Dear Mom + Dad,
I’m back out in the bush now and already missing the good life in Hong Kong. I boozed it up a little but never got really drunk. I could have used some more money because there was so much to buy and the prices were always low.
I bought a camera for $55 that costs $220 in the States. I got Joel a watch like mine for $38 and mailed that to him. I mailed the camera and some tailored clothes home and sent the insurance slips to you yesterday.
Will is no longer in CAP 2, he has only a little while left now so they’ve sent him to a safer area. He is actual of CAP 2-7-7 closer to Da Nang.
I’m still Bravo at CAP 2 and a Sgt. Lane is Actual. It’ll probably be that way until I leave.
P.S. Gonna grow another moustache!
I imagine that Mom is bent out of shape because I didn’t call home from Hong Kong. At least, I assume she is. I did plan to call but when I tried to plan something to say, I ran out of ideas right after saying “HELLO.” It seemed a little pointless to spend all that money on a weather report.
I had a blast in Hong Kong sightseeing, shopping, eating, drinking, and bar-hopping. I had a bad scare when I first got there. The Chase Manhattan Bank of Hong Kong wouldn’t cash my bank drafts. For some reason, they didn’t have a specimen of the signature on the bank drafts. I didn’t think this would matter since they were issued by a Chase Manhattan Bank in the first place. I had the same problem at the Bank of America. I went to the R+R office and they sent me to the First National City Bank of Hong Kong who cashed my drafts without question.
My nerves were shot by this time because I was faced with the prospect of taking the next plane back to Nam and it shook me up.
By this time it was getting late, so I checked into a hotel that the R+R people sent me to and collapsed from exhaustion. I changed to a better hotel the next morning. I checked into the Park Hotel which is pretty swank.
I spent most of each day sleeping or sightseeing. I got up at about twelve and went shopping or sightseeing until six or seven then usually went barhopping with some other guys on R+R. I did change my routine one night by going to a Shakespearian recital by the London Shakespeare Group. I had to go to that alone because I couldn’t talk anybody into going with me. I did enjoy it, though, the actors really knew their stuff.
The bars close at two o’clock in Hong Kong so I usually got back to my hotel about then to hit the rack.
I met an Australian lady and her daughter (Barbara and Kate Taunton) on a bus tour and they took me out to dinner one night at the most expensive restaurant in Hong Kong in the Hyatt Hotel. We had a lot of fun. Nearly everything on the menu was a flaming dish, and a four man group serenaded each table.
I bought some clothes and a camera which I mailed home along with the insurance slips. I also bought Joel a watch like mine at a saving of about $50 over the U.S. price.
My tailor says that my right shoulder is nearly two inches lower than my left. I always thought it was after that shoulder separation (playing football) in my sophomore year.
I didn’t have enough money to buy any Xmas presents which was my fault. I didn’t take enough money or plan very well with what I had.
I guess I’ll have to send home cash presents this year. Please pass the word at home not to send me anything for Xmas that the guys in my squad can’t eat or drink in one day. I cannotcarry a bunch of junk with me and I have nowhere to keep anything, either. Do not send any money, it’s almost impossible to convert to military payment certificates.
Tell Mom that my 2 yr. enlistment expires on July 7, 1971; I can get discharged three months prior to that date if I have a letter of acceptance for a full course of undergraduate study from the dean of admissions of any accredited college.
In other words, I won’t be eligible for an early out to go to school until next April. I’ll probably be discharged soon after I get home from Nam (in March or even February) because of the manpower cut the Marine Corps is undergoing.
Believe me, I have investigated every chance of getting out of the Marines early. The soonest I can do so on my own initiative is April. Unless I am badly wounded or there is a major change in U.S. strategy I cannot get out of Viet Nam early.
I’m completely capable of protecting my own interests and I will do so. If I think you, or the congressman can be helpful, be informed that I will let you know.
I did not enlist on any “20 month gimmick” and I don’t even know what you’re talking about. My enlistment is for 24 months.
It’s too bad that John will not be in Nam this month. I have finally got enough seniority that I might be able to wangle a chance to go and see him. When will he come back to Nam? I may still be able to see him before I rotate.
I got the Hong Kong info from Smyers, thanks.
Will spent a week in Bangkok on his R+R. No battle fatigue was involved. People with battle fatigue sometimes get a three-day R+R at a recreation area inside Viet Nam.
P.S. Only 19 more ambushes until Xmas.
Who is Mrs. Rina Blanco? I swear that I can’t ever remember giving swimming lessons to her. When, where, and how? Fill me in please, OK? I already mailed out all of the Xmas cards I got from you this A.M. Most of them to family + friends of yours.
Maybe it was Joel who taught her swimming and she got us mixed up.
Aunt Rosa Lu sent me an Xmas package today with caramels and peanuts.
Are the Reusches separated now? How do I word my Xmas card? What is Dietrich’s address, what’s Marilyn + Bill Taylor’s address? Have the Tadtmans moved again?? Do Jim + Karen live in Wichita?
The weather is miserable, it’s rained since I got back from R+R. Our area was flooded again while I was in Hong Kong; my company was evacuated again. The water is starting to rise again!
I led an ambush last night in which we set up around a house in our ville. This morning we learned that there was a wounded NVA soldier hiding in the next house. We didn’t know he was there and vice versa. A thrill a minute! I got your package with powdered milk and cocoa, Henry’s candy, etc.
I got the B+W flics and they are outstanding. Send some more please. How tall is Jeff? What weight?
All my clothes are soaked and likely to remain so. You can’t dry anything in the rain.
I’ve got some bad, bad news. The Marine Corps is no longer giving early discharges! I’ll have to stay in until next July! Screwed again.
Will is no longer in CAP 2-7-2. He is now Actual at CAP 2-7-7.
I wrote Dad about my R+R; will save the details until I get home.
CAP 2-7-8 killed one VC last night; captured one rifle. CAP 2-7-1 did likewise.
Please make prints of this last batch of negatives and send em to me. You don’t have to make slides.
From now on, just save all the negatives I send and I’ll have slides made when I get home; if I still want them.
I’ll be sending you a $50 check next payday to cover previous photo processing expenses.
P.S. “Mac” flys home today!
Dear Mom + Dad,
I did not mean that I would be home before my regular date when I said “soon” in my radiogram. As far as I’m concerned, February 3rd is just around the corner. I’ll be in the U.S. 53 days from today which is so far ahead of most guys in CAP 2 that it might as well be tomorrow.
Hong Kong is great; the city itself was something new to me having never been “downtown” in such a large city before. I’ll tell you all the details when I get home. It would take too long here.
I got Sen. Pearson’s letter today and I hope you read it carefuly before posting. The earliest date that I can get out for an educational reason, is April 7.
I’ve sent out most of the Xmas cards already. I admit that I would not have sent many if I hadn’t thought you expected me to. The message rang a little false (to me) when paired with a picture of me holding a rifle.
Three or four of your packages arrived the other day along with packages from the Jim Thorntons, Tredways and the Willie Thorntons. I’ve also gotten packages from Aunt Rosa Lu and Mary Graham recently.
We’ve been eating the perishables on arrival and caching the things that should keep until Xmas day. Everyone was delighted by the tree, especially the Viet kids. We took lots of pictures of the tree and co.
The kids in Thanh Quit are all Buddhist, unfortunately. It’s a well known fact that all-Catholic villages are cleaner, more westernized, and fiercely anti- communist. Many have electricity and, a few, running water.
I’ve been passing out toys and candy at random, anyway.
I’m getting to be a real stand-out figure in my ville. The people consider me the leader of CAP 2 even though I’m actually only second in command. They figure that since I’ve been here longest and do most of the talking, I’m the “honcho.” Everybody knows me and vice versa.
I’ve gotten Xmas cards from Mrs. Grantham (librarian) and Ze Taylor using the address in the Courier. It pays to advertise.
Please send me a KSU catalogue and some kind of guideline for what freshmen have to take if you can get ahold of the stuff.
I don’t mind you promoting schemes to get me out of Nam and the Marines plus R+R, but you seem to believe that I’m too dense to do this stuff for myself. I investigated all the “early out” gimmicks months ago and found that none applied to me until at least April.
I never was worried about getting R+R. They had a legitimate reason for cancelling my first R+R but I was just very disappointed about it.
Also; information about R+R, discharges, early outs, orders, new duty stations, VA benefits, college, jobs, military careers, etc. is broadcast daily over the radio in the form of advertisements. They do keep us informed about that stuff.
Becky Jarvis and Carole Keller also sent me a joint package the other day.
I have received clippings and the latest flics.
P.S. Will got his package and liked it all.
The packages I got were very good. The book “Love Story” was tremendous.
Everybody here says thanx for the Xmas tree, Xmas cards, cookies, etc.
Duncan says, “Your old lady is pretty cool. I never knew anybody with a Congressman for a pen pal.”
If you’re still enthusiastic about bird hunting when I get home, we’ll go up to Wichita or Kansas City and pick out a good shotgun for you.
I used to have trouble with the firing pin on your shotgun too. It would be nice to have a decent shotgun around. Dad’s 12 ga. is so old that I’d be scared to shoot it and yours isn’t much better. The only decent shotgun we have is my .410 and it’s a single shot. February will be too late to use a new gun for this year but you could practice on clay pigeons and get used to it for next year.
What kind of shotgun does Ron Graham have?
It’s nearly Christmas now but it doesn’t feel a bit like it over here. It’s rainy and everything is as green as ever. Today is the first sunny day we’ve had for about a month.
I found out that the pay dept. hasn’t been paying me corporal’s pay but that is straightened out now. My pay check for next month will be about $600 bucks. I didn’t get paid enough last month to buy any Xmas presents so everyone will have to wait until I come home on leave to get their presents. I have about $1,000.00 in savings now, but I can’t get it out until I come home. If I put all of my pay in savings until I get home, I’ll come out with about $1,800.00 bucks saved. I’m thinking about getting a car when I get my discharge in July.
My squad has picked up a pet puppy named Pigpen. It’s a pain in the neck but kind of cute.
I’d better quit for now.
P.S. Tell Mom to send me Jim Thornton’s address again.
P.P.S. Have Tadtmans moved again?
The clothes I bought were conservative because I’ve been wearing Uncle Sam’s threads for nearly two years and I don’t have any idea about the current style in the U.S.
The tailor showed me the styles that were fashionable in Hong Kong but I played it safe and bought a conservative cut. The tailor I went to comes to the U.S. twice yearly and I gave him my address so that he can sell me something more up-to-date when I get home and find out what is up-to- date.
I now have the same tailor as Sammy Davis Jr., and Babe Parelli. Oh yeah, they tailor clothes in the U.S. for the same cost as in Hong Kong, so I won’t be blowing a lot of money.
I will fill out the KSU application form for the fall semester of 71 and return it to you. I can’t start any earlier for reasons that I’ve already explained to you.
Will and I both got our packages about ten days ago. Everything was very good. The tree is set up in a Vietnamese cafe that we go to, to drink beer or coke. We stashed some of the non-perishables to eat on Xmas day.
The camera I sent home is really pretty simple, read the enclosed instructions. It takes Instamatic cartridges and makes outstanding flics. I sent Joel and diver’s watch like mine for Xmas.
The 2nd CAG assignment list says I will be sent to the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to suffer out my last five months in the Corps.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I wouldn’t have needed more money than I took to Hong Kong if I had had a regular R+R. Regular R+R is only 5 days and 6 nights. I was on a special flight and had 8 days and 9 nights. I had to stretch my money to make up the difference. I stayed in a pretty swanky hotel too (The Park Hotel). I didn’t take enough money to buy Xmas presents and I bought one for Joel anyway. I still had a lot of fun.
I did speak to a bank officer at the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Bank of America, and the First National City Bank. They all asked exactly the same questions. None of them had any record of the authorizing signature in their files that was on my bank drafts. The first two banks flat refused to think about cashing the drafts without cabling for authorization to the US; that would have taken two or three days. Since I had no other money I was in a hum. The last bank asked the same questions but the bank officer also asked where I got the drafts and then said he’d take a chance on me. He talked like he didn’t think he was taking much of a chance.
I’m glad to hear that Joel is getting a vacation over Christmas. We’re expecting to be attacked Xmas Eve or Xmas day with a very good chance of being attacked every day until the holidays are over.
(For some reason — probably the Tet Offensive of 68 — we were always on high alert around any major holiday.)
Use my camera for your flics, that’s what it’s for!
I told Jeff that I would take him to Wichita or K.C. to pick out a shotgun when I get home, but since you are getting him one for Xmas, I may buy one for myself.
I’m surprised that you are getting him a 20 ga. If he continues to hunt, he’ll outgrow a 20 ga. in a year or two and want something bigger. I was planning on a 16 ga. which is easier to handle than a 12 ga. but big enough to grow into.
If I have a chance to hunt when I get home I’ll probably get a 16 ga. automatic for myself.
The Armed Forces Radio has been playing lots of Xmas type music. Not such a good idea to me because it makes me lonesome.
The packages were very welcome and well chosen. Everybody was (and is) delighted about the tree. It’s set up in a Vietnamese cafe that we go to. I got the fruitcake today and everyone dug in and made short work of it.
After eleven months over here, February sounds very soon” to me. I have given up hoping for any kind of decent break from the Marine Corps. I expected to get the dirty jobs when I enlisted but not as consistently as 100% of the time.
Since I joined, I’ve had duty in the two most undesirable stations of the Corps; Camp Pendleton and Viet Nam. If I follow my orders when I get home, I’ll go to the third most undesirable post, Camp Lejeune. If I live to reach voting age, I’ll know I’ve earned the privilege.
We received a letter from the fiance of a guy who was killed in CAP 2 back in September. She asked for someone to write some of the details of Dan’s death. I got the job because, quote, Hell Roch, you can rap your thing on paper better than anybody.” Now I’m stewing over what to say.
Dear Mom + Dad,
Well, I got to see the Bob Hope Xmas Special on Christmas Eve in Da Nang. One man from each squad in my company got to go. We drew names from a hat to see who went from CAP 2. I didn’t get drawn from the hat but everyone talked it over (behind my back) and decided that I deserved it most; so they gave the ticket to me.
You had to have a ticket to sit in the bleachers. If you didn’t have one you had to sit on the hillside around the amphitheater. My seat was in the bleachers about 35 yards from the stage (close!). I got there at 10:45 AM and waited for three hours. I took a canteen of water and some food to keep me alive. Some guys waited all night and all day.
It was the first sunny day in weeks and everybody fried. I got a bad sunburn including a row of blisters on my lips.
The show finally got started and I really enjoyed it in spite of the sun. They had a TV camera on the stage filming the audience. The camera was right on level with me and I may have gotten on TV. I was wearing just a green T-shirt and my utility cover through most of the show. Notice the peace signs in the crowd!
I saw Will yesterday. He is in CAP 2-7-5 now, but will be going to CAG HQ on the 31st. I think he flies home on the 3rd. He checked his orders at CAG and says he’s going to the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Camp Pendleton. He said he saw my orders and that they were for the 5th MEB too! I guess whoever told me I was going to the 2nd Marine Division didn’t know what they were talking about. I’m going to check it out myself as soon as possible.
I took a camera to the Bob Hope Show. I thought the roll of film I had was a 20 exp. roll but it was only a 12 exp. I thought I had nine pictures left but I only had one. I now have one flic of the crowd at the Bob Hope Show.
Don’t sweat the street light. I’ll ding it for you when I get home.
(The city had installed a street light that shone brightly in my Mom’s kitchen window at all hours. She hated it and asked me to shoot it out when I got home. I did. At least I tried. I hit that thing about 10 times with my old .22 rifle and couldn’t knock it out. I guess the city fathers were expecting some peckerhead to shoot at their street lights, so they built em sturdy.)
Barb Fields says Marsha Clester and Arthur Carillo are getting married the last week of January. Marsha’s folks won’t have anything to do with her. Art was in my class at Holy Name and he’s really a nice guy. At least he graduated from high school and his mind isn’t blown on drugs like the Anglo guys.
If you think John Dietrich is upset about the Viets; wait until Iget home.
Have the Tadtmans moved?
The Bob Hope Special is supposed to be on TV around Jan. 14