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.

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,



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.

I promise this will not become a habit, but there is no post for today.

Saturday, August 9, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Deer Reet,

I got a letter from you TODAY!  Really great, and it was quite a long one.  So tonite I’ll do some answering.  First of all, I’m sorry about that letter I wrote last nite.  I wasn’t going to mail it this morning, but Dave sent it before I could stop him.  I doubt if you can read it anyway.

You started out by saying that R&R is only two months away.  I don’t want to shoot down your hopes, but today I heard what could be some bad news.  It seems that more people put in for Hawaii each month than there are allocations for.  So there’s a chance I won’t get it in October.  If I don’t, I’ll still try get a seven day leave to Hawaii.  That causes problems as far as transportation to and from here goes, since R&R standby has priority over leaves.  And it would mean about two days less together, because the seven days start when I leave Nam, not when I get there like it is with R&R.  Now I want you to remember that this is only a chance, but it could happen.  I’m still counting on it in October.

Say, don’t let the money those people owe you wait forever.  The longer you wait the harder it is to collect.  I know you can’t press friends about it, and I’m not saying that, but let them know you could use it.  It must amount to $70-$80, doesn’t it?

I was surprised that the dentist bill you mentioned was that old one.  I thought it was for work done after I’d left.  Had you been counting on paying for that before?  At any rate, I hope you get the work you need done now taken care of before it gets too bad.

So you got jealous cause there were broads on the beach, huh?  Well, think how I feel with you running around and all those college guys there.  And the only time I see a broad is once in a blue moon.  You’ve got it good!

You asked if those bar girls looked or acted like prostitutes.  Of course, some of them did, but not very many.  Most of them looked like senior high school girls out just having fun.  It was hard at times to realize what they really were.  But you know I can’t hold something against anybody, even that, and the few I did talk to seemed very intelligent.  Really different!

No, I don’t really think we’ll move to Australia some day.  But I have thought seriously about the possibilities.  I definitely want to see it sometime, and then – who knows?

Yes, the cheese whiz made it okay and the crackers were still fresh.  I finished them up in a couple of days and then got a similar package from the folks, so I’m well stocked again.  I hope your next package has the yoyo in it.  The one the folks sent wasn’t too good.

Oh yes, a little word on promotions – it looks like the earliest I could possible make five in this unit would be October, and then it’s questionable.  I’m thinking about getting out of this unit if I can, but I hate to leave all the friends I’ve got here.  As long as I make it before I leave Nam – that’s was is really important.  Still, I’m getting pissed off at this outfit.

Yes, I can believe we’ve been apart five months.  Every day seems like a month when I think of you.  When I can look on my time here without thinking of you (which isn’t often) it has gone pretty darn fast.  I’m down to 225 days now!  Nearly halfway, and that’s what’s hard to believe.

Must go now!  I love you Rita.  Time just makes it grow.

All My Love,



Best I can tell the “five” he mentions is a promotion to E-5 which is Sargent.

August 8, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam


Dear Reet,

I’m drunk.  Well maybe not drunk, but as close to it as I’ve been in a long time.  And it didn’t take much.  I have a feeling that when I get home you’ll be able to drink me under the table.  You almost could before.

I don’t know why I started drinking tonite.  Nothing special.  We just did.  We (the guys in my hootch) started drinking right after chow and were drunk by eight o’clock.  That’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?  Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I love you, so I’m telling you.  I love you.

We got a new theatre today.  We moved our old tent hanger down to the battery area and it’s now our theatre.  We watch shows there.  The beer hall is going to be there too, so we can drink beer and watch the show.  The show tonite was screwed up so I left to write you a letter and tell you I love you.  I love you!

Remember the last time we got drunk?  It was the weekend Clay stayed with us.  When we finally were getting ready for bed at 5:30 you started crying about my smoking and kept saying “I want you to know your children.”  Clay thought we were having a fight.  I was having a hell of a time keeping from laughing.  I can imagine how pleased you’d be if I had.

Rob just got sick.  He’s my team leader and he’s been drinking all day – and he doesn’t drink.  He made a bright observation – “Noses are an inconvenience” cause he puked and got it in his nose.  Now he’s trying to tape a letter to his wife.  Should be good.

Right now Rob’s been talking for ten minutes after the tape ran out.

Gotta go hon, the party’s still on.  See you soon.

I love you!



Well shit.  This one hits a little close to home.

When I was 13 my dad, Jeff, died from cancer.  Guess what kind?

So hearing that mom was warning him about smoking twenty six years before it would kill him is heartbreaking.  I remember after he passed away (and maybe this happened before his death, I’m not sure) our house wasn’t crazy healthy, but wheat bread and food co-ops were standard and mom was (already?) getting serious about her own health.  I remember going to college and having access to all the bad food I could want, making it problematic to eat well.  For every meal I would still get milk instead of soda because I knew that’s what Mom would want.  Sometimes though I would split the difference and get chocolate milk.

The refrain “I want to be there for my kids,” was something I heard often and still do to this day.  Now she occasionally adds: “I want to be there for my grandkids.”

So Mom, I guess this is my opportunity to thank you for working so hard to keep yourself in good working condition.  I love having you around for advice and encouragement and so the boys have wonderful memories of their grandmother.  I hope you’re happy and healthy for decades to come.

You make me very happy.

I love you.






August 6, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Beautiful,

I got three letters and a package today, but none from my lovely wife.  I thought she was going to write a little more often while school is out (hint).  Sure hope she does.

I’m sending a form along which I’d like you to mail for me.  It’s for the correspondence course I signed up for yesterday.  I’m going to take an Algebra course.  The catch is that you have to send $5 along with the application, and I can’t get a money order over here because I don’t’ have a special card you need for it.  Anyway, would you do that for me?  The address and information for the form are on the back of the sheet.  The sooner this is in the sooner I can get started.

This first course I’m taking will be more or less of a review, which I need very badly.  It is worth 3 college credits.  After this first one I can take two at a time, so it’s possible I could get as many as fifteen credits while I’m over here, plus some once I’m back.  This will be a big help when I go back to school.  And for five bucks I figure I can’t lose.

I got a letter from Bob today!  It was started July 6.  I was glad to hear he made Lance Corporal.  Maybe now he can afford stamps once in a while.

Mom didn’t have much to say in her letter except what everyone in the family was doing.  I also got a package from them full of crackers and cheese.  They also sent a yoyo, but it wasn’t a sleeper.   I can make it into one, but it’s wood and kind of light.

I’m going to have to write Brenda one of these days.  I get a letter from her about once a week and very seldom write her.  I think she feels kind of bad about that.

This is a little later – Kim and Dave and I have been sitting around shooting the bull.  Mostly it’s been about dating during high school and back in the world before we came in the Army.  Some things are really funny when you look back on them.  Other things take on a lot more meaning.  But nothing I can think of has as much meaning as the times I had with you.  And those times are nothing compared to what I’m looking forward to in the future.  I love you Rita, and I want to make the happiest time together in the past dim with the happiness in the future.  And I think that’s the way it will be.

I Love You,


To review (because, you know, it’s been over six years) Bob is Dad’s best friend from school and they were very close until dad died.

Brenda is Dad’s sister and she is a lovely person.

August 2, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Link to part 2 (36:35).


WordPress seems to have a mind of it’s own and the ability to schedule posts is sketchy at best.  Hopefully I’ll get this worked out.

The recording here starts like the last one, with low batteries that kinda makes dad sound like he’s talking underwater.  Or heavily drugged.  Or using some kind of X-Files voice modulator.  Or something.

It gets better about 17 minutes in… then it gets worse again.  I would apologize for the quality but it’s really dad’s fault, isn’t it?  🙂

He also takes some time to talk about Atlas Shrugged, a book he admired greatly.  Maybe five or six years ago I got my own copy and began reading and I can see why this is such an appealing book to young men.  It celebrates men and women who are supremely competent and brilliant and shows what happens to the world when we do not appreciate them properly.

Holy crap, if I had read this as a young man it would have been like crack.  Good chance if I had gotten my hands on this when I was 19 it would have become my favorite book in no time.  Reading it in my early thirties however, I felt like I was being beaten over the head by it’s message and I stopped a little less than half way through, having thoroughly gotten the point.   At over 1100+ pages long, I think I made the right choice.

One of the interesting aspects of this book is that it’s not just fiction, it’s borders on science fiction.  The technology, the political landscape, the futurism contained within reminded me deeply of a Ray Bradbury novel.  But Bradbury would have gotten the job done in 240 pages.

He finishes the tape by saying some pretty sweet things about mom.

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


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October 2021