SAIGON: CAPITOL CITY OF SOUTH VIETNAM
Cu-Chi, Monday, April 7, Midnight:
Well it's late again and I'm still trying to do six things before I go to bed. The gunships are working-out over by the perimeter with rockets and mini-guns. Quite a show! I was standing outside watching for a few minutes talking to the night cook and my LRRP buddy. It's like watching a war movie except you can't leave and go home.
And now for my trip to Saigon. I took my first helicopter ride this morning and loved it. I must get my license and take you up, it's fantastic. No feeling of motion up or down, just a gentle vibration and the rhythm of the rotor blades. I really loved it and could do it every day if they'd let me.
I got to see the countryside as we flew to Saigon via Bao-tri and some other dinky base camp. I can see now why they're fighting over the southern end of South Vietnam. The area is really fertile and must have been a real dreamland before the war scorched it and put shell craters all over. It would have been nice to see it before all the destruction took place. The people (peasants) live in any kind of shack they can throw together with some fine French provincial estates mixed in here and there. I just wish I would have had my camera with some color film in it. I bought two rolls in Saigon to take when I go back after my clippers next week. I just wish you could see some of the sights. It's almost impossible to describe. (the mini-guns are talking outside at 6,000 rounds/minute) I'd hate to be on the receiving end of what someone is getting out there tonight. It probably means that we'll get rocketed tonight since there is so much activity going on around us.
I'll describe Saigon tomorrow because I have to get some sleep now. I'm sorry I didn't get to call you in the Saigon USO today but there was a three and a half hour waiting line and I had to come back before my turn would have come. I'll try at MARS this week.
Cu-Chi, Tuesday, April 8, 6:30 pm:
I'm starting early tonight so I can get it all written before bedtime. First of all I got the film and vitamin C today. Thank You.
Today I only worked for about one and a half hours this morning and they shut the power off. They are switching us to a new generator plant. So when they did get the power back on they put 220 volts through my line and blew out all my lights and burned up my neon light transformer. So I got some wire and rewired the whole place so I knew it would be safe. Well, I didn't get finished until 3:00 pm and everyone wanted a haircut at once it seemed. I'm really in demand. If I was a psycho with a split personality I could make twice the money I am now. Didn't make more than $5-6 dollars today though, bad day but short. At the end of the month when I send you some money I'll let you know how much tithing I owe. I guess I should start giving the Lord his share for taking such good care of us. I took $80 to Saigon and only spent $20 on you. I'll make it up to you on your birthday, I promise.
And now my trip to Saigon.
We arrived at the Tan-Son-Nhut heliport and jumped on a motorbike taxi that took us to another taxi stand where they wanted $5 to take us where we wanted to go - the Cholon PX. That was too much so I told him I'd give him a dollar. We ended up at $3 but he wanted pay in advance so we got out and went to another taxi where we rode for $2 anyway. I left my clipper blades at the Cholon PX barbershop but the gooks don't know what a receipt is so I hope I get them back. Then we hopped a military bus to the USO across town to call you but there was a three and a half hour waiting line and we didn't have that long to wait. So we ate lunch at the USO snack bar (hot dogs and malts) and left. Outside we were plagued by the hustlers and the beggars wanting money. I told them to "Dee Dee Mau" which means get out of here in gook. Then we hopped the bus and went back to the heliport, glad to be leaving Saigon.
You know what Tijuana, Mexico is like, well just quadruple the amount of people and there's Saigon. I expected to find a shopping center downtown where I-could buy some supplies for the shop but all there was were tiny (l0') stalls crammed next to one another like Tijuana and millions of people swarming around like ants. And Stink! You wouldn't believe how bad that place smells. I really wanted to go back to Cu-Chi where it was safe. The people all own motorbikes like my Honda 50 but they use them for everything from hauling 4-5 people to carrying goods and steel. It's really unbelievable how bad the traffic is. I only saw about 2 or 3 stoplights in the whole city. The rest of the time it's like playing dodge-ums with real cars. I was amazed that anyone survived to get old. There are no lines in the streets and if it's clear on the left you go and worry about getting back when someone comes. You remember that Tijuana Taxi we took back to the gate? Well the one I took in Saigon was worse, if that's possible.
Oh yes, I found the South Vietnamese army. They're stationed in Saigon and own every other building there. They don't have any troops in the field, just in Saigon playing.I guess I shouldn't be too hard on them, after all it is only their country. What the hell.
Pix called again last night and is coming up next week sometime. He's lonesome and wants me to go on R and R with him but I told him I was headed for Hawaii to visit my lover. He didn't see why I wanted to, after all he doesn't even have a wife anymore. I think he misses it though. He sees how happy we are and it makes him jealous.
I know Larry and Roberta have birthdays this month but I don't know the dates. I think Larry's is on the 16th and Roberta's is the 21st or so. So that's when I'll send them and hope for the best.
I sent Larry and Barbara's china order in to Japan today so it ought to get there sometime next month or so. I sent it to Larry's apartment. I hope that's where they live.
I sent off a few goodies to you today including another poncho liner. So if they make you open either one think of something. If they don't fit you, you can alter them as you like because the gooks are all real small and large sizes are hard to get.
I have some more stuff to send you if I can find a box tonight somewhere.
I'm just laying here on my bed listening to FM music as I write. A cool, gentle breeze is blowing through the screen and feels good.
I was sorry to hear about your uncle but I guess it was good for you to attend a funeral just to see what it was like. I went to so many that they lost meaning. Of course it wasn't anyone I knew. If anyone I knew died I'd probably crack up and go into a retreat. Especially someone out of our family. Better not talked about, but if it ever should happen phone the Red Cross as soon as you can and they'll let me know.
I guess I'll wrap your goodies so I can send them off and go to bed early. I'm on stand-by at the MARS station so if they make contact they'll phone me and I can call you. I wish I could have done it in Saigon because there I can tell you all about Cu-Chi and here I can't because they won't allow any military information whatsoever. I hope I can call you tonight.
That's all for now. I miss you.
p.s. Kiss my big girls for me!
p.s.s. just put APO S.F. 96225 on the letters. You don't need San Francisco, Calif.
Cu-Chi, Wednesday, April 9, 9:45 pm:
The news tonight speaks of troops going home in two months or so. I hope it's us. Of course I'd be out of a job then and have to go back to work as a mortar man. I'll never go back to meetings even if they threaten me with the draft. But anyway, I hope we pull out to Hawaii like the rumors say.
This is the second night I've put myself on standby at the MARS station. I hope they get through 'cause I sure would like to hear you talk to me again. I got the wallet picture of us tonight and just stared and stared at you, trying to remember what you were like.
The phone just rang and my heart started jumping because I thought it was my call to you going through. What a disappointment when it was only a wrong number.
I got a letter from Jim and Ilene McGregor tonight. They're moving to Seattle soon where Jim is going to study to become a bank examiner. I'll wait to send them a wedding gift until they're settled.
The thought of pulling out soon makes me sad that I won't be able to buy you all the things I planned but I guess being near you is worth anything. No matter what -home for Christmas!
It sure was a busy day at the barbershop today. I've been closed for two and a half days so they all came in today it seemed. So after supper I went over to the pool and took a refreshing swim. The water was a relaxing luke warm and felt, oh, so good.
Well, there just isn't much to report today. The only thing important is that I love you more than the Pope loves gold.
A grasshopper just hopped around my body. The bugs here are definitely very bold. Two big rats jumped out in front of me tonight and scared me half to death. I guess they were playing tag or something.
p.s. I sure could use my watch. The other one quit on me.
Cu-Chi, Thursday, April l0, 9:30 pm:
It seems like I dreamed I called you at 5:00 am this morning and heard your sweet voice say, "I love you." I just can't believe it really happened except that it's all I've thought about all day. I was so glad that my call went through I almost forgot to tell you I loved you, but I did at the very end. I hope you heard it.
I called MARS last night and asked to be put on standby. So at 3:00 am this morning they called to see if I was still here. Then at 4:30 am they called again to tell me to standby. Then at 5:00 am or so they put the call through and there you were, so happy sounding.
When they called at 3:00 am to see if I was there I couldn't get back to sleep because I knew you were at Relief Society till at least 4:00 am Cu-Chi time (l2:00 noon Calif. time). So I worried clear up until they called me again at 4:30 am. They sure timed it right so I only had to call station to station because I remembered Wednesday was Mom's bridge day and she'd be gone.
Anyway, I'm so glad I got to talk to you even if I forgot what to say. It seems that all I ever do is ask for things every time I call or write. Well, I guess I do, but it's only because there just isn't a store anywhere around here. And besides I enjoy getting packages from you.
I need some "liquid wrench" to take apart my AK 47 so I can send it home in small pieces. The silkscreen stuff is to make some tee shirts for the different units around here that fly choppers, etc. The picture of you is for my wall so I can look at you all day and ask myself why I ever left you.
It was busy again today but it went fast and after supper I went swimming again. I got too much water up my nose and it infected my sinuses. You know, in some ways I have it pretty good, even better than you think. I get off at 5:00 pm and change into my Bermudas, go swimming, come back and go to a movie or watch TV while drinking cold sodas. It sure doesn't seem like any war movie I've ever seen. I don't feel so bad about missing the action now as I first did. I see these guys coming in from the field all shot up and blown apart and I don't even want to get near them until they are cleaned up. I sure must have been a good spirit in heaven or something. I don't deserve the special treatment the Lord gives me.
The bangs and booms going on around me seem less frightening now than they did a week ago. I just hope they stay as far away as they have been.
All my prayers and dreams go with you always. May God keep our love alive for eternity.
p.s. Let me know if you have to open any of the packages sent you.
p.s.s. You sure have a sweet voice.
Cu-Chi, Friday, April 11, l0:30 pm:
I think of you more and more each day it seems. This whole trip is just a bad dream and in the morning I'll wake up next to you and go to the firehouse as usual. I keep trying to pinch myself so I'll wake up but it doesn't work because I only dream I'm pinching me. Maybe someday I'll get it straight.
Today was one of those nothing days that is best when it's over. The only thing exciting was that I went out to the bunker line and fired two magazines of ammo to see if -my weapon worked. It does, so I sleep a little sounder, I guess.
I heard from Milt (Crowe) today and he sends his love and wishes he were there to deliver it personally because the company he's with is down to 46 men (normal l50-200) and he's pulling double duty. He's OK though so far. Pix is coming down next week to visit for a few days. He sure wants to go home. I think he'll get married again soon after he hits the states.
I hope you thought to take some pictures of Jonette in her Easter outfit. I sure would like one if you did.
I went down and bought you one of your birthday presents today and I'll send it off soon. But don't open it until your birthday so it'll be a special day for you.
I guess you'd better not send me any more books for now. We get boxes of them from special services and I take first pick.
Cu-Chi, Saturday, April 12, l0:30 pm:
Another week gone by and I still love you so much. I got two letters today and my watch. It's good to have my watch again. If it doesn't work this time I'll write the President of Timex and let him know what I think of his watches. If it wasn't a present from my wife I'd throw it at him.
I'm going into Saigon tomorrow to hear Ezra Taft Benson give a talk at the Tan Son Nhut chapel. We're staying overnight because the roads aren't safe after dark in Vietnam. I have to try and pick up my clippers while I'm there.
Today was a nice day. I woke up happy and the day went fast for me. I sent off a birthday present package to you that you can open on your birthday ONLY. No fair cheating (unless you can't take it any longer). It's only a little something. There's more to follow whenever I get to a store. It makes me feel good to send you packages and presents that I never had the money for before. It's nice having money. I'll have to get another job when I get home. I sure am thankful for the job I have. I talked to my buddy from the field again today and he just eats grunt everyday. They have contact with the NVA every day and night.
I'll be glad to get those tapes even though I have to save my money for a recorder after your birthday is over.
I guess by the time you get this the excitement of Larry and Barbara's wedding will have died down and everyone will have gone home again. I almost got mad that Bishop Odd gave you a hard time about your recommend. You pay your tithing faithfully and don't deserve any static. I'm keeping track of my earnings here in the shop and I'll send it to you to pay because we don't have the facilities here to pay tithing. So when I get home we can start going to the temple every so often.
I love you dear so keep safe and the same with the little ones. I miss you all terribly but soon it'll be over and I'll never leave you again, I promise!