Well, I’m glad to hear that somebody in the family is good at baseball. Joel and I spent too much time at the pool to get in much baseball.
It looks like you’re also going to be the only one in the family with neat handwriting. Keep it up.
That old shed can sure use some remodeling. I don’t think I’ll even recognize the old homestead when I get home.
The VC hit us last night and things were hairy for a while. No Marines or RFs got hurt, though, so it was all kind of fun. I just wouldn’t like to do this stuff for a living.
Dear Mom and Dad,
About a year ago today I was wondering what the Marine Corps would be like. Now that I know, I wonder if I would have the guts to do it again.
I’m glad that I did enlist because I believe that the experiences I’ve had are worth a couple of years of college, at least.
College doesn’t have men like S/Sgts. Burkhart, Mills, and Sgt. Crumpton (My drill instructors in Platoon 2127, MCRD, San Diego). If I hadn’t known them I wouldn’t have believed that they could exist.
I’d have never known that I could run three miles in 22 minutes. (My time was actually 22:16, a time I’ve never equalled since.)
There are lots of things I’ve gained that I wouldn’t trade for the finest education in the world.
Luckily, if the next seven months go right I’ll get an education too.
I’m really looking forward to going to school again which is a considerable improvement over my attitude towards college at this time last year. Last year the thought of four more years of school made me sick.
The weather here is just like the 4th of July back home. It’s about 100 degrees, with a light blue sky and powder puff clouds.
I finally found out where Nha Trang is. (Where family friend John Dietrich was based as an Army chopper pilot.) It’s way the hell down by Cam Ranh Bay. I don’t think it will be too hard to get there. It should be right near Highway One which is about 100 yards from where I’m sitting now.
I’m going to try asking the Captain for a walking chit as soon as Crazy and Clem get back from R+R.
Our haven site today is “The Rice Factory.” It’s a rice mill beside the Thanh Quit River and about 100 yards from the highway bridge. There is a company of ARVN soldiers stationed at the bridge to keep it from being blown up by the VC. These ARVNs pass their time on guard duty by shooting at leaves and twigs in the river. Most of the shots ricochet and a good percentage of these ricochets fly past “The Rice Factory.” I’ve never heard of anyone killed by this since I’ve been here but bullets have come within spitting distance of me and others here at least a dozen times.
About 30 minutes ago I got sick and tired of bullets whizzing around my ears and fired a couple back at the pinhead shooting off of the bridge. I put my shots close enough to his ears that he knew he was being shot at. He hasn’t been shooting since, and I hope I scared 30 yrs. off of his life.
I’ve gotten the attitude that anyone shooting at me; direct or indirect, friend or foe, is going to get shot at himself. If he continues to shoot at me, he’s going to wind up dead.
Company headquarters sent us hamburgers, baked beans and buttered cauliflower in honor of the holiday today.
I got a letter from Tommy Tadtman today. I really like Tommy but, honestly, I’d rather hear from Steve. Steve was my best friend for a long time until he started in on the “hippie” thing and I went the other way.
The last time I saw Steve he was experimenting with drugs. I didn’t (and don’t) feel critical about this but Steve seemed to feel that there should be a distance between us since I was a “straight” and he was “making the scene.”
I’m really disappointed not to hear from him. I’ve written to him three or four times. I’m really sorry to hear that the Dietrichs (John Dietrich’s parents) are having trouble with their marriage. I thought that something was wrong when I was home on leave but didn’t say anything about it. It would really break me up if the Dietrichs did something drastic (divorce?) because I’m fond of the whole family. It’s hard for me to take any point of view on either the Dietrichs’ or Reusches’ problem because I sincerely like all of the people involved. I just hope that everything turns out for the best.
I think that John should be made aware of the situation at home, if he is not already, but since you advise against it I won’t mention it to him.
Of the three married guys in my squad, two are divorced, and one is in the process. At least one of them would seem to me to be an ideal husband, hard working, kind, intelligent, with a reasonable and non-argumentative personality but his wife is giving him the deep-six. I don’t understand women or marriage, I guess.
I thought that Nan would get her way in having the Collie bred, but that’s your problem.
Well I’m out of things to say.
Enclosed is the sight for an M-72 Light Assault Anti-tank Weapon.
We had an operation in our area yesterday. With the help of a VC defector, we caught sixteen confirmed VC. We also captured 30 lbs. of explosives, several U.S. and Chinese grenades and 200 rounds of M-60 ammo.
A company of regular infantry and a Counter Intelligence Team flew in to help with the “op.”
It was kind of a thrill to see those choppers come down and drop a load of “grunts.” That’s the way the recruiters would like everybody to believe that the Corps really operates.
As a matter of fact, the Marine Corps is designed to operate that way. Attack! Kill! are the key words all through training. I agree with the people who say that the Marines are being misused in Viet Nam. The Corps was not intended for years of desultory fighting, but for weeks or days of contact.
|On July 27, 1970, CAP 2 received a “Letter of Appreciation” from IIId MAF Commanding Gen. C.F. Widdecke for our work during the operation described above. The general’s description of the results differs slightly from mine. But hey, I was there!
Nan has been telling me a little about her social life and naturally, my replies are confidential.
Don’t be surprised if my letters get a little infrequent and spaced. I’ve been finding it hard work to put down even a couple of pages to anybody. I’m about convinced that the distance between Viet Nam and America is as much mental as geographical. It took me about six hours, spread over two days, to write a letter to Debby Cope.
My interest in fireworks has led me to more dangerous pursuits. I’m now in charge of destroying all the dud ordnance we find, and any other demolition that has to be done in CAP 2. It’s exacting and interesting. At least it helps to break the monotony.
I’m glad to hear that the sailing is good on the city lake. I’m anxious to try it out.
Don’t mind if you feel like you’re writing trivia. I have to keep some mental picture of home and I really look forward to seeing those long envelopes in the mail.
I don’t think I’ve lost much weight, if any. I’m still pretty soft in the middle, but I don’t worry about it or what people think of my appearance. I really don’t give a damn. There’s very few people whose opinion of me means anything anymore. I don’t really know how much I weigh.
Here’s a list of what I carry and estimated weights.
1 PRC/25 radio -- 27.3 lbs 2 smoke grenades -- 5.0 lbs 2 batteries -- 10.0 lbs 1 pack frame -- 6.2 lbs 2 handsets -- 4.8 lbs 3 antennas -- 3.3 lbs 3 antenna bases -- 3.0 lbs 1 flak jacket -- 12.0 lbs 16 M-16 magazines -- 16.0 lbs 7 grenades -- 10.5 lbs 1 bandolier ammo -- 6.2 lbs 1 rifle -- 7.8 lbs 1 flashlight -- 2.3 lbs 1 green flare -- 2.0 lbs
I don’t know what those weights add up to (116.4 lbs.) but it’s a hell of a lot. I didn’t include my clothing and personal gear, shaving gear, writing gear, etc.I hope you’ll send me some prints of those flics I sent home. I’d like to see them and I’d like to send some of them to friends.
Here’s a list of stuff I could use if you want ideas for a package:
1 large package Oreo cookies 2 typewriter erasers (to clean radio contacts) 2 Instamatic film packs 2 mailers (to mail exposed film home) 2 1" paint brushes (for cleaning equipment) 1 hunk of steel wool (for weapons cleaning) 1 can lighter fluid (a good solvent for rifle cleaning)
Most of that junk is stuff for cleaning my rifle or my radio.You could also send me a 20 dollar bill if you are in the mood. My pay has disappeared like fog this month. (Hah-hah! Quite a change from the previous month when I told my folks NOT to send me any money because I didn’t want to be in debt.)
I’m sending my ID card home so that I can get one made with my moustache on it. They won’t let me wear my moustache back to the states unless it’s on my military I.D.
I got your package w/shake-a-puddings and Dum-Dum really enjoyed them. I also got a package from Tredways two days ago.
I’ll try to write again soon.
The flic with Crazy in the purple smoking jacket was taken when some peddlers were at CAP 2 selling stuff. They come around about once a month selling smoking jackets, souvenir jackets, silk dresses, love beads, sunglasses and headbands.
Crazy was trying on a silk smoking jacket. He was wearing shorts made from camouflage utility trousers by a seamstress.
The “telephones” you noticed were radio handsets. Monkey’s hair is short because it was shaved recently as a prank.
I’m now lying in my new nylon hammock made by a village seamstress. The nylon sheet and cord cost 6.50 piastres on the Da Nang black market and the labor was only 1.00 piastre.
Now maybe I’ll sleep better in the daytime. It’s amazingly comfortable, weighs about 8 oz., and folds up to the size of a paperback book. Naturally the military would never think of anything so cheap and efficient for issuing to the troops in the field.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I tried to make a guy keep breathing this morning just by gripping his hand and telling him to “breathe, man, keep breathing.”
He had all of his flesh blown off of his back from his shoulder blades to halfway down his buttocks. You could see his kidneys, intestines, ribs, everything.
I was inside a house writing letters when I was blown off of my chair.(This is an exaggeration. I remember hitting the floor when the grenade went off, but the concussion was more emotional than physical.) I crawled outside and saw this guy lying there on his back. A booby-trap got him. Then Doc and I started putting battle dressings on him, then Doc was trying to put plasma in him and I was sitting there trying to keep him conscious and out of shock. Every time a pain hit him, he nearly crushed my hand. His eyes would bug out and he’d make gurgling sounds in his throat. Doc says he’ll probably die.
That’s the end of this letter. I don’t feel like writing anymore.
E-2 Keller, G.
Dear Mom + Dad,
I don’t know why those pictures I sent home turned out so badly. Maybe the film was old. The last roll you sent said, “Develop Before June, 70” on it. The last mailer you sent didn’t have any stamps on it. I have no way of getting any stamps, at all. As soon as you send some stamps I’ll send you the old roll of film.
I didn’t know that the Hauers had moved to Chicago. I really enjoyed visiting them in Baltimore and thought Tom was a really nice guy. Are they the same Hauers that used to live in Winfield?
I won’t get to visit John. We are too short handed and I can’t get permission because transportation is so shaky.
I read about the regatta foul-up in the Courier. It sounds like a lot of pettiness to me. That kind of stuff makes me feel violent.
Oh yeah, a dentist checked my teeth the other day, no cavities. I was surprised. C rations are supposed to rot your teeth.
I got your last package of lemonade mix. I just drank the last of it. One other guy in CAP 2 really likes lemonade and tea. That’s Will.
Will is an orphan (I think). He lives with his grandmother and sends his checks to her. The only mail he ever gets is a letter from his grandmother once in awhile. I’d really appreciate it if you would fix up a package of tea and lemonade mix and send it to him. It’s kind of stupid for me to get a package every ten days while guys like Will can go for a full year without getting a single one. His address is:
Cpl Charles H. Williams
2nd CAG, CAP 2-7-2
FPO San Francisco, Calif. 96602
Will is the guy in the picture of the archway. “Doc” Doggett took the picture.
I’m taking all of my back pay off of the books in a check. I’m going to send the check home until I’m ready to go on R+R. Then you can send the check back to me and I can have it changed to currency the day before I leave for Hong Kong.
You should be getting a $500.00 check in the mail about August 27, you can send it back to me.
The reason for this is that if I leave the money on my pay record there’s a good chance that I’ll never get it. Cpl. Kubina left his money on the records and then one day he found out that the pay clerk had subtracted wrong on his pay record and he lost more than $200. Since there was no other record of his pay he’ll never see that $200. I’d rather trust my $500 to the US Mail than to some rear echelon office pogue.
Starting next month all but $50 of my pay check will be going into the savings deposit program.
I met a girl from Kansas over here! She is a Red Cross worker in Da Nang at the Freedom Hill Recreation Compound. I met her about 2 months ago when she came to 7th Company Headquarters in a Red Cross program. We got acquainted which is a miracle because she talks to about 1000 different Marines a week.
Unfortunately she’s going back to the States this week. I saw her last week and she said she’d call you when she got home or have her sister (who lives in Winfield) call you up. Her sister is named Schultz.
The funny thing is that I ran into her about a dozen times and we talked quit a bit but we never asked each other any questions that were even slightly personal. I know that her name is Marsha and that she went to KU, lives in Neodesha (sp?), and drives a Volvo.
I guess I did tell her quite a bit about what I was doing over here, what I felt about it, and what I planned to do back in the States.
I’m sending home a couple of CAP badges. Please put them with the rest of my souvenirs.
The papers may say, “All quiet on the Western Front” but people are still getting killed around here. A good friend of mine who lived in Gunnison Colo. was killed July 6. Shot four times in the head.
A guy in my CAP was killed July 18 by a grenade just after we moved into our day haven site. I was shielded from the blast by his body and a low wall. The explosion still threw me from my chair. (An exaggeration)
His back was almost completely stripped of flesh to a depth of 3 inches. I held him on his side while Mac and Doc put battle dressings on him. I talked to him and made him count to keep him from going into shock. He got up to forty-three, then blood in his throat started him to rattling. I held onto his hand and every time a spasm of pain hit him he nearly crushed my hand.
I don’t use those Wash-up towellettes much. Mostly because I never think to get them out. Dum-Dum occasionally asks for one. He likes the smell.
It’s harder and harder for me to write letters. I’ve been working on this one since 10 o’clock this morning and it’s almost 4 o’clock now. I’m beginning to feel like Viet Nam is the real world and the life I used to lead at home is something that I made up.
I have a stack of letters that should be answered but it’s slow work. If I try all day I can usually get off one or two letters. Even those are usually short.
I’m surprised how many people are still writing to me. Becky Jarvis, Carole Keller, Barb Fields, Linda Emerson, are all writing regularly. Mary Graham, Marcia Mandrell, Pat Converse, Tadtmans, Bonds, Debby Cope, Debby Hoffman, Mike Turner, Patti Walker all write occasionally. I guess Patti and Debby Cope write a little more often than occasionally. I’ve gotten packages from Marcia Mandrell and Tredways lately.
Most of my mail comes from you and Barb Fields. Barb writes about every ten days. I haven’t heard from Joel in about 4 months. I finally got a letter from Steve T., the first in a year.
Well I’ve run out of things to say so I’ll quit for now.
P.S. I’m sending back the $10. Thanks any way but I’ve decided that I don’t want to take money from you when I don’t really need it at all.
I want to keep my credit good at home for as long as possible and if I only ask for money when it’s necessary I’ll never be in Martin Taylor’s shoes.
I went to sleep the other night with my rifle lying beside me. When they woke me up for watch I was holding my rifle across my stomach. I was sound asleep.
Next thing you know I’ll be picking up my rifle and shooting it in my sleep.