Once again, backed into the open-sided ‘lean-to’ my ‘scout’ team had made for me, I took out my writing materials to send another letter home. It was getting too dark to write so I did the best I could since using the flashlight under a hunched over poncho cover was out of the question in the heat. The night mist had returned with the mosquitoes and I wished for a real thunderstorm like I’d experienced while growing up in the Midwest of the United States.

I wrote furiously about how the Company wasn’t a company at all from what I understood one should be. Training had been little preparation with only the physical conditioning, map-reading and artillery school seeming to matter. I wrote of the mystery Marine named “Sugar Daddy” I was about to meet, as if being introduced at some sales conference or maybe a fraternity get-together. And then I stopped. Not because of the diminishing light, but because my wife could not possibly comprehend what I was trying to tell her. Even if she could somehow, did I really want her to know what I was going through?  If they killed me, she would think I died in combat bravely, a hero. Instead of whatever the truth really was.  Mary could not know, would not know…

I finished  the letter without mentioning anything of consequence, focusing on the tropical weather and how much I missed our newborn daughter. I asked her to send me Hoppe’s #9 for cleaning my .45, instant creamer for coffee and a cassette tape of her voice. Some of the Marines in the unit had battery powered cassette tape machines to record or play back messages.