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July 6, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dear Rita,

I received two letters from you last night while I was on guard.  I had to read them by cigarette lighter, but I sure was glad to get them.  The mail has been screwed up over here lately, so it’s been awhile since I got one.  Hope mine are getting to you okay.

I’m glad you’re finally getting some action on our wedding pictures.  I figured it had something to do with trouble between Arlyn and the company.  I would say let me know when you get them, but I’m sure you wouldn’t forget that.

Hey, you misunderstood me — our hooch didn’t get hit, it was two hooches around us.  And there’s no reason to be worried — we weren’t.  We were just wanting to go back to sleep.

You asked about Skip and Sergeant Reyes.  Skip just put a Band-Aid on his chest and forgot about it.  Sergeant Reyes it turned out, broke his arm.  I guess he’s going stateside because it chipped a bone and they’ll have to do some work on it back in the world.  Clay is leaving.  He’s getting transferred to a unit near Phu Bai.  He’s going to be last because it’s a strictly maintenance unit, and all he’s ever done is crewed.  I’m sorry to see him go, but I guess it can’t be helped.  He supposed to leave this afternoon sometime.

Before I forget, I better tell you that my serial number has changed.  Our Social Security number is now our service number, and mine is XXX-XX-XXXX.  I’ve known about the change for a long time but kept forgetting to tell you.

Tonight my team starts working nights.  We’ll be on for a month then switch back to days.  I don’t particularly care for nights, but it does get the NCOs off our backs, and we don’t have to bother with formations.  Sleeping during the heat of the day is hard though.

You asked about the number of days I have left, so I whipped out my handy little pocket calendar and started counting.  I figure 258 days left today (after today).  I may have messed up on my counting in some of my letters though since I just count in my head sometimes.  My DEROS date (day I leave RVN) is 19 March, but I’ve been counting up to the 21st since our record arrival in country is the 22nd.  I’ll try to be more accurate after this.

I’m glad to hear all our bills are pretty well out of the way.  You have been doing a real good job — I figured it would take longer to clear them up.  Now the savings account should really grow.

I don’t know if I told you or not but I’ve got a couple hundred saved over here.  I was going to send it to you once but decided not to since we need at least $200 on us before we leave here on R&R.  So I’ll just hang onto it.  I hope to have about $150 more before October, if possible.

You talk about flying to LA and then on to Hawaii, but wouldn’t it be smarter to fly from Minneapolis?  That way you have a round-trip to the cities and wouldn’t have to run the risk of being bumped between home and LA (if you’re flying standby that is).  It only costs $11 to fly from Brookings to the cities if I remember correctly.  I have to go to work now so I’ll try to finish this tomorrow.  I love you!

Jeff


Back again — this is Monday afternoon now.  I’m tired and plan on getting some more sleep this afternoon, but I want to finish this letter first.  They’re expecting an attack on our perimeter sometime in the next week, so right after noon chow today we had to set up a secondary perimeter around our battery area.  Each section is getting a machine gun too, so they must think there’s a good chance of something happening.  The chance of them getting through to us is pretty slim though.

Our CO just got his ship shot up this morning.  He was lucky to make it back here.  Another one had its rocket pods shot to pieces.  More work.

Now we have only two Charlie models left.  I guess we’re going to keep one for a passenger carrier, and that’s all.  We’ve done a lot of work on the Cobras lately and I still don’t like them any better than I did before, maybe less.

I’m going to close this up and grab a few winks now.  As you can tell, I really don’t have much more to say, except that I love you.  I could tell you that all day and mean it every time.  I love you Rita!

Your Husband,

Jeff

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June 19, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dear Reet,

I’m sorry I missed writing the last two days, but I’ve been kind of busy doing nothing.  I haven’t had time to sit down even, yet I haven’t really accomplished a thing.  But I’ll get something done now  — this letter.

Remember in my last letter telling you about Currahee getting hit just before we were out there?  Well, it got hit after we left too, and every day and night since.  In the past two weeks the only day it wasn’t hit we were there.  The bunker we built took a direct hit with six guys in it that same night and held up beautifully.

We were hit here at Evans last night by rockets.  Everyone in our hooch slept right through it.  Most the others were down in their bunkers.  Needless to say they weren’t hitting on our side of the camp.

I just got back another role of slides yesterday.  A lot of them are run-of-the-mill, but I took a few through the barrel of an M-79 grenade launcher that are pretty good.  I’ll send them to the folks as usual.

Oh yes, I meant to mention this in my last several letters but forgot — I’m out of sunflower seeds.  I rationed those you sent me so they lasted a long time, but I ran out about a week ago.  Sure would like some more (hint).

I dropped my prescription sunglasses the other day and broke one of the lenses.  Really made me mad.  They were in the case too.  They’ve been thrown all over and no problem, but a 2 foot fall and wham — it’s all over.  Now I’m trying to get some more made up but it’ll take a while.

We just had an aircraft go down since I wrote the last sentence.  I don’t know what happened, but they made a forced landing right behind our hooch.  Looks like more work for us.

This is Saturday noon now.  I slept all morning because I had guard last night.  I just realized that the last letter I sent was written Monday night, so I’ll try to get this finished in a hurry.  I hope there won’t be any more lapses like that.

I’ve got a little more information on R&R.  My name is on the list for Hawaii in October.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll get it then — it depends on the number authorized for that month — but there’s a pretty good chance.

In a pamphlet I read the other day it said that round-trip fares for wives from Minneapolis to Hawaii was $304 — and it costs about $11 to fly to the cities from Brookings.  So you can figure about $325 for flying.  That should be about the only expenses you’ll have to save for.  I think I’ll be able to handle the rest.

I’m going to get this in the mail now Reet, so it won’t be any longer than it has been between letters.  I’ll get another longer one off tomorrow — promise.

I love you!

Jeff

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

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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