Editor's note: When this letter was written I believed at the time that my
hospitalization was the result of "bacterial dysentery" - the doctor's
diagnosis. Subsequent research revealed that the likely cause of my illness was
acute exposure to the chemical defoliant commonly known as "Agent Orange".
My letter does not clearly indicate why I drank from the river. My
recollection is that I, along with several others from the 2nd Platoon, were swimming in
the river and inadvertently swallowed some water. The very day that we swam in the
river the Air Force flew a defoliant mission, early in the morning, along both sides of
the river bank. We did not associate the danger to our health at that time.
Although my letter does not mention it, several of the others who swam with me in the
river that day were also hospitalized. We were all evacuated together by ambulance
to the hospital.
Dear Mom & Dad,
Greetings once again from Vietnam. I am writing this letter from my hospital bed
at the 101st Airborne's Medical Dispensary. The reason for my being here is that I
have what is known as bacterial dysentery which is caused from drinking non-potable water
which is exactly what I did. I was brought in yesterday and will be discharged
tomorrow or the next day. Nothing serious, just shitting quite a bit and a little
This past week has been so confusing I don't know whether I'm coming or going. I
believe I told you but in case I didn't, about one week ago the mess hall moved out of
Bien Hoa for Lai Kai. When we got to Lai Kai, we moved out again, this time for
Holiday Inn. We stayed there overnight and then moved out to Harper's Ferry.
As far as I know they are still there.
It's at Harper's Ferry that I became ill after drinking out of the river that flows by
there. We were suppose to move the mess hall to Bien Hoa yesterday but at the last
minute they changed their minds and as of yet I have not heard when they are coming to
Bien Hoa. By the way, the hospital that I am in is here at Bien Hoa and only a
stone's throw from where our mess hall was set up. So, when I'm discharged I will
only have to walk a short distance to get to the 11th Cav.
Well, here it is, the day I am leaving Vietnam - April 9, 1969 at 8:00 PM. I got
my port call instructions yesterday. So, I got a three day drop. I don't
exactly know what the time or even what the day will be when I get in the states but I can
tell you this - if I leave on time (8:00) it is a 20 to 22 hour flight from Vietnam to
Oakland. It takes 10 to 12 hours to process and clear Oakland and it is another four
to five hours to Boston. Perhaps you can figure that one out. In any case I
will try to call you from Oakland when I get back to the world.
Dave left country last night - the 25th at 12:00 PM. He is also going to Oakland.
I plan to go to base camp tomorrow to get a few things straight with personnel and
finance. I will need some money to help finance my trip back to the world.
About $100 should get me home so please get a postal money order for $50 (two each) in the
mail as soon as possible. I may not need it but it's best to be on the safe
side. I would hate to get to Oakland and not have enough money to get home on.
This payday I will draw $145 plus I will get nine days pay for April plus April's
combat pay. I'll also get travel pay so I should have enough but an extra $100 won't
April 9th is only two weeks away. I guess I am finally "SHORT".
Boy, it really feels great. I am looking forward to coming home. As it stands
now, I am coming home the 9th or April to Oakland, California. I don't think that
this will change any. As for my extension I haven't heard anything on it yet.
It looks as if it is not going to go through. I will know more on this when I get to
So, until my next letter, take care and I'll see you soon.
By for now!
PS Don't worry, I am fine.
(Next Letter) (Index of
Home | Base Camp | Photos | Guest Book | Taps | Contributor's Corner
Honor Roll | Links | Feed Back | Reunions | Search | Site Map