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Friday, October 3, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Dearest Reet,

Finally!  My mails coming thru!  You don’t know how nice that is.  I got these letters and a tape from you today.  Best day I’ve had since I’ve been here.  I know I’m still missing some mail that was forwarded from Evans tho.  So if there’s something I don’t answer, that’s why.

The tape recorder that Kim and I bought I left with him.  He’s going to pay me for my half.  So I had to borrow one to listen to your tape.  The guy is leaving and wants to sell it to me – it’s just like yours – for $10.  I don’t think I’ll buy it tho cause it drags pretty bad.  At any rate, I’m not going to be able to answer your tape right away at least.

You asked for Kim’s address – it’s the same as my old one, silly girl.  At least it will get to him that way.  He’s actually C Battery, so if you put that in place of 388th TC you’ve got his correct address.  By the way, if you’re interested, Clay’s address is the same as mine is now except “B” Company instead of “A”: Skip, Rich S.’s, and Bill’s are the same as Kim’s (either C Battery or 388TC will get it there.)

I suppose by the time you get this Gail’s Pete will be home.  Lucky guy.  And I’ve heard that Stewart is a good place to be stationed.  And it is not as big as Bragg.  Bragg is either first or second in size in the U.S. and Benning is the other.  The main post area itself may be bigger tho, I don’t know.

Hunter Army Airfield is right next door to Stewart, in fact, they are almost considered one installation.  That’s another place with a lot of aircraft where I might get stationed if I don’t get my choice.  I don’t suppose you’d mind that, would you?

How much longer does Pete have in the Army?  I had just kind of figured he had extended to get an early out.  I was surprised to hear he had time left.

Say, Rita, here’s something I’d like you to let me know how you feel about.  What would you say if I extended for about 2 ½ months over here?  I don’t want to spend that extra time away from you, but there’s a couple of good points too.  First, you could get in another semester of college.  Second, we’re just now starting to pull ahead money wise, and another two months would help that way (I actually collect three more months of the combat tax free pay, and I’d be over two).  This is just something I’ve thought about, so let me know how you feel, okay?

I’m glad you feel like you do about R&R.  I know every cent it would cost would be worth it, but we could put it to better use when I get home I think.  Right now, just getting a car and insurance on it will take over half (well over) of what we will probably save.   An R&R would leave us broke again I’m afraid.  And I don’t want to have to worry about money again like I did in North Carolina, do you?

Honey, let me know how much we have in savings after the beginning of October.  I mean exactly, too.  Then I’m going to try to figure out how much we can plan on saving in all.

Honey, like I said in one of my last letters, I’d rather not have you fly out to Washington to meet me.  I want to come home to you.  That may sound dumb, but that’s the way I always think of it.  Besides, it’s hard telling when I’d be getting there.  Some guys get drops of up to twenty days when it’s too late to let anyone know.  Others don’t get their orders until after they should have been gone.  A couple guys here got four day drops today and will leave here day after tomorrow.  So you see, you’d never know when to be there anyway.  And I can’t see me going thru the processing knowing you were waiting for me close by: I’d go nuts!

I’m not surprised to hear about that marijuana bit.  It’s too big a thing not to hit Brookings sooner or later.  I just hope Dex and Brian steer clear of it.  I wrote Dex about it the other day.  I don’t have anything against it, it’s just that the risk involved isn’t worth it.  If you ever hear of Dex or Brian using the stuff, let me know quick won’t you?  I don’t really think they will, but…

You wouldn’t believe all the dew (marijuana) that is used over here.  I knew it was bad in the states, but it’s easier to get here.  I’m willing to bet that ¾ of my unit at Evans used it at least occasionally, and half pretty regularly.  A couple of guys were high 24 hours a day.  Here I don’t think it’s quite as bad, but still pretty popular.  Everyone to their own thing I guess, as long as they don’t try to push it on me.

Those sayings I talked about – I don’t even think about using them like “beaucoup” (boocoo) are used so much over here.  Another one I’ve picked up is “Jack,” like “Hey, Jack.”  Maybe I’ll have more when I get home, huh?

Oh yes, the Whop.  He’s name is Greg T.  He’s Italian, and Italians are called Whops or Wops.  So, that’s the name he got.  By the way, when Greg and I left we had a building dedicated to us – a latrine next to the hanger.  Kim painted a neat sign saying “Dedicated to the fond memory of Greg (the Whop) T. and Jeff (Motor) Johnson.”  The motor part was from a personal joke between Kim and I from the book Atlas Shrugged.  I really thought that was great – the maintenance people will see it every day.

Tell Nancy “Hi” for me, too.  She should have another letter from Kim by now – at least he was writing one when I left last Monday.  Oh yea, Kim’s limping around on a cane now.  He told Nancy about it so you probably know by now.  Bill has his leg in a cast – broken leg.  Don’t know exactly how it happened, but he fell off a ship.  Caught it between the rocket pods and the ship I guess.

Well Honey, it’s getting late and chow’s almost over.  If I want to eat I’d better get going.  Remember that I love you with all my heart, and always will.  Good nite Rita.

Your Lonely Husband,


I find that I’m often pleasantly surprised by how nonjudgmental dad is in his letters.  He’s about 20 years old here, I believe, and in the course of his letters going back two years, he’s given very level-headed commentary on race, the war, drugs, and all sorts of other topics on which I would expect him to be more conservative.

I don’t know why; we never talked politics (he died when I was 13), or any other substantial topic that I can recall. I look at old pictures of him and see a Republican in an 80’s tie going off to his job as a finance manager in Arizona.  But why do I see a stalwart Republican?  Because he was a gun owner?  Heck, I still own three guns and I’m a Democrat.

Mom has often mentioned that he was registered to vote as independent… so why am I surprised he’s not condemning the drug use in his unit?  I guess the man I new was a father of three and quite a bit older than the one who wrote this letter, but I like that he didn’t seem to have much of a sanctimonious streak in him.

Wednesday, October 1, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam

Hi Beautiful!

I’m sitting here with one heck of a headache.  Just popped some pills so I hope that will take care of it.

Now, finally, I’ll try to do a good job of answering your last letters.  I still haven’t received any mail here, and I’m beginning to wonder why.  There’s been plenty of time.  Maybe they lost me.

First of all – those names you sent.  I liked most of them except Kevin Travis and Laura Sue., and the middle name of Paula Janelle.  The two boys names I like best are Nathan Reed and Matthew (one or two t’s?) Scott.  I don’t think I’d like to use my middle name if you can think of a different one.  I’m surprised you didn’t suggest these as twin’s names – Matt and Nat.

As far as the girls names go, I really like Nicole Cherise.  I assume you pronounce cole like coal, right?  That’s the way I’ve heard it anyway.  Of course, you know how I like Paula, but not that middle name.

You asked what all the fathers at C Battery names their kids.  Well, I only know two of them.  Larry R.’s is Michelle Rene (not sure how they spelled it).  Dave D. is Carla Sue, which I don’t care for especially.

I noticed that you counted 176 days left on September 22.  Wrong!  Here’s the official count – 172 days left today, October 1st.  That’s counting up to the 21st of March, which is my Deros date.  I just finished recounting them to be sure, and crossing out the last of September on my calendar.

That deal about going out to Denver when I get home sounds good, but…  I don’t think we had best.  First off, I want to spend some time just relaxing when I get home.  And I don’t want you flying out to Washington or Oakland – I want you waiting for me at home.  Can you understand that, Honey?

Also, I was thinking that maybe I wouldn’t take a full thirty days when I get back.  That’s all the time I have left, and I thought maybe we should save some for later, like Christmas.  Let me know what you think of that.

One way we could work it tho, especially if I get stationed on the west coast.  We could go toward the end of my leave time and spend a few days in Denver with Steve and Gail, then they could go back and we’ll go on to our new home.  Maybe you could suggest that to them.

No, you hadn’t mentioned Les being home before.  Where is he going next, do you know?  Tell him hi for me and give him my address (if he isn’t gone already – he probably is).  Did you get that dinner?

This is later on in the evening.  I just finished reading the book of poems you sent for about the tenth time.  I have to agree with you on the one you marked as your favorite.  Did you get a copy for yourself too?  I hope so.  You know, the picture as well as the words make me feel so lonely, because I want to share all the feelings of joy and love with you like we used to.  I love you Rita!

Must hit the rack now.  Care to join me?  Boy, what I wouldn’t give if you could.  Anyway, I dream about it.  Good nite Reet.

Your Lovin’ Hubby


For those who don’t know, I have his middle name.


Tuesday, September 30, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Hi Love,

This is the night I was planning on answering all the letters I got from you when I was at Evans.  But – I’m dog tired and I doubt if I’ll get it done.  I’ve got some from the folks to answer too, and I know that won’t get done tonite.


I just got back from Evans yesterday in time to go out on guard duty.  And after spending three days there they didn’t pay me any way.  I got paid in the morning at battalion, but they tried to screw me out of $60.  I’ve got to go to finance tomorrow and straighten it out.

Remember what you said about our not having to adjust to each other much?  I believe I said something about that once too, and it’s true.  I guess that’s why we got married in the first place, isn’t it?  That was the smartest thing I’ve done in my life, and I think God every day for you and for our love.

Honey, I want so much to write you a long long letter for change, but I can’t see straight enough to write.  Good night Rita.  I love you so much!


All My Love,



Sunday, September 28, 1969.   Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Hi Beautiful!

Well, I finally got some of my mail, mainly because I came up to Evans and got it.  That’s where I am now.  Sure was good to hear from you again – after almost two weeks.  I got four letters from you and the mail clerk said some had already been sent down to Eagle.  So I’ll probably get that tomorrow.  Sure hope so.

I came up here yesterday, figuring we’d get paid either yesterday or today.  But we don’t until tomorrow, so I’ve got to stay til then.  Too bad!  It’s been a good weekend just shooting the bull with the guys again.

I’m not going to answer your letters tonite – I’ll wait until I’m back at Eagle.  There is a lot I want to talk about and answer, and I’d rather do that when I’m alone.

I will say here that I loved that book of poems.  And you’re right, it does express that special feeling of love much better than you or I could in our own words.  Just remember it goes for me too.  I love you, Rita, more and more every day.

All My Love,


No idea what the book of poems is about, but I’d love to know its name.  I’d probably order a copy ASAP.

Friday, September 26, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.


Hi Love!

Just finished with my shower and feel good and clean again.  There’s no flick tonite, so I have a feeling this would be a nice long letter.  I hope it turns out that way anyway.

We had an I.G. inspection yesterday, so the three or four days before that we’re kind of hectic.  The officers and NCO’s get all upset and excited about it, and just can’t understand why we’re not.  It’s just that after just so many inspections a guy just doesn’t give a damn if we flunk it.  We’re just glad it’s over.

The other nite there was a live band here – Filipinos.  They were really pretty good, and had four good looking chicks dancing and singing.  Seeing some good looking broads just makes me miss you more.  It reminds me what I’ve got waiting for me at home.  Can’t wait!

Remember what I said about those dream sheets not meaning much?  Well tonite I was talking to a guy who just got his orders to go home and his next assignment.  He and three others had put in for the west coast.  They got Fort Eustis.  So, like I said – I’m not counting on getting the northwest like I put in for.  Who knows, maybe we’ll go East again.

I talked to my crew leader about going up to Evans tomorrow afternoon and staying over til Sunday.  He said okay, but now I have to clear it with my platoon sergeant.  I don’t think he’ll be any problem but you never know.  I’ll have to get paid up then, but I don’t know if they’ll be paying tomorrow or Sunday.

Today my platoon sergeant (SFC S) asked me if I’d like to go to “B” Co. 5th Trans.  I said sure cause I’ve got a lot of friends there (Clay and others).  But then he said it would be to work on CH 47’s (Chinooks), cause we’re sending all our Hook people there and won’t work on them here anymore.  I told him no, definitely not.  I want nothing to do with those monsters.  I hate the eight of them even.  So I’m staying here now.

He also said he needed two men to crew a LOH (one of those little jobs) and I said I’d love to get that.  But he has some LOH people who would have to get first chance, so I imagine they’ll grab it.  But I may try getting on the LOH maintenance team, just to try something different for a change.

I’ve just been talking with a couple guys here about tape recorders and china.  Those are two things I’m definitely going to get while I’m here.  One other thing I’ve been thinking about too – Melmac.  Why don’t I order a set and we can use it for everyday instead of those good dishes?  I’ve been looking for them too, but without much luck.  Why don’t you tell me the brand name and send a picture if you can get one from Watson’s and I’ll keep trying.

You know, after getting all that stuff and Xmas presents too.  I’ probably end up not saving much over here.  But the savings in price is too great to pass up.  I hate myself forever if I didn’t, and you probably would too.  Especially if I didn’t get china, huh?  And it’s all stuff we need or will want for our home, so I feel it will be well worth it.

Oh yea, I should tell about our short timers hootch.  The eight shortest guys in our platoon will live there.  The will get partitioned rooms, real beds and mattresses and won’t have to make any formations or pull extra duties.  That will really be a nice way to spend your last month or so here.  I guess they figured that no one works when they’re that short anyway.

Well, Rita, looks like I managed to make this a fairly respectable letter.  I wish I had the time to do this more often.  But now it’s getting late and I’m going to hit the sack.

Good night Reet.  I love you with all my heart!



Okay, so lots of “things”  in this letter.  I’ll try to clear a few up.

  • If you didn’t recall, Fort Eustis was dad’s first posting after basic (I think, it’s been a while).
  • B Company, 5th Transportation Unit were stationed in Phu Bai as best as I can tell.
  • LOH = Light Observation Helicopter.  Like the ones you see in the show opening of M*A*S*H.  Many different models have been used over the years.
  • Melmac is a brand of plastic dishware.
  • Also, Melmac is the name of the home planet of Alf.

Thursday, September 18, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.


Dear Rita,

Well, it’s the end of my first full day here, and I can’t say I like it as well as good ol’ C Battery.  But then I spent a lot more time with that unit.

It’s a small world tho.  The guy next to me went thru basic with a couple guys from my old outfit.  Another guy was at Bragg with the 82nd while we were there and know a lot of guys in our outfit.  So we’ve got something to talk about anyway.  Oh yea, the dude next to me knows Clay too.  He was with B. Co. when Clay was sent down there.

Right now it’s raining as usual.  The monsoons are really setting in now it looks like. It rains every night now, and most the day for the last few days.  At least this hootch doesn’t look like the one I was in at Evans.

One big hassle I’ve got here is that I’m broke.  I spent what little money I had left on booze the nite before I came down.  I mean we had to have a little party.  Kim dug out two pints of bourbon his folks had sent him too, so we had a good time.  But now I don’t have even enough to buy cigarettes.

Maybe I should quit, huh?  Whoops, I shouldn’t have said that.  Well, maybe I will – someday.

I’m hoping that by tomorrow some of my mail will be getting here from Evans.  It’ll probably be a couple more days tho.  Can’t wait to get one from you again.

You know something Honey?  I love you.  How do you like them apples?  Six months and three days to go til I tell you that in person.  Until then just remember – I’ll love you always.



PS (over)

I’ll send your cards we soon as I find them.  They’re still at the bottom of my bags.

Wednesday, September 17, 1969.  Camp Eagle, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

Well, I finally got moved.  It’s been a hassle all day.  I’m at Eagle now, with “A” Co. 5th Trans.  So on my address now just put that instead of the 388TC 4/77.  Everything else is the same I think.  If not I’ll have the right address on the envelope anyway.

Greg T. who was shipped out with me went to “B” co., at Phu Bai.  That’s where I would have liked to have gone since Clay and several other guys I know are down there.  But the Army doesn’t give you choices like that.  So here I don’t know anybody.  But it usually doesn’t take too long to make some friends.  A lot of guys here are short too, down to less than a month, so maybe a couple more from my unit will get sent here.  Who knows?

I’m going to close now.  I’m darn tired, and must write the folks.  They don’t know a thing about this yet.

Goodnight Rita.  I love you always.

Your Hubby,


Well, if you blinked you missed it.  Dad is now at Camp Eagle, which, if you look at the map back on our “I was looking forward to having a monkey” post, is just on the right; where it says EAG… something.  That something is Camp Eagle.  I put up a map here that shows where they are relative to each other.

Only 20 miles southeast of Camp Evans, it was a smaller base and was a staging point for some of the missions involved in the Battle of Hamburger Hill.

Saturday, September 13, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dearest Rita,

Boy, I got a nice long letter from you tonite.  Made my day.  So now I’ll answer it and maybe make your day soon.

Hey, that’s great news about our bills being nearly paid!  And nearly $500 in the bank!  When the bills are all paid off at the end of next month – then we can really save.  We should be able to hit $1600.  That would be nice.  I’ve got nearly $300 over here, but most of that will go for your china, Xmas presents, and (if I decide we can afford it) a stereo tape set.

By the way, I finally got a line on your china.  I sent in for a catalogue on it. I looked thru one of another guy’s, and they didn’t have any of the four you sent me listed (same brand).  They did have some mighty fine looking stuff tho, so I’ll use the ones you sent me as a guide when picking one.

I’m glad your hair is getting so long – I have a feeling I’m really going to groove on it.  Like when it’s spread out all over the bed.  And I think that red hair bit sounds good.  But, like you said, not bright red.  Just reddish.

I don’t know if I’ll have my mustache when I get home or not.  It’s a pain having one and not being able to see it.  But I’ll tell you what – if you will send me some brown mustache wax, I’ll keep it.  But not unless.

I guess I’d best explain about those pictures on the wall.  They’re not mine – really.  They’re Mike E.’s, and they are pasted all across that end of the hootch.  I didn’t really think you would notice them – I was hoping you wouldn’t anyway.

This is later the same nite.  I just got back from the flick – “The Wrecking Crew” with Dean Martin.   Seems to me you mentioned it just after I got over here.

I guess I told you we couldn’t keep Joe.  Or any other pet but the dog.  By the way, his name is Short.

It’s raining again.  It rains for about half an hour to an hour three or four times a day.  From what I understand the monsoons (they haven’t really started yet) run thru January.  It’s still hot between showers, but nice and cool at night.

Yup, you’re a dirty old lady.  Stay that way – I like it.  And when I get back you can throw your flannel nightgown away, cause I’ll never let you wear it – or anything else.  And you’re going to have to get used to going without a bra again.  Best start practicing.

It’s about 11:30 now.  At ten a guy came in and said we had a maintenance meeting at the theater.  I just about didn’t go cause it was on our own time, but finally decided to see what was going on.  Anyway, it was free beer.  Captain T. and Mr. P., our maintenance officers were buying.  So now I’m feeling pretty good.  And I’m tired too.  So I’ll close and go to bed.

But before I do I’ve got to tell you I love you.  That’s what my letters are all about.  I love you Rita.  And I will for the rest of my life.

I love you!



So I’m guessing this is the dog.  It’s the only picture of my dad, a dog, and Vietnam in the same photo, so there you go.

This letter is the sexiest one he’s written so far and I’m rather happy it is.  As I’ve gotten older and now have kids, it’s less distasteful to think of my parents as having been sexual people.  When we were younger well all did each other a favor and just didn’t think about it, but I’m glad they were writing hot little notes to each other, because I think it reflects on a healthy relationship.  Or at least an aspect of one.

And that’s nice.

Also, anyone who wants to see The Wrecking Crew in its full glory, you can find it here.  Warning: it’s Dean Martin in his later years and, true to late 1960’s style, he makes an attempt at “kung fu.”  Dean Martin is probably the least kung fu person on the planet, so make of it what you will. Rumor has it the fight choreography was by Bruce Lee, which would be like Mozart composing a virtuoso violin piece for a 6th grader.

Wednesday, September 10, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Love,

I was planning on writing the folks tonite, but I’d rather write you.  Right now we’re listening to a tape a bunch of guys made a couple nights ago.  I was on guard duty so I didn’t get in on it.  They were drunk at the time and tried to tape some songs.  It’s really good.  I don’t know what people would do around here if we couldn’t get drunk once in a while.

In the letter I got from you tonite you said you had gone to the fair “again.”  I never knew about the first time!  Now I’m trying to figure out if you forgot to mention it, or if I’m missing a letter.

You’re right, I’m one card ahead of myself.  At least I’m sending a card at the end each week for the week ahead.  I figured you’d get them about the right time.  Guess I was wrong, but I think I’ll keep it up.  It’s easier than trying to figure out which one to send when.  But we’re not half thru the deck yet – the next one will be one half.  As far as days go, today’s the 10th I’ve got 193 days at the wake-up.  That’s official.

Who’s Jean S.?  When you whip some of these names with just initials for last names, I get lost.

Your shape doesn’t need any improvement from what I remember of it.  Unless there’s been a drastic change since then, and I doubt that.

I’ve got a couple of Screaming Eagle papers and an ARMY Reporter I’ll send tonite in another envelope.

Tonite I saw old Presley in “Charro.”  I don’t know if you’ve seen it or not.  It would have been a good flick if I could have taken him seriously in a western, but I just can’t.

It’s late now Reet, and I’m heading to bed.  Good night Reet.  I love you!



Tuesday, September 9, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Hi Honey,

It’s nearly eleven o’clock so this won’t be too long I’m afraid.  I’ve been working on my math all night, but I do want to get a letter off too.  It’s been a couple of days.  I’ve got some letters of yours to answer, and I’m really ashamed that I haven’t answered them sooner.  So here goes.

First of all, whaddaya mean we’re not adjusted to each other?  At least I’m adjusted to you.  It wasn’t hard to get used to having the gal I love around all the time, and being there when I got home, and washing my back in the shower.  Or a million other things.  Nope, wasn’t hard at all.  I do find it hard to get adjusted to being away from you tho.  But it makes it all worthwhile when I think of you waiting there for me when I return.  I love you Rita!

Guess I’d best slow down or I’ll go on like that all night.  So I’ll go on to what you said about waiting with our family.  I know how great kids could be for us – when we’re ready.  But for a while I don’t want you to be tied down with kids.  I want to be able to give you so much more than that.  Maybe that’s being self-centered, but I want you to myself for a while first.  I want to do things and go places with you.  I want to be with you and only you.  I love you too much to share you just yet.

Hey, I said I was going to get off that, didn’t I?  Okay, I’ll try again. How was Vicki’s wedding?  You never said a word about it – just about the hair dryer.  I figured you’d at least have something to say about the wedding.

You’re right, you haven’t sent me any pictures for a long time.  Sure would appreciate a couple dozen more!

Guess I’ve pretty much answered your letters, and since not much has been going on around here, I’m going to head for bed.

One question – when does college start again?  Your vacation must be about over, isn’t it?  I’ve been wondering since you haven’t said anything about it in your letters lately.

Also, would you tell me how much money we’ve got in the bank now?  After the end of next month that loan will be paid off and a hundred a month will go into savings, which will help.

Good nite Rita. I love you with all my heart.



P.S.  Yes, I’m ready for those midnite games – anytime!

I’m at mid-quarter already and going to take a week off to work. 

Back next Monday. 

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


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