Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 9, 2009 10:21PM

Typhoon Agnes, Sept 5, 1968: Vietnam

Rate: 14 Flag
The last few weeks have been defined by old letters, scraps of paper and memories. CC’s mama was a historian. She kept a treasure trove of old letters.
Since her death, the real treasure has been finding all the letters CC wrote from boot camp and Vietnam. I have begun a notebook, putting each letter in a protective sheet and in chronological order. But I am not reading them in this order; they are mixed up - July 68, July 69, August, February.  
Prefacing this great find, I have been writing CC’s stories down almost since the time I met him. I have heard bits and pieces of his experiences in Vietnam for 17 years.  I have heard how he never wanted ever to be hungry again, that food and shelter were tops on his list anytime and anywhere. From the moment I met him, he has been feeding me and my children and all of my extended family and his too.  
The following letter was written in CC's 2nd month In Country, he is on a mountain in the DMZ and he is in the third day of a typhoon. The letter is spattered with rain drops. It follows.
5 Sept 68
Dear Mom,
You ain’t going to believe what I’m going to tell you. Well I’m up here on this Mountain. We’re in the middle of a typhoon, like a hurricane. The wind is blowing and I am cold and very wet. We have a hootch built so it keeps a little rain out. We haven’t been resupplied for 3 days. We have been making soup out of water and ketchup and a little onion I brought with me. What I would do with some food right now. We have also been drinking hot kool-aide to try to keep our stomachs warm. Hot Kool-aid is pretty good when you’re cold. I don’t know what we are going to do for food tomorrow. We are all out of ketchup and onion. Maybe we will think of something.
I hope you have sent my package because I sure will be starved when I get it. I want you to send me another package when you get this letter. Send some soup, any kind except tomato. Here: a list of stuff to send me.
Soup in cans and packaged dry soup, cookies, parmesan cheese in a box, canned fruit. Ketchup in little plastic containers like you get in restaurants, tuna fish, pies, shake a pudding. Little packets of mayonnaise, chef boyardee ravioli, spaghetti and meat balls, cans of corn and peas and a box of instant potatoes, salt & pepper, a lot of canned meats like sardines, spam, potted meat, canned beef stew, brownies & fudge a whole coconut. Heinz's 57 sauce for my c-rations, pound cake, strawberries, french bread, angel food cake. Mom I know this sounds like a lot but I don’t even want to go hungry again. You can use the money I send home to buy all this with. Please send it all , please.
I am hungry, Mom. You will never know how hungry I am. Please send it now. Please. Mom if you send it to me you’ll make the happiest person in the world. I hope you send it the day you get this letter.
Well, it’s pretty dark now so I’ll have to go. Write soon and please send the package today.
Love always your son, CC
P.S. I’m hungry.

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hungry, typhoon, vietnam, open call

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I don't think I have been this affected by a post on OS for a long time. I am almost afraid to say please keep posting CC's letters. But we must not forget our CC's and what they undertook and underwent.
I am hesitant to post too much of CC's story because - well, it is his story and not mine. My story is full of what is like to live with with 100% disabled combat veteran. My story begs us to please stop sending another generation to war. Another generation wounded in body and soul....
I have a renewed revulsion for George W. Bush for the gall to send another generation into quagmire, when he hadn't the stones even to finish up his cozy arrangement. Thank you for sharing CC's letter and I salute your plea to the future.
poetTess. Beautiful. Thanks.
Reading those war letters is to pause and wince. It is not the same as being in war. You were/are vicarious there. Your husband loves you. I'll ramble a thoughts?
My Mother & Father,
or one's dear lover then,
were a soldiers comforts.
It's difficult to read war letters. It's not the same-same as a parent sitting through the high school commencement with a smile on the face.
I worked as a veterans advocate in the Vet Center (Outreach) Program. It is a great place. Old geezers, and a new generation
from a dessert war can feel safe to talk, and relate pain's insights. My experience was:`I was Drafted into a lush jungle. Green jungle
and rice paddies was 'our' generation's filthy war. I now attend a group-session for comradely war-banter. There is a 'ton' of raw wisdoms shared in those motley vet,
get together sessions. I recommend.
Ref:`The 'Nam letters? I always told a little war-lie:`No worry mom and dad. I am safe. Tell __ I miss her. Keep the letters from home coming. We just walk a few clicks (yards) with our machete and never see old charlie V.C.. The jungle orchids and tree lizards are beautiful. Gila lizards grow a couple feet long, and play peek a boo."

Love, see you soon.

Of course, parents can tell if you are lier, like a creeping boa constrictor, jungle snake.
I wrote letters home on every chance I could. Writing a note, hi,
was to hide in a psychic safe Place. We'd sit on our steel hat pot.
When letters stopped, and my parents had only been informed
I was wounded in combat... I was too sick to correspond from a
The 24th Saigon Army Hospital. Then:` I flew To Camp Zama,
a Army Hospital in Japan. O I got LOST IN THE PAPERWORK. Missing?
Lost body.
Lost paperwork.
For two weeks my dad called every politician in DC? That's not
accurate. No use hyperbole? But for two weeks, my parents had
no idea where I was. Dead or Alive? They only were informed I was wounded in combat action. Of course, Ya loved ones want children home in one piece, and hopefully, alive.
I'll tell you the truth. This still makes me mist up.
The war was what it was. I hate war. I hate the lie. I hate the logic of the architects of war. I hate greed. WASTE.

THIS:`Mother said I thought I was gone to lose both my only son, and your Father, my husband. Why mom? My Mother said:` You were no where to be found for two weeks! Dad broke down when a politician said:`"Mr. James, you mean to tell me that your son has been wounded in Vietnam? And your son has been missing for two weeks? Mr. James, the next time this happens, please let our office know earlier." That's the truth.
Mom said Dad wept horribly.
(apology for another banter.)
I'll read up to '3' letters my Mom saved. Then I'll put the letters
back in a shoebox she stored each 'Nam scribble. I can sense my love for my parents, and my vain effort to protect them. I was in the combat infantry. The First Air Cav's Company D, 1st of the 12th. The outfit was decimated in 1970. Seriously. Sixty percent (%) were wiped-out, wounded, and or, dead. Who knows how many of my comrades are alive today?
While I was in Kimbrough Army, Fort Meade, Maryland, and often shuttle runs took me to Walter Reed for medical consultations, I'd daze, and daze, and ponder.
Hey`Partner? War Monger?
While in convalescence leave, laying in bed, I'd get some darn sad letters about the intervention into Cambodia in March, 1970. Sad.
I was hit 39 years ago, yesterday. Feb 10th. 1970. I confess. I drank a couple of Ginnis beers last night. My head is exploding from the ugh damn sulfites? My head goes boom.
Boom! Foci! The letters?
If I try to read them again. The correspondence from those vets who were left in the `Nam jungles are...,...in my opinion, the dankest, or saddest, in the universe?
I'll go now. I'll plant seeds
Respectfully, poetTess.
Blinking to keep tears off my face.
Arthur! Feb. 10 - your Alive Day as they now call it. My husband calls the day in May when he was wounded the day he was reborn.
These letters of my husband tell quite a tale of war and it is not pretty. The night I read the one above, my own son was in boot camp and the letter hit me like a ton of bricks as I thought of receiving a letter like that. Thankfully my son was given a discharge soon after boot camp and has not gone to war. But so many more are going to war and having unspeakable experiences.

Thanks for the thumbs up on the Vet Center. It is Wednesday and we are headed there this morning for group. CC just began this a few months before but WOW!

Arthur, thank you for your service. And for planting seeds.
I must inform? Your dear husbands normal abc's is rubbing off on You? huh.
It's Wed. Day?
Or, is it Happy Day Friday?
You women wed to vets make me good bonkers. You probably can sing the abs's backwards? If it were not for wonderful sidekicks like You, males would be kicking over vending machines and having breakfast of canned green scrambled eggs. For dinner your spouse eats from Oscar Grouch garbage can? No wonder war vets flunk the adult algebra class.
You have a sister?
She counts to # 10?
Go hug Ya husband?
Squeeze him to death?
No. Just kiss him all day.
Kiss those in the Vet Center.
Tomorrow I go to hugger-vet group?
You keep sealing letters with lipstick.
Tell your spouse to stop stealing milk?
Vending machines have the candy kisses?
I met my ex-husband Memorial Day weekend 1968. He had been stateside for about 1.5 years. He was the first returning from VietNam who spoke to me about his experiences there. He was in a combat engineering unit. But he could have written that letter. Thank you for sharing. Letters like this should have been published on the front pages of the New York Times when the Former Occupant sent our youth to another war.
Thanks for sharing. Yes, that generation suffered. We all suffered through the 60s/70s. Some more than others. I am so proud of these men/women whose "Senior Trip" sent them to Nam.
LBJ & McNamara did not have a clue.
Semper Fi! Rated & Cheers with hot kool-aid.
My husband has always talked about Vietnam. Which is good. The realistic stories of war are our best chance of peace because there really is no romance in it. The last president and his crew had some romanticized view of war because they knew nothing about it. And they hid the reality of it from the public once they began waging it. The real stories of those who experience war need to be told far and wide as a reality check.
And yes, Texas Bubba, he's a marine. Cheers to you too.
We need more stories like CC's, so that every generation will know what our generation sacrificed. How could we do it again? I just don't understand it.
I was in Vietnam at that time and probably on a nearby mountain or the same one at the same time as CC. My unit was the 173rd. I too had just been in country for a few months. I was wounded a few days later. I am now a peace activist.
You need to finish that story you were working on, Tess. It won't be easy, but it will be valuable. As the responses to this blog prove. Nice work.
Jack, it will take some real honest to god gnashing of the teeth, sweating of the flesh, and a total sense of purpose and focus.
Thanks, Tess
That last line brings it home that he was just a kid, stuck in a jungle miles from home, trying to get by on water and ketchup. Poor kid.
@ Stacey,
It brings the same hatred, disgust and revulsion to most of us who were there while this chickenshit pumnk was hiding behind a bar, thank you, DADDY.
The old song about, "You can't go to jail for what you're thinking" no longer applies in what was once America or, I WOULD say what I think.

To poetTESS,
Even though things about Nam are sometimes difficult to read becasue they CAN bring us back there, I read this through.
I was fortunate to come home in one piece.
I hope we'll see that CC also did.
Beautiful post. Thank you.
This story brought tears to my eyes. It is amazing to think of the things we take for granted such as food and shelter. These are the two thing every human being should have. So sad to read the letter in which this soldier is so desperate for food. You can truly feel the desperation in his writting. Very moving.
I would love to read more of his letters, if gives you the go ahead- and more of your stories, too