.  It really seems like a well set up course.  He got the same book as in the class I took at ol’ SDSU, which is actually a sophomore course.  And it doesn’t look easy.  I’m really getting anxious to get mine and get started.

I was working a little math the other night from a book a guy here has.  I figured out a cool equation [Insert complex equation here that I am not going to take the time to figure out how to insert properly -Ethan-] = our zip code!  I haven’t figure out what good it is yet, but –

I got a letter from Jeannie the other day.  She’s been down with mono for a month.  It was a real nice letter, written three days before her wedding.  It’s going to seem funny writing to Jeannie R. now.

Nope, no WAC’s here.  Mom must have made a mistake, or meant those Red Cross girls I told you about.

Last nite there was a big beer party in our hooch.  For some reason tho I didn’t feel like getting drunk.  I was thinking of you.  So I just sat in my own little world and spent the evening with you.  Can’t let myself do that too often or I’ll go mute, but once in a while is great.  I sure do miss you Rita.

It’s getting late so I’m going to hit the sack, so I’ll see you in my dreams.  I love you Honey, with all my heart.

Your Hubby,


P.S. When are you going to send me some China patterns you like?


For my own curiosity, I’ve gone back and looked at how many different salutations Jeff sent to Rita.

They are as follows:

  • Hi Reet,
  • Hi Love,
  • Deer Reet,
  • Hi Beautiful,
  • Dear Rita,
  • Dearest Rita,
  • Hi Rita!
  • Hi Lover,
  • Hi Honey,
  • Dear Wife!
  • Hi Wife!

I only looked back to December 19th of 1968 and I didn’t take an actual count of how often each greeting was used, because it’s almost 1am and I’m thinking a full statistical analysis might be a bit much even for me.  I will say that “Dearest Rita,” “Hi Beautiful,” and “Dear Rita,” seemed to be the most common.

Make of that what you will.

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


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