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June 11, 1969.  Camp Evans, Vietnam.


Dear Rita,

It’s noon now and I decided I’d start that long letter I promised you.  Don’t know what I’m going to say to make it long, but…

I’m on sandbagging detail today.  We’re making sure we don’t work too hard though.  We laid three rows of bags all morning (about a half hours job).

Honey, I’m all out of tapes, so if you want to get any more you’ll have to send one first.  I can’t get a hold of any more over here.

I know what you mean about that carnival.  I remember how big it seemed when I was a kid.  Now it’s hard to see why I bothered to go.  Maybe before too many years we’ll be taking our own kids to it.  Then it should be a blast.

I’m glad you finally got your glasses.  I hope they help your eyes so you don’t have any more problems like you did with your old ones.  And I hope you wear them when you’re supposed to.  Don’t forget to send me a picture (négligée picture too!).

I was surprised to hear about Les K. extending over here.  I thought he was in a hurry to get back stateside.  But an early out does look good.  There is talk about a nine-month early out now, and if that goes through I may extend for a month to get it.  But no more than that.

This is six o’clock now.  I’ve heard rumors that we aren’t going to have a work formation tonight, but I don’t know whether or not to believe it.  It’s too good to be true.

I got a letter from you which was mailed before the one I got last night.  It’s the first time that has happened.  Anyway, I’ve got two to answer now.

One question I guess I’d better answer right off is about our food.  Well, I could describe it very vividly, but I won’t.  Suffice to say keeps me alive.  My biggest gripe is the iced tea — I hate iced tea.  And that’s all they have, so I stick to water.  Goes great with the meals.  I think I have lost a little weight, but nothing serious.

Thanks for the Times, and yes I would like to get them regularly.  Any current news is hard to get over here, and Time does a darn good job of presenting it.

That bit about Jeannie & Virgil — I kind of expected it, and I’m real glad.  For awhile I thought it was all over with them.  Wish I could be there for their wedding.

Why bug your mom about getting bulbs for the camera?  Couldn’t you pick some up?  Or is that just an excuse for not taking the picture?  If it is I’ll cut you off — whoops, guess I can’t do that, can I?

A picture of me with my mustache would look just like the same as a picture without one.  It’s too light to show up.  However, I started another one and when it gets long enough I’ll darken it with a grease pencil and have a picture taken, okay?

Well, Reet, it’s 6:30 now and no work formation yet.  So I’m going to take a shower and change close now.  I’m going to put on some civilian clothes! That will be different.  Be back shortly.

Okay, this is shortly.  I didn’t get all dressed up like I was going to because it’s too hot yet, even though it’s raining.  Instead I’m keeping cool by sitting around in my underwear.

I hope it was just a trim job your mom did on your hair.  I know what you call a “trim.”  But that’s another reason I want some pictures.  Got to keep tabs on my wife’s hair.

He said you saw Gene C. — where has he been?  I thought he was over here somewhere, but he couldn’t have completed his year yet.  And if he’s coming over at all he won’t really have too long.  He’s only got about nine months left in the Marines.

You know something Reet?  It’s too bad we didn’t get you pregnant before I came over.  Then he could have the doc say there complications and I could get a 30 day emergency leave.  Maybe that’s not so bright after all — I’d go back just as horny, wouldn’t I?  Oh well, it was a thought.

Seriously, I wish we could have children right away, but I guess there’s plenty of time for that.  First there’s a million things I want to do with just you.  And they start out with just being with you, forever.

I love you Rita.

All My Love,

Jeff

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July 21, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.

Hi Beautiful!

It Sunday morning at 11 o’clock and everybody’s still in bed, including me, so you’ll have to excuse the handwriting.  I just can’t find enough energy to get up.  I’ve just been lying here thinking about you and looking at your pictures and missing you.  I just wish I knew when I will be able to get home.  It could be this week or next month.  The worst part is not knowing.

We’ve had a typical weekend around here so far.  Four guys went into Hampton to a dance.  After the dance they were talking to some guys outside, real friendly like, and all of a sudden those guys started beating the daylights out of our guys.  They came back with some beautiful black eyes and swollen lips.

Another guy was at Buckroe beach and got jumped by a couple of colored guys.  They beat the tar out of him, toss them in the street, then jumped in the car and tried to run over him.  He rolled out of the way, but they ran over his ankle.  It’s all black and blue and swollen, but it could’ve been worse.

There are several others out on pass yet, and I imagine there will be a few more incidents like that we’ll hear about tonight.

Friday night we had a little incident in our barracks which is actually quite humorous.  Since we’ve been going today classes, and class 84 next door is still going to night classes, they’ve been coming over at 2:00 in the morning when they get back and waking us up by  screaming and hollering and slamming doors, etc..  Then the next morning we do the same thing to them when they could sleep till 10:00 and we have to get up at 6:00.  But Friday night when they got back a couple of guys were still awake and heard them.  They grabbed fire extinguishers and planned to spray anyone who tried slamming doors.  But class 84 decided to run through our barracks this time.  About six guys got through the door when they opened up with the fire extinguishers.  All the noise woke several of us up and we grabbed four of them and worked them over pretty good.  The other two ran back out the door, but some guys from upstairs were ready and dumped a big bucket of water on them as they went out.  Since then we haven’t had any problem.

This is Monday evening now.  We got to go flying today and it was out of sight!  I was sitting in the crew chief’s seat behind a machine gun, and it was just like watching a movie.  It was completely different than a plane.  I never cared for planes, but this was outstanding.  The door gunner and myself didn’t wear seatbelts, just a harness affair on a strap, so we could move around and even hang clear out the chopper.  Now more than ever I want to make crew chief while I’m in Nam.  After today I’d go nuts if I had to stay on the ground.

Tonight I’m going to start getting my stuff ready for packing.  I just hope and pray I’ll be hauling it home and not just to another post.  I love you Rita, and I want to see you so bad!  If the Army will let me I’ll be home sometime this weekend, even if I have to walk.  Until then, or until I write you from Bragg, remember my love for you.

Love,

Jeff

July 18, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia

Dearest Rita,

Do you realize that tomorrow I’ll have been in the Army six months?  Really doesn’t seem that long in a lot of ways, yet seems like years in others.  But now I have only 2 1/2 years left.  Doesn’t really sound much shorter, does it?

Well, I’m getting Spec 4 for sure.  Just about got the shaft on that though.  Our class N.C.O. (the guy from Hot Springs) grabbed me this morning and told me I couldn’t get Spec 4 because I had a D.R. (delinquency report), but I never got one.  So we went and cleared that up and the list went in and I was approved this afternoon.  So in about one week it will no longer be Pvt., and that’s okay with me.  It means another $60 a month too.  So I’ll be able to send more home, and we can start putting some in the bank as well as on the ring.  How does that sound?  On what I can start sending next month and all the extra I’ll get when I get to Nam, we’ll have quite a bit saved by the time we get married.  That would always be okay.

Speaking of getting married, I got an announcement of Lee and Anne’s marriage.  If you see them, tell them I may be able to be there.  The way things look now I’ll go straight from here to Bragg, but our class N.C.O. told me we’d probably get a leave right after we get there.  Of course we can’t really count on that until we get there.

Now it’s Friday evening.  I heard today from one of the cadre that we should get 14 days leave out of here.  But I’ve quit believing anything I hear.  If I get one, fine.  If not, I’ll put in for one as soon as we hit Bragg.  I’ll let you know one way or another.  Why don’t you plan on being home Thursday the 26th, and I’ll give you a call that evening.  Let me know if you have to work though, okay?  But, you’d best send any letter no later than Monday or I may not get it in time.  Honey, you asked if I’d mind you writing to Dale.  This is up to you.  But you know that I think it’s silly for two people to ignore each other when they break up.  I’ll admit it bugs me just a little — a touch of jealousy I guess — but I feel you should if you want to.

I’m glad you’re getting your college stuff taken care of.  I just wish we were both going to school there this year.  You don’t know how I’d like to be running around that campus again.  I just hope you will realize how great it is.  I never did until too late.  Remember, if you have any questions or problems, let dad know, okay?

Already, with the weekend just starting, I’m thinking of you too hard.  Then it’ll get so I don’t feel like doing anything except think about you, and then I get moody.  I’ve got my favorite pictures of you taped on the door of my locker so I can look at them while I’m writing.  People keep coming over and admiring them.  They think you’re great, but they don’t know how wonderful you really are.  I love you honey, and I want to get home to see you so bad!  Do you realize I could be home by this time next week?  I just hope and pray I’ll be able to.  I want to hold you and kiss you and just be with you more than anything in the world.  I love you Reet, very very much.

Forever,

Jeff

July 17,  1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.

Dearest Rita,

Today I received the most beautiful letter I’ve ever got from you.  When you talked about our future and our dreams they all seemed so real and so close.  Sometimes they seem so far away, so when I feel that way from now on, I’ll just read that letter.  Thank you, honey.

And now it’s Tuesday morning, and I got another letter today!  Boy, I must rate or something.  Keep them coming.

The best part of this last one was about the announcement of our engagement.  You’d better get a clipping off to me pretty quick or else… I imagine my folks will be sending me one too, but that’s okay.  I’ll keep one and carry the other one around in my wallet.  I just wish I could be there with you now.

Yes, I am jealous, jealous because Bob’s there with you and I’m not.  But I’m glad he gives you something to do.  You’d better tell that little rat to write me though.  Tell him I’m getting very pissed off, okay?

So what exactly happened between him and Ruth.  Hope it wasn’t a “Dear John” while he was out in California.  He never said anything about it to me.  But it’s been quite a while since I’ve heard from him.  Keep riding him about that, okay?

Honey, you can tell Beth for me that a puppy would be the greatest wedding gift she could possibly give us.  I just wish we didn’t have to wait so long to collect it.  Even if we can’t have any children right away we’ll have something to raise, right?

Say, how does Bob look with short hair?  I really can’t imagine that.  Why don’t you try to get a picture of him to send to me?  With all that extra weight and short hair, I want to be able to recognize him if we can ever get together.  I still don’t know just where he’s going to be stationed though.  Why don’t you try to find out and tell me, since he may never get around to it.

How does Bob like our ring?  Say, don’t you two have a bet he’ll collect on?  Hope you don’t mind losing that one.  I’ll always be thankful to him for what we’ve got now.  You know something?  He knew long before we did that things would work out this way.

Rita, thinking about you and our ring and the announcement has really made me homesick.  It would be just great to be back there with you and Bob, just goofing around like we used to.  Isn’t it funny how the good times of the past are so hard to bring back?  Yet there’s always the future, which looks great to me.  Honey, our love is the biggest thing the future holds, as far as I’m concerned.  I love you so much that I just couldn’t see any future at all without you in it, Rita.  I love you honey, very very much.

I got to knock off now and get some things done here.  Don’t forget to send the announcement and pictures of the rings and your short hair (grrr) and Bob if you can, okay?

All my love!

Jeff

PS.  Tell Bob to say hi to Dayle at Muggs.  He was out of town when I was home.


First, I think it’s hilarious that just after I post about Bob saying they were “always in communication,” dad lays into him for not writing.

Second, we’re looking everywhere for the announcement so when he finally says “Hey, I got the announcement and it looks great!” we can post a scan of it for you.  Unfortunately it’s been difficult to locate and could be hidden in a couple different states.

I hope mom took her time sending it.

And finally, I only have two tapes left before I’m done transferring everything I have from tape reels to digital.  With luck, this Saturday I’ll finish them and we will bring an end to the saga… at which I have to start editing it all.  Most everything is from Vietnam, so it might be a bit before we get the actual tapes posted.  In addition to dad’s we have one tape from my uncle Alan, one from dad’s ROTC hearing (where they decide to kick him out), and one from some of dad’s buddies in Vietnam who sent it to him after he was discharged.

There is also one special one.  Some years later, after Alana and I were born, dad must have pulled out the old reel-to-reel and tried it out again, because you hear him turn it on, speak into it for a second, then set it down and leave it recording.  Alana and I (and one of Alana’s friends) are playing hide and go seek, messing with the recorder, and generally goofing around.  Alana must be about 6 and I about 3.  We even try his patience for a minute or two.

If I see an appropriate time to put that up, I will, but I have many many hours of audio to wade through, and since dad seldom decided to mention the date, I’m having to infer as to when most of them were made by picking out clues: mentioning how long until he gets out, how long he’s been in, how long until R&R, etc…  should be fun.

Ethan

July 15, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Hi Beautiful!

I got a letter from you today and boy! you did do enough bitching for a year.  I just wonder what I’ve gotten myself into!?  No, seriously, I don’t mind and everything you said is true.  You’ll be glad to know I did write my folks finally, in fact I think they got it Saturday.  And about my smoking — yes, I have cut down considerably, mainly because I can’t afford it.  But I won’t promise this to quit, not right now anyway.  In the Army the only time you get to relax is on a smoke break, and just think what would happen if everyone would quit smoking!  Then we wouldn’t even get that (some logic, huh?).

Rita, you said something about writing my grandma.  Well, I finished a letter to her just before I started this one.  It was one of the hardest letters I’ve ever written.  You don’t know how many times I tore it up and started over.  I just didn’t know how to express the way I feel, yet I know I should have written it a long time ago.  Even now I’m not satisfied with it, but I’m going to send it anyway.  It seems so inadequate, but it’s the best I can do for now, anyway.

Honey, about what you said about being careful when I’m home — you’d better believe I will be!  The last thing I want is for you to become pregnant now (while I’m home, that is).  Remember the guy told you about who went home over the forth to get married?  Now his child will be born after he’s in Nam, and will be nearly 9 months old before he ever sees it.  And then there’s the possibility he never will.  I don’t want anything like that with us hon.  To me it would be worth waiting forever, rather than have that happen.  And we’re not going to have one of the safest jobs in the world either, once we get over there.

Well, enough of that.  Now about looking over your last couple of letters — I did, and I couldn’t find any unanswered questions.  You must have been dreaming, maybe?  But from now on I’ll make it a point to answer everything in your letters, although I’ve been doing so all along, I thought.

Now, about my leave.  I still know very little, but I do know my next duty station is Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and I do know I’ll be leaving here at the 26th.  When my reporting date is, I don’t know.  I may have to go straight to Bragg or I may still get a couple of weeks.  So this still doesn’t tell you much, does it?  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed for a leave before you start school this fall.  I’ll be very pissed off if I don’t get one before then.

One good thing about all this — going to Bragg means a build up unit before Nam.  According to several of our instructors, I’d have a good chance of making Spec 5 in that unit before shipping over.  That’s assuming I make Spec 4 out of here that is, and I’ll know that in a couple of weeks.  As a Spec 4 I’ll be making $190 on month plus all the extras while in Nam, and a Spec 5 must make at least $250 plus.  That’s talking big money when you’re in the service.  And just about everyone makes a stripe in Nam, so it would be possible, if everything went well, to be Spec 6 when I get back.  And that’s what I’m shooting for Rita, because we could live pretty well on what I’d be making then.  But it’s got to start by coming out of here as Spec 4.  I sure do hope I get it — I’ve worked hard enough for it.

The only real disadvantages of a build up unit is that it will take longer to get over there, and when we do leave, we’ll probably go by boat.  I don’t like that idea at all!  It takes about 23 days that way.  I’ve got a feeling I’ll be seasick the whole way.

Okay, let’s get off that subject and talk about something else — you!  But what can I say that I haven’t said a million times already?  I love you Rita, that’s all there is to it.  Or rather, there’s a lot more to it but no way to express it.  I love you.

Oh yeah, I remember something I meant to ask you a long time ago.  What did Steve and Gail have to say about your ring?  I hope Steve approved, after all he is going to be my brother-in-law.  I’ll bet he just gave you a lot of friction about it, right?

I’m going to have to close now and get my stuff ready for tomorrow.  I love you honey, and think about you all the time.  And if sometimes you don’t hear from me for a couple of days, remember, a guy has to do just a little bit more than required to get a promotion, and that’s what I’m working for.  It’ll make things a lot easier for us later.

All my love!

Jeff

July 10, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


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July 12, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Dearest Rita,

I’m sorry I didn’t get a card to you in time for your birthday, but I’m sure you’ll understand.  I skipped formation to get it, then I had it two days before I had a chance to write in it.  Then I didn’t get it sent right away.  But it’s the thought that counts, and believe me, I’m thinking of you constantly.  Happy birthday honey, with all my love.

Honey, I don’t want you to get all excited about what I’m going to say now, but we’ve been talking to a lot of people trying to find out where we’re going from here.  Nothing is definite until  we get our orders, but there’s a good chance that most of us will be going to Ft. Bragg, N.C. from here for a build up unit to Vietnam.  If that’s the case, I may not get leave until I get there.  That would mean a couple more weeks at least.  I hope and pray this isn’t the case, but it could be, so I thought you’d like to know.

Honey, you don’t know how much I miss you!  It’s worse now that we’re nearing the end of this course and I keep wondering how long it will be before I’ll get home to you.  The moon was full this week, but luckily it was cloudy here all week.  If it hadn’t been I would have gone nuts.  I hope the next full moon finds me in your arms and nowhere else.  Then I’ll be happy.

Today we started day classes, and right of the bat we got the shaft.  We should be used to it by now.  We were supposed to go flying today, but the three choppers they use were all in for maintenance.  So we didn’t.  We’ll get to go next week, but we’re still getting screwed out of this week’s time.

Honey, what can I write when all I can do is think about you?  I can tell you how much I love you, but a letter willed with that isn’t much of a letter.  I want to talk to you so bad!  There’s a million things I want to tell you that don’t mean anything on paper.  Nothing special, nothing big, just thinks I’d tell you if we were just talking.  And you’d tell me about little things that happened to you.  Honey, if we can always talk to each other that way we’ll have it made.  And I know we always will.

Hey, in the last letter I got from you Sue added a little.  She said something about you getting your ears pierced.  Are you planning on it?  You never said.  If you do, don’t let Sue do it though, please?  Go to a doctor – it doesn’t cost more than a couple bucks, and it’s a hell of a lot safer.  Okay?

Last night I had to go see our class sergeant about our schedule for today.  We shot the bull for a while, then he showed me a newspaper clipping with a poem in it that his brother wrote before he was killed in Vietnam.  It was real good and expressed some good thoughts.  I’ll see if I can copy it and send it to you.  You might like it, or at least understand how a lot of guys, myself included, feel.

This is Saturday night now, and I miss you more than ever Rita.  Didn’t have anything to do tonight, so I borrowed a whole stack of 45rpm records from our class sergeant.  Now I wish I hadn’t.  Some of the songs make me so home sick it hurts.  Whenever I play a Righteous Brothers song I remember the concert we went to with Jim and Vicki.  Right now “She Cried” is on, and now Gene Pitney.  Boy, what I wouldn’t do to be with you right now.  I love you honey, very much.

You know, all week long we look forward to the weekends, but when they come and a guy has the time to think, everyone starts moping around thinking about home and his girl.  It almost makes me wish it were over, yet I hate the thought of starting another week too.  But when that week is over I’ll be that much close to being home with you, and that’s all that counts.

Honey, I’m going to knock off now and get this in the mail.  I’m sitting here doing more thinking than writing, and it’s all about you.  I love you Rita, and I always will.  I can’t think of the future without thinking of you, and all I remember when I think of home is you and things we’ve don’t and places we’ve been.  I cherish these memories honey, because every minute I’m with you is a moment to be cherished.  I love you Rita, with all my heart.

All my love,

Forever!

Jeff

I am seriously close to putting the “Gushing Young Love” subtitle back up.

Ethan

July 8, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia


Hi Beautiful!

I made it to DC this weekend and saw both Bob and Gene.  I had to stick around here Saturday morning because of a battalion muster which never came off, but made it to DC about 3:00.  I found Bob’s room but he wasn’t in, so I went looking for him in the nearest bars.  Came back to the hotel about an hour later and was waiting for an elevator when he came up behind me and clobbered me a good one.  He had spent the afternoon in the hotel bar, which I hadn’t noticed.  But I was on the right track.

That afternoon and evening we spent looking around mostly.  We hit a couple bars in the evening but they’re so damn expensive we didn’t waste much time on them.  We got approached by a pimp but told him to flake off — they make me sick!  About midnight we went back to the hotel, figuring we’d get up early Sunday.

Just as we were both getting ready to drop off the phone rang.  It was Gene, so he came up.  He had been in DC all evening, but hadn’t found us before since we were out.  He had been planning on heading back but he figured he’d try once more before he left.  So the three of us shared Bob’s single room.  Sunday we looked around all morning and ended up flopped out in the shadow of the Washington Monument.  We just shot the bull mainly.  Bob had to catch a bus at 2:00 so we went back about 12:00 so he could clean up and eat, and saw him off.  It sure was good to see him, and we had a hell of a good time even if we didn’t really do much.

After seeing Bob off, Gene and I went back along the Washington Monument area and flopped in some trees.  Later we walked up to the Lincoln Memorial.  We just sat at the top of the steps and watched the people come and go.  I get a kick out of people, and I wish I had a camera.  There were some of the cutest little kids playing around there you ever saw.

As we were leaving we saw some tables set up and people around there, so we went over to see what it was.  They were trying to get people to sign gun-control petitions.  I just stood and stared.  Then a guy asked if I wanted to sign.  I just about walked over and punched him in the nose.  Boy was I mad!  But I just gave him a dirty look and walked away.  I was so mad I was shaking though.  That’s something that really bugs me.

Saw Gene off on the bus at 9:00, then picked up the Sunday paper, went to my room, read it, and went to bed.  Got up at 4:00 this morning and the guy I rode to DC with picked me up at 5:00.  Got here at 8:00 and went back to bed.  Then at 10:00 the Army took over again — damn.  Really had a good weekend though.

I just got a letter from you today, and you’ll be glad to know you’ll probably beat me in a tan department.  I haven’t made Virginia Beach for three or four weeks now, and it doesn’t look like I’ll make it again.  I lost a lot of a tan I had, but it still isn’t too bad.  I’m just afraid of what a couple more weeks without sun will do to it.

Rita, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until I get home for your birthday present.  I didn’t have time Saturday to find one, and now I’m broke.  So I’ll give it to you myself when I get home, okay?

I’ve heard our orders are in now, but we haven’t got them ourselves yet.  Should pretty quick.  I’ve also heard they’re all for Vietnam, which doesn’t surprise anyone.  All I really want to know is how long I’ll have to spend with you before I go.  You’re all I think of and all that really matters to me.  I love you Rita, with all my heart.  Forever!

Gotta go.

Love,

Jeff

July 4, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Hi Honey –

Boy, what a drag today has been.  You’d think on the Fourth of July there’d be something to do.  I slept till eleven this morning, ate lunch, then went bowling.  I really didn’t feel like it, but there was nothing else to do.  Bowled a lousy 93 the first game.  Then I got hot and pulled a 218 out of the second.  That’s my highest game ever.  After that we were going to go to a show, but the theater was filled before we got in, so that shot that.  So now I’m sitting around the barracks again, and I hate this place.  It really gets a guy feeling low sitting around here.

I think I told you we’re in the shops now working on the choppers, and it’s really interesting.  The instructors are some real cool guys, and after sitting in the classrooms or eight weeks this is great, but it sure wears a guy out.  By the time we get done I’m shot.  But three weeks from today we’ll be done.

This morning at 5:30 one of the guys I mentioned before, Mike, took off for California to get married.  His girlfriend’s pregnant so he got an emergency leave.  He was happy as hell when he left here, and I don’t blame him.  We got together and gave him a card and $30 Spears and I collected.  I think every guy here envies him.  I just wish I was coming back to marry you, but I’m glad it won’t have to be because you’re pregnant.

Now it’s Friday, and all hell broke loose last night.  I spent half the night at the MP station.  Five of us had been into Newport News at a drive-in, and we were on our way back when they stopped us.  No big deal at first, just a speeding ticket.  Then they started checking passes, and one guy didn’t have one.  That guy, Wood, had had his pass revoked by the Battalion Commander.  Then he tried to lie his way out of it by saying he hadn’t been off post.  But the driver, Peters, without thinking said we had all been with him in town.  Then they found that Peters’ license plates and post tag weren’t good and he had no title for the car, just a bill of sale.  So we sat down at the station until 3:00 this morning, and our first sergeant had to come down and get us out.  We all had extra detail today and had to see the first sergeant today at two.  He was pretty nice about it, just said he didn’t want to see us in trouble again.  Wood got off with seven days extra detail, when he could have gotten a summary court-martial for disobeying a direct order if Battalion had found out about it.  Peters is going to have to go through a lot of red tape to get his car back, but other than the vehicle charges he should come out okay too, I hope.

Another guy got picked up last night too, and started fighting a cop.  He got tossed into a paddy wagon when he started a fight with another guy getting hauled in, and ended up in the hospital.  He’s going to be sitting in jail for a while, and when he gets out the Army will probably put him right back in.

Tomorrow I’m going to DC to see Bob!  Only I just about got screwed out of that too.  I was afraid I’d get restricted for last night, but I lucked out.  Then I got posted for duty this weekend, but I got another guy to take that.  Then they told us we have a Battalion rollcall formation tomorrow, and I can’t get out of that.  So I’m stuck here until noon anyway.  I’m getting a ride to and from DC with our class commander, so it’ll be cheaper than flying but also a little slower.  I just hope Bob doesn’t give up on me before I get there.  I sure want to see him!

Also I hope to get to DC early enough to find a birthday present for you.  Nope, I didn’t forget.  I have an idea what I’d like to get you if I can find it.  It would be different but I know you’d like it.  On the other hand, it’s not what you’d usually give a girl for her birthday, but then you’re a very unusual girl.

Remember last year on your birthday when we went to the Town Club?  And then we went to the races.  What a dumb way to finish a night after a romantic dinner.  Too bad we couldn’t do the same this year.  No matter what kind of dumb things we used to do, they were always very special to me.

There was a class that graduated from another company last week who all had orders for Vietnam, and then got them all canceled.  They’re casual here now waiting for new orders.  I’m just afraid it might be the same with our class.  All that would mean is I’d be sent somewhere else, I’d probably be casual here for a while and wouldn’t get my leave right away, and it would be longer before I got to Nam and back.  I’ll be highly pissed if that happens.

I’ve got to go now hon, got to get up early.  I’ll write again soon — promise.  I love you Rita, with all my heart!

Forever,

Jeff

July 1, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Hi Beautiful!

Boy, you wouldn’t believe this weekend!  Our class set all records for getting in trouble.  I’ll give you a quick rundown of what happened.

First of all, we had details Saturday because the company was unhappy with us.  Friday night what started out as a playful joke almost ended up a riot.  A guy named Brooks got tossed in the shower and then rolled around in the dirt outside.  This was fine, but his only good pair of boots got filled with water from one of the butt cans.  So he took a big pot of water and dumped all over the bunks of the guys that did it, and poured a bottle of vinegar in their boots and on the bunks.  Needless to say they got pissed and were about ready to kill Brooks when the battalion CQ came in and started taking names.  It was after 4:30 when things finally quieted down.

Saturday we had to get up at eight for detail.  Right away Clay (I think I mentioned him before) missed his, so got marked AWOL.  Finally at 3:00 we got released, and several guys went down and bought some beer and brought it back (I took off for the show).  Then a second looey walked in and caught them with over four cases.  So our captain and the first sergeant were called, and all the beer was taken and the guys restricted.

Then, two guys who went to Buckroe beach got drunk and were hauled in.  They were turned over to the MPs and the first sergeant had to go get them out of the brig.  That same night another guy was in the process of getting arrested but he decked the cop and walked off.  Never did get caught.

Another guy went AWOL right after class Friday night and got caught, then this morning three guys who went to DC this weekend never showed up.  They’re back now, but four hours late.  The first sergeant congratulated us this morning for setting a record for trouble in one weekend.

Now for my weekend — not much.  I hung around here Saturday night.  Couldn’t see much sense in going into town so late.  I got restless as all get out.  I was going to borrow a guy’s car and go to town, but it wasn’t running.  So couple of us spent the latter part of the afternoon jerking the starter and solenoid with only a pair of pliers and a screwdriver to work with.  Finally got it running about 8:30, using a big battery a guy stole out of a crane.  So we cleaned up and went to a drive-in in Newport News.  We sat outside the car like everyone else and really enjoyed ourselves just watching the show.

When we came back to the fort, we passed a chapel on the way to our barracks.  It was all lit up inside and really looked nice.  So when we stopped I left the others and walked back there.  It was a catholic chapel and the front was just beautiful.  I didn’t figure it would be open at two in the morning, but it was so I went in.  I sat in there for nearly an hour just praying and thinking.  It was really great.  I felt wonderful afterwards.

Then I went back and polished boots and shined brass until 4:00 this morning, and got up at 8:30 for a change of command ceremony.  Sounds like a great weekend, doesn’t it?

Today I got a letter from you — correction, two letters.  But the one I really liked was the one with the poem.  It is really beautiful honey.  I skipped over it at first to read your letter, but when I went back to it I read it through several times, and got more out of it each time.  Thanks honey.

Rita, I’m afraid I can’t send much money at all this month.  Three bucks is all.  That leaves me a big $35 to last the rest of the month, and I’ve got to get into DC to see Bob this weekend.  If you can put in a couple bucks for a gift for Jim and Vicki I’ll pay you back when I get home.  Since you have to do the buying I’ll do the paying.  Wish I could send more but I’m afraid that’s impossible.  It’s ridiculous to be broke right after payday, but I am.

This is Tuesday now, and only 23 days until we’re done.  Three weeks.  With any luck we’ll be together again within a month.  I’m just hoping and praying I’ll get a 30 day leave — 2 weeks just go too fast.  Thirty days would go too fast for that matter.  I keep thinking of all the things to do there in the summer.  And we’re going to do them all.  Rita, I love you and I want to be with you so bad!  And I want to see my ring on your finger, and hold you in my arms.  I love you!

I’m going to have to close now, got lots to do.  I’m sorry my letters haven’t been coming as often, but I write whenever I can.  The folks haven’t gotten a letter in two weeks I’ll bet.  Oh well, one of these days —

So long honey.  I love you and always will, forever.  Take it easy, hon.

Love,

Jeff

When I saw the phrase “butt cans” I was sure he was talking about the latrine.  Turns out butt cans were red-painted 1 gallon cans with an inch of water in the bottom for cigarette butts.  Still pretty nasty.

June 27, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Dearest Rita,

I really don’t have a hell of a lot to say, but I was thinking of you and decided to write.  It’s still hotter than blazes here but we’re in class now, and we were lucky enough to get an air-conditioned room this time.  Even so we took our shirts off the first hour.

This is Friday now.  Just don’t have time to do much writing lately.  I got your card today, and your letter telling me you haven’t received any letters lately.  Sorry about that, I’ll try to do better but things are pretty busy around here now.  We work in the shop now instead of classrooms, so I don’t get any writing done there.  Around here we’re always getting grabbed for one reason or another — details all the time.  And it looks like we’ll have details all weekend too.  The company is pissed off at us again for some reason, but not half as bad as we’re pissed off at them.  But I’ll really hit the ceiling if I end up with detail over Fourth of July weekend.  Boy!

Just got a letter from Gene C. today too, from Quantico, Virginia.  Wanted to know what Bob and I were doing over Fourth of July weekend.  I’m going to write him and see if the three of us can get together.  He says he hates it out here already.

I also got a letter from mom saying grandpa died.  I feel pretty bad about that.  He was a great guy.  Everyone knew it was coming though.  It’s probably best it didn’t drag out any longer.

We got paid today, and I’m hurting for cash already.  After taking out for my bond, for two months laundry, and taxes, it didn’t leave me peanuts.  All I’m going to be able to send to you is $10 hon, and you use that for Jim and Vicky’s wedding present from us.  We’ll have to wait until I get home to put any more on the ring I guess.  That’s one advantage of an open account like we have on it.

We are working in the shop on the choppers for the rest of the course, and we just half about two weeks before we go to day classes.  Then we’ll get to fly around a bit.  At least now the end of this damn course is in sight.  But you’d best not count the days too close, because after we graduate we’ll probably have a week or 10 days of Vietnam orientation and M-16 weapons qualification, jungle training, etc. but an extra week or so isn’t too bad after three months away from you, so I’ll be able to take it just knowing it won’t last long, and all that time I’ll be packed and ready to go.  In fact, I may start packing right now!

Did I tell you about the stripe change the army came up with?  Well, Pfc.’s got a new kind of stripe, and all the E-2’s (like me) have to wear the old Pfc. stripe.  It’s a bunch of bull, really.  So today I had to buy stripes and get them sewed on.  More money down the drain.  I only had two sets put on — the rest I’ll sew on myself.  They’ll probably fall off, but at least I won’t have to pay to get it done.  Now is when you could come in handy if we were married and you were out here.  But before I’m out of the army you’ll be sewing plenty of stuff on my uniforms, right?

We’re jerking the main rotor mast assembly of a helicopter now.  You don’t know what that is, but it’s all the junk that holds the blades on.  One nice thing about helicopters — they’re not half as messy to work on as cars are.  They’re real cool machines.  I’ll have to tell you about them when I’m home, like how just one of the main blades cost $3000, and how all that holds them up is a lift link less than an inch thick.  All sorts of neat little deals, and sometimes I think I’d feel better on the ground.  No, not really.  I may after we get to fly them though.

I’m going to have to close this out pretty quick hon.  We’re back at the company for challenge now, but head for classes again pretty quick.  Hope you’re not too mad if my letters take a few days in between, but I really can’t help it.  I’ll do my best though.  I love you, honey.  Let’s be ready to tell each other that in person before long.  Take it easy, Fuzz!

Love you,

Jeff

June 26, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Hi Beautiful!

All week I never got a letter from you, then Bam! three at one time this afternoon. Really made my day.  I sat right down and read them all, even if I was supposed to be working.  The general couldn’t have made me stop.

Boy, that storm really sounds like a winner!  And I always miss the excitement around there.

The weather around here is just hot or hotter, with plenty of humidity.  Since Saturday it’s been well over 90° all the time, with temperatures as high as 108°.  We sweat all the time, and five minutes after we take a shower we’re wringing wet again.  It’s downright miserable.  Even at two in the morning it’s so hot I sweat like it’s going out of style.  Only good thing about it is we haven’t been having four o’clock formations and inspections.  Half the company would pass out standing at attention in this heat.

Say, you’d better tell Bob to keep his grubby mind off skinny dipping, because you aren’t going to, right?  At least not with him.  Seriously hon, if you and Bob did, I couldn’t be too mad.  Anyone else and I’d be highly pissed off though.  I’m sure you never would though, even with Bob.  I can’t wait until we do ourselves.

Rita, you don’t know how much I miss you and love you, and how I dream of being with you again.  I want to hold you and kiss you and tell you myself how much I love you.  And I want to make love to you again.  Honey, it’s been so long since we’ve been able to share something like that.  I’m just waiting for the day when we can share our lives completely and forever.  That day can’t come soon enough for me.

About what Vicki said about us getting married while I’m home – don’t think I haven’t thought about it.  In fact, I think it’s a great idea, except for the fact that I’ll be gone for a year and we’d be pretty hard up financially.  I figure we can spend a year apart looking forward to marriage just as easy or easier than separation after marriage.  Sure wish it were possible though!

Hon, don’t get your hair cut anymore before I come home, please?  The way it was cut in that picture you sent me was okay, but anymore is just too short for me.  And knowing the way you get carried away with those haircuts, my hair is probably just as long as yours now.  Maybe I’ll get a Yule Brenner type haircut just before I come home.  That would serve you right.  Of course I’d hate to get laughed out of town too.

One week from tomorrow (whoops, today) Bob should be here.  No, one week from yesterday.  At any rate, next Wednesday night or Thursday morning I’m going to talk to the first Sergeant and see if I can get off at two o’clock in the morning, if Bob’s here by then.  Just wish we didn’t have classes Friday.  Bob still hasn’t told me where he’ll be stationed so I don’t know if we’ll be able to get together once in awhile or not after the fourth.  Hope we can.

I’m going to have to close since it’s 2:30 in the morning now.  Remember, my love for you grows each day.  I love you Rita!

Jeff

June 23, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Dear Rita,

Actually it’s 12:15 Monday morning.  I’ve been meaning to write you all weekend, but it’s been so hot and muggy here that I just didn’t feel like doing anything.  It was 108° today.  It’s cooler now but not much.  I have been thinking of you all day though, even if I didn’t write until now.

Didn’t do much of anything this weekend.  Too broke for one thing.  Friday I got a letter from you, the fourth in five days.  It was the best of them all though because it had our announcement in it.  Boy does that look good.  Just wish there could have been a date set though.  But first things first, and that’s just the first step, right.

I’m sitting here listening to  The Letterman.  I keep playing “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” because it fits my mood pretty good.  “Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living.”  I believe that wholeheartedly.  I can just picture us as the two lovers in the song, and it all seems so beautiful!  I love you honey, and you make me feel like a king.  I love you!

My batteries are running low — again.  Playing it too much I guess.  So now I have to listen to some country western another guy is playing.  Thrill.

This afternoon some guys got ahold of some wine, so we all sat around drinking that.  One guy got pretty smashed and passed out on the bunk.  So we took the bunks apart and carried him right out the door and set him on the lawn between the barracks.  Then some guy tied his feet to the bunk and covered him with about six wool blankets — and it was hot today!  It took him about half an hour to wake up, and his clothes were drenched with sweat.  I felt kind of sorry for the guy, but it was funny.

I’m ready to hit the sack now hon.  Just wish it was ours.  I’ll dream of you tonight and finish this tomorrow.  I love you, Rita.  Goodnight.

Love you,

Jeff

Back again and it’s Monday evening now.  I wanted to finish this this morning and get it sent, but I just didn’t have the time.  So now I’ll finish between classes, I hope.

I got a letter from Bob Friday.  He’s planning on coming out here the third.  Sure will be good to see him.  That’s about as close to home as I’ll get for another month.

Honey, I don’t think I’ll be able to send quite as much money home this month.  We’ve got to get a wedding gift for Jim and Vicky too, or rather, you’ve got to get one for us to give to them.  I should be able to send $200 or so, so use about ten on a gift and put the rest on the ring, okay?  The way things look I may not be able to send that much.  Hope I can though.

I haven’t gotten as much writing done as I thought I would tonight, so I’m going to close this up and get it sent.  Otherwise the week would be through before you got it.  Just remember I love you and need you more than ever, honey.  Goodnight, Love.

Love you,

Jeff

June 19, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Hi Beautiful!

Boy, three letters in three days!  That’s a pretty good average.  And pictures yet.  The picture  of the ring may not be too clear, but I know it’s there, and that’s the important thing.  Honey, I love you, and that ring holds every bit of it.  When I get home that’s the first thing I want to see after I get done squeezing you to death.  It looks great on you, Rita!

The picture of you is real good too, and I like your hair after all.  It isn’t nearly as short as I imagined.  And it looks like you’ve got yourself one heck of a good tan.  Your arms look so brown I can’t believe it.  Looks like I may have a tough time beating you after all.  I notice too you’ve got one of my letters in front of you.  Couldn’t miss that stationery if I tried.

You mentioned going to the races.  Is Nemitz racing this year, and if so, how’s he doing?  You bet we’ll be going to some while I’m home.  I bet they’re a lot better this year than last, aren’t they?

Gotta go now.  Add more later (probably between classes tonight).

Nope, I’m back again and have a little time yet before we have to start cleaning the barracks before we go to class.  Yes, we’re still having night classes.  Just started tearing into the engine this week.  It’ll be a couple weeks yet before we switch to day classes, I guess.

About that little hint to call you – I sure wish I could honey, but I’m just about broke now.  I won’t call collect, and I don’t like to charge it to my folks, but I just may one of these days.  I’ll probably wait until after payday to call though, if I can wait that long.  I’ve wanted to call you for a couple weeks now hon.   I really want to hear your voice again, and tell you “I love you” again instead of writing all the time.  But writing it will have to do for now.  Rita, I love you with all my heart!

It’s 9:30 in the evening now. We’re back for chow and just got the word we are getting a new company commander.  He just returned from Nam, and he is a special forces Green Beret. I’ve got a feeling he’s going to be worse than our old one, if that’s possible.  He doesn’t take over until this weekend sometime, but he inspected our barracks with our old C.O. today and tore them apart.  We were uptight but he still found plenty to gig us on.  And he hasn’t even taken over yet.  Things could be bad when he does.

It’s three in the morning now, we just got back from class.  We tore a turbine engine apart and put it back together.  It’s good to be doing something besides sitting in class all the time.

It’s later now, and we’ve just had a little trouble here.  Tell you about it in the morning.  I’m going to bed now.

ZZZZzzzzzz….  SNORE ———

Okay, it’s Thursday morning now.  I’ll tell you what happened.  We’ve got a guy in 4th squad who hasn’t taken more than two showers since we got here, I swearHe stinks so bad people can’t stand to be near him.  He’s been told very bluntly, asked nicely, threatened, and everything else to get him to bathe more often, but he won’t.  So some guys decided to give him a G.I. shower, where several guys work on one with strong soap and stiff brushes.  Well, the guy heard about it, and when everyone started moving in on him he pulled a tire iron out of his locker and started swinging.  That kind of pissed everyone off, so the whole bottom bay was ready to tear him apart when our class commander came in and broke it up.  Good thing too or someone would have got hurt bad.

Say, I forgot to tell you but we got a new class sergeant.  Actually he’s a Spec 5.  He’s from Hot Springs, South Dakota and is a hell of a good guy.  He’s the fourth one we’ve had, but he’ll at least do something for us.  All the others would do was wake up in the morning and chew our _ _ _ all day.  You can tell Dex he knows Val Thompson.  You probably don’t know her, but Dex had the hots for her about two summers ago and still writes her.

Just had mail call and got a tape from the folks.  Finish this after I listen to it,  okay?

Back again.  Dad made the whole tape.  He told me about grandpa and how bad he is.  I was sorry to hear that.  I had thought he was doing pretty good again.  What really bothers me though is that if something happens I won’t be able to get home.  Emergency leaves are only for the immediate family usually.

I’m going to have to write them soon.  It’s been a while since I wrote, and there’s a lot of things he asked about I should fill them in on.  I’m going to have to knock this off now.  Got this damn barracks to clean.

Honey, I love you like you’d never believe.  And in a little over a month I’ll be there with you again.  That’s all I think about anymore, and thinking about it makes time here seem to go so damn slow.  That’s not good.  But I couldn’t stop thinking of you or loving you if my life depended on it.  I love you Rita.

Forever,

Jeff

June 14, 1968.  Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia.


Hi Honey-

Just got a letter from you today saying you’ve been at work, but you never had said how you like it.  Besides mentioning all the guys that is.  So tell me about it, okay?  Does Nancy still work there?  If so tell her hi for me, and to Sturdivant too.

You asked about our work details on weekends.  Well, I’ve bitched about it and threatened to go to the IG, and so this weekend we are free!  We don’t really know yet what we’re going to do with all that time, but we’ll find something.

You asked about my hair – well, it’s long enough to part, but I can’t really say I can comb it yet.  Won’t be much longer though.

Okay, now it’s Saturday.  We had an inspection this morning, but we’re off for the weekend now.  We’re waiting for some guys to sign out on pass.  About 20 of us are going to try to get to Virginia Beach in two cars.  Should be interesting.  The line for passes is so long we may be here all weekend though.

I had a picture taken today which I’ll send along.  I’m still waiting for some from you (hint, hint).

You asked whether Pfc. was.  It means Private First Class, and about $30 a month more.  Still haven’t heard any more about it though.

Got to get ready to go hon.  I’ll write more later.

Love ya,

Jeff

Sunday night now.  Spent the whole weekend at Virginia Beach.  Clay and Mike, a couple buddies of mine, and I met some guys and sweet talked them into letting us share their hotel room – for free.  We had to sack out on the floor, but that’s no big deal. Last night we proceeded to get bombed out of our minds.  Mike passed out before 12:30.  Clay and I and a bunch of other guys we met were good until about 4:00, and that was it.  Really had fun, but felt out of it this morning for a while.

All day today (since I woke up at 11:00) I lay about on the beach.  Right now I’ve got one of the best tans I’ve had in years.  You’re really going to have to work to beat me now!  A lot of guys have some awful painful sunburns though.

Honey, last night just before we went to bed, Clay and I took a long walk along the beach.  It was just beautiful!  When we saw a couple walking along there I got so lonesome for you.  I’d give anything to have you with me.  Clay felt the same way, I know.  He’s getting engaged when we get out of here.  We talked about a lot of things, mostly connected with you or his girl.  We were half drunk yet, but it was really nice.  Only trouble was that it got us into too serious a mood.  So we went back and went to bed.

Honey, I’ve got to shower now and hit the sack.  But before I do I want to say again, “I love you.” And I do so much Rita.  It’s hard being away from you, but my love grows every day, and one day it will all be worth it.  One very special day, right?  And I pray that day will come quickly.  I love you.

Forever,

Jeff

Jeff and Rita on her 17th Birthday

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