Letters from Vietnam 1968 to 1969
On the Mekong Delta
January 27, 1969
This is the first of my letters from Vietnam that I want to share with you. I wrote this to my family when I was stationed in Mekong Delta, Dong Tam. I had only been in country for a few months at the time of this letter. The young man I had been who enlisted from a fishing and logging community in Oregon had by this time changed considerably. I was eager to stay connected to my family, missed them, and thought of them every day. I had just turned 19. Without "spellcheck" handy or better writing tools, these are my own words.
Recently, I rediscovered these letters and photos and memorabilia from my years in Vietnam. My mother and grandmother and great aunt saved most of the letters. I kept a scrapbook and still have it.
Up until now, I had tried to block out most of my memories of those days because like many veterans of Vietnam, I suffered from those times too much. I wasn't able to even look at these letters and the scrapbook until a few months ago when I finally decided to apply for the veteran's benefits I am entitled to. Doctors have diagnosed me as having PTSD as a result of my Vietnam days and I have been living with this for 40 plus years now. I have shared a few of these letters and photos with other people and they have encouraged me to put my experiences into a narrative, perhaps a book. I hope that by doing so I will help other veterans, not just from Vietnam, but also from the conflicts of the wars in the middle east who are trying to readjust to civilian life while reliving such intense war experiences.
I am looking forward to all your comments, especially your words of encouragement. I will be posting more of my letters and photos in future hubs. It is very exciting for me to do this - kind of like letters to and from my past!
A typed out version of the letter follows, in case you can't easily read my handwriting and all my charming mistakes! Dont forget to rate my Hub and please leave a comment thank you.
© copywrite April 15, 2010, Richard D. Patterson, Jr. All rights reserved by author.
Letter from Vietnam
Text of Letter
Dear Mom, Dad, Sherry January 27, 1969
You folks are probably pretty mad at me for not writing in such a long time, but I have been busy. The past 4 days I have been in Tan-Ann, it is about 40 to 50 miles from here towards Saigon. I took supplies up to there in Mary-Ann, that’s the name I had painted on my 314 truck. They needed a new generator for electricity, and poncho linens, and wall lockers. Tan Ann is really small its set right out in the middle of rice paddies, they have no berm but instead they have barbe-wire which surrounds the whole camp you can walk to one side of the base to the other in 5 minutes. There are 20 men from A Company in Tan-Ann and there are more people from other company’s.
On the way to Tan-Ann its beautiful country. First when you leave Dong-Tam the roads are real bad just like logging roads at home, and dusty, the dust gets in your hair, eyes, everywhere. And it stinks, like
a garabage dump. Once you get to My-Tho its not to bad. Driving through My-Tho is another story, people everywhere. They ride bicycle, horse-trawn carts, and little motor cars that look like paddy-wagons with a thousand of them sticking out of the thing. The people bring there food and sit as close to the road as they dare and sell it. There are homes in My-Tho they are really Kool, there really modern they are different types of homes altogether than are’s. After leaving My-Tho you go on a two lane highway, paved just like back in the states, its called highway 7 which goes to Tan-Ann all the way to Saigon, beautiful country side there is no dust on the highway, its really funny you are driving along this modern highway and all of a sudden you see a big hole in the highway where a mortar has hit it, it would be a beautiful country to see if it weren’t for the war.
There are modern cars in Vietnam too, I saw many station wagons, caravans, fords, etc.
The only thing bad about driving on the highway is that Charlie could be sitting in a palm tree and take a shot at us and we wouldn’t nowhere it was coming from but believe me we wouldn’t stick around to find out. And another thing you have to go fast so that if Charlie is out there he can’t have a very good shot of you and this makes it harder to keep from getting in a wreck. I had a friend of mine ride shot-gun when I went but we still didn’t feel to save this was the first time either of us had gotten farther than My-Tho. We followed a jeep all the way.
When I get home I should be a reall good driving. If you’ve ever drove through Tan-Ann it’s a Miracle, there are so many people I saw four accidents that day. I will send you folks a lot of pictures when I get paid.
I am listening to the radio there playing Soul Street it’s a neat song. Sherry have you
Heard “I Started a Joke” by the B.Gee’s that is sure a cool song. I’ll tell you my favorite top ten songs = “Crimson & Clover”, “Stand By Your Man”, (by Tammy Wynet), “I
Started a Joke”, “Hooked on a Feelin”, “Harper Valley P.T.A.”, “Love Child” by the Supremes, “California Soul”, “Hangem High”, “Baby Lets Wate”, “Soul Strut” I listen to the music while working and then at night I turn on my tape deck and listen to you folks and Charlie Pride, Jim Reeves, Sandy Posey, and Tammy Wynet.
My hair is getting so blonde that its almost white and I am getting more sun tanned each day, I’ll really look funny when I get home I haven’t been drinking very much I can’t stand to drink beer but its cold and anything is better than drinking this water over here. We have a big barbecue about two times a month and this is when I usually drink a little. I got a better mattress for my bunk and I can sleep a lot better now, when I get home you folks will have to put up with me for awhile because if I hear any loud noise’s at night I’ll jump out
of bed and run for a bunker. HaHa It sure will be neat to be back in the world, time is going by fast I work constantly and this keeps me from thinking about home.
Dad you should see my ¾ truck its really neat when I first got it, it was in pretty bad condition but I clened it all up painted it and it didn’t have a name, all the trucks have names, so I called it Mary-Ann, I’ll take pictures and send you folks. I am sure glad I got a license now I drive everywhere. If you folks didn’t get my last two letters which I sent about a week an half ago. Write and tell me so I can write again, especially about the Tape-Deck, and Amplifier because I do need the money. I haven’t got a letter from anyone for almost a week an half, I hope nothing is wrong at home.
How is Judy & the new baby feelin I am sure glad she had a girl it must be beautiful can’t wait to see her. Are Judy & Larry staying at home now? Has Larry got a Job now? I will have to send them something
for the baby when I got some money saved up. Dad did you fix the Falcon all up for Sherry? I hope so she probably needs a car pretty bad.
Well I am sitting on my bunk and see two flares in the sky its such a common sight I don’t even pay attention anymore. When I first got here I was sure that Charlie was coming when I saw a flare. Its hard to sy if we are making any progress in the war are not, this is what I think of the war since I’ve been here, The V.C. are weakening and fast we are finding many cache’s which drain there supplies we are also killing a lot of them. The V.C. want to talk peace because they no that they won’t win this war and if they get these talks going they can get something out of the North whereas they wouldn’t if they got whipped, the North no’s this and they don’t want to give the V.C. anything so there making harder at the peace talks. And the U.S. which is supposed to be the mightest, and strongest country in the
World is stuck in the middle and the World seats back and laughs at us. All I can say is that the U.S. better do something and soon were losing a lot of guys over here and for what, a police action, its not even called a War. I think we should either make progress at the peace talks are start bombing again, the V.C. are taking a great advantage of the bombing halt. I just pray for the best.
Well I’d better close now, I hope to hear from you folks soon, I will write more after. I miss you folks, can’t wait until we can all be together again. Mom write again soon I sure like letter from you Sherry & Judy. Dad keep care and don’t work to hard. Mom you should be pretty proud you have a truck in Vietnam named Mary-Ann, HaHa keep good care you no I miss you a lot, and think of you all the time.
Love your son
- Letters From Vietnam-second letter
This is my second letter in a series of letters from my tour in Vietnam. Most of my tour was with the Mobile Riverine Force, 9th Infantry Division, on the Mekong Delta. Its amazing, that when I read these...