John Bullock 3/28/70

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Niner Alpha
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John Bullock 3/28/70

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:28 pm

28 Mar 1970 [40 years ago today]

I have been to the Vietnam Memorial, and I liked it very much. It is like an emotion arising out of the ground, which makes a simple statement of grief, then returns to the earth again.

There is no particular logic to the names on the wall, except the dates and circumstance. Some men left their families all those years ago destined to have their name etched on that wall. Others were destined to stand before it and see their reflection. No one could have predicted what any one man’s fate was to be. But it is best just to feel the thing and not think about it too much. No answers will come to mind.

28 Mar 70, 8:25 a.m. [Oakland]

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, if nothing changes, we leave today. We are scheduled for a shakedown inspection of our baggage in half an hour. We went over to breakfast at 6:00 this morning, but it was 7:00 before we got in to eat. Quite a few people are collecting over there, since they have stopped shipping until Monday.

The flight we take will be a military one like I flew on from Ft Polk to Ft Benning. With so much ocean to cross, this shall be the longest flight in distance and time that I shall have made yet. Up to now, the one from Chicago to Oakland was the longest.

The Army should be paying me a little bit of money when I get to my next unit. I’ll have two months pay plus back pay if I can get my promotion cleared up with finance. If I get it all I’ll see about sending a money order home. It should be over $250, close to $300.

I’m going to go now and mail this and see if the snack bar is open. Hope you are all doing alright and the snow isn’t getting you down.

Love John

28 Mar 70 [Pacific]

In the air

Dear Mom and Dad,

We pulled out of the Army Personnel Center at 2:50 pm; two busloads of us. With the Bay on our left, we headed out of Oakland down Interstate 80 toward Travis Air Force Base. We passed a racetrack with colored flags flying, houses, gas stations, businesses, slowly moving away from the Bay and more inland. All of the towns or suburbs seem to have Spanish names; El Cerrito, San Pablo, Vallejo; across the Carquinez Bridge and passed the Solerno County Fairgrounds. Somewhere in the hills and canyons I remember seeing an orchard with different kinds of fruit trees, but you and Dad would have to tell me what kind they were. After about an hour we arrived at Travis Air Force Base.

We only had to wait about an hour before what must be 200 of us boarded the plane. The plane climbed up and then passed over the Bay Area before heading out to sea. Below us, like little toys sitting in the water was the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Freighters and naval vessels were all along the Bay edge. Then, we passed out over the sea, the mainland slowly fading in the mist until it disappeared. At first there was only a few clouds over the sea, but now further out, there is nothing but a solid carpet of clouds below. Our flight to Honolulu will take 7 hours and 47 minutes.

We have already eaten, and shortly we are suppose to have a two hour movie starring Julie Andrews. The meal was steak (rare), hash brown potatoes, green beans, salad, and cake. I had so much I gave the cake away. At least for the time being you’ll know that I am not starving. For a year now, I guess, I have seen my last American city in the mainland, and the mainland itself.

We should be fairly close to Hawaii by now. It is around 7 p.m. there, 11 p.m. your time. Still, there is nothing below but clouds and sea; the sun is gone and twilight has set in. I Hawaii we are suppose to have an hour and a half wait, before continuing to Ben Hoa Air Base, Viet Nam. There are two other stops but I do not remember where at the moment.

I suppose they flew soldiers to Hawaii in World War II and Korea, but I doubt if they flew along watching Julie Andres playing Gertrude Lawrence, dancing around and singing. We are supposed to have six different channels of recorded music to listen to on the earphones that carried the movie sound track, but they aren’t working. Someone is suppose to fix the system in Hawaii.


The seat belt sign just went on, so we must be about to land. Oahu is below us. 7:21 pm Honolulu time.

Love John

28 Mar 70

I’m over the sea again, this time headed to Wake. We passed over Diamondhead, Ford’s Island and Waikiki Beach before we landed at Honolulu International Airport, but darkness had set in by then and lights were all we could see.

The airport was beautiful, what I saw of it. There were pools with hundreds of different fish swimming around. The pools were lined with plants of all kinds and Tiki torches burning all around to light everything, including the little bridges and walks.

… If the islands are half as pretty as the airport, they will be a great place to spend R & R. I was ready to stay there, but we took off over Honolulu again and out to sea. We arrive at Wake Island after about four and a half hours flying. The stewardesses just served us another snack, two cheese and bologna sandwiches, cookies and mint flavored pineapple. We have another movie too, Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore in A Change of Habit. I’ve already seen it, but I may watch it again. If I don’t, I can lean back and listen to the music, for they fixed the system while we were on the ground…

I hope you didn’t have any trouble getting back to sleep Saturday night. It was kind of a mean trick, but I figured you never got a call from Hawaii before… They are pulling the screens now, so I guess the movie is about to start.

Aloha, John

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