Our prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday was: “starts with cal.” Use a word starting with the letters “cal” as your prompt word. Have fun!
We lived in California when I was a kid. For first, second, and third grade, I went to Santa Margarita school at Camp Pendleton. We lived in military housing, an upstairs apartment, on “Wire Mountain,” next to a canyon. My dad used to go hiking in the canyon. I begged him to let me go with him, and one day, he finally agreed. The only part I consciously remember was climbing back up and whining because it was steep, and I was scared and tired. I can understand now, as an adult who likes to hike in wild places, why he didn’t want to take a second grade girl to the canyon. But he did, and I am thankful, because there are probably things I experienced still in my subconscious mind that are like buried treasures.
After California, dad was stationed at the naval base in Philadelphia where he became the brig warden. He said he liked talking to the prisoners, or rather listening to them which was what the training emphasized. Then in 1966, he was sent to Vietnam.
Yesterday, I finished reading Dad’s letters from Vietnam. There are 118 letters that I’ve counted. Some are missing, because there are gaps, but talk about treasures! He wrote about marking the days off the calendar and keeping track of how many days he had left, but sometimes he stopped doing that, because it seemed to make time go slower. He did a lot of different jobs in Vietnam. The first seven months were in Dong Ha near the DMZ which meant combat. He was a gunny and one of the few enlisted /non officer men to lead a platoon. His nightmares lasted the rest of his life. Then after seven months, he managed the staff and officers club in Khe Sanh and went back and forth between there and Phu Bai and Da Nang which he called, “the rear.” He wrote about losing weight and feeling good physically, except for the heat. Maybe the calorie intake was lower, or maybe he burned up a lot of calories being so busy. In addition to the club management, he did night watches, supervised security, and became the re-enlistment staff NCO. Not sure what all that entailed, but I’m glad he didn’t see much more combat after those first seven months.
The letters were often written by candlelight and are surprisingly sentimental. He wrote about the heat, the mud, and mostly about how much he missed my mom. I’ve typed them up and have been working on incorporating them into what I’m calling a “Fictionalized Family History” for my kids. Next week, I’m going to be listening to some videos I recorded from the many stories he told me.
Sunday will be my mother’s birthday. He sure did love her a lot. Every letter is signed like this:
All My Love
Forever Your Husband
I’m glad they are together again in heaven.
Yesterday a bad storm was in the forecast, but it never materialized here. Instead we had some interesting light just before sunset:
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