First Letters from Basic, 1968

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First Letters from Basic, 1968

 

Leaving on a Jet Plane

 

Frank had boarded an airplane at Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, in the afternoon of February 25, 1968, and my brother, Jimmy, was with him.
The airplane was headed for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where they would do their Army Basic Training.

He wrote his first letter to me aboard that airplane. He was worried, nervous and a little scared of what was to come at Fort Leonard Wood.

Letter Home

 

February 25, 1968

Dear Nancy,

This letter is coming to you from 33,000 feet in the air. I’m writing this at 6:15 P.M. from this sickening thing they call a jet. Let me tell you, it was and still is hell on this damn contraption. I am sorry if you felt I was acting funny, I probably was knowing me. I apologize for my actions. I have never been sadder in all my life than when we had to say goodbye this afternoon. I have already started counting the minutes and seconds until my 9 weeks are up and we will be married. We’ve had 3 of the most wonderful weeks that I have ever known and I want you to know that these past 3 weeks were only a few that we will spend together.

Nancy, I want to thank you for being you, for being the most wonderful girl I have ever met. I’ll let you know where to write me as soon as I find out where you can send me those letters you promised. I apologize for writing in pencil but it is all I had. Just remember the things I told you and remember you’re my girl and I love you very much. I’m already missing you. Just remember me in your prayers and think about me every now and then.

All my love, Frank.

P.S. Come on and smile!!! If I sound goofed up, it’s because I am.

There was absolutely no doubt that Frank was feeling lots of emotions in the above letter but when I read it I knew he was strong and he would face whatever difficulties that were to come.

When Frank and Jimmy left on the airplane in Houston, Texas, it was warm. They were wearing short-sleeved dress shirts and slacks. They were in for a surprise!

Frank’s next letter tells about that surprise.

February 27, 1968

Dear Nancy,

It’s now 0733 (7:33 a.m.) and I’m lying in my bunk half asleep writing this letter to you. We got to St. Louis 7:30 p.m. and took a bus to Leonard Wood at 2200 (10:00 p.m.). We got at Leonard Wood (Hell!!) 1:00 a.m. and took a bus from there to the base at 1:30 a.m. When we got to the (censored) base we were taken by a taxi to the reception center. At this time, it was misting rain and 30°. From 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, whenNancy Lou Henderson we got here, until 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, we were told what to do, where to do it and why in the hell it was that way.

The picture enclosed could get me 6 months in the stockade. But instead of turning it in like I was supposed to, I hid it when they checked my wallet and saved it. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT THROW IT AWAY, I want it!!! I had my 1st cigarette at 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, we were allowed to smoke only in the latrine (bathroom). It was about 38° today and it was cold and it was cold standing in lines and being cussed and chewed out for doing nothing but putting your hands in your pockets to keep warm. Jim and I were cussed and made run all the way back to the barracks while they (2 Sergeants) threw rocks at us for stepping on a blade of grass.

Everybody is on our ass and we have to do things like stand out in the cold for hours until they decide what they want to do with us. We took a shower and shaved a while ago, it was nice except there is no hot water, it is all ice cold. Well, I have to close and get some sleep. I haven’t had any yet except the ½ hour I got Sunday night. I want you to know that this place is pure hell and I hate every S.O.B Sergeant in the whole damn Army. As soon as I get my address, I’ll let you know and you better send me a letter quickly thereafter. Nancy, I miss you so much I want to cry. I miss seeing you because I have no picture to look at, only memory. Be sweet and take care of yourself because I love you and hope everything is alright.

All my love, Frank

P.S. How’s the wedding planning going? Say hi to your folks and Mark and David for me

Frank’s first week at basic training was really hard on him and his buddies. He had to send my picture home to me in his first letter and he was not getting any mail from me because I did not have his address. All I could do was read his letters, worry and cry in my bed at night. I was going to school and trying to plan our wedding but I really just wanted to be with him.

The next letter Frank wrote was after he had been in basic training for one week.

John Denver and  Cass Elliot
Leaving On A Jet Plane”

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4 Comments

  1. Memories…good bad and sad….

    • Yes, they are but memories seem to help us as we age to see how different we handle things now. What is important to remember and what is not.
      Thank you Kim for your comment and Gos Bless you,
      Nancy

  2. What a roller coaster of emotions must have been taking place. For both of you. But you survived, and thrived afterwards. Praise the Lord.

    • Yes Ma’am. We were so connected in the way we loved each other. Our hearts and souls were tightly entwined and once together then separated it felt like one body being severed in half but we had the constant connection through thoughts and letters.
      Thank you, Fiane for your comment.
      God Bless You
      Nancy

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