Guard Duty & Thoughts on War

Posted in Letters After R&R | 8 comments

Our letters were arriving from each other in the time frame that Frank and I had become accustomed to.  Thank God, the Doctors had managed to get Frank back to being a healthy soldier and he had been on an R&R which game him time to heal and relax a little.

Finally, we were coming to the end of September 1971.  We were both doing the best we could to make the days go by faster and praying that Frank would get an early drop to be home for Christmas.

The next letter I got from Frank caused me to worry.

September 27, 1971

Dear Nancy,

Hello, my Darling.  How’s the most precious thing in the world, today?

Honey this letter has to be short.  The lights are out and I’m doing this by a candle.  It’s doing a job on my eyes.

I got your letter yesterday saying you had ironed.  Well, you sure are getting it together.  Every letter you seem to be getting more and more excited about my coming home.  This is making me get excited too.  I can hardly wait. 

I love you in good spirits.  It perks me up and keeps me going. I just love you so much. 

Honey, I’m going to close for now.  I’m sorry this is so short but I’ll get a longer one off soon, I promise. Please take care of yourself and keep that love for me going.

All My Love is Yours,


No lights, what did that mean.  I was not sure but I was definitely worried.  Candlelight meant that light was permitted.

Frank would not write to me for three more days and I really worried about him until I got another letter.  It seemed like there was never a true moment in this time of not worrying.

You have read enough of Frank’s letters by now to know him and you will read, as I read that he was being very evasive in the next letter too.

September 30, 1971

Dearest Nancy,

Well, today brings to close another month.  Another thirty days seen, met and beaten.  I always love to see payday come.  Not because of the money but it brings another thirty days to a close.

It’s really hard to believe that I have 107 days left.  It seems like I was born in this army.  There for a while, it was looking bad but now I’m starting to feel short.  It’s a good feeling, it really is.

Hey, have you gotten your birthday gifts yet?  I hope they got there in time.  I ordered them on the 25th of August so they would get there in time.

The old world is going to be so beautiful when we’re together again.  All the love we have had to keep inside so long will just flow out of our hearts.  I’ll hold you so long that you will probably think you’re my Siamese twin.  But that’s ok with me.  I don’t want you out of my sight for more than a couple of minutes.  I love you so very much Nancy.

Are you sending me a tape?  I hope so.  It would be really nice to hear your voice again.

Honey, I’m going to close.  I realize my letters aren’t very long but there’s nothing to say except, I love you.  I spend all my time thinking of our life after we put this Army behind us.  So when I try and write it seems to lack so much in revealing my thoughts and emotions. So forgive me for writing such short letters. 

Please take care of yourself and pray for our day.  I love you, Nancy.

All My Love,


Frank was beginning to feel very depressed again.  It was close to his birthday and to mine.  Since married, we had never been separated for so many important dates to us.   Frank and I had not missed our Anniversary or birthday together since we married but in 1971 we would be separated from each other for both special occasions.

In the next letter, Frank talked to me about how he felt about the war, about a disappointment he had experienced, and why he was feeling so depressed.  In this letter, you will actually get to experience how he talks to me through his written words as if I was right there by his side.

October 3, 1971

Dear Nancy,

I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. 

I am sitting out in the boonies about 300 feet up in a tower.  It would be quite beautiful if I couldn’t see the choppers, armor, and the tools of war in general. The hills and countryside would be really nice to gaze at if it weren’t for the twisted dead trees, the shell holes, and the smoke rising from them.

You know, I have sat down many times and tried to figure out just what wars are for.  It doesn’t make sense for things it took God thousands of years to build and make beautiful to be destroyed in fifteen minutes by the hands of man.

You know yourself, I am very much for my country and I sill support it in any way I can.  But I also am for nature and living till I’m old and of no use to mankind anymore.  I also understand that some wars have a good purpose but I only wished that men would sit down and talk out their differences instead of fighting them out.

I don’t know what the answer is.  I’m so fed up and disgusted with this Army and so tired of seeing it run by a bunch of people who don’t value human lives (as long as it isn’t theirs) and care only about money and prestige.

I don’t know why I talk about such things.  I only do it when I’m so depressed or down in the dumps.  I’m sorry if I bored you with my caring on or made you depressed.  I’m going to get this depression off my chest now if you don’t mind.

It all started yesterday when a guy I know on swings came in who has 5 days less than I do toward ETS.  His original ETS was in January.  Mine was dropped from February to January because that’s my DEROS date (Date Estimated Return from Overseas).

Well, he came in and said, “Hey guess how many days I got?”  So, I said five less than me or 100 DLITA (Days Left In The Army).  He said, “Nope 10 DLIT (Days Left In The Army). He told me that a message came in giving everyone ETSing in November, December, and January, 90 day drops.

God, I was so excited.  That means I would have been home in 15 days.  So, I ran over to personnel to see if my name was on the list to get a drop.  I knew it was but I wanted to make sure.  Well, it wasn’t and the reason is my original ETS date is February. 

So tough luck fella. I should have known better than to really expect it but I did anyway.  So, therefore, I got really depressed.  It looks as though we’re going to have to spend our full 104 days, Honey.  Ok!

Alright, let’s get to some pleasant talk, huh?  Ok!  Have you got my tape yet?  I hope so.  I’m still looking for mine.

Well, I’m back.  Boy, that’s a long climb.  A dude brought me out some c-rations.  So, I’ve dined.  Ugh!  Chicken and Noodle, crackers, peanut butter, a can of peaches, and some Kent cigarettes.  Some meal, huh?

Oh well, soon my beautiful wife will make me some of her famous macaroni, cheese, and meat.  You know, I’ve been thinking about that for about two weeks now.  When I’m really hungry, I can see all the pies and food you used to make for me.  I just drool all over myself. 

But what I think about the most is just you.  How soft you are, how wonderful your voice sounds, how good I feel when you call my name or say I love you, how soft your eyes are when you’re looking at me, how soft your hair is and how long it’s going to be when I get home, how your body looks and feels, how your mouth tastes, how your mouth looks when you smile, how delicate your hands look, and the sound of your laughter. 

There are a million things I think about when I think of you, Darling.  I miss you so terribly.  Promise me you’ll never leave my side when we’re together again.  I want you near me as often as I can have you there.  Your undying love for me is the dearest thing in the world.

I’ve been constantly thinking of that week or so that we’re going to spend alone and the thought of it just makes me happy.  Because “You make me so very happy.  I’m so glad you came into my life.”  Remember where that come from?  Blood, Sweat, and Tears #1.  It’s a good song.  It says what I feel. 

Hey did you ever get your birthday gifts yet?  You haven’t said anything about them yet.  I sure hope they got there on time.  How does it feel to be 22?  I don’t feel any different.  Next birthday kid, you had better be ready because this guy is going to treat you to the biggest night on the town you ever saw.

Honey, I had better close while I can still get this in an envelope.  Excuse my depression but telling it to you has helped me shake it off.  Thanks for listening and I hope I didn’t upset you.  There’s no need to worry about it (as I have just realized) because it won’t do any good.

So put your chin up and smile for me, Ok? OK!  One more time, please.  All my love will always be yours.  God bless you, my Darling.

All My Love for You,



The above letter made me cry when I first read it and it makes me cry everytime I read it.  Not just because of how disappointed and depressed that Frank was but also for his deep expression of love for me through his descriptive words of me.

Frank’s words make me feel like the most loved woman in the world then and forever.  He had memorized everything about me as I had about him.  Those memories of each other would never fade, no matter the length of separation.

I remember where every freckle was on his body, the sound of his laughter, his beautiful amber eyes when he looked at me softly with love in his eyes, his soft tender kiss, his arms holding me warmly, safely, and securely, the way he whispered softly into my ear telling me how much he loved me and those big dimples that melted my heart and soul with just a glance forever.

In Frank’s next letter he will tell you what he is doing on his twenty-second birthday and his humor melted my heart.  Frank had the ability to shrug depression off of his shoulders and face each day as a new day.

October 4, 1971

Dear Nancy,

Good day to you.  Here once again to bring you the excitement, adventure, and fun of war.  From high atop the lush mountains and valley of the A Shau Valley, we will bring you once again the daily life of a man who is defending his country and it’s way of life and loving every minute of it.

As our story opens, Sp/5 Henderson is keeping a wary eye open for commies, who could very well at this moment be sneaking through the head high elephant grass.  From his tower, he can see for many miles and is constantly on the alert for enemy action.  With his trusty M-16, 43,000 full clips of ammo, flack vest, helmet, radio, comic books, cot, c-rations, flares, pen and paper, and canteen, he is at constant readiness for any possible aggressor.

Suddenly, he hears his call sign on the radio.  Base defense calling!  He answers, “Roger Gunsmith control.  This is gunsmith kilo, over”.  No reply!  Have they (commies) intercepted my call?  He tries again!  No control!  Are we being attacked?

Then a thought pops in his head.  Batteries.  But, of course, his batteries are dead.  Another crisis avoided by this quick thinking, ever vigilant, guardian of our freedom. Exciting?  Had you on the edge of your chair, huh?  HA!  HA!  HA! 

Boy, I’m weird, aren’t I?  I even laugh at my own weirdness. You know talking out my troubles to you yesterday, really helped me over a very depressing period.  I said to myself, what the hell’s the matter with you, boy?  You’ve got more right now than you’ve ever deserved. I have you, Nancy and you’re a lot more than I’ll ever deserve. 

So, why should I get so depressed?  I know you’re waiting for me and you really love me and I love you so much, so what is the matter with being happy?  So once again, I’m splitting my freckled faced mug with a smile instead of a frown.  OK? Ok!

Shocking isn’t it?  Getting two letters in a row, huh?  I’ve got the time and I feel good because I’m so much in love and so much loved.  I love you so much even if you love me only for my body.  HA! HA! I’m anxious to get back to my hooch tonight, so I can see if I got any mail.  I get in too late to pick mine up so I got a buddy to do it for me today.  I look so forward to your letters. 

It really boosts the old morale up.  I like to read where you love me and see where you’re excited about me coming home.  It reflects the same feelings I have. I can’t wait to take your hand and go walk and exploring through the woods together.  Better yet.  I can’t wait to rip your clothes off and smother myself in your warm soft flesh.  Now that wasn’t nice, was it?  HA! HA! HA!

I guess I’ve gone on enough.  So take care Honey and keep looking ahead.  God bless you, my love.

All My Love,


P.S.  I love you, Nancy

Frank was back to accepting what was happening in our lives and it was good to see him being humorous again.  We were one and we would not be discouraged but we would spend our time of separation writing to each other, encouraging each other, and telling each other how much we loved each other.

God was our strength and He was seeing us through all things while loving us and making us a complete one heart and one soul forever.

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  1. I’m impressed by what a good writer Frank was.

    • Thank you so much Phil. He was an excellent public speaker too. He was really opening up in these letters and I am so glad that I have all of these letters.
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it.
      God Bless You and I can’t wait to read more of your writing.

  2. It is hard to hear the depression in Frank’s words, but so good to realize that he was able to overcome by talking it out. His love for you just oozes out everywhere. The ability to see the humor in a desperate situation is a gift from God and no doubt it kept him from completely losing it in those terrible circumstances. I am watching out for that one special letter when he tells you he is coming home. I am sure you are reliving this as you write and share. God bless you.

    • This was a tough chapter, not only because he was depressed but I realized he really did not have a close buddy left there to talk to. He had such an Amazing ability to pull himself up by his boot straps and get himself together.
      The letter of him telling me about his love for me and describing me as he saw me down to my delicate hands, really caused some serious tears here. I was so blessed to have Frank in my life.
      Thank you for reading and commenting Diane. I appreciate you so much.
      God Bless You,

  3. Yes, his descriptions reveal a very caring, sensitive and creative nature. A wonderful thing for a man to possess. I doubt if many men would even think this way let alone unashamedly put those thoughts down on paper. You were blessed to have such a husband.

    • Awe, thank you so much Diane. Praying men will read Frank’s letters and realize how open they should be with their feelings with the person they love.
      I will never stop loving Frank. He is my heart.
      God Bless You, Diane.Love,

  4. Just sitting here thinking back to standing in a sentry tower….trying to find the frame of mind it would take to see the sadness of war on everything it touches. Yes, trying times indeed. Thankfully he had someone to look forward to coming home to. Bless you Nancy Lou

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Kim.
      Frank was having very deep thoughts in that guard tower looking out across the A Shau Valley. I am sure the valley was a beautful place before it was ravaged by war. I understand there are many ancient buildings and ruins in Vietnam and many were destroyed while taking the youth and lives of many young men.
      Frank would always remember what he saw during his time in Vietnam but he would not let it change him in a negative way but make him a better person.
      God Bless you, Kim

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