Letters tell of Vietnam War experience 50 years ago

Friday, August 17, 2018

June 6, 1968

Dear Mom and Dad,

I received your letter yesterday which was dated May 29. I appreciated the Kool-Aid you sent as it makes the water taste much better. Bruce, you better not send me your radio as we go through deep water and Iím afraid if I had it I would get it wet and ruin it. That has happened several times to some of the other guys. We have a large radio which we just leave back at base camp, so it should stay in good shape. We can get batteries in some of these small towns, but what we use are the big radio batteries from the army radios which are burned out. They donít have enough power for them but they play a transistor very well for several more weeks.

I heard yesterday that Robert Kennedy was shot; they say he is critical but I doubt if he lives.

You mentioned something about pictures. I donít want you to send me any until you have an extra copy at home for yourself. Because of the humid conditions, they are hard to keep in good condition. Darrellís wife sent him some pictures of his kid so he carried them in his helmet liner and after awhile they stuck together and tore, so that is the reason I want you to have your own copy.

Are you making a mechanical or gravitation auger to the large grain bin? How much of the crop did the creek get when it was out? It must have been over the fence posts west of the house. I suppose you have only enough beans left for yourself and a few others.

The night before last we went back to the same temple to stay. In the morning, we flew to two different objectives, then flew back to one of our old base camps and took tracks up to the old mansion where we had previously stayed.

Yesterday, a lieutenant and an E-6 were throwing a white phosphorus grenade when it dropped out of their hand and blew up. I told you how that phosphorus burns, so they jumped into a paddy and packed mud around the burns. The E-6 wasnít too bad, but the lieutenant will go to Japan and then probably to the U.S. He lost a couple fingers and burned his chest, face, arms and hands pretty bad.

Well itís 12 noon now and we are still setting on the dike by the house where we set up for last night. If we stay here for a few more hours, we wonít even have to leave today. There are 14 choppers and 200 men just putting in time today, so that should be costing somebody something.

Canít think of anything else to write, so I will sign off. I will write again as soon as possible. God be with you all.

Love Richard