Phan Tiet, VN, 2 December 1969
I need the address of Roger H. and Ruth and Joe H.
I went to the PO after I sent you the letter from Cam Rhan Bay and got my mail. There was a package from Erin T., black & white prints at last, film and some creatively wonderful candy from you plus 2 letters and a letter from Donna.
I am cleaning house mail wise so I will send you a bunch of stuff.
Things are OK here with no big news.
Thank Karen for me for helping you.
Are they still thinking four lanes between Moscow and Pullman?If so, it sounds like we might be in for some progress. ;-)
I have been reading the book The Millennium which has a lot of interesting stuff on how and why the the Greek of the New Testament was not translated correctly. This whole process of learning, it seems to me, would be greatly helped by pictures, graphs and such. I have trouble with lineal thinking, that is thinking one line of type at a time.
Seems to me that an idea could be taken in at a glance in the overall pattern (like a flower, a map or a spider web) and then studied in detail in each part, would be better for me. This is something I am going to work on and think about when I get home.
Thanks for the film, candy, letter and thoughts.
All for now. God be with you,
Not much new. I haven't been able to get the mail from Cam Rhan so I haven't heard from you in a while.
I hope that people will excuse me if I am about 4 months late with Christmas presents.
Tell Karen not to open her package till Christmas.
All for now,
We have been busy in the last 24 hours.
Last night we heard an explosion and ran to the aid station where we were directed to C company supply bunks. We picked up one man with grenade fragments in his back and took him straight to the hospital where we found a second man in bad shape. He had lost both legs between the knee and ankle, lost three fingers and one eye and was generally messed up. Two more were brought in later no quite as bad. The reason for all the injuries was a VC grenade that someone brought back to the LZ (here) for a souvenir. They took it apart and were just setting down the parts, when it went off.
This morning one of the big twin rotor copters, that fly from here to Cam Rhan Bay, crashed, killing 2 and injuring 3, but those 3 were only slightly injured. It burned only seconds after it crashed, which was the reason for one of the deaths. (1 March 2001, The reason that it burned was that when it lost power or control or both, it crashed on top of the 500 gallon rubber bladder of diesel fuel that it was carrying, setting it on fire.) I took pictures of what was left as the fire crew worked on it. The pictures should be to you in a week or so. From what I can gather, the controls of the chopper failed somehow and it fell from 30 feet.
I got the package that you and Anne sent and am enjoying the cookie very much. Thanks to both of you for sending them. I will open the them on Christmas day.
I am going to try to call you tonight, but, I don't know how far I will get.
Send the Idahonian if you can take care of it easily, no big rush.
The sad part of this death and injury is that the enemy had nothing to do with it. Most of it, if not all, is due to carelessness and neglect. And, by the way, none of this will ever make the papers because it is not due to hostile action although, that is what he army tells the next of kin.
Must go to the MARS station.
God be with you,
It is late a just a note.
All is well here. We just took a few mortar rounds but, they landed a half mile from here and I don't think anyone was hurt.
I got your letter in which you said to take the book out of the package, which I did and it is OK. Thanks much for all the things in it. The creme has a most pleasant fragrance. I am sending you a package of odds and ends. Send or take Don Trail the book on Pentax. The film I am going to mail tomorrow has pictures of the machine-gun equipped airplane that was firing tonight. I will answer your letter questions tomorrow evening in a letter.
Must go to bed.
God be with you.
A couple of days ago I loaned a fellow the book "The Millennium" and I just got it back tonight. He was gone 11 miles from here and wouldn't be back for 2 weeks, so I told his buddies that I was taking the book and went and got it. I opened it to make sure it was mine and found someone had torn the flyleaf and page one from the book. I don't know whether they were trying to damage the book or wanted the 2 addresses that you printed on the flyleaf. So, if you get a letter from someone that you don't know, or a phony looking official letter, you may guess where it came from. I think you could tell an impersonation of my letters. Sad to see the book torn.
All for now.
May God be with you.
Bob Parsons is a fellow who was a medic here with us but, his brother came over here permitting him (Bob) to go back to the states. He is in Hawaii now, but the army isn't much better there.
Thanks for Ruth and Joe's address. I sent Roger's card c/o John & Jeanette, but I still want his address.
I am sorry to hear about Diane's father. I don't know what goes on between Erin and Diane. She has given me no clues as to what she intends along that line. Don't send me anything of great value or anything that is irreplaceable because I will be home in 4 short months or sooner. I am glad that the slides came out well and I will be glad to see them when I get home. Also, what I give you for late Christmas will be a surprise to you as the book will be to me.
For Thanksgiving we had great piles of fruit, nuts, meat, vegetables, eggnog, and trimmings, but they were prepared in the usual way.
The E in E123-45-6789 stands for enlisted (they enlisted me) as opposed to O for officers.
I also thought of Daddy when I read that address. I wrote to him about a month or so ago, but I have heard no reply or explanation.
Please call the troy bank and ask a few questions for me;
Both of these transactions are on the Talbott-Kirkwood Research account.
I hope the Huchinsons know that if they have one son in Viet Nam, the other won't have to go.
Don't worry about me going off to the Bible House soon. It isn't a case of "I may not go at all" but "I may go". Just something to think about as is attending 2 or 3 years at Illinois Institute of Tech., or 1 or 2 semesters at the U of Idaho in business law and related courses.
I really don't know how it makes any difference whether "fullfill" is spelled with one, two or three Ls. There is no other word in our language that even sounds the same. I am not criticizing your correction of my spelling, just thinking on paper. Doesn't fulfill come from the words to fill full? So why not 2 Ls there? I look forward with great anticipation to the pure language that God is going to return to us. Whether we assemble it in a scientific way, use Hebrew, or accept it as a gift from God, I don't know. I will spend much time and effort learning that new language. To spend much time trying to be a dictionary seems to me to be a waste of time, although I could use one more often and would if ti weren't such a chore.
Why doesn't Karen write to me?
I hope you aren't heart broken, but I lost one of the 2 "slides" you sent. Ha, Ha. ;-)
It is obvious that those rocks were inferior for your uses and God had them crushed so you would not spend any more time thinking about them (those that got crushed at least).
Did that missing letter finally get there?
I really would like to hear from Karen, at least when she gets to the Bible House. She will leave for there on the same day that I leave for Japan.
This unit (1/50) is over here on a mission of a curtain length of time and tat time expires in April. Your guess is as good as mine as to what happens then, but it may be different than the day-to-day drag it is now.
The money situation is interesting in that I was prepared to borrow some money from the Troy Bank to take advantage of the low prices in Japan. I am thinking of this money as a loan with a rather uncertain repayment schedule.
The call to you on your Friday evening came after 14 hours of waiting on 4 different days.
I guess you know now about the color balance difference between daylight and incandescent light. It also changes from sun to shadow and from noon to 7 PM. The PACEX didn't have a projector that would show both 2-1/4" square and 35 mm slides, only 35 mm ones. Does John T's projector show both 2-1/4" square and 35 mm slides?
I don't know why those slides were out of focus. Was any part of the slide in focus? If so, ten I just didn't focus the shot (there may not be anything close that would be in focus). I did have one roll that I loaded wrong which could be out of focus on one side (top or bottom) but not he other. I exposed one roll, you may know when you see it, at ASA 400. Tell me if there is anything good on it at all.
Look closely, I don't think that is my thumb. I think it is part of the helicopter or the door gunner.
I got an unexpected card from the Waters (DSA). Any relation of ours?
I have been brewing some wonderful ideas concerning the Bible, my tape recorder and slides. I can't tell you here for lack of space, but you will see when I get there.
All for now.
God be with you - always.
PS, Those exploding hot rocks were a picture of the charcoal fire we had at the party. Any others you don't understand?
I got a wonderful card and letter from Donna, but I want to keep it, so I will copy it word for word. The printing was on the card and the writing (italics) is hers (see below).
I got your letter saying the tape recorder got there OK.
I got a nice card from the Bible House, one from Loyal T., Curt, John T. and family and others that I have sent to you.
Was there an instruction manual with the tape recorder?
Did you play Kathy's tapes yet?
All for now. Must go to bed.
May God bless you.
Phan Tiet, VN, 21 December 1969
We are having a party for the short timers today, but it's not all that good. They are having beer, wine, vodka, Champaign, whisky and soda, all of which don't do me any good. However, I will get most of the afternoon off because of the party.
We got small bags of things from the red cross yesterday. Things like soap dishes, tooth brushes, washcloths, pen, comb nuts, etc., but the sorry thing about the whole situation was that the lifers that delivered the bags took for themselves most of the valuable items that we might have gotten. We never saw most of the tape recorder tapes and good pens that were included.
You wont get this until after Christmas, so ... How was it?
I guess I will sign off for lunch here.
God be with you.
Tomorrow will be the day before Christmas, but it isn't anything like Christmas. There should be music in every corner and togetherness everywhere, but they are lacking. The gifts helped, though I think watching someone that I love open a gift is a greater joy than getting anything. I am glad to make others happy by receiving their gifts. I would love to see you open yours. Did Don T. get his? I hope so. Be sure to tell John T. family and Erin in particular that they may use the tape recorder.
I have neglected, but not forgotten Anne, Galen, Aleta and others, not because I wanted to. There just isn't anything they would like where I can get to it. I will bring them something, especially Galen, when I return.
I got your 4 letters with Christmas cards today, thanks much! I gave one card to Roger Elliot who left for home today. He is a nice fellow, but we have no plans to write. Specialist 5 Flemming also left today and left a hole in our ranks.
Yesterday I got a package of three rolls of film back that I had sent o you on the 2nd of December and the Post Office said "nothing wrong with this package. We will try again." It doesn't make me happy to have air mail just wandering around in the mail for 20 or 30 days.
I got a card from the VFW, I'll send you the envelope. Is it from anyone I know?
Jim Collins also sent a card and a letter. I will send them along. I think I will send him on of the cards that you sent because he liked my poems so much. I think I showed him the poem that is in the card, though I didn't have the card. So I will send it. When I first read the note telling me to send the card to Chester, I thought you meant the income tax card and I wondered why. I think you meant the Christmas card that you signed. Right? Will do.
Did you know that all the money I make over here is tax free?
I just had a wonderful bite to eat. The sunflower seeds are not too good alone, just seem to need something, well I found that something in the hand of a fellow medic here that got a package from home. HONEY! The seeds take the bite out of the honey and the honey makes the seeds just right. VERY GOOD! Thanks much for the seeds. I also wonder if the seeds would sprout in honey.
I sit here ... Let me tell you what I see, hear and feel as I sit here.
First, what I hear, because that is so important at night. I hear chirping insects almost like crickets, an airplane overhead, the constant rattle of the Diesel generator for the whole place, radios, voices, and, at this instant, the PSHSHSHSHSHSHSH ..................Pow of a hand flare and an occasional POH.................CRUMP of a mortar or the POH.................Pow of the illumination mortar round. Now a far away jet and an occasional PONH then a long wait and a far away crump as the artillery shell leaves and finds its mark. The M-79 grenade launcher has an odd little SHNINK.............crump. Now another PSHSHSHSHSHSH...............FNNHP and so on through the night even though there is no enemy in sight.
What I see; a footlocker full of stuff that I would throw out, turn in, and mail home if I were going home, a green army blanket on my bunk that I am sitting on, outside through the tent door a bright flare - now two - float down on parachutes, the inside of our tent, the other bunks, a 500 watt light bulb that I can't use because the base is too big, a lone red Santa sock hanging on a strap, the rough patchwork wood floor ...
And what I feel; a cool breath of air (about 70 degrees or so) from the door and open side of the tent, a pressure on my leg, from the angle iron of the bunk, from trying to turn so there will be some light on my paper, a good taste in my mouth from honey, a pain in my back from writing on my knees, a pain in my heart from enforced loneliness, a longing to have a long talk with Donna and to hear some encouraging words from her, a tiredness of war and hate, cursing and anger, a thankfulness that it is all temporary in God's eyes, and, if I lean back and put my head outside, I can see a full moon playing peek-a-boo in the clouds.
And so, with that, I'll put this in an envelope and send it away.
Many thanks for the letters, cards, packages, thoughts, prayers and love.
God be with you,
Well, here it is Christmas ... It won't be really until I get home. We had the same meal that we had for Thanksgiving, not bad for the Army but pretty poor by home standards.
Let me in on what other people got for Christmas. ;-)
The paper that is in this envelope is the order that I sent for the tape recorder. I just got the letter from PACEX today. You should be getting the slide projector soon.
Did you ever get your birthday card? I did send one though it was late. I hope you have also gotten the $10.00 that I sent. I haven't gotten any small packages yet.
Where are you putting all the letters that I send you? I need one thing from among them. To get my camera through customs, I need the invoice that says I really did buy it and not steal it. Can you find it and send it to me? (7 March 2001, I need not have worried about customs. They didn't even come close to looking at what we brought home.)
I trust that you also got a Christmas card from (drawn by) Aleta.
She said the dog had 2 pups, there was 8 inches of snow and that they had made a doghouse from a 50 gallon drum. I'll send the card when I get ambitious enough to fill another envelope.
I guess this will be all for now.
May God be with you.
My R & R was canceled, not really, just moved into February so please tell Don and Anne I won't be going anywhere on the 12th of January.
I got some slides back today that I had sent out from here to be processed (they were Kodachrome II). They have a great deal of green in them, almost to the exclusion of blue and red but not really. They were of some scenery, the computer that Rick runs and 8 very wonderful pictures of the GIs watching a girlie show. I went to see the show with some misgivings and found that the GIs were much more photogenic than the show. With the fellows intent on the show, they were oblivious of me taking pictures of them. I used fairly large opening and a fast shutter to keep certain people in focus and certain out. It worked very well as you will see soon.
I am going to send them to Mary Kirkwood and she will forward them on to you. I am doing this because she gave me the film. I am going to keep the address of Karen's cousin and if you think it a good idea, I ill write to her.
Dave's drawings are interesting, but, I think I am missing the most artistic part due to the Xerox.
Chester sent his wedding invite - enclosed.
All for now.
God be with you.
PS, Thanks for the pictures of Galen and Anne. Galen looks so grown up. I guess a year should make some change.
I got your package with the three rolls of film, 2 books, photo album and fruit cake - all are in good shape and thank you very much for them and especially the books and photo album.
I had an interesting time this afternoon. I went down to an erosion cut that I had seen from the air and took pictures that I think will turn out surprisingly like those of Glen Canyon. While I was snapping away, number 20 came up in the little window and I thought I would have to put in a new roll. I gave a crank and number 21 came, then 22, then 23, then 24. At 24.5 it gave out. I thought for a while it was a 36 exposure roll.
As you can see, I changed my mind about sending the slides to Mary. Please see that she gets to see them somehow.
When I got through taking the gulch pictures, I walked out onto the beach and watched the 3 foot waves roll in. They looked so inviting, but I didn't have my swim suit. So I went in without. There were only 5 or 6 people on the whole beach which is about 2 miles long and for GIs only so I am sure I didn't offend anyone. It was so wonderful to play in and on the waves just the way God made us.
I think the pictures of the GIs are good. What do you think? They area bit green, though. That's why I prefer Ektachrome.
I got a letter from Karen's Canadian friend which was written on the 29th of May! Talk about slow mail!
Well that's all for the package.
God bless you.
Much Love John
We had a party today at the beach with steaks and ribs (quite good)
and a long splash in the ocean. It was very refreshing and I learned a lot about how to fool the waves into working for me instead of throwing me around.
I just (today) received a "Poor Richard's Almanac" from Karen. Many of the sayings are quite interesting. Did you have her party anyway or did you wait?
No, I don't think that I ever met Daphne Stephenson and don't worry because I hadn't heard about them before,
I am working behind the desk - a welcome change from the vehicles. They are such a hassle.
Everything OK here.
God be with you.