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!

 

 

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