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...way past 20:00 Hours, 'Lights Out'. Around Midnight. I could have been Reprimanded for Having the ONLY Light ON in the Entire Airbase! So Let's take a Picture. The Calander, everyday marked off. 99 Days to go make Me a '2 Digit Miget', also known as 'Short'! Actually a Soldier is considered 'Short', with Less than 30 Days to Go!

In the Photo, I am writing a Letter to a Girl back in Chicago, whom I have Never met. (Not the person in the Picture, that's just a Pin-up). Every 'Circled' day on the Calander, is a Day I received a Letter from Her. Some days, there were 2 and even 3 Letters waiting for me at 'Mail Call'. Most Days, there was Nothing.

It was not easy for me...being a 18 Year Old 'Virgin', bunking in the Barracks of a Door-Gunner/Crewchief Squadron. Some referred to me as 'Virgin Jack'!

All through School, I was not a Bad Looking Young Boy. In fact, I was quite Good Looking. I was Very Attracted to the Cute Girls, I Loved and fell in love with each and every one. ALL would just 'Look Through Me'! I was Shy, even though I grew up with 4 Sisters...I never learned 'How' to talk to Beautiful Girls.

If the Reader does Not believe in Love at first site, Or Lust. At that time referred to as 'Puppy Love'...then no need to read any further, Please!!

Even up to and through High School. I never had a 'Girlfriend'. Was it the R.O.T.C.? Never hugged a Girl, not my sister. Never Kissed a Girl. Never Held a Girl, sure wanted too. Kid'a a hint as to why I needed Therapy, in later years. writing this Chapter is a Part of My Healing. Reason why I skipped over it, and at first was not going to write, as it will prove to be Most Humiliating. The Chapter will end with the deepest Heartbreak a young boy can take, and try to move on. As a Young Man, I was Never broken just, Damaged.

...to be continued:

...We are at Ft. Eustis, Virginia. Graduation from the School of 'Rotary-Wing Aircraft Maintenace and Repairs'. I, and others, had Just received Orders...No surprise, we are going to Vietnam! Horah, No!

Standing second in line at the pay phone, a friend is having a argument with a girl and they have broken-up. He shows me a picture of her. She is Beautiful, and I can't help but Instantly Love Her. I tell him so, He is frustrated and Hands me the Telephone, talk to her. Her voice is so sweet. The conversation was short, just a hello, how are you, take care. He hands me the Picture along with her address. "Here You Write to Her". I reply "she's your Girl"...but, I slip the address into my shirt pocket.

Weeks Later, or was it a Month or two...Not having a Friend to write to, I remember, I had a Address, and the photo of this Sweet, Gorgeous young girl. I have nothing to lose, maybe a gain. I write to Her, a Letter, 'Throwing Fate to the Wind!'

Very short! "Why Didn't You Ever Write? Truely Yours, Marlin". well how could she, she never had My address! I made clear, my return address.

It Must have been a couple weeks Later, I receive a Letter from her..."well, what can I say?" and what she is doing in her life, briefly. She is a Sophomore in High School. I NEVER knew at the time, she was only 15. Born May 7th 1955. I learned later, as they say...she was '15 going on 21'. Very smartly educated, and writes with the Most Exquisite and perfect Calligraphy, Scripture!! Mature.

We were in. I was pretty fare in English and My Penmanship was decent. I was going to do whatever it took, anything and everything, to cause Her to WANT to be My Girl. Every Single one of My Letters to Her, started with:

'My Dearest Darling Kathleen'

'Hoaky' right?? I didn't think so, and neither did She. I was all of serious. And much Later, her Father once told me "You really know how to put feeling into Words". He was a second world war, Veteran. He 'Took Me Under his Wing'. He Told Me "You Met Your Maker". I replied, You were in Europe for 4 years, I barely served in Nam, 1 year. You were Heros, You saved the World!

Kathy would write about Her school and her part-time job as a phone operator at a 'Answering Service', and her interests and dreams. I remember her telling me "the Largest Yacht is NOT owned by a Docter or a Lawyer, it is owned by a Mortician!"

She said she was proud of me. when I wrote to Her about the people we had fed, who were Starving. The Villages we had saved and the troops. Never did I mention 'Blood and Gore'!! She was not to worry about what I had witnessed.

The months went by, Kathy was so Kind and caring. Her family Loved San Francisco. While I was in Nam, they Came out from Chicago to visit SF, and stopped into Oakland to Meet My Father and Step Mother. The parents took a Picture of her outside of My House, to send to me. Kathy wanted to see my Bedroom...in the Basement. She was Impressed with My Bed, off the floor, Mounted UP onto the Counter against the Wall. My Father Liked Her and commented "If I was 30 Years Younger..." He Loved girls too, the Old Fart.

December brought me into the CO's Office. "Your Mother is in the Hospital, Orders are being cut for 1 week Emergency Leave, pack a bag and report to the Airfield!" A Stop into the 'American Red Cross' gave me a few bucks cash. The loudest flight on a C-130, with a severe vibration, No Complaints here, got me to Saigon, Taun-si-nuit airbase and a Jet Airliner back to the World. Travis Air Force Base.

First thing back I go see My Mother. I was asked to remain in Uniform, for Mother was proud to have son, serve. Seeing Her was Not happy, I was Shocked to see My Mother as a 'Vegetable', Laying on a Gurney, in the Middle of the room, with dozens of other patients all around the room. My Mother, laying on her side, could barely Breathe more than puffs. She could not Blink. I will always be ashamed of Myself for I could not even Hug Her. I spoke with her, she was unable to recognize me as her son. A few days after I left back to Nam, she was Gone.

While staying at My Fathers' house, for the week, the Telephone rings. Step Mother, "Marlin, It's Kathy". She actually called Me. Her sweet Voice filled me with such joy, happiness. We talked for some time, she Made 'My Heart Sore Like a Hawk!'

I wanted to tell Her 'I Love You' but I feared that would 'Put her on the Spot'.

I was back at Oakland Army Base preparing to ship back to Nam. My Brother Roger, the Nam Vet Medic, had 3 Doctors sign-off on My Mothers condition in order to get me the emergency leave. God Bless You Roger. He insisted that I could stay in the states, be reassigned and have all of My Belongings packed up for me and sent home. I imagined what could happen to a Akai 10" Reel to Reel, 4 Cannel Tape Deck, packed up and shipped by people who don't care. NO it wasn't That. I Signed up for a Year in Vietnam, and would be GOD Damned, if I wasn't going to finish My Tour of Duty. Honor Dictating. And I needed to be 'Vetted' for Combat Zone Benefits, in Later Years.

Back in Nam the Letters continued, as Not interrupted. I sent Kathy a Photo of Me, standing in front of my home, in the exact place she was photographed.

I wrote to Her, On the Phone, I wanted to tell You That I LOVE You! Because 'I Believe I Love You', she wrote back, 'I Love You', and more. That Physical Attraction is natural, but not the only attraction. We Stepped-up the Letter writing.

Back to flying missions, now with distractions.

She confessed to having a Boyfriend. With 30 Days to ETS Expected time of arrival to the States. I get 'MY' Dear John Letter, 'my boyfriend convinced Me, that odds are, You may not make it back home!' I am Trapped in Vietnam, until the ARMY says I can go Home. July 8th,1971. She ends by writing "Maybe it's best if you don't come see Me". This guy had talked her into Burning all of My Letters.

I'am back home in July 1971. With all the Saved Money I had sent home, I Pay cash for 67 Mustang GTA Fastback with a 390 FE. A couple of friends had found waiting for me, on a Used car lot, in San Leandro. I believe I Paid $3500. For Her. She was a Spitting Image of the Bullet Mustang. Leaf Green, American Mags, 3 Speed Auto. No Side Lights. Driving Lights, and Overhead Console, and Fold-Down Back Seat! She was Powerful, ran Great and a Badass!

With 2 weeks Leave, before I had to report for Duty at Ft. Riley, Kansas. Fred, A Lieutenant of Mine from R.O.T.C., and I, drive down to Santa Monica to start our Road Trip on Route 66, all the way to Chicago, at the Highest Rate Of SPEED, with a few stops!. Destination, 1232 Springdale Lane, Elk Grove Village, ILL. That Address will Forever be Burned into My Brain!

I'am Going to First Introduce My True Self to Kathy. I'am going to Meet this 'boyfriend', and This Vietnam Veteran is Going to Take His Girl Back!!



...to be continued:

   



   

Last edited by marlinjack

MJ, Nam had to suck!  I think very man has had a "Dear John Letter" of some kind.  I know I did.  Can't wait for the end of the story / Chapter.  You look very young in the picture.  As they say, we send our "Boys" off to war and if they come back, they are men with scars.  God Bless you and your service to this country. Larry

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