(This letter has been edited to include later experiences I had with women while I was in Vietnam and how they affected the men and women fighting the war. This is an attempt to pull thoughts and experiences together without regard to dates.)

Monday, February 23, 1970
Dear Chaplain Miller,

I have been in country for a month now. I have seen action, and I have slept in a bunker on a firebase. I have had religious services in the jungle, I have flown in helicopters, I have seen sniper fire, I've tasted new wine, and I've seen dead enemies and dead friends. Most of my association has been with men, boys who had to grow up and become men in order to survive. However, as has been true since Adam and Eve in the garden, women play an important part in man’s actions. Women can be a war within the man.

I read of wars and see movies about wars and there is often only a passing view of the problem of sex in a war. Women are either depicted as playing a large part or a passive roll in conflict with countries at war. My experience in Vietnam was limited when it came to women in war. Women were the subjects of GI conversations and thoughts. However, most of the thoughts were internal and the conversations were couched in four letter words that debased the act of love. When I hear a grunt, a sergeant, or an officer talk about "This f###ing war,” I hear them saying they've been screwed. There is no love involved in the act they are talking about. I don’t even see an image of women in their language.

Whether spoken or not, women are, at times, a war within the soldier. Since I have no way of understanding the inner thoughts of the women soldiers nor can I speak to their experience in a war zone as a fighting person, I venture to guess that men might be the war within the women as well. I will not attempt to speak for the females in the military. I leave that to future writers and historians. I want to share with you my limited experience, with the women I happened meet on my journey in blind faith.

Dave and I made it home from Qui Nhon without any event worth writing about. When I arrived in camp, I got word that I was wanted out on the firebase. I figured the CO wanted a report on the wounded, so made arrangements to get out to the base as soon as possible. I was fortunate to catch a re-supply bird quickly and reported to the TOC and to Lieutenant Colonel Sterling.

Indeed the CO was concerned about the wounded. He had been writing letters to their families and wanted the latest information. I gave him my report and he took some notes.

I then told him the Division Chaplain told me that the Commanding General wanted the Division Chaplains to conduct Character Guidance classes not only at base camp, but also on the firebase as well. I told the CO that I didn't think much of the idea of gathering the men on a firebase to a mandatory class of race relations, drugs, sex, and such.

His comment gave me the answer I was looking for. "Damn it, Chaplain, every time you talk to a troop out here, it had better be character guidance."

"Thank you, sir," I said.

Then after a moment of thought, he offered a compromise. "Maybe you better get some classes together for the units back at Radcliff."

"Good idea, sir," I said.

"By the way, Chaplain,” asked the CO, "how often do you plan to bring services to the guys in the bush?'

"As often as I can, sir. It gets difficult sometimes for me to get on a supply chopper.”

"I can fix that. I'll see that you get out on the supply runs. That would be about every third day or so, depending on the weather."

"Thank you, sir. The men look forward to the service, especially in the bush. I like going out there. It makes me feel like I'm doing what I came to Vietnam to do."

"That you are, Chaplain, that you are."

Out on a mission in the bush, A-Company broke through on the radio. "In coming, in coming."

Sterling shouted out, "Coordinates! Get the damn coordinates!”

The XO was on the horn. "Artillery ready! Pop smoke when ready!"

"Alert mortars!” commanded Sterling. "What's happening out there? How many? Any hits? Get me in contact with the CO," he continued to yell.

"Yes, sir!" replied the S-4, Sp. 5 Dausset. “He just got on the horn.”

"No sweat" said the RTO. "Only one sniper, no hits, I sent out a squad to flush the bastard out. Over."

"Good job," said Sterling. “Keep us informed."

The commotion died down and the TOC became quiet and normal. "Sir, is there anything else you need from me? I’m going to have service in ten minutes on the base,” I said.

Smiling, he asked, "Damn, is it Sunday all ready? No, go on ahead. I have nothing at this time - except to be ready to move to a new firebase this week. Just as things get hot, it seems we are ordered to move,” said the CO.

"Sir, speaking of moving. I need to go to Pleiku to Camp Anarie to pick up some Chaplain's equipment that was left there when the Battalion moved to An Khe. I'm not sure what it might be, but the Brigade Chaplain asked me to pick it up if possible."

"Go right ahead. Be careful. Highway nineteen can be tricky through the mountains. You can go tomorrow; it will be day or two before the new firebase will be open. We’re all headed back to base camp tomorrow or the day after. Have a good service, Chaplain. One of these days I'll attend."

"You're always welcome, sir," I said as I went to the door.

As I was about to leave, he stopped me and asked, "What’s the weather going be like tomorrow?"

Again, I smiled. "I checked with our HQ’s before I came out and they said, "Same-o, same-o."”

"Good," said the commander.

By now, my friend Jim, you may be wondering what all this has to do with women in the war. Well, my little experience in Pleiku when I got there the next day is an interesting adventure and story that speaks to my naiveté and my lack of experience with women in a time and place of war.


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