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Letters Home from Vietnam – Chapter 11, Half Way Home

Being a lead team didn’t mean we could just kick back and watch the world go around. We trained over and over until we nailed loading every weapon with precision and in the shortest possible time. Before long we will be training new crews and certifying the existing crews. The new job sparked my interest but didn’t keep me from thinking about home and the things I missed. We all had things we carried with us and mine was a picture of my ’67 SS Chevelle. Every time I looked at it I would dream about those warm summer nights cruising up and down Whittier Blvd. and then over to Harbor Blvd. I longed for those nights again.

July 21, 1970 Danang, VN

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well we trained again today and all went ok. Our new crew chief is going to try to get us off on the 23, 24, 25 if not he said he will try to get us off 3 other days as soon as possible. We should be done training tomorrow.

Could Dad take some more color pictures of my car? Those other ones were in my wallet when it was stolen.

I haven’t marked a day off my calendar since last month. Time’s gone pretty fast recently. We got off at 10:00 tonight. We will probably be getting off at 10:00 from now on. There’s nobody to say how long we have to stay. Only when we have bookwork or a crew to train will we have to stay late. Three more days and I will be half way there.

 

The Office

 

My new job is so groovy. I actually have an office with a desk, typewriter, coffee pot and multiple fly swatters to pass the time killing whatever annoying pest gets in my way. I’ve even personalized my desk with a label removed I from a bottle of San Miguel beer, without tearing it which was some sort of sexual feat, and the calendar girl of the month.

  

July 22, 1970 Danang, VN

Dear Mom and Dad,

I received a letter from you today. Working on the yard sounds like a good pass time to me. Anything just to be home.

I’m in the office right now. We trained again today. After coming back from chow they didn’t have a training aircraft so this is why I have the time to write. We will probably take off on the 24, 25, 26. It doesn’t look like I will have to worry about my rash as long as I have this job.

I’m back at the barracks and its only 8:30 pm. The radio station keeps cutting out then next thing I know I’m listening to some zip station. I guess I’ll do some exercises and then go take a shower.

 

I haven’t had three consecutive days off since I arrived here six months ago. I can’t stop thinking about my car back home and the possibility of creating my own cruising tapes. I’m looking forward to creating mood music tapes for those hot dates. Maybe some Classics IV or the Moody Blues.

July 23, 1970 Danang, VN

Dear Mom and Dad,

I went to work today and finished up training. Dick, my bunkmate, and I start our three day pass tomorrow. I got a letter from AKAI saying that the 8-track tape deck was shipped. It’s for taping car tapes.

 

I remember how scared I was when I first arrived in Vietnam but now I’ve become somewhat complacent to the war and more interested in ordering stereo equipment and thinking about home. I know I can do the next six months standing on my head. What I don’t know is how the boredom of my new job is going lure me back into the action of war.

July 25, 1970 Danang, VN

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well here I am halfway there. My speakers should be home by now. There should be another package coming about the same time as the speakers. It will have the headphones in it.

Home looks so much closer now. The first 6 months weren’t that long and the next 6 months shouldn’t be any longer.

 

I wondered how many other guys from school ended up over here. Drop out of school and you’re headed for Vietnam. The other option is to join one of the other branches of service and hope you might get assigned somewhere else in the world. Either way you are talking about lives interrupted.

I guess my parents think we work together as a team with the South Vietnamese Air Force but the 516th Vietnamese Air Force Squadron operates independently of the American Air Force and they don’t fly anywhere near the number of missions we do. They flew the A-37 Dragonfly aircraft made by Cessna. It was a two seat, two jet aircraft in which the pilots sat side by side. Somewhat of an odd configuration compared to the aircraft flown by the American pilots. They are used as a close support attack aircraft that is typically configured with a mini-gun, rockets, napalm and lighter weight bombs than those carried by the F-4.

A37 Dragonfly

 

July 27, 1970 Danang, VN

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve got to go back to work today. I just got off my 3 day pass. These last 3 days really went fast. I took lots of pictures.

I saw Larry Lambert at the club yesterday. I went through high school and college with him. He came in the AF April of 1968. He’s leaving to go back to the States today. He’s been here a year already and worked in freight shipping.

He’s from Yorba Linda.

We are going to start training our first crew today. Charlie, my old crew chief, is going to be a number 2 man on that crew. The Vietnamese don’t fly F-4s so we don’t instruct them in anything.

What’s worse than a fuzzy radio is an F-4 taking off during a good song.

Not much else happening. I’ve got to go to chow now.

 

It’s well known that Staff Sergeant is the highest rank achievable in the Air Force without re-enlisting and I’ve already decided that re-enlisting is not in any of my plans. When I joined I decided my goal was to achieve the highest rank I could and then tell the Air Force to shove it when my four years are up.

July 29, 1970 Danang, VN

Dear Mom and Dad,

One more month down and gone. I’ve got to get up early tomorrow to take my test for Staff Sgt. It’s really stupid just like the AF. The test covers planes I don’t even have to work on B-52s, F-100s etc. and there are only a few questions on the F-4s.

I got off work at 6 pm last night so I went to the mosquito flick and saw “The Happy Ending” with Jean Simmons and John Forsythe. A good flick.

I guess I’ll go to the club tonight, they’ve got a good group. I just turned over the calendar. I sure get tired of the time dragging.

 
 
 

The Mosquito Flick

 

It doesn’t take long for my new job starts dragging me down.  I have one of the easiest jobs I could possibly get and yet I find myself missing the action of flipping the switches in the cockpit and screwing in napalm fuses or stuffing rockets in the pods. How can it be that I’m missing all the crap that fuels the war? I already decided that I don’t agree with the war but I keep being pulled back into the fray.

 

August 1, 1970 Danang, VN

Dear Mom and Dad,

Right now I’m listening to the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the College All Stars game on the radio.

Let me tell you, time sure drags with this new job. I won’t do anything today except sit in this office, type letters, read magazines and whatever else I can find to do.

Papa-san just came in to fill up the coffee pot. I don’t even have to do that. It’s getting cooler now we must be nearing the monsoon season. I actually have to sleep under a sheet at night but when 8 o’clock rolls around I end up kicking it off.

I can be sitting here listening to good restful FM music and leaning back in a chair but I feel like my mind can never relax until I get home.

There goes papa-san sweeping the floor. Just can’t keep a good man down I guess.

View the original article at Veterans Today

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