Letters from Viet Nam, 4

PersonalRog base training photo

24 June 70

Dear Married Kid Brudder,

Thanks for the happy birthday letter & tell the folks thanks for the package. Everything arrived in great shape. Naturally the boys threw a wild part for me, & I got drunk as a skunk.

Ya know, at times I’m so dumb. Over a week ago, I wrote to you but forgot to send it. Duh. So you’ll get it after this one. You can’t miss it, ‘cos it’s got one of my “true adventure” stories in it. But for that matter, so does this one.

Today, me & a good buddy of mine, Gale Hanten, were supposed to sky up for a 7 day leave together. We were going to Bangkok, Thailand for a wondrous wenching & wine drinking bout. Never happen, G.I. Mainly ‘cos we’ve both been in the Hospital since yesterday.

He caught a chunk of grenade with his head. But it was small, it only took three stitches to patch him up. He’s alright though. I got hit in the right leg. I’ve also got 47 stitches in that thar leg. We were sittin’ on an L.Z. (landing zone) at the time in our ship. There was tall grass all around. All of a sudden this one lone gook jumps up about five feet in front of me & stabs me with his bayonet. Fortunately, he tripped over the landing skid, or he probably would have got my head! Boy, was I surprised when he stabbed me! I didn’t know what to think. But when he pulled it out for another try, well, I just knew the folks didn’t need my insurance money that bad! So I shot him in the god-damn head with my M-16. Twenty rounds right through the mother-fuckin’ skull at a range of three feet! Figured I owed it to myself. His friggin’ head fell apart like a watermelon.

So here I am with two weeks to do layin’ on my hairy ass. They won’t even let me get up. They’ve  got me so doped up with pain-killers, I doubt if I could get up!

Last night a few of the boys dropped in & gave me some smokes and a few beers. It’s nice to know ya got real friends.

So how’s married life treatin’ ya? Is it as good as you thought? If you have any problems, just ask the old Professor, here. Fix ya right up. Well, I gotta crash for now. More next time. Your brudder, Rog

Rog said later that most of his helicopter missions flew to support Marines who were fighting very close to the border between North and South Vietnam, just north of Quang Tri Province. They used a lot of Agent Orange defoliant there. That was the last letter I got from Rog from Vietnam. After he got home, after he mustered out, the Army gave Rog a choice of vocational schools so he could return to normal life. He received training in “waste water management” at a Florida school, met and married Maureen, and spent the next 30 years as a water treatment operator working in Palo Alto, California with his beloved “Mo”. Rog died suddenly in 2000 at the age of 52. Mo died shortly thereafter.

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