Letters Home: Vietnam 1968-1969
Letters Home: Vietnam 1968-1969
December 7, 1968
Postcard from Kyoto Japan
Arrived about 20 minutes ago. It's 1:15 PM December 7th here, 11:15 PM December 6th in New York. I sure do miss home an awful lot, especially being so far away. We've got about another twelve hours to fly yet. I hope you'll be able to be proud of me by the time this year's over. I'm gonna try my best. All my love to everyone.
My journey started with a cross country flight to Ft. Lewis, Washington. Due to bad weather, strong headwinds, and an unplanned stop for fuel in Billings, Montana, my plane arrived some 8 hours late in Seattle. Try finding a hotel room at 4 AM. I finally found a cab driver who pitied me, I guess, and took me to my accommodations for the next 3 hours. I was to report to Ft. Lewis at 7 AM, but I had to call home to tell them I had arrived, clean up a bit after trying to sleep in my clothes, and of course, shave. The Army frowns upon unshaven troops. Funny they didn't apply the same standards in the jungle!
What a wasted trip!!!!! From Seattle, we flew to Anchorage Alaska to refuel for the long flight over the Pacific. The grandeur, quiet coldness and beauty of the Alaskan landscape were so wasted on a young man so caught up in confusion, uncertainty, and fear. I remember trying to find a phone to call home, half scared and half homesick, but everywhere I went the lines were hopelessly long, so I was unable to notify my family of my progress.
So it's on to the Pacific, the never ending expanse of ocean which separates freedom from captivity for we who are heading for a year in Vietnam. Mt. Fuji looms large out the window as we arrive at Kyoto, one landing away from our destiny. Again, the wonderful landscape and scenery are wasted, just another rock on the way to my final destination. I have the unfortunate pleasure of sitting next to a grisly old (probably 40 ish) E-6 who has done two tours in Vietnam. You would think he would be try to counsel and console a "rookie", but true to the Army way, he fills my head with images of a prehistoric lifestyle that I am about to enter. His ringing words of wisdom, "take a shower when we land, because it may be the last one you'll have for a long time", sound so ridiculously absurd that it has to be true.
Funny how something so insignificant sticks in my memory today. He was right!!!
December 8, 1968
Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam
I hope you got my postcard from Japan, cause right now I haven't got too much time to write. We've got a formation at 1 PM, in which they'll probably assign us some stupid detail. This morning I raked the area for 3 hours. Cam Ranh Bay is the safest place in RVN (Republic of Vietnam). It's also the crummiest, being almost exactly like the Reception Center at Ft. Dix. All you do is pull details, including KP, while you're here.
I don't know how long I'll be here, but it might be for a week or more before I'm assigned to a regular unit. There's a lot of harassment here, just like in the good old training days, but that all ends once you get to a regular unit. So I guess I'll just have to put up with it until I leave here. In the Army you have to keep telling yourself that whatever you're doing will be over in time ( Little did I know that I would probably set a record for staying at the Reception Center).
It's pretty hot here. I'd say between 85 and 90 during the day, but that's another thing you have to put up with. Running water & toilet facilities aren't too hot, but they'll be worse yet in the field. The barracks are crummy, too, but at least you have a place to sleep.
I don't know whether you should write me here or not. You could always try it & I could n