Margaret’s Letter

Razorback Ridge
View from Hill 52 facing east toward “Razorback Ridge”

Tuesday, October 15, 1968

Somehow the roads stayed open as the wet weather continued.  Fernando said there were plenty of Vietnamese on the roads, and it was difficult to avoid splashing them because there were so many puddles.  These young drivers believed, “The payback is a muther” if they purposely splattered civilians.  True or not, it was better to give fair warning with a brief honk.

Top Culverhouse personally delivered the mail.  Having everyone standing out in the rain, waiting to hear their name called, made no sense.  He dropped ours off in the mess hall.  I got a letter from Jenny, and there was also one for Reb from Margaret.  I protected the letters under my poncho and brought them to the hooch (Reb was still asleep).

Under normal circumstances I would never wake Reb, but this correspondence seemed ominous so I tapped his boot.  It startled him, and he bolted to a sitting position on his cot.  I said, “I’m sorry, but I thought you would want to see this now,” and I handed him the letter.  I left my mail for later and returned to the mess hall.

Both Sumo and I were concerned as we finished cooking the dinner meal.  We didn’t think Reb could take another “Dear John” letter. *  It was none of our business, and we would have to wait for Reb to share whatever Margaret had to say . . . It took less than 10 minutes.

The galley door flew open, and Reb shouted, “SHE LOVES ME!”  He was crying, and it was difficult not to cry with him; we had never seen him so emotional like this.  I gave a huge sigh of relief and choked up a bit, thinking Reb finally got a break.

After dinner we returned to the hooch, and Reb told us some details of Margaret’s letter.  She planned to change the name of her coffee lounge to “Mark’s Coffee Shop.” **  It was her twin brother’s name, and she was honoring him.  In the process she was breaking the bond that was holding her back as she wanted to move forward.  She outlined some obstacles:  their 12-year age difference, the complications of the Vietnam War and the physical separation.  Margaret was willing to work through them and hoped he would too, “We will find a way.”  This was stunning and complicated news for all of us.

Jenny liked my reference to “our naughty naps in 323.”  She said one of the Hawaii Five-O episodes showed the Reef Tower Hotel where we had stayed during R&R.  The candlelight burned a little later as we wrote our messages home to the sound of rain on the metal roof.

* See previous blog, “DeeDee Writes Dear John” July 25, 1968

**  See previous blog “Mystery Solved” August 22, 1968

Next Edition:  Artillery vs. Rain

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