Waiting on an Address

Posted in Vietnam Letters | 6 comments

Frank deployed from Okinawa to Vietnam on January 15, 1971.  I would not receive the last letter he wrote from Okinawa until after he had been deployed for five days.

One of the letters I had written to him dated January 11, 1971, was returned to me. Because I wrote him a letter every day,  I  know somewhere out there in “lost letter land” there are still other letters that he never received and which were never returned to me  The problem we faced was that mail took five days or more to arrive in Okinawa from the states.

The following letter is the first letter I received from Frank while he was in Vietnam.

January 19, 1971

Dear Lou,

Well, how’s it been?  I got here at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon from Kadena after stopping at Taiwan and the Philippines.  Tomorrow is my 5th day at the Trans. Co. at the 509th. The first day, Saturday, I got here too late to do anything.  The next day, Sunday, I had to go to Long Binh (90th) to get my jungle fatigues, boots, helmet, and get this green shorts, green t-shirts, green towels, and handkerchiefs.  Boy, am I ever “green.”  I look like a real trooper.  Funny thing is I don’t feel like one.

I’m sorry I haven’t written before this, but ever since Monday, I’ve pulled detail every day from 7:30 a.m. to about 6:00 p.m. then I have to hustle to eat.  A quick shower and a cigarette then crash time.  Also, I didn’t want to write you until I got a permanent place so you could write back. You can’t write here because they said it would take 3 weeks for them to find us after we left.  And by the time you get this letter, I’ll probably (better be) be gone to my permanent station. 

Sorry, I had to do something about that damn spider.  I bet I knock that same one off of the rafter over my bunk every night. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to sleeping on a narrow cot by myself.  I’m used to having that warm, soft body next to me that belongs to my wife.

Nancy, I’m sorry once again about that letter I sent.  I have a lot of frustrations and anxieties running around in my head.  I’m confused and mixed up.  I have a lot of soul searching to do, and it needs doing.  I’ve got to find out what kind of person I am.  I want to be a new and different kind of person for you. I’ve come to believe I’ve been wrong by you and I’ve done you wrong in the past, and now if it’s not late, I want to make up these discrepancies to you. 

When I leave this country, I want to be the right kind of husband and father. We have, I believe, the basic requirements for a happy marriage;  love and youthfulness.  With a little refinement on my part, it can be twice what it’s been.  I don’t want to disappoint you once or make you unhappy. Darling, I want so much to make you happy, and I’m going to, I promise.

Has Ebony had her puppies yet? How’re the cats?  And how’s our new SUPER BEETLE?  Our friends in Okinawa want on so bad they can taste it.  Tell everyone that I’ll write when I get to wherever it is I’m going.

Darling don’t worry about me.  So far, everything is ok.  Except, I miss you too much already.  Also, it’s too hot to believe, and at night I wake up cold.  But every day I wake up brings me closer to you.  I don’t start out every day sad and depressed.  That one thought gets me to the day’s end, and then I think, well when I go to sleep, I’ll wake up a day shorter toward being in your arms again. Boy, it makes time pass fast.  I’ve been here for four days already, and it doesn’t seem like it’s been only 4 years.  HA! HA! Joke.  Joke.

All jokes and my faults out of the way.  I love you, Nancy.  I write that, but it seems so small.  It means so much, but 4 words take care of it.  It’s a shame  I can’t record my thoughts; maybe they would convey the way I feel about you.  I’ll let you know in 361 days.

Anyway, I do love you and miss you.  I’ll write when I get a new address.  Till then remember me in your prayers and know in your heart I love you.

Your husband,


P.S. Tell everyone hello.

P.S.P.S. Here’s some of our money. MPC.

Frank was waiting to get to his final destination in Vietnam.  He was still trying to get his thoughts together. The last letter Frank received from me had to have been written on January 9, 1971, and he would have received it on January 15, 1971.

Frank was lonely and missed me.  I was lonely and missed him.  Frank knew he would not start receiving letters from me until he got an address, but after he mailed me the address, it would take ten days from that day for him to get a letter from me.  It took five days for me to receive his mail then five days for a letter from me to get back to him.

I got the job at the Credit Bureau in Bay City, Texas, which with my typing talents was a real miracle.  My day consisted of getting up, getting dressed, going to work, working, coming home, feeding the animals, maybe eating supper, getting ready for bed, crying, and writing Frank a letter.  Nights were the worst time for me.

Frank was beginning to adjust and accept being in Vietnam so much more in this next letter.

January 25, 1971

Dear Nancy,

Well, here I am again.  I’m sorry it’s been so long between writings, but I got stuck at the 509th for 7 days because I couldn’t get my orders.  I got to the 8th RRFS on the 22nd.  I processed for 2 days, and today (Monday, 25th) I started a kind of orientation.  Neat stuff like firing the M-16, M-79, M-60, gas mask and other bullshit I’ve had in Devens and Okinawa.  I had an E-7 instructor ask me today if I learned anything yet and I said, “Hell No, I’ve had this training twice before. 

I got my address yesterday, but this is the first time I’ve had time to write.  They keep you busy around here if you’re not working in Ops.   Guess who I saw 5 minutes after I got here?  Lee, he thought we were gone when he came to Okie (Okinawa) on leave.

You know that last letter I wrote to you must have been a pain to read.  I guess I sounded like an 18-year-old kid.  If I did, I apologize for it.  I’ve found my strength again.  I’m facing reality now, and I believe I’ve found the real me again.   Like I promised you.  I’ve thought quite a bit about how a good husband should be, and these many hours of thought brought me out of my doubts in myself, and my doubts and illusions about life seemed to vanish. I have faith in you like I have faith in myself.  I put my trust in our love and tested it in my mind. 

Guess what?  It’s strong, and it’ll last.  That makes me happy.  It makes the long separation and loneliness seem worthwhile.  It’s like I’m paying for the rest of our lives of happiness with a year over here.  You’re doing the same thing.  You’re having to pay for something you want.  I’m paying in days and nights, but it’s worth every second, minute and hour I lie in this bunk and feel lonely and depressed. 

When I get down, I try to see you smiling or laughing or any of the many things you do.  The thing I believe I miss the most is waking up in the morning and finding you asleep in the crook of my arm.  Maybe I talk too much.

Do you get sick of hearing this trash from me?  I don’t mean it’s trash but this sentimental stuff.  Do I sound like a kid or something?  I’m not ashamed of the things I say because I feel all of it or I wouldn’t write it.  But if it depresses you or makes you sore, I’ll stop it. The whole point I try to express is that I love you more than life itself.  I’m not good at expressing anything, but I’m trying.

Tell me about your job and all about you.  Also, send me a picture of you in a frame.  Ok?  Also, there are some things I could use if you wouldn’t mind sending them.  Whenever you can send them is fine.

(1)  My tennis shoes

(2)  Electric coffee pot like we got when we got home.

(3)  My cut off short

(4)  My baseball glove

(5)  A new Picture of you in a frame (we can’t get frames)

(6)  This is hard but talk to Theresa and see if she can make a drawing of you (face and hair) and make it like a paint your picture thing with 365 places to color.  So I can color in a square a day.  Think that is possible?

There’s some more stuff, but I can’t think now.  Oh yeah, that little lamp we bout in Mass.  Stuff is hard to get here.  It’s the last place to get supplies.  So most of the stuff is gone before it gets here. This is Phu Bai.  Where Dan was.  Officially it’s called the 8th RRFS.  My address is:

SP4  Loren F. Henderson, Jr.


8th RRFS  Box 811

APO 96308

Pass it on to whoever wants it.  Tell everyone I’ll write one of these days if the _ _ _ _ Army will leave me alone for long enough.

Darling, I love you, you know that?  I miss you very much.  I want you to know I love you very much.  Be good and be happy.  “Our day will come.”

All my love forever.

Your husband, 


P.S.  Tell Candy and Hobo (Homer) and Ebony, “Hello” from Da!ddy.  Boy, I’m making myself sick.  Ugh!

P.S.P.S.  I’m sending $250 from  January pay.

Of course, Frank did not sound like a kid to me.  I loved the way he was telling me he loved me.

Frank knew how much I loved him and depended on one him.  Also, he loved and depended on me.  It had been just the two of us together out in the world for over two years. Now the fear of being so far away from me and not being able to reach out to hold and comfort me had his mind confused.

Frank was my heart and soul.  I could not live without him, so after reading his letters, I knew that it was my job to make sure that he was comforted and assured that I could never be anyone else’s but his.

The next letter, Frank, is settling into more of a routine.

January 27, 1971, 2200

Dear Lou, 

I love you.  Did you know that?  If you didn’t, you do now.  How’s every little thing?  Fine, I hope.  You miss me yet?  HA!  I seem to be writing like you.  Well, I guess that happens after you live with someone too long.  HAHA.  More like not long enough. Well, Uncle Sammy is going to give us a break in 11 months 20 days and let us live together.  Isn’t he nice?

Oh, before I forget, I’ll be sending that money soon as I can get to the APO.  I usually don’t get through with NAP (Newly Arrived Personel) training until 5:00 p.m. and the gate to the off-post closes at 4:30 p.m., so I can’t make it.  The APO, PX, Finance, and other things that you have to go to so often are out of our perimeter, and we can’t get off before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:30 p.m.

I’ve been going to the movies (they’re free) and the craft shop and to the service club with Lee every night.  I’ve found the craft shop interesting, and I’m planning on building or making some things. We go to the Service club for coffee and a place to get library books and read.  The movies are free, but the film is usually busted, they have to change reels, places are cut, sometimes they don’t have the last reel, have to bring your own chairs, and anything else that could possibly be had, but it usually takes about 2 hours, and it kills time.

All this doesn’t sound like me, does it?  Well, it is.  I still like an occasional beer but not very often, and I don’t drink liquor.  Shock, Shock!!!  I don’t play cards or talk or think of other women. Shock again!!  You probably think I’ve gone off the deep end. Well no. 

First,  I love my wife very much, and I need no crutches to help me along.  The thought of you and my love for you is more than a crutch.  It’s like an invisible power.  If I feel down, I think of you, and that pulls me through in a matter of seconds. Like I said before, I’ve changed, and it’s for the good.  I promise you.  By no means am I a saint or a holy roller churchgoer.  But I’m a devoted husband.  Don ‘t worry I’m not a boring old fool.  I’m the same, but I’ve changed.  Make sense? I can’t explain it, but I’m thoroughly convinced that you’ll love me more.

Now that I’ve got you confused, disappointed, or excited, I’d better go.  I love you very, very much.  Be good, and I’ll see you soon.

Your Hubby,


P.S. 11 months and 20 days (or less) DLITA

Frank was trying so hard to convince me that he could be a better husband, but he was already the best husband, and I loved him just the way he was.

Did we ever argue?  Yes, but it never lasted long because we always ended up laughing then making up.  Sometimes I think the making up part was the only reason we argued.

My only concern was that Frank come home to me alive, so I could hold him in my arms again and tell him how much I loved him.

Frank was still a week and days away from getting a letter from me.  I am writing every day but will not receive his address until at least January 31st then I can mail all of my letters to him, but he will not get them until early February.

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  1. Your posts and Frank’s letters bring back vivid memories of my own army service in Rhodesia at the same time, waiting, waiting, waiting for letters from home. Although I was only a couple of hundred miles from home, not thousands like Frank, it still took up to 2 weeks for letters to find their way through the system and out to the bush.

    • So much will happen in our exchange of letters. Sometimes the mail planes were used for different purposes.
      I can only imagine how long it took mail back in the days of the only means of travel being a horse.
      Thank you for reading and your comment Peter.
      God Bless You,

  2. It must be comforting to be able to read these letters while at the same time sad that Frank is no longer with you. There is no room for doubt as to the fact that he loved you. As Chuck has said, it is very unusual for a man as young as Frank was then to write so openly and sincerely about his love and devotion to you. That is a wonderful memory to hold in your heart. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to reading more. God bless you, Nancy.

    • Thank you so much Diane. Frank was never afraid to tell me about his love for me. I am typing in more letters tonight and I know him do well that I know what he was thinking as he wrote them. I have smiled as t his humor and felt a sadness at his loneliness whil er he was in Vietnam.
      The last letter in the group I am typing is very special
      Thank you for reading and commenting, Diane.
      God Bless You

  3. It’s not often one gets to see the inner workings of another person’s heart. It is a privilege to read these once private letters. Thank you for sharing them. I pray that they will touch and change the hearts of many who need an example of what a good husband looks and sounds like and what a good marriage should be like. God bless.

    • Diane thank you so much. God has a plan for the sharing of these letters and I know that plan will be revealed as these books go out into the world. I do not know God’s plan. My only concern is that I always do my best to please God. True love in marriage takes commitment, sacrifice, acceptance, and loving God. Frank was truly an Amazing man. God must love me a lot to have sent me such a beautiful loving husband.
      Thank you for your comment and reading about our love.
      God Bless You,

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