Rick Holt's Adventures in Vietnam
Letters Home from Vietnam, 1971
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Return to my Vietnam Letters page
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Long Thanh North
November 24, 1971
This is a letter that has been perfected over the years by GI's in Vietnam. It seems to fit the situation pretty well. Consider it your 30 day warning.
In the near future the undersigned individual will once again be in your midst, dehydrated but happy, to resume his place in the "World." In making your joyous preparations to welcome him back into organized society, you might take certain steps to make allowances for the tropical environment which has been his home for the past 11 months. In other words he might be a little Asiatic from Vietnamesitis or overseasitis and should be handled with extreme care. A little time in the "World" will cure things however.
Therefore, show no surprise if he looks for his steel pot when offered a chair, insists on carrying his own tin can to the dinner table, or wakes you up in the middle of the night for guard duty. Keep cool if he pours gravy on his dessert or mixes peaches with his mashed potatoes. Take it with a smile when he insists on digging up the back yard for his foxhole. Be tolerant when he takes his blanket off the bed and puts it on the floor to sleep on.
Abstain from saying anything about C-rations, Monday's malaria pills, fried rice, or Frescas. After all, this has been his life. Also if it should start to rain, don't be surprised if he starts looking for a flat place to build his hooch.
When in his daily conversations he utters such things as "Xin Loi", "Choi oi", "Te te", "Be coup", "Same, Same", just be patient. Simply stay calm if by some chance he utters "Number 10", because it means nothing more than bad news.
Don't let his colorful descriptive vocabulary surprise you, and don't let it shake you up if he picks up the phone and yells "this is Gear Ocean, go" or "Send me your sitrep", "I've got you Lima Charles", "Hotel, mike" "This is Satellite triple zero, over" and for goodbye "Rodger, out."
Pretend not to notice if at a restaurant he calls the waitress "momma-san" or uses the floor for an ashtray. He will probably keep listening to AFVN for his favorite "Homeward Bound" and he will be baffled by the choice of radio stations. If he does, comfort him, for he is still reminiscing.
Above all keep in mind that beneath that tanned and rugged exterior there is a heart of gold. Treat him with kindness, tolerance and tender loving care, and you will soon find him to be the same happy go lucky guy you knew him to be.
Last but not least fill the refrigerator, get the civvies out of mothballs and fill the car with gas.
Because the kid is coming home....
(You can read my mom's response to this letter here)
(read the next letter home)