IT'S REALLY A WAR OUT THERE: FINALLY!

 

 

CU-Chi, Thursday, March 27, 6:30 pm:

 

I  got another letter today so it was a good day, slow, but good.

I got hold of a Polaroid camera for a few minutes today and took some pictures for you.  My other ones won't be back till next Wed. or so.

It was a real hot, humid day today and I must have lost 10 lbs of water.  I missed breakfast this morning because I was counting my money and couldn’t take time to eat.  Lunch was spaghetti and it was pretty good but when I got down to the peach cobbler there was a roach in the crust, which I just picked out and kept on eating.  But when the guy across from me found a little worm in his I gave it up.  I’ve been sustaining myself on your cookies the rest of the day.  They’re the only things that are guaranteed not to have bugs.  And besides that, they taste fantastic.

Tonight's M.I.A. so I can't go to the movie that is unless "Thoroughly Modern Millie” is playing.  I  still don't know what to talk about  Sunday  in  church  but  I'll think of something before then.

I  guess  the pictures  will have to take the place of words tonight because I just don't have much to say.

Take care and don't let anyone but Dada  throw  little Jonette  around.  She's too precious to have hurt by someone else.  I just wish I could whistle in writing so  she would smile for you.

p.s.        I'll  send that  china  off the first of the week for Larry  and  Barbara  so  don't worry  about   giving  them anything.

 

Cu-Chi, Friday, March 28, l0:30 pm:

 

I  just  got  back from the movie.   "Thoroughly Modern Millie" was really good and now Laugh-in is on TV here  in the hootch.  I  move into my barber hootch tomorrow because the other barber goes  home  in the morning.  He's  really getting  jumpy his  last few hours worrying that Charlie is going to hit tonight.  I won't lose any sleep waiting  since it at least would be exciting.  I  had  something  exciting to write you but I forgot what it was.

Thanks for the pictures.  Seeing Jonette  smile  really made  me  sad that  I'm not home.  And that toe shot!  It's clear you're becoming a professional.  Keep  those photos coming.  They mean a lot to me.

Ah yes,  I  remember what  it was that was important. Could you send me my barber box,  full of my  stuff.  Just wrap  the box and send it to me.  There's some clipper oil in the box or you can also buy it at Sears, Thrifty or  lots of other places.

I  went out looking for some of my home teaching people tonight and walked all over this place.  It's pretty big.

There was a lot of action today.  A convoy on the way to Tay-Ninh  got  ambushed and killed  70 VC before they finished.  I don't know how many of our men got  it but  it couldn't have been too bad.  There were 3 or 4 other firefights going on at the same time  in our area.  There  are supposed to be  60,000 NVA and VC troops in our area and 7,000 around Cu-Chi.  But they can be around all  they want as long as they mind their own business.

 

 

Cu-Chi, Saturday, March 29, 10,00 pm:

 

Hurrah!  Today was  exciting  so  I  have something to write about.

This morning at 0600 I was lying on my bed trying to get  another hours  sleep before I got up.  I wasn't really asleep because someone had just turned on their  radio and the six o'clock news was coming on when all of a sudden -CRASH!  BOOM!  KERTHUNK!  POW!

All hell  broke loose.  As soon as the first round had hit I rolled instinctively to the floor  below  the  sandbag level  to  seek protection.  The rounds (l07mm rockets) came in so fast and close I didn't dare run to the bunker  for fear  of  getting hit on the way.  So I stayed crouched near the door at the foot of my bed, waiting for a pause between volleys.  When I was sure the rounds had quit I dashed over to and climbed down into the bunker where  I  stayed  for maybe a minute.

The  initial  volley was all we got and that could have been from  11-25  rounds  depending on who you believe. However,  I  do know that within 100 meters in any direction of my bed,  about  four  rounds  hit.  I  even have  the fragments  of  one  that hit  nearby.  It looks like a half peeled steel banana.  Anyway I got all excited and my whole day went fast even though I was slow at the shop.

We had  four light casualties from guys running to the bunkers during the barrage and one from a guy  crawling  (he hurt his  knee  on  the  rocks).  So that  makes me a full-fledged veteran now that  I've  survived my  first  rocket attack.

There're  60,000  troops headed for Saigon and we're in their way, so they stop and pay their respects  before  they leave.  This  division has  really  been busy the past few days and weeks.  The gooks are  massing  for  an attack  on Saigon here  in the Michelin  rubber plantation and Hobo woods near Tay-Ninh and Dau-Tieng.  All the action west  to northwest  of Saigon is ours.  Things should pick up and we expect another rocket attack tonight.

That all happened at 6:00 o'clock and at  7:00  am the old barber  said his  good-bys  and  left.  So I am now in charge of my own hootch.  At 8:00 am I opened for business, at  9:00  am my  girl Lan Ngan came to clean up for me.  I took everything out of the little sleeping part and cleaned it  real  good.  I  plan to rebuild it tomorrow if I get the chance.

At noon I went to the PX snack bar  for  lunch because breakfast  at the mess hall gave me the GI's.  Afterward,  I spent $35 on stuff, including some perma press  slacks  and shirt  to wear to  church,  a plastic floor mat and other small  items  for the barbershop and me.  It was  fun spending money but I hate to see it go I'm making so much. I sure am cleaning up the money.  $13.30 today for  a  total of  $153.70 for two weeks.  Of course I don't have that much anymore but that's $153.70 I would never have  made  in the field.  And with  the prospect  of  eight and a half more months ahead - we ought to get out of debt  completely.  The most  I  can send home without raising suspicion is ~ a month.  So next month I'll send you it and spend the  rest. Sounds  fair doesn't it?  I'll even send home my combat pay, since I don't need it anyway.

Money is the least of my worries  here.  I  only worry about my honey back home and how much I miss her and her children.  My talk tomorrow is on Job, not good but interesting.

I have a rifle now and I'm terribly  anxious  to shoot somebody, preferably a gook!

 

One  of  the guys is going to get me an AK 47 tomorrow, I hope.  Then I have to figure a way to get it home.

 

p.s.        Keep those pictures coming, you big beautiful photog you.

p.s.s. How about one or two with you in it?

P.s.s.s.            Pix sends his love.

 

Cu-Chi, Sunday, March 30, 9:00 pm:

 

Wow!  Another  exciting and fun filled day here in the war capital of the world.  No, we  didn't  get  rocketed or mortared or anything like that, it was just a groovy day.

First of all I got up early and ate breakfast and then worked an $8.00 half day, getting off  at  noon.  I  took  a shower and put  on my new civvies!  Ta da!  A new pair of scotch plaid slacks and an arrow taper  shirt!  Man,  I  was groovy  looking,  I tell you.  And to top it off I had a new pair of thongs to go with my pants and shirt.  I was  really living - big time!

So  I cruised on over to church and gave my talk on Job and his difficulties,  which made  mine  seem minor.  Then after  church  I  came  back  and tore  the back end off my bedroom so I can extend it out a foot further.  Well I  just got  it  tore  apart and went out and reconnoitered some wood to build it with, came back and ate (corned beef and cherry pie  -with bugs)  and was going to start back to work on my hootch when a LRRP (Lurp) or should I  say  a  former LRRP came  by  and asked me if I wanted to tour the bunker line and look at the perimeter.  Of course I did,  so  I  grabbed my  rifle and went.  I was amazed at how close the trees and jungle come to the edge  of  this  place.  There's  no more than ~ meters  between the  tree  line  and some of the bunkers and all that's in between is  five  rows  of barbed wire.  I'm  sure  glad  I'm exempt from bunker guard.  I'll take some pictures and send you as  soon as  they  get  any film (color prints) in the stupid PX.

As we toured around he showed me the different spots that Charlie broke in because the guards were  sleeping and where  the  choppers were  blown up,  among  various other points of interest.  I saw some water buffalo  out by  some pond and Vietnamese working in the fields, etc.  It was very interesting just looking around since  I  haven't  been anywhere since I got here.

Anyway,  back  to the  excitement.  My LRRP friend was taking me over to look at an APC that had been hit  by  an RPG  (Rocket  Propelled Grenade) and machine gun fire, when we stopped at the helicopter pad to  look  at  a helicopter with  one  of  the  new mini-guns  on it.  As we were there visiting with some of his LRRP buddies, a LRRP  patrol  came in and landed.  They had gone out this morning and ambushed two gooks that turned out  to be NVA soldiers.  They  took their wallets and I watched as they went through them.  One had a picture of his wife and some  letter  of  commendation for bravery against US soldiers and an NVA ID card that put his age -at 18-19.  The  other wallet was  all bloody but contained  lots  of North Vietnam stamps  and  some North Vietnamese money with Ho Chi Minh's  picture  on  it,  plus some  other  little  junk  items  like you find in any man's wallet.  It was interesting just to watch and all  the time I  wanted to  grab something and  send  it  to you for a souvenir for my scrapbook.  They got some Chi-com  (Chinese Communist)  grenades  and some other junk that they carried. One guy even cut off an ear and had it on a  string around his  neck.  It was  a little ear and I felt it to make sure it was real, it was, still soft even.  Then we went  to the LRRP  club and had another Coke and listened as they told how they killed the gooks.

After that I had to come home and put  some  screen up on my back wall to keep the mosquitoes out for the night.  I did that, took a shower and then sat down to read my mail. Two  letters  from you  and one from Jonette.  The two you sent  regular mail were postmarked March  24th  and the Airmail,  March 26th.  So Airmail does come faster, at least it did this time.

 

The reason my letters take so song  I  explained  in a letter  on  it's way, but here goes again.  This letter that I write tonight is picked up tomorrow  afternoon  and will leave  Cu-Chi Tuesday morning  for Bien-Hoa where it waits another day to go.  So three and a half  days  are  spent before  it  ever  leaves  the  country.  But  don't worry, I write every night so you should get a letter every day,  and two on Mondays.

So another  chapter  comes  to a close in the life and loves of Sgt Jake, hero of Cu-Chi, barber to the  commanding General,  nice  guy  and all  that other garbage.  As I lay here on my bed, under which I put a board to save  my back, with  just the  screen between me and the stars, I dream of the past and long for the future when we  can  lie  together in bed and  call  this  year  a bad dream.  Someday, God willing, we'll do just that.

p.s.        The guns are booming in the distance and the crickets are trying to drown them out.  We'll see who wins.

p.s.s.     I  still  don't know how I manage to write so many pages every night.

 

Cu-Chi, Monday, March 31, 9:45 pm:

 

Today's letter was postmarked the 25th  and the  26th you  sent  airmail  and it came yesterday, so I don't expect any tomorrow.  I'm just laying here waiting  for the water truck  to  fill up the shower tank so I can go wash the hair off.  I can hear them doing that now - thank goodness.

Today was another exciting day but not  for any  great reason. - The day went  fast for me and kicked in $18.55 to boot.  It seems that I make a fortune but spend  just  about as  much  as  I  make.  I have bought some clothes, etc. but most of my money  goes  for petty  stuff.  Don't panic.  I still  need the ones you're sending me.  And anyway, I love you.

I picked up my pictures today and they  seem a  little washed out but better than nothing I guess.  One  of my friends from the 1/18th came by to visit me today and I've been visiting with him all  evening.  I'm trying to get him out of the field and into Cu-Chi.

I  also got  a  letter from Marlene but I could hardly read it.  Her writing was so small and messy that  I  really had to think  to  guess what she wrote.  Anyway, tell her thanks.

Pix called tonight to say hi and tell me  I  can't  get my  air conditioner right away.  He seems the same as always except he's getting to like this  slanted stuff.  I  don't think I'll get that horny ever.

I've  decided to send Larry and Barbara's china to you so you can give it to them.  I'll go and buy it in a  couple of  days.  The men got paid today and the PX was a real mad house.

I didn't work  on my hootch  tonight because  I  was visiting but one of these days I'm going to get it fixed.

(l0  minutes  later)  Well I just went and showered.  What a great  feeling.  It's  one  of  those balmy  nights,  75-80 degrees,  slight breeze  and  just  really groovy.  Too bad it's wasted on Vietnam.

Oh yes, if you think  of  it,  next  time you  pass  a beauty  and barber supply store get me a couple of tubes of lather soap for a hot lather machine.  It mixes with water and turns to lather in the machine.  OK?  No hurry as yet.

I  still  can't think of what to send you but I stopped by the Siberian fur dealer at the PX and he has  some  real cute mink hats.  I still can't decide.

 

 

Cu-Chi, Tuesday, April fools day, ll:00 pm:

 

It's  me  again and I'm happy as a cockroach baked in a pie.  I got three letters today,  dated  27,28,29  March.  I just wish  the mails were  always that fast.  I think the reason the 29th of March letter got here so fast is  because the  stamp  says  "I  love you" and besides that the flag is upside down which means distress  or help  needed.  I  only wish I could come and help you.

I'm  in the process of remodeling my hootch and making it a little harder on the roaches to hide.  I'm making my room a  little  bigger and building shelves and a closet, plus a trap  door  to the bunker  just  in case.  I  just finished working on  it  and now I'm waiting for the water truck to fill up the  shower.  Pix called today  and  said he's  coming up  for a few days.  It'll be nice to have him here to visit.

Oh yes, I'm going to Saigon Sunday to get  my  clippers sharpened and  look for a lens for your camera if I get the chance.  I hate to miss church but I have to get  my blades sharpened.

It's so  late  and I'm so tired I just can't think straight.  I sure wish the water truck would hurry up.

The time is going fast because everyday is busy although I do get lonesome for you.  I wish I had Jonette here to take care of but it's too scary.

I have to go now.  I’m falling asleep writing. guess I'll have to shower in the morning.  Happy Easter.

 

 

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