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Turns out student teaching takes a lot of time.

Ethan

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Student teaching begins.

Ethan

June 16, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Lover,

I received two letters from you today which I’ll try to answer, but first I’ve got a lot to tell you about today.  I spent the day in the A Shau at fire base Currahee.  And it was beautiful.  I’d like to be sent out there for a while.  None of the BS we get around here.

We spent all day building a bunker, a huge one.  It’s about 30 feet long and 12 wide.  Only about 2 feet of it shows above ground.  The whole place looks that way — like a tiny town of those basement houses.  The best part was that we knew it was necessary, and we worked like dogs to get it done in one day.  Back here we would have stretched it to a week or more.

Now to a more gruesome part.  I was walking along the perimeter out there this morning.  I was just taking a step when I saw an arm — just an arm — lying on the ground.  It really startled me.  It had been cut off at the shoulder.  The gooks had nearly overrun the place a couple days ago, and that was part of one.  And three toes a few feet away.  That was a beautiful way to start the day.

Later on we were talking to an officer that had been there during the attack.  He said most of the gooks they pulled off the wire the next morning (60 some) were just kids 12 to 14 years old.  They were either naked or wore just something like tight swimming trunks (to get through the barbed wire easier).  Very few had weapons — just satchel charges strapped to their bodies.  In other words, they went too when the charge went off.  I guess they took a few of our guys with them though.  We had one sergeant from our unit wounded out there, so we were pretty lucky.

Then this afternoon a chopper went to pick up a member of a long range patrol who had hurt his hand somehow and had to be sent back.  He was fine until they started hauling him up from the trees.  Then an automatic weapon opened up and stitched him from one hip to the opposite shoulder.  The chopper was hit five times but not seriously.  They brought him back to the fire base hanging from 100 feet of cable below the ship because the winch had been shot up.  He looked like he was dead when they brought him in, but I guess he was still alive.  I don’t know how long they’ll stay that way though.

Anyway, today is the first time I have really known there was a war on.  Even when I was flying and getting shot at it didn’t seem real.  Today it was, for some reason.  I wish I could have got some pictures, but I’m out of film.  Well, I hope that I’ll get another chance.

Okay, enough war stories.  Now I get down to answering your letters.

First of all, Bill came back today.  I think I told you that he wasn’t home, but the orderly room still expected him to get a medical discharge.  And now the doctors aren’t sure what his problem was.  He said all the time he was in the hospital he wrote Shirley just once, but spent one hundred and twenty six bucks to call her — once.  I couldn’t believe it.  At any rate he’s back and looking good.  He says to say hi for him.

I sympathize with you about your sunburn.  I know exactly how you feel.  The first week over here was hell for that.  Now I work out in the sun all day with no problem.  I’m nearly as dark as some of the lighter skinned colored guys in the unit.  It’ll be a kick coming back next March with an almost black tan and white bleached hair while everyone else is white.  If your burn keeps you from wearing clothes though, I’m all for it.  I hope you’ll have a better reason when I get home though.

Your schedule with summer school and work really does sound rough, honey.  But I know you can do it, though it won’t be easy.  Always remember that school comes first — if you have to cut down on your work hours go ahead and do it.  We don’t need the money as bad as that.

I guess I may as well answer your questions on money now.  First of all, I’m sorry for that letter in which I yelled at you about it.  The trouble is that I don’t know all the facts about it, and I guess I jumped to conclusions.  It won’t happen again — I promise.  I do trust you, Rita, and there is nothing I can complain about when you told me where it all went.  Except maybe the loans to Marcy and Bob.  I hope you’ll be sure to collect on them as soon as possible.  A loan is fine as long as it is paid back promptly.

To tell you the truth Reet, I can’t picture you with streaked hair, unless it was a real natural looking streak.  Even then, I don’t know… Try it if you have to, but I’m a little skeptical.  Just be sure you get those pictures I want before you do, then another one (or two) after, okay?

Why are you so surprised that people still notice your rings?  After all, they are the most beautiful rings in the world, with the wearer to match.  It’s only natural they should notice.

Only 273 days left, Rita, before a hold you in my arms again and never have to leave.  And less than four months until I’ll see you on R&R.  But I’m with you every night in my dreams, so I’ll see you there shortly.

I love you Rita.

Your Husband,

Jeff

PS.  Say “Hi” to your folks and Dean for me.


So I’m looking to get back on some kind of schedule with this thing.  We’re still looking at Mondays and Thursdays from here on out.  I’m going to try to get about six months of letters in the bag since I have student teaching coming up in starting in the middle of January, at which point my extra time will again become scarce.

Ethan

… so instead of a letter I present this, pretty darn funny, Bob Hope special from 1967.

…classes almost done…

…but cannot be helped.

Ethan

…with classes…bear with me…

Ethan

June 4, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dear Rita,

Okay, here’s that cheerful letter I promised you, and I am in a pretty good mood, so…

One reason I’m in a good mood is because today I worked on helicopters, after not being near one for three days.  That’s a big help.  Also, no one was bugging us for a change.  Real different.

This morning we did go out to the range and sighted in our weapons.  I found that I had a real fine one.  I’m going to send one of my targets to Bob and let him eat his heart out.  The rest of the time we shot the hell out of tin cans and anything we could find.  And we got our weapons back.  That makes me feel better (not that I think I’ll need it, just in case).

I got a tape from the folks last night.  After I wrote you I listened to it, about 11:30.  It was really good.  They started at April 15, and I guess they just left it out so whenever anyone had anything to say they just said it.  I really should write them tonight, but I doubt if I will.

Today is Dave’s birthday so we’re having kind of a party.  We just got back from the beer tent.  Everyone is sitting around singing new words to old songs.  I’m going to try taping some to send along in my next tape if I can.

Okay, back again.  I taped some of the songs and will send them in my next tape.  I hope to get it made tomorrow night.  I’ll sure try anyway.

I just got your letter tonight about the car insurance and all.  I’ll wait for the tape to say anything about that.  It’s much easier than trying to write but don’t let money bug you too much, hon.  Just do the best you can.

I’m going to close now and go to bed.  Wish it was with you, Reet.  I sure would go for that right now.  I love you, Rita, and I wish I could tell you that as we crawl into bed again.  Just remember that I’m saying that to you every night when I go to sleep.  I love you, forever.

Love,

Jeff

So you know that audio tape that I “missed” and therefore stopped everything to go back and edit so I would have everything posted in order?  Yeah, it was a July 2nd tape, not a June 2nd.  A month away.  There is a June 7th coming up in a few days, but I essentially freaked out about nothing.

Did I mention I’m back in school?

*sigh*

The laptop I use to post is dead.  Gotta find a new power cable before it’s up again and I can do any more.

Keep checking back.

Apologies,

Ethan

I’m back in school and, it would seem, distracted.  Turns out I missed an audio post.  It’s a June 2nd tape so it’s only late by a day but I don’t want to put any more up before I get it edited and ready to go.

Look for it on Thursday.

Ethan

May 1, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


24min 12sec

I remember dad getting malted milk balls every time we went to the movies, and somehow over the years I picked up a similar habit.  I still horde them every Easter when I get a chance.

Ethan

April 16, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

 

Dearest Rita,
 I got three letters of yours to answer now. One came last night and two tonight. No, your package hasn’t arrived yet. If it was over 5 pounds it goes by boat, so that’s probably why.

I was surprised were you said you are off the pill. I thought you were going to keep on since your system was regulated to them. When I left I thought you would get some as soon as you got home and just miss a couple of days. Didn’t you even talk to the doctor about it? I wish you had. In fact I wish you would. That probably has a lot to do with [what] you mentioned. If something can be done about it or if it can be stopped by taking the pill, I think you should. Besides, remember Hawaii —

Say, you’d best get your tape recorder back and start sending some tapes. I didn’t give it to you for nothing you know. It was meant for times like this, and it will really get a workout this year, I promise. Of course you’ll have to send some tapes my way first — I’m out.

Yes, I still got that nickel. I lost a couple of times but found it again. I doubt if I’ll be able to last the whole year without losing it, but I’ll sure try. I’ll send Da Nang quarter along with this if I remember.

That reminds me — you said you were sending some pictures of our first home along — but nothing. Get on the ball, gal, I’m anxious to see them (your picture especially).

I’m glad the allotments came through all right. Did you pick up the savings book at the bank? You’ll need it to put money in, which I hope you’ll be doing. And remember that you’ll have to take it down every month so they can enter it as the allotments come through.

Have you found yourself a job yet? Hope you can find a good one. It would be nice if you could find one where the experience would be helpful in the future. Just what that would be around Brookings I don’t know. Another thing — have you checked on your summer schooling at? It’s not too far off remember.

Some more mail just came around and I got a letter from Bob. Sure was good to hear from him. Sounds like he’s having himself a wild time. I guess that’s what life in the service should be like.

Thanks for Curt’s and Lester’s addresses. I’m going to try getting a letter off to each of them this week. I think Curt’s a ways farther south from here, but less is somewhere around the general area. Wouldn’t mind seeing either one of them a bit.

Think I’d best close now hon. Time to clean up and get ready for bed — and dream of you! And what dreams!! I love you, Reet, more than ever.

Your Hubby,

Jeff


Sorry I missed Thursday’s post.  I was on vacation and made an error.

Ethan

April 14, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam

 

Dear Rita,

I’m sorry that it’s been a couple of days since I’ve written. I haven’t really been working too hard, but I haven’t had the time either. Last night I had perimeter guard so I figured I’d write a nice long one this morning. Only I was so tired that I slept all morning (we get a half day off after perimeter guard now). Just woke up a few minutes ago and must eat chow before long. Then back to work.

It’s turned quite warmer out here — 90° yesterday and feels warmer today. Up till now it’s been pretty nice, just comfortable.

Did I tell you I heard about Sioux Falls floods on the radio over here? Yeah, I guess I did, didn’t I? Hope it’s not as bad as it sounded.

I’ve been expecting a recording one of these days. Sure hope there is one on the way. Of course I keep forgetting it hasn’t been that long since you got back from California. Oh yeah, Clay says he doesn’t love you anymore for being there when he wasn’t. I don’t think he means it though.

Back again — it’s 4:00 now but we knocked off early. Now we just have to make it a point not to be seen for an hour or so. Then I’m going down and get a cold beer. Sure could use one now.

You wouldn’t believe the tan I’ve got already. I bet you’ve never seen me this dark. In fact I know it, cause I haven’t been this dark for several years. And my hair is bleaching out — you won’t recognize me when we get to Hawaii.

In case I haven’t told you already, I will take R&R in Hawaii if I can get it, and you will fly out there. Only bad thing is that it will probably take you out of school for a week or so, but it would be worth it to both of us I’m sure.

You know, I became lonely as hell for you this morning. I was trying to go to sleep after coming off guard when I started thinking of you. I must have laid awake for a couple of hours — I miss you so much honey! And I love you even more — more than I can ever tell you. But I’ll try when we can be together again.

It’s almost 8 o’clock now. When I went to eat chow at six the thermometer at the mess hall read 100°. I’d like to know what it was earlier in the afternoon. Afterwards I showered and put on some civilian clothes for a change. Then Clay and I went and had a couple beers. He says he still loves you so not to feel bad.

Clay will be leaving the unit in a couple of weeks, or did I tell you? I think I’ll be leaving too, either this month or next. I sure hope so. I’ll hate to leave all the guys I know, but this unit is so screwed up that everyone is praying that they’ll be infused. And there will be a few guys I know going with me, so it won’t be too bad — it could be worse.

I think I’ll close now and do some reading. I’m still working on Atlas Shrugged it is really a cool book. Should be able to finish it in a week or so.

I love you Rita, and think of you constantly. Remember that always.

Your Love is My Life,

Jeff

 

Inspired by my father, I recently attempted to do the same thing and read the classic, the revered, and the entirely too long Atlas Shrugged.  After the 278 pages of what was truly a good book, I thought it should have ended there, but we all know it didn’t.  No, this doorstop went on for another 800 pages so I put it down.  The time/reward ratio was just too high, too much time for a point I had fully grasped by page 278.

I’ll wait for the movie.

Ethan

April 10, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam

 

Dearest Rita,

I just remembered that I forgot to send you one of that deck of cards last weekend, so I’m sending to along with this letter — if I don’t forget when I go to mail it.

Really not much going on around here lately. Changed a rotor blade on the ship yesterday, and that’s the extent of the maintenance I’ve done since we got here other than putting them together at Da Nang. Should really get going on it before too long though.

Kim came down to the motor pool last night while I was on guard there. Remember I told you his fiancée was PG?* Well he talked to the chaplain who said he would arrange a leave for him if he wanted to get married in Hawaii. Kim was all for that and wrote and told her so. Then yesterday he got a letter from her saying she was getting the abortion yesterday. She didn’t have time to get his letter. Now he’s worried about her, both for her physical safety and also how it will affect her mentally. He’s afraid she’ll blame him, or that it will affect their relationship later. It’s really getting him down, and it’s pretty bad when anything can get Kim down. And believe me, it’s getting everyone else down too.

I’m looking forward to getting a picture of you in your négligée. And now that you’ve mentioned it you have to be sure and do it. Send any picture you take of yourself — I never have enough. Sure wish I had you right here with me instead of just pictures. No, I take that back — I wish I was there with you. Then we could say to hell with the négligée, right?

Mail call in a few minutes. Sure hope there is a letter from my wife! I’ll mail this at the same time. I love you Rita, with all my heart!

Your Hubby,

Jeff

 

Quick note on the “deck of cards.” Dad started with a full deck and sent one to mom every week, starting with the twos, then the threes, and so on, with the idea being that he’s going to bring home the ace of spades himself.  It was a popular way that GI’s counted down to their coming home with their loved ones.

Ethan

*pregnant

 

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

Photobucket

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