I wrote these letters between October 18, 1968, and October 1, 1969. I was an eighteen year old Marine serving in Vietnam as a rifleman.
I did not see these letters after I had sent them to my family for more than sixteen years. When I did see them again, it was my father who handed me a Hush Puppy shoebox which he had used to store my letters; this was in 1985.
When I began to read the letters, although I thought I wanted to look into my past, the letters upset me enough that I could not finish reading them. I put them back in the shoebox and left them untouched for another eleven years.
In 1996, I took them out of hiding with the intentions of writing a book based on the fact that what I had stated in the letters, and what had actually happened, were two different things. So I began to write a book that I thought would reveal things people needed to know, sort of like the 'between the line' stuff, so that they might have a clearer picture of my make-up.
The book was going well until I got to the part where I had been hospitalized for combat stress—also what the doctors had said could be referred to as battle fatigue. At that part of the story, I stopped writing; I had lost my drive to look back at Vietnam, although Vietnam had not lost its drive to come at me.
Another sixteen years passed before I found the way to finish the story. What I present to you has been a long time in coming, about something in my life, a long time ago...