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

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CIA & FOIA & POW/MIA! Oh My!

POW Nurse

I found this amongst my dad’s Vietnam stuff. The text reads: Renate Kuhnen, 27, a West German nurse, was taken from a Kontum hospital overrun by Viet Cong in a raid this week in the South Vietnamese city. She is still missing. (Source: Des Moines Register, 7 March 1968) She was captured 3 March 1968 when coming to the aid of several patients during the attack by the VC. She was freed a year later. (Source: Wisconsin State Journal, 10 March 1969)

She was a fortunate one. Current statistics on the Vietnam War from the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office: 1,655 US personnel listed as POW/MIA as of 19 Sep 2012. While the National League of POW/MIA Families lists 1,661 missing and unaccounted-for as of 1 Aug 2012. The discrepancy results from the recently identified remains of 5 U.S. military personnel, although by my math that still leaves a discrepancy of 1. Last Friday, 21 September 2012, marked National POW/MIA Recognition Day; a day set aside to honor and remember those who never came home. The DPMO office has a motto: Keeping the Promise.

I grew up watching movies such as Missing in Action and Rambo and the conspiracy theorist in me entertained the idea that Continue reading

Camp Radcliffe, Vietnam

Vietnam soldier holding coca-cola at Camp Radcliff

Dear Mom & Dad,

Well here I am at Camp Radcliffe (it’s our base camp) near An Khe. It’s been raining almost all the time that I’ve been here. The rain stops as fast as it starts but after a hot day it feels good to have that cold water on you.

I arrived at Bien Hoa on Tuesday at the 90th Replacement. There I stayed for two days then we flew to An Khe to the First Cavalry Replacement where I waited for more orders. It took about 2 days for those orders. I’m in Co. B, 1st Bn, 8th Cavalry, which is part of Continue reading

The GI in Vietnam

Feeling in Vietnam is that most back home, including lawmakers, do not understand or accept the truth that the conflict in Vietnam is war.  That the bulk of America considers Southeast Asia with confusion and mild contempt.

A soldier returning home from Vietnam will find that people can’t yet point the country out on a map, can’t guess the number of weekly casualties, can’t figure out who the enemy is, and can’t understand what it’s all about except they guess freedom is involved. Continue reading

Book Review

A long time ago, I included a Goodreads widget to highlight books, fiction and non, about the Vietnam War and realized that I had not read any. Oops. So, here are my reviews of three books.

A fantastic read and a must-read. I was drawn into the book and read every word. Published in 1977, this book encapsulates the experiences (both real and imagined) of the author who was a war correspondent for Esquire magazine during the Vietnam War, from 1967-69. The frenetic stream of consciousness writing style fits so well with the pace of the war and the story as it unfolds.

The author also contributed to the screenplays of Vietnam War movies, Apocalypse Now Continue reading

John McCain, 1936-2018

McCainWithSquadron.jpg
John McCain (front right) with his squadron, 1965 By US Navy – Library of Congress

To an uncommon hero, whose elevated spirit helped him to endure five and half years of captivity as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam. To an officer and a gentleman, who did not see himself fighting a battle alone, but alongside his brothers in arms, and refused to be released not before them, but with them. To a public servant, who held the federal government to the standards to which he believed it must always be held.

Thank you for your service to this country.

 

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

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