11 November 19XX
Xxxxxx Xxxx Province, RVN
I'm going to mail this to the plant, its not the type of letter that can be shared with the family.
Thank you for your birthday letter, made me laugh. I showed it to Sgt _________ who agrees with your comments about officers. That was then this is now, at least I think that's true. Now I bet you are laughing!
We hit a hot LZ last week. I was so damn proud of my men, we had a few replacements but they did just fine, everyone in and out with just a few scratches. I can pretty much tell right away if a replacement is going to be good or bad. I know that I'm fortunate to be in the 101st and not the 1st Cav or another division that is loaded with draftees. We've got one new kid from Detroit that is a problem but I think he can be whipped into shape. Someone may have to jump his bones if he doesn't get with the program. Sgt ___________ had to kick him out of the chopper, we were taking fire, but then he did okay. Yes, yes I agree for the 10,000th time that a good sergeant is worth his weight in gold. I'm lucky I've got three of the best. No details but I wrote up a recommendation for Sgt __________. He deserves the Silver Star, but that's not too realistic, I don't have the "juice" and he doesn't have the "mojo" but I'm going to do my damndest that he gets the Bronze. I wish I could write more detail but you know the rules.
Sad news, I jumped a ride down to Saigon the end of October and met up with a few classmates, ________, _________ and Ben _________. We had a good time, we didn't go crazy, we are all married men now! The sad news is that when Ben got back to his unit he was killed by a sniper. That was on the 5th I think, a damn shame. Ben didn't have any kids so we can be grateful for that. I know you must remember him so I'm sure you will want to write to his wife, ____________ I'll include her address at the end of this letter. I know he had a big family back in Oregon so I hope she gets all the support she needs from them and the division. Don't worry, there is no way we're going to have any kids until I'm home. If ___________ wants a puppy help her please, no fag dog breed!
My leg is fine, I repeat fine! The scar is only about 4 or 5 inches long now. It will never disappear 100% but the Docs say it will shrink over time. It's nice and straight, I am one lucky bastard. I can't run as fast and I sure as hell favor it when we're "jumping" but no real problems. I keep thinking God must have been looking over my shoulder and made sure that shrapnel went into my leg precisely straight up and down. Don't tell Mom or _________ but If it was on 90% angle I would have lost my foot and ankle for sure!
What the hell is going on at home? I can't stand listening to the news feeds any more. It sounds like it just keeps getting worse and worse. Disagreeing with the president and Congress is okay but ripping the whole country apart is another matter altogether. I read some of the papers from the states when I was in Saigon and I couldn't believe the bullshit they were writing. There was an article in the Washington Post by a reporter that is in country but I don't think it was Vietnam. One hundred percent bull or maybe he was hallucinating or maybe just too much pot. I hope you and Mom are not believing everything you are reading too. I feel so bad for these people, they are just trying to make a living and raise their kids. We hit a village not too long ago that had been "visited" by the VC the day before. The worst I've seen, I couldn't believe that anyone would do that to their own people, men, women and children. We helped as much as we could but they wanted us to go after the bastards. With their info we did track them down the next day and administer complete revenge.
Battalion tried to stick me with a civilian photographer a few weeks ago, I think he was from California. I complained and complained but of course that did no good. When he showed up somebody had a long talk with him, gave him the "shove that Nikon up your ass" lecture. Real chickenshit type, he decided that he would only spend a day with the unit and forego any "combat ops." I don't even think he took any pictures, maybe from the chopper on the way out! He'll probably get lucky and shoot a once in lifetime picture in Saigon and end up with the Pulitzer or whatever award they get.
I got word that I'll get some R&R next March. Won't make it back to the states but at least far enough away to feel "normal" whatever that may be. If I'm really lucky "special dispensation," I'm going to get _______ to fly out to where ever, even if its only for three or four days together. I was thinking about that yesterday, the difference between this war and WWII. I know that every other GI had to go the distance for the duration but it must have been awful being away from Mom and your family for years, never knowing when it would end and you could come home. That's not even considering the points system!
Whenever I start to get fed up, I think about what the 101st did in WWII. I'm pretty sure that on Vets day in 1944 you were all back in England re-training and thinking that it was heaven compared to Holland and France. Never knowing that the biggest battle was 6 weeks away. I hate this jungle, I hate being dirty and soaking wet from my own sweat all the time but its a whole lot better than starving and freezing without the proper kit.
Anyway Dad, since it is Veterans Day, Thank You. Thank you for many things but most of all for just being my Dad.
PS: Don't catch all the bass in the ocean. I am coming home some day!!
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An American Family -
A Letter From Viet Nam