Randy E. Richmond

THOUGHTS BETWEEN THE LINES

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: August 24, 2002
Awarded: August 24, 2002
Hi Bobby!

Dear Mom,

Just looked at the calendar and its one month today since we saw you off on the plane. Seems like only yesterday. Remember how chilly it was?

Gosh Mom, you know, it feels like I’ve already been here for a year. The days are never-ending and hot… hot like you just can’t imagine.

I sure hope this finds you doing ok son. Have you been eating well?

Ham and lima beans again today Mom. I really miss those Sunday suppers with fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and what I wouldn’t give right now for an ice-cold glass of milk!

I’m sure by now you’ve met some new friends there and are getting some valuable experience to go with your mechanical training.

By the way Mom, I’m a rifleman now in an infantry company. There was evidently more need here than for working in the motor pools. Guess that’s the army’s way. Haven’t made too many friends yet; the guys just kind of keep to themselves a lot. Most of them haven’t even asked my name. Maybe when I’ve been here awhile longer they’ll come around.

Your dad is very tired. He’s been working nine or ten hours this week doing the inventory at the store. He eats, reads the paper, and is too worn out to watch TV lately.

We’ve only been in base camp once since I arrived. I don’t think I’ve had more than 3 or 4 changes of clothes. Doesn’t make much difference out here anyway, the new ones smell pretty much the same as the old after humping around out here from dawn to dusk. And, I’m told you really don’t want to smell new anyway. ‘Good’ nights are quiet, dark, hot, and lonely.

Your brother is so proud of you! He tells his friends that after his senior year is finished in June, he wants to follow in his big brother’s footsteps.

Mom, when Skip graduates, please, please try to convince him to go to college for the next 4 years or whatever it takes to keep him from having to come over here… take my word for it Mom, you don’t want him here!

Johnny next door broke his ankle at football practice. He’ll miss the season as he won’t get the cast off for 6 weeks. Poor child!

I’d never seen dead bodies before Mom, it just makes me sick every time I do and that is way too often. First platoon lost 2 guys today. I didn’t know them and I’m glad I didn’t… we only had one guy wounded… he’s probably coming home.

We’re picking Grandma up for church again Sunday morning. She said to tell you that she’s praying for you and all the soldiers. We are too!

I always believed in God Mom… still do, but I’m convinced now that the devil is real too. I think wars are his stronghold. I see his work every day… you can smell his breath everywhere. I don’t remember ever being this frightened before.

Well Bobby, the doorbell just rang. I think it’s your Aunt and Uncle. We’re going to play cribbage with them tonight so take care, love you, and will write more later.

Love, Mom

Gotta run Mom. Charlie’s knocking and it’s getting louder. They’re walking mortars into our position… we’re moving out. Vietnam is way too real Mom… it’s not a game.

Bye and Love ya, Bobby

Author’s Note: Mail call was a 5-minute ticket out of Vietnam. Every letter a short respite from the rigors of war and back home to your living room… still is for those in harm’s way.