If I Do Die, I Die as a Soldier

Arlington Cemetery 1984

            Arlington National Cemetery 1984

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well I just got back from R&R and I am now in An Khe so I thought that I [would] drop a few lines.

I sure enjoyed hearing your voices it helps a lot. It gives a person a little more hope and things seem a little brighter. I am so home sick when I think of hearing your voice, it brings back so many thoughts.

I maybe shouldn’t write this or maybe think it but I want to tell you because I never said it while I was in the States that if something should happen to me while I[‘m] over here I [want] you to know that you are the best parents in the world. You have shown so much love and have done so much for me. I deeply love you for it.

Mom you showed it the most out in the open and Dad you were to[o] quiet to show you once told me that you maybe didn’t show it but I know you loved us all. You can’t count the times that I’ve tried to picture you in my mind you sitting in the big chair upstairs looking out the window so quiet and Mom trying to catch up on the work she had to do. O[h] how I would love to see it once again it means so very much to me.

I could always count on you for help even over 10,000 miles away. But I am proud to be an Infantry man and if I do die I die as a Soldier fighting for what I think is right.

 

Letter home dated: November 9, 1967

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Instant Sergeant

U.S. Army Sergeant stripes atop Republic of Vietnam flagDear Mom and Dad

Yesterday I sent you a copy of my five orders. I had just received them, now your little baby is a sergeant in the U.S. Army. I was sure glad to make it. Since I’ve been here I’ve received an Air Medal for making so many combat assaults, a Combat Infantry Badge, and a case of the nerves, but that’s all in the game.

Excerpt from a letter home dated: 25 April 1968

Former ‘Slick-sleeve’, He’s Now ‘Instant Sergeant’

By SP4 Herb Denton, article was featured in Cavalair (newspaper about the 1st Air Cavalry Division), Vol. 2, No. 57 and printed on December 27, 1967

When Charlie Cox Jr., arrived at the 1st Air Cavalry Division Continue reading

Dear John Letter

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 Continue reading

John Wayne and the Cult(ure) of Movies

Here is my response to a comment posted by Robyn Riley on the About page of my blog who asked, for reasons of “post graduate research”: Did your dad grow up watching John Wayne movies? Do you know if he thought Vietnam was going to be like what he had grown up seeing in the movies?

My reply:

The short answer to your question is that John Wayne had no impact on my dad.

Now here’s the long answer. We discussed the Vietnam War all the time and not once did John Wayne factor into the conversation. Growing up my dad liked the following television shows: Perry Mason; The Wild, Wild West; Rawhide; and the Andy Griffith Show, and he was a fan of Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson movies.

My dad was not a one-dimensional, fictional character come to life fighting the good fight in a staunchly anti-communist movie such as The Green Berets. He was well aware that war, no matter how it’s packaged, is still war. My dad was drafted, he didn’t volunteer and he most certainly did not want to go to war. His grades were poor and so believing that college wasn’t an option he got married in 1966 hoping that would help him avoid the war; six months prior he had received notice from Selective Service.

Admittedly, John Wayne was a beloved actor whose movie, The Green Berets, espoused the ideals of General MacArthur’s “Duty, Honor, Country” speech but the movie opened in theaters the same month my dad returned home from Vietnam. And besides my dad was an isolationist.