While I Was At War in Vietnam
Now, while I was at war in Vietnam summer to summer of 1966-67 of course I do not know much about what went on back in Annandale, Virgina where Patsy and our three growing kids spent the year. Only the photographs that were taken then, what I remember from the letters we exchanged, and the memories of the kids themselves will have to do.
I do know that, the war being nasty and prolonged, and with me there as an Infantry battalion commander constantly - via heliborne operations and assaults - always at risk as I made 70 combat assaults in just 6 months, Patsy knew what that meant. So, while my letters to her were often detailed reports of operations, with a few letters or attachments meant for the children, she did what she could to shield them from the awful possibilities. And she did not communicate to me any of the troubles she was having with the three of them. In that she was the perfect Army Wife.
And as far as I know she did that so well that even my children do not remember that year of any great stress for them - daddy was just absent, as if on a long business trip -while it was all on her shoulders at home to cope with them and her fears. But they can speak for themselves here.
Only one time during that year do I know later she was very worried. It was when the national television news about the war mentioned that an Army Colonel had been killed in combat. She apparently rushed over to Ruthie Gorman's house two doors away - Ruth's husband Paul was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pentagon and would probably be able to find out whether it was me. Ruth reached him by phone, he checked, and reported back that it was not me. So she relaxed.
My Orders - and then the Change
In March of 1969, I was notified in Vietnam that the Powers that Be thought I would make a splendid addition to the Staff and Faculty of the Naval War College at Providence, Rhode Island. And in fact I received those orders in late March. (I comment on this surprising news in Article 13 of the Vietnam War section here.)
As assignments go, I was sure that would be a cushy 2-3 year posting and enjoyable for the family, in a part of the country we had never experienced.
I told Patsy by mail, and since I knew so little about that military facility, or the family living accomodations there, I asked her to try and check it out. So she dutifully did, taking tips from Army officers who had been there, and from things I sent her that I was told by Naval officers in various Saigon Headquarters in Vietnam.,
She got ready to drive to Providence, leaving the kids at home while Ruthie Gorman could watch over them for just a few days when it was clear we would have to live 'off post' on the civilian economy , to try and track down possible rentals, when the Big Change came. But in late April I was visited in Vietnam by Major General Gleszer who so desperately wanted me to be his operations officer (G-3) for his new Mechanized Division Command at Fort Carson, Colorado, that he got my orders changed without asking me! (that also I discuss in the Vietnam War section here on this site). Big Switch.
But that meant me Coming Home to my Colorado. Great. So Patsy started the wheels turning for us to sell the house in Virginia, and make the move to Colorado by August 1st.
Another Army move.
Coming Home From Vietnam
|At the Airport||Off the Plane|
All I remember of that day is that your plane was late. Then a bunch of fire engines raced out to the tarmac, and mom burst into tears. (The first time I had ever seen her cry.)
But, as you can see in the next picture, you were not on the plane that had problems.....and emerged emaciated from a year in Vietnam, but intact otherwise."
The Last Months In Virginia