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Niner Alpha
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New posts to be added

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:52 pm

These will be added. From John Bullock.

March 22, 1970 – 40 years ago
Cryptic note by my Mother in the album she kept all my letters:
“Have to take John back to the airport at 4:55 Sunday evening March the 22nd, 1970. Going to Oakland Calif. on way to Vietnam. “
I do not remember the flight well, but remember there was a layover in Denver, and I did not get off the plane, and I was the only one aboard for a bit. Good thing. I had started drinking before I left Cedar Rapids, and ordered drinks on the plane. Somewhere in the air I got sick and for the first and last time used the little air sick bag. Wasn’t quite sure what to do with it after; didn’t particularly want to hand it to a stewardess, didn’t want to be seen carrying it off, so nonchalantly tucked it under the seat in front of me, figuring they would eventually find it.
March 23, 1970 – 40 years ago
My Mother’s 55th birthday. The day before I left I gave my Mother a card and pink azaleas. Never knew, it might be the last birthday present, and she loved plants, so...
23 March 1970
Dear Mom and Dad,
Got in last night O.K. Didn’t get any Supper or Breakfast this morning though, but I wasn’t hungry (maybe being hung over was an appetite suppressant). I got a couple of hours sleep on the plane from Chicago (to Denver) and that was about all except for a couple of catnaps. They started processing us and issuing clothes when we got in and we didn’t get to the barracks until about 6:00 (am) our time. Then they made us go to 7:30 formation. I ended up on a detail, but it was easy. This afternoon I had to get a haircut. It cost me $1.10. I hope I don’t have to get anymore of those (butches). Oh yeah, they never said a thing about our mustaches.
It must be 70 – 80 outside this afternoon. The seagulls fly in and around the buildings all the time. They come off of the Bay I suppose, but we are too far away to see it, although I can see one of the bridges that span it.
They won’t allow us to go on pass from here, but they have all sorts of facilities like all the forts. I haven’t gotten orders or an address yet. It can take three weeks, but I don’t think I’ll be here that long.
I had to turn in my overcoat, my greens, and the poplin shirt and tie I brought. If I had had the raincoat I would have had to turn it in too. I guess I will only wear khaki’s into town if I ever go. They’ll be a lot cooler than greens anyhow….
Love John
My memory of Oakland is vague. We were assigned no lockers and everything was dug out and put back into a duffle bag. I thought it was interesting that this was all I needed, just a duffle bag and the road ahead. I rather liked the idea at the time. I didn’t feel lacking, but free somehow.
I spent most of my casual time in the library reading magazines and books, listening to reel to reel tapes of music. I came across a poem by Dag Hammarskjöld, and wrote it into a little pocket notebook I decided to carry. Not sure even today why I liked it, or wanted to write it in the notebook, but even today I still do like it:
And lonely,
So tired
The heart aches.
Meltwater trickles
Down the rocks,
The fingers are numb,
The knees tremble.
It is now,
Now, that you must not give in.

On the path of the others
Are resting places,
Places in the sun
Where they can meet.
But this
Is your path,
And it is now,
Now, that you must not fail.

If you can,
But do not complain.
The way chose you--
And you must be thankful.

I remember being held back from some details by a Sergeant, because I could play chess, and he needed a partner. I spent some hours losing to him, and he was happy, and I missed a lot of details and drank Coke and talked. When were done with one or two games, he would leave, and I was free to pursue my own interests.
A really distinct memory was that there were rail cars nearby, and when the cars were pushed together to connect, they made a distinct echoing, rumbling sound. That memory is clear and I can hear them these 40 years later. The reason I suppose is that it seemed to be the exact sound I heard some months later when were at the VC Island, and I heard grenades going off near my head. I have always connected the two sounds of those two places and times as if they were the same. Even now when I hear railway cars being connected, the sound domino-ing along all the cars, my mind instantly goes back to VC Island, and I begin waiting for the thump of the next grenade to land.

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