My dad got married in 1966 hoping that it would help him avoid the war, obviously it didn’t. I don’t know anything about this marriage except that both were young. I never asked if it was a marriage of convenience or one of true love so while I’ve been going through his letters home I started to take note of the times my dad mentioned his wife.
To provide a little more context: He was drafted in April 1966, married October 1966, and reported for duty January 1967. He was in-country June 1967-June 1968.
Letter home 1 June 1967
Well today got 2 letters from my wife, didn’t get any yesterday. I maybe shouldn’t say anything about this but I’ve got to tell someone it has to do with my wife. It started in AIT when I didn’t write her for about a month-well I hurt her very badly. She was so cold to me almost the whole time I was home because I hurt her so bad. She said something to me about getting a separation. I keep wondering if she only writes me because she is afraid that if something might happen to me she would feel bad.
Letter home 9 July 1967
All has been fine so far heard very little from my wife.
Letter home 13 July 1967
Today I finally got a letter from my wife it was about time. She said in her letter she would write when possible well that’s what I’m going to do and I have a feeling there won’t be many possible times. I think she is trying to get even with me for not writing while at [Fort] Polk. I’m not going to tell her I am sorry anymore-I said it too many times already. If she don’t want to write that’s fine with me. If she thinks she has trouble finding time she should be over here walk up and down mountains all day long, dig a foxhole and set up a tent, eat. I’m the one that ain’t got the time. All of us are dead tired, some of these mountains we climb are straight up then we go down the other side to go up another one. So believe me when I take time to say a few things…but when someone I love tells me they will write when possible I lost all my time also.
Letter home 21 July 1967
Well I put in for R & R at Formosa in November that way I’ll be able to get [my wife] a birthday present. I won’t be able to send that necklace to her until I get to An Khe.
Letter home 22 August 1967
The day before yesterday I got a letter from my wife the last letter I got was August the 1st.
Letter home 6 September 1967
Well I just finished a 10 page letter to [my wife]. I sure hope that makes her happy it should it sure beats the ones I haven’t gotten from her.
Letter home 27 October 1967
I also received a box from my wife’s oldest sister it had home made christmas cookies and fudge and some candy.
Letter home 31 October 1967
I don’t know what’s the matter with [my wife] never writing. I am going to see a preacher about it and maybe with a little luck I’ll be able to come home and get things right. …I am starting to get bitter against her and I don’t want to do that.
Letter home 8 November 1967
I haven’t got my mail yet so I don’t know if [my wife] sent me the money or not. Thank you so much for sending me the money. I don’t know what I would have done without it.
Letter home 19 December 1967
[My wife] is filing for divorce. I found that out in the letter she wrote me telling me she had no money to give me. God knows I tried to make things go but she fought me so now she’s finally going to leave.
Letter home 2 January 1968
Don’t worry about me worry about the trouble with [my wife]. I have too much other things on my mind to worry about that and why should I so don’t worry about me.
They divorced in 1968.
Vietnam War Has Produced Record Number of ‘Dear John’ Letters, The Nevada Daily Mail, 29 April 1969: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1908&dat=19690429&id=-FsfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=a9QEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5934,5905641