I recently came across a form letter that I remember seeing in Vietnam forty years ago. Back then, it was referred to as “A short-timer letter”, one that offered a warning to everyone stateside about his expected return home. All soldiers in Vietnam kept track of the amount of days they had left in country – a measuring stick of tenure that began as a Cherry with 365 days and continued downward – a short-timer’s count was in single digits. The intent of the letter was somewhat of a joke intended to hype up the soldier’s return, listing behavioral changes that may occur, with advice on what loved ones should or should not do. I remember sending off my letter and returning home after fulfilling my obligation. However, looking back upon this letter, many veterans, new and old, still exhibit some of those behaviors. It’s still a fun read. Do you remember seeing this? What is your opinion about it today?
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Back in the year of 1960, when I was stationed with the 709th MP Battalion in Frankfort, Germany, a buddy and I coined the
original version of this letter. Of course it was written to apply to being in Germany at that time. Years later it appeared in the Memphis tn editorial page in its present form. Although the wording has been somewhat changed to fit Vietnam, I recognize the general substance of the letter as we originally wrote it. Glad to see it hung around for so long. My hat is off to you guys that served during that time. God bless you.