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Dear Anne: Love Letters from Nam
By Barbara A. Whittington
Copyright © 2014 by Barbara A. Whittington
All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be copied, scanned, or electronically transmitted
without the express permission of the author. For more information, contact the author at email@example.com. Check the author’s blog at www.barbwhitti.blogspot.com.
This is a work of fiction. All characters and names portrayed in this story, or the depiction of locales, are used fictitiously. Any resemblance of any character or person in this story, either living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any references to specific names are mentioned only for the sake of providing a sense of reality to the story.
Dedicated to all who served in the Vietnam War; especially to my nephew, Mike Snodgrass, and to my brother-in-law, Paul Warren, who served in the United States Air Force, both stationed at the same time at Cam Ranh Air Base located in the providence of Khanh Hoa, Vietnam, and to David Hoffman, beloved friend, who gave his life, along with countless others in the Vietnam War.
Dear Anne: Love Letters from Nam
March 1965 South Vietnam
I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner sweetheart but it took awhile to get settled in here.
It’s hard to believe I’m finally in Danang. None of it looks real. It’s tropical with white sand and beaches. I expected rice paddies and bamboo, but not this tropical paradise. It's no vacation though, believe me. I learned that when the sniping started!
This place don’t look like home and the people sure don’t either.
We’ve dug foxholes, filled sandbags, and set up machine guns.
Right now, we’re camped just inside a fence at the airfield. My foxhole is banked by sandbags and machine guns.
The main line of resistance is held by the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam. Not much consolation as it’s full of Viet Cong.
I’m anxious to get started fighting so I can come home. Twelve thousand miles from home is too far for this old West Texas boy. Of course the luckiest trip I ever took was to West Virginia where I found you, beautiful Anne. I’m glad Buddy Worly talked me into taking that trip with him. Hope ole Buddy is as happy as me right now.
I can hardly believe my luck that a woman as beautiful as you would marry someone like me, a lowly Marine rough around the edges. The gold band you gave me is still on my finger. The guys here couldn’t believe it when they saw your picture. Oh, thanks for the pictures.
I never expected to miss you like I do, honey. I want to get this thing over and come home. The short time I’ve been here seems like months already.
“You musta held a gun to that pretty little girl’s head,” Mutt Jackson said, “to get her to hook up with an ugly farm boy like you.” He thumped me on the back and laughed. Me and him are both from Texas.
I can't believe it myself. I love looking at your pictures. My favorite is the one of you in the bathing suit with the little skirt. Mutt didn’t see that one. No sir. That one’s ALL mine.
Hard to believe that me and Mutt hit it off like brothers, him being colored and me white as a glass of milk. One difference - Mutt likes Vietnamese girls and I’m crazy about a girl named Anne back home.
If you were here I'd squeeze you tight. I'll be home before you know it to do just that AND MORE!
Your loving husband, Rob
PS It’s hot as Hades here! And I have bug bites all over my body.
Benny Matthews died today. He was a short guy with a big smile. He had something called Blackwater Fever. Never heard of it, did you? Tim Rush, another guy I barely knew, has something called FUO - fever unknown origin. It starts with a sore throat and fatigue. This heat makes everything worse. The good news is I’m okay. Except for the bug bites.
There was a fire fight last night with grenades and mortars thumping. The VC are here just not showing themselves. The Vietnam Army took some hits. I’ve been praying hard since I got here. I hadn’t prayed since I was a kid, at bedtime. Praying for you too.
I miss you more each day. Thinking of you keeps me going, beautiful Anne.
The other night after everyone was asleep I kept hearing someone sing, "Wake up, little Suzie, wake up.” I thought maybe I was dreaming. Turned out Mutt had rigged up a radio so it would play. He was sitting there like a fool singing along as loud as he could with the Everly Brothers. I jumped up and made him turn it off. Nothing like whistling for the enemy. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I sat up smoking and staring out into the dark night thinking about you and our future. I was thinking of the evening we told your mom we wanted to get married. I was scared to death. I knew I wasn’t good enough for you. Your mom sure wasn’t happy. I guess she expected you to marry a local boy, someone smarter than me. Lucky for me, you didn’t.
I love you more than anyone else ever could Anne. You’re never going to be unhappy. I promise with all my being.
Hey, Mutt finally got himself a Vietnamese girlfriend and he’s one happy fellow. He slips away every chance he gets! Glad I don’t have to worry about girls. I have the best one in the whole world waiting for me back home.
I love writing your name. Anne. Anne Dunn. Mrs. Anne Dunn. I think about our life together and the babies we'll have someday. You'll make a great mom. I feel ten feet tall planning the wonderful life we’ll have.
I sent you a silk robe. It’s yellow with flowers painted on it. You looked so pretty in the yellow dress you wore for our wedding. Mutt said you could be the yellow rose of Texas in it. I told him roses were your favorite flower. I can’t wait to see you in the robe. Let me know if you like it.
Honey, do you regret marrying me so fast? I know it wasn’t a church wedding like your mama wanted. I was afraid to leave without my ring on your finger. I didn’t want to lose you. And I love the gold band you gave me. Is your mama okay now with you being married? I hope so! I don’t want us to start out on the wrong foot with her.
The chocolate chip cookies were great. Didn’t last long. I'm saving the pound cake for Mutt’s birthday and the brownies for later when I’m alone. The soap smells just like you. Springtime. Thank you for the box.
Oh, Baby I miss you!
Your Loving guy, Rob
I can't believe it, sweetheart. I’m going to be a daddy in October. I'm the luckiest man alive. When word got around here, a bottle of Jack Daniels appeared and we toasted you and the baby until the bottle was empty. I got the last drop and that didn’t take long!
We’re in the hills between Danang and Happy Valley where the heat isn’t as bad. The nearby village resembles a town out of a fairy tale. But it’s VC controlled.
Helicopters have been flying us into the bush without much ground resistance. Worst thing is the guys have been dropping in the bush from the heat. So far I’m hanging in.
On our last mission we were ambushed in a small village. We outnumbered them and burned huts and all. I don’t let myself think about what happened when we walk away.
Mutt says these people are tired after twenty years of fighting. First Japan. Then the French. Now Communist guerillas. Mutt is a walking encyclopedia. He says Vietnam is the about size of Missouri and has tons of farmers. Who knew? Who cared?
Well, sweetheart take care. I'll be home before you know it. Home to you and our baby. God has been so good to me I’m thinking I might just go to church with you and your mom. That would make her happy and maybe even make up for me marrying her only daughter.
I can’t believe we are going to have a baby. A baby? Me a daddy! Wow!
Love and miss you precious Anne.
Your guy, Rob
The VC wiped out the village where Mutt’s girl lived. Not a word from her since. He won't eat or sleep, just paces and smokes.
Honey, how are you? I'd love to hold you in my arms. You'll be in for some real loving when I get my hands on you.
This place is nothing like I thought it would be. It’s hell. When I say that I don’t say it lightly. I’ve never hated anything as much as I hate this place.
Damn! Mutt's causing a commotion with Red McCallister. They’ll end up in a fight if I don’t break it up. Gotta run. More next time!
God bless and keep you! Love love love you, Rob
You asked if we could live in a house near your mama. Honey, we can live in a refrigerator box as long as we're together.
In case you don’t know it, I’d go to the end of the earth to be with you. No matter where you go, I’ll follow. I love you and always will.
Poor Mutt. He's not himself and no sign of his girl yet. He still gives us history lessons though. We heard drums beating the other night and he said it was the Montagnard tribesmen. They’re people of Polynesian descent who the Vietnamese have driven up into the hills. They call them wild men. That was today’s lesson.
Gunfire woke us before daylight. A guerilla was spotted by a starlight scope. Afterwards it was quiet. No sleep for me. No sleep for any of the guys. Most of us sat up smoking but no conversation.
One of our guys mistook a tree for an infiltrator and fired some shots. Scared us shitless. I stayed awake worrying about myself, and about you, honey, and the baby. Are you sure you’re okay? Don't ever quit loving me. Please sweetheart. I couldn’t take stand it if you didn’t love me.
Take care of yourself. I love you and our baby so much.