April 18, 1969
Dear Mom & Dad;
Well, here it is, my first letter from Vietnam. So now you know I made it safe
and sound. If this letter appears a little dirty, it should. This is a dirty
place. But it isn't as bad as I expected. I am writing this letter from my
permanent unit. However, it is not the unit I was suppose to go to. I was
suppose to go to Saigon but ended up about 50 miles Southeast of Saigon. There is no
big city or town near by so you won't be able to see where I am on a map. The unit
is an Armored Cavalry Regiment just like the one in
Actually, I am not too disappointed in not going to Saigon because this place here has
never been attacked or mortared since they have been here. Of course I will be
cooking here so I am pretty happy about that. I got to this unit yesterday.
Tomorrow I have to go to one week of special training before I can start cooking.
This is mandatory for all people who come to Vietnam. They tell me that the casualty
rate for a cook here is Zero. So I can just about guarantee that I will come home
all in one piece. I have been in Vietnam four days and haven't seen anything of
Charlie. I don't suppose I will either.
Let me fill you in on my trip over here. When I got to Oakland on the 11th (April 1968) I processed in that
day. Oakland was nice. No details, KP or anything. I left Oakland
Easter Sunday morning at 3:00 AM and 23 hours later arrived at Bien Hoa Airbase.
From there they bused us to Long Binh were the 90th Replacement Battalion is. I
stayed there two and half days waiting for orders to my next unit. That is where
they changed my orders from Saigon to here, the 11th Armored Cavalry but that doesn't
matter. One place is as good as another. What matters is that I'm still going
to be cooking and perhaps even baking. I don't know yet. I will have to wait
and see. Maybe I can convince my Mess Sargent to let me bake. Cooks over here
have it made. They are exempt from all duty. They just cook. Just like
Germany. They also work shifts - one day on, one day off. However, we don't
get every other weekend off because there is no place to go.
The climate here isn't bad at all. Right now at 9:30 AM it is about 75 degrees
under clear skies. Right now this is the end of the dry season. The rainy
season starts around the end of May and lasts through the summer (I think). I will
know more about that as time goes on.
I have only met one of the cooks in the mess hall. All the others are out in the
field somewhere. The whole Squadron has been out on operations since Christmas and
are due back in a couple of weeks and won't go out again until after the rainy season is
over. I might possible join up with them in the field but where they are due to
return shortly, I think that they might keep me here at base camp.
I am assigned to what they call a "hootch".
It's a wooden frame building (one floor) with
screening half way up to the roof. All the other people have tents but they are
building more hootches so in about 3 months everyone will have one. There is room
for about 20 people in one hootch.
When I first got here they issued me an M-16 rifle
with about 120 rounds of ammunition. I hope that I will never have to use it but
it's a damn nice weapon.
I have made out an allotment to you Dad for $200 a month. That will leave me
about $40 for myself which is plenty. $200 a month figures out to $2400 for the
year, plus interest. When I make Specialist-5, which I hope will be soon, I will
send about $250 home a month. That's really the only thing good about this whole
thing is the money. So I guess I can put up with this discomfort for 365 days so
that when I get out, I will be well on my way to a new car and a down payment on a house.
When the going get a little rough I can just think about the money Uncle Sam is giving
me for the "goings". Actually, it shouldn't be too bad at all. After
all, a year isn't very long. So, please don't worry about me too much. I am
quite safe here and am in excellent health. I really think I'm going to like it
here. In all my military career, I have never been in such a good state of mind.
Here there is no bullshit. Everyone goes out of their way to make it as
pleasant as possible.
Well, I think I will sign off now and get this in the mail. Write me at this
Sp/4 Robert A. Hersey
K Trp. 3/11 ACR
APO SF 96257
By for now!
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