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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,

Jeff

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.

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Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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