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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.


April 29, 1969.  Da Nang, Vietnam.

Hi Beautiful!

Guess where I am now?  Back at Da Nang.  I really get around, don’t I?  I’m in the hospital down here — they still haven’t let me out.  They’ve been taking blood and x-rays and making all kinds of tests and can’t find anything wrong with me.  I don’t see why they don’t admit that I’m healthy and let me go.  One of the doctors here said he couldn’t understand why I was sent here in the first place, and neither do I.

I’m not griping though.  I like it here.  The hospital is right by the ocean, I have free run of the hospital and there are lots of good looking nurses running around.  The chow is good and it’s great to sleep on a real mattress.  They have a nice PX here too, but I don’t have any money along.  And if I don’t get back tomorrow I’ll miss payday.  War is hell.

I got your tape the other day — Sunday I guess it was.  Dave D., Gene W. and Greg T. came to the hospital and brought the recorder along so I could play it.  It was really great Reet!  I hope you’ll start sending them as fast as you can turn them out.  I also got one from the folks.  They really made my day for me.

You asked about my getting shipped out of the unit.  Well I’m not going to this month anyway.  But a good number of my friends are going.  Clay is as I’ve already told you, and so is Kim and Rich S.  Kim is the one that really hurts the worst, since he was in our hooch and we got along so well.  That place will really be dull without him.  They’ll probably be gone by the time I get back to the unit.  Kim came to the hospital the other day to say goodbye in case this happened.

I’m glad to hear you’re looking for a job, and pretty hard it sounds like.  I hope you find a good one.

Honey, about not going to summer school this summer — I’m against it all the way.  I want you to go.  Remember, that was one of the conditions of going back to North Carolina with me.  I figured something would come up like this, but you assured me over and over that you would be back in school this summer.  I will be very disappointed if you’re not.  I know it would help Steve and Gail but I’m sure they can make other arrangements.  Please go back Rita.

It’s time for me to hit the sack.  This lying around all day really gets me down.  I’ll write again real soon.

I love you Rita.  I sure wish when I went to bed at night it was with you in my arms.  I’ll dream about it anyway, like I always do —

All My Love,


April 21, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

One month ago today I said goodbye to you for a year.  I think that was the hardest parting I’ve ever had to make.  I had been so happy and I didn’t want to leave you.  But when I get back it’s going to be even better.  I promise.

I got two letters from you yesterday, along with the pictures you sent.  They really brought back a lot of memories.  Are these all that turned out?  Shucks!  I’m keeping the two of you though.  Clay says he’d like a copy of the one of you and me together, if you could get it.

I’m back again after a long delay.  This is Friday now, the 25th.  I haven’t had a chance to write because of duties and our regular work schedules.  Then something else came up too.  Now I don’t want you to panic out because I’m okay, but I’m in the hospital.  Guess I’ve got a slight case of malaria.  Went on sick call yesterday ’cause I felt a little dizzy, and they won’t let me go.  I feel fine now except that I caught a cold in this air-conditioned hospital.  War is hell, ain’t it?  Looks like I’ll spend a few more days here relaxing.  Only trouble is I’m bored stiff.

We lost another ship yesterday too, as well as a pilot.  The copilot was messed up pretty good too, and the crew chief was a mess of cuts and bruises.  The copilot and crew chief were lifted out by hoists from other ships, but the pilot was pinned in and by the time a ground force got there the gooks had been there first.  Some of the pilots got pretty shook up about that.

I’d best close this up and write the folks a line or two.  They’ve gone without one a lot longer than you have, so I imagine they’re wondering what is going on.  Just remember that there is no reason to worry — I’ll be fine.  I love you Rita.



PS.  Happy anniversary tomorrow!

April 19, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dearest Rita,

Guess what?  I finally got your package today, as well as a letter.  I figured by now the packaged stuff would be old and stale, but not so.  The cookies were real fresh yet and real good!  They’re half gone already and I haven’t passed them around yet — and I may not!  Thanks a lot Reet, and they’re my favorite kind too.  And now I can look forward to another one too.  Keep them coming gal.

Sorry about that last tape.  I can’t remember what it was all about either so I guess you’ll never know.  I’ll try not to make the same mistake again.  Sure am looking forward to one of yours.  I was planning on making another one tonight, but I’d have to borrow one from Kim.  Since he’s out at the hangar (he’s on the night shift) and I’m sitting here in my underwear too lazy to get dressed and go out there, you’ll just have to settle for a letter.  Maybe tomorrow night.

Hey girl, I don’t want a picture of Kathy, I want some of you.  I want some of our first home.  The letter you said you were sending them in was empty.  This is the second time I mentioned this, but I want to be sure I’ll get them.

When I sent you a card in my last letter I sent a three.  Did I send you all four deuces before that or just three of them?  If I sent four of them I’ve sent one too many cards for the time I’ve been gone.  If I just sent three, then I lost one somewhere.  Let me know either way okay?

Yes, I was surprised to hear you were sorry I didn’t get crew chief.  Thanks honey.  It wouldn’t have made much difference though.  The guys who are going to be chiefs were sent back to maintenance the next day anyway.  Don’t ask me what the deal was there.

So you think I’m only going to be in the Army for three years, huh?  What if I told you I was going to go for 20?  That I decided to become a lifer?  Well, I’m not saying that, and if I ever do, get me to a hospital quick.  It’ll mean I’m delirious.

Speaking of lifers — where’s [your brother] going now?  Will he be stateside for a while or will he be going overseas again?  Bet he’s hoping on staying in the US for a while.  I know I would be (I wonder why?).

I still haven’t written Curt or Les yet.  Seems whenever I get a chance to do any writing it’s to you.  Must be because you’re the most important thing in my life.

I finished Atlas Shrugged the other day — finally.  It is one of the most outstanding books I’ve ever read.  It taught me something — it taught me to hate.  To hate incompetence, to hate people in positions of power they don’t deserve, to hate people who don’t produce to the best of their ability.  It also made a point I’ve believed in all my life — that the aim of a person’s life should be to be happy.  It made several other points along the same lines which I won’t go into.  I really thought it was great.

Honey, do you suppose I could talk you into sending me another book by the same author?  The one I want is The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand.  I don’t know if you can find it in the bookstore in Brookings or not.  Or you might find it up at the college.  I would certainly appreciate it.  Decent reading material is nearly impossible to find around here.

Right now I’m listening to some tapes, and they really bring back the memories.  But it’s a lot different now than it was before we were married.  Before, I used to always think about what things might be like if we were married.  Now I know what it is like and what it will be like when I get back.  It makes me more eager for that day, but I also know that will more than make up for the time we are separated.  I love you, Rita.  And I will spend the rest of my life telling you that and proving it to you.  I love you.

All My Love,


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,


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


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,



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.


April 11, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Hi Wife!

Really don’t have much to say, but I was thinking of you so I thought I’d write a few lines. Didn’t have to work tonight for a change so it’s still early. Just finished my shower and really feel good. A couple of beers helped too.

The beer came from a new club. Just open tonight — in fact the whole thing was put up today. It’s a tent with benches made out of ammo boxes, but it’s not bad for around here. The beer is even halfway cold, not that anyone would mind if it wasn’t. It’s got a bar in one corner with the record player and TV.  Pictures from magazines like Playboy are pasted up all around to give it some atmosphere. It may not sound like much, but it’s sure welcome to us.

I suppose I should tell you that Clay’s ship crashed yesterday. He’s fine, as is everyone else on board except for one sprained back. They had a tail rotor failure and went down on the beach in soft sand. It had been anywhere else they would have been killed. They totaled out the ship completely so we’re down to 10 ships now. Less work for us maintenance people.

Got a letter from you last night. From the sound of it you were probably back home a couple days ago. Must have found quite a bit of mail from me, huh? Sure hope it all got there.

I heard about floods in Soo Foo* on the radio today (yes, we do get a couple of stations run by the Army). How are things around Brookings? Hope they’re not too bad, but I bet there’s a lot of water there, right?

Best close now and do some washing. The laundry service here is so slow and so lousy we just do our own. It gets cleaner that way too.

Sure wish I could be there with you honey. I’m thinking of you more and more all the time. And I pray that this year will pass swiftly and safely for both of us. I love you with all my heart.

Your Husband,



*Sioux Falls

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,



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.




April 9, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


13min 57 sec

As I’ve been posting these I’ve been splicing together both sides of the tape into one file so you can listen to a whole tape at a time.

This tape was about 11 minutes on either side, totalling about 22 minutes. But something happened with this one.  At about 3 minutes in he says “Time for a pause here I believe,” at which point it goes quiet.

And says quiet.

For 8 minutes.

I’m guessing the mic wasn’t picking up audio or came unplugged or he muted it or something.  Either way I’ve removed the silent bit and created this file.  Just so you know what he’s talking about when he starts up again after the “pause.”


April 5, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

I find I have a few minutes before formation this morning, so I figured I’d start a letter at least.

I slept through a mortar attack last night.  Didn’t hear a thing.  In fact all the guys in my hooch slept through it.  Most of the rest of the unit was hiding in bunkers for a couple hours.

It also rained all night, and it’s cold now.  Rain was blowing in through the screen and got everything went.  Even the stuff that didn’t get rained on is damp.  All in all it’s miserable.

It’s noon now.  Really didn’t work too hard this morning for a change, but sure got wet.  And muddy.  Probably get a good cold now.  I’ve got perimeter guard tonight which should help it along.  I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Oh yeah, Clay said to say hi for him next time I wrote you, so — Hi!

Did I tell you our unit has it least two confirmed kills already?  Maybe more, but we won’t know for sure until the grunts get a body count.  Could be as high as a dozen or more.  Not bad for the first couple days.

This is Easter Sunday now.  I went to church this morning and took communion.  It’s the first time since we went together in North Carolina and I was surprised how much I missed it.  Sure wish it could have been with you though.

Since I had guard last night I wasn’t around for mail call yesterday afternoon.  But Kim picked it up for me so this morning there was a letter from my wife waiting for me.  Couldn’t have a better Easter present (I didn’t find any Easter eggs around here though).

I was surprised you hadn’t received any mail from yet.  Hope it starts coming through okay, especially the tapes.

What do I think about you going to New York?  Well — I’m a little undecided right now.  It seems to me it would be much more expensive in the long run.  Besides, I like to think of my wife safe at home, not running all over the country.  Of course you really haven’t told me that much about it.  I couldn’t really tell if you are seriously considering or not.

Kim P. is all in a sweat about a telegram from his fiancée.  All it said was she needed $800-$1000 dollars right away.  He doesn’t know what for or anything.  Since it was possible she was PG when we left and he hasn’t heard for sure one way or the other yet, he’s dreaming up all kinds of stuff to worry about.  And I can see his point.  Hope I never get anything like that from you!

Must go eat chow now and go back to work.  I’ll write again soon.  Say “hi” to your folks for me, and tell your mom we don’t have wooden nickels over here, just paper ones.

All My Love,


April 2, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

So, after digging through hours of audio, I found that this tape was actually made April 2nd, the day before the last letter was posted.  No biggie, just so you know.


17min 2sec

April 3, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.

Hi beautiful,

We just broke for noon chow so I thought I’d write a few lines before I eat.  Seems like it’s about the only time I can find during the day.

This morning they were dropping propaganda leaflets around the area and some blew into our area.  I’ll send a few long for you to see.  They call on the V.C. to defect and tell him how good they’ll be treated.  They also make a mess for us to pick up

We spent all morning filling sandbags again, and probably will do the same this afternoon.  I’m surprised I don’t dream about them at night.  I probably would if I wasn’t always too tired to do any dreaming.

I’ve been trying to get over to the PX to get those pictures I took developed, but I just can’t make it.  In fact, I haven’t been to the PX here at all.  I guess it takes two weeks to be developed so it’ll be a while before you get any.  I sent of some the slides for developing and the folks should get those a week or so after you get this probably.

Must go eat now.  I love you Rita, and wish I had time to write you more than just a short note.  And I’ll write you a long one as soon as I get a chance.

All my love,


March 31, 1969. Camp Evans, Vietnam.

A couple of things before you hit play:

First, listen for mom’s 19-year-old voice (and giggle) right at the very begining. They reused tapes many times and these overlaps were common.

Second, don’t turn the volume up too far, about 35 seconds in dad figures out he’s holding the microphone upside down and it gets much louder. God help you if you’re wearing earphones and don’t read this warning first.


9min 31sec

March 29, 1969.  Camp Tien Sha, Vietnam.

Dearest Rita,

I just finished a quick letter to my folks — first one since I’ve been here.  I just haven’t had time for any more.  I’m sorry my last letter to you was so abruptly ended, but I figured I’d best get it sent, otherwise you’d still be waiting.

I’m at camp Tien Sha at Da Nang now.  We’ve been here since Thursday — thirteen of us.  It’s like an R&R center compared to Evens.  I would have written before this, but I had to guard the ships Thursday night, so last night I was too tired to think straight.  Tonight I’ll get this done though, and that’s a promise.

You’re going to have to tell me all about your trip to S.D.  And by now, the one to California.  In fact this will probably reach Brookings while you’re gone, huh?  So let me hear about it when you get back, okay?

Say — any word from Roe on our pictures?  You said something about sending them over, but best you don’t.  It probably wouldn’t survive the trip.  The picture of you (senior) just about didn’t make it.  The glass was broken, but the frame and picture are still okay.  I’m trying to get the glass replaced now, but without much luck.

I bought a little instamatic camera, and will be sending you some pictures before long.  I have some slide film too, but I’ll send that to my folks and they’ll show you.

You know something honey?  I miss you.  And I’m thankful that I don’t have much time to think about it or it would be a lot harder.  The best part is knowing that this will be the last time in our lives we’ll be separated like this.  I love you Rita, and I hope this year will go as fast for you as I think it will for me.

Your husband,


March 25, 1969.  Camp Evens, Vietnam.

Dear Rita,

This is the first chance I’ve had to write, and would you believe it’s by cigarette lighter light?  It’s the only light I’ve got, except during the day when we’re too busy.

We got to Nam Sunday night around 11:00.  Spent that night sleeping on the cement apron by the runways.  We get hit by rockets and mortars about 5:30 the next morning.  I found out I can wake up and find a bunker real fast like though.

We got to Evans Monday afternoon.  I wish I could send some pictures.  It’s a fair sized place, but looks like hell.  Nothing but red dirt and sand bags.  Last night (this is Wednesday now) I got a shower for the first time since I left.  Felt dirty again right away though.  It’s not really so hot here, just real muggy.  Summers coming though and I can imagine what that will be like.

This is Wednesday noon now.  We were making bunkers and filling sandbags all morning again and will this afternoon too.  I’m sick of it.  Have to start again now so I’ll try finish this tonight.

Back again, but not for long.  Looks like I’ll be going to Da Nang for a couple of days starting today.  So I’m just going to send it like it is.  At least you’ll know I made it.  I’ll write again as soon as I can, and tell the folks the same, will you?  I love you Rita, and wish we could be together again.  I’ve had enough of Nam, I just want my wife now.

All my love,


Quick synopsis as to what happened between the wedding and now:

1. Honeymoon

2. Mom went to Fort Eustis for 7 weeks with dad.

3. Dad went to Vietnam and mom went back to South Dakota

Also, check out the Evans link.  Interesting look from someone else who was stationed there.


Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday


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