WAR LETTERS: COMBAT - 1970 Vietnam


Letters about combat situations make up the largest section of the project.

1970 Vietnam

Summer of 1970 telegram
followed by August 23, 1970 letter
Sergeant George L. Deacon

In the summer of 1970, Mrs. Mary Deacon received the following telegram.

Mr. and Mrs. George L. Deacon, The Secretary of the Army has asked me to inform you that your son, Staff Sergeant Douglas A. Deacon was wounded in action in Vietnam on 16 August 1970 by fragments while on a combat operation when a booby trap detonated.

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On August 23, 1970, Sergeant Deacon, who now lives in Omaha, sent this letter to his family from a hospital in Japan.

Hi, all. Yes, it's the same old me. Minus a few moving parts, but still the same person. I always feel guilty when I write you guys, because I know how bad you all feel, and how well I feel. I wish I could just snap my fingers and give everybody in the world the same outlook on life that I have.

Once something is over and done with - forget it! It's under the bridge and over the dam, and spilt milk on the floor, and all that good stuff. Does it help to be afraid? No! Does it help to think about it? No! Does it help anything or anybody to worry about it? Definitely not.

Who do you suppose made me feel better when I called yesterday? My brother Mike who sounded as though he was glad to hear my voice and know what's going on - or you, Mom and Dad, who I could just hear crying in the background.

Do you know what my only problem in the whole world is right now? It's knowing what you guys are doing, and what you are thinking, and how you are reacting to the situation.

So you see, if anyone needs any comforting, or pity or sympathy, its not me who needs it but you.

Where is your faith? I have mine, but where is yours? Remember life on earth is just a drop in the ocean. It's life after death that counts. Please remember all this when we talk and meet again. O.K., O.K.?

Now that the sermon is over, I'll give you all some facts.

My left leg is cut off just above the knee, and my right leg is cut off just below the knee. The doctors say that artificial limbs will be no problem. They say my corneas are burned a little in my eyes, but it wasn't even bad enough to do anything about it over here, they said they will take care of it in the States.

The only reason I couldn't see well the last few days was because they were giving me eyedrops that dilated my pupils. My vision is almost perfect now. I can't hear very well, but I'll probably be going to an ear doctor pretty soon.

My hands and arms and face all look as though they have been shot by a cannon-full of mud. These are just small burns, which will probably be gone without a trace before I get home.

As far as how all this happened, the story goes as follows. It seems that on Aug. 12, a cute little 14 year-old boy was playing on the road that goes from the Red Poll to Siz. At least they say it looked like he was just monkeying around. Come to find out, the cute little kid was planting a bomb, which he blew two days later when a truck of G.I.s was passing over.

The last count I heard was 29 wounded and 3 dead and 10 under intensive care. Well, it seems some other G.I.s caught the kid running away from the scene of the crime, and he spilled the beans about how the nasty VC made him do it, and how he would show us where they were staying. The colonel said it was a job for recon, so away we went, knowing it could well be a setup.

The kid led us into an old village where I had found several booby traps on previous missions. We had two light observation helicopters working with us to act as a spotting and blocking force.

One of the copters dropped a smoke grenade on a bunker, and when I went over to check it out, he hovered right over my head. He was blowing smoke and dirt all over the place, and I covered my eyes and took a step to the side. You know what they say about that first step - I heard someone holler to call a medic.

They took me to Bronco where I stayed a few minutes, and then went to Chu Lai, and then onto Japan.

The doctors, nurses, facilities, and care here are the best in the world, and I'm now doing just fine. How about you?




WWII, North Africa          1944 Orland to Naples
1950 Korea          1944 Germany
1944 Normandy          1945 England
Vietnam War,  Okinawa          1970 Vietnam