Letters to a Soldier: The Letters -- Fort Bliss, Texas

The Letters: Fort Bliss, Texas, p.1 of 8

Advanced Individual Training (AIT): July 1972--March, 1973

Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas

3rd Enlisted Student Battery

49.  Mom

July 5

Dear John,

Just dash off a note so that you won't be without mail this week. Hope it reaches you before you leave.

Congratulations on your graduation. You do have reason to be proud of yourself and your company. It was a long, hard grind but it put you in great physical shape and I know that you will be just as proud and confident of yourself after your stint at Fort Bliss as 'lil Abner would say, "Ah salutes you!"

Your dad left me off yesterday and I ran all the way back to Delta's waiting room only to see the back of you boarding the plane. Some how, I do like to see the plane take off when I say "good bye and God bless" to my service men. Anyway . . . I went to the waiting room around the corner and had a full view of the plane. (Caught a glimpse of red at a window as the plane turned--you?)

We then went to Greenfield Village where we took Mary Lou on the Petticoat Junction-like train. It runs about a mile down the track--then, because all the tracks are not finished, it backs up again to the old station.

Also took her on a pony wagon ride. About a ten minute ride but nothing like your horse back ride, I am sure.

When we got home it was too cold to eat out doors so we had our picnic lunch in the dining room. Not very traditional but a heck of a lot more comfortable.

And so you are up to date on family.

Remember we can't write to you without a new address.

Good luck on this next phase of your Army life.

My love and prayers are always with you.


50.  Mary Beth White

July 5th, 1972


Hi, how are ya? It was great to see you again last Sunday. I was hoping I would after I talked to Mike the Thursday before. I only wish I could have talked to you a bit longer. It's gonna be two months before you come home again, is that right? That's a long time.

When are you getting transferred to Texas? When you do send me your address, ok?

You left for Kentucky before Tuesday night didn't you? That means you missed the fireworks. They were pretty good. They had this one on a fence that was in the shape & colors of the American flag. That was just before the grand finale.

Are the guys who are ahead of you sergeants, lieutenants, captains, etc. very tough on you? I heard that it's lights out at 9:00. And all sorts of junk like that.

Is what you're going to do in Texas what you wanted or is it just what they're telling you to do? It sounds like it would be really interesting working on missiles & stuff I mean. You were drafted weren't you? I can't remember if you were or not.

I've got a big test tomorrow in Chem. Every Thursday we have a test over about 3 chapters. It's lots of fun!

Tell me about the things you do there & about what you want to do there & when you're out. How long will it be before you are out?

It's gotten real cold here. I wish it would just get hot & stay hot for the rest of the summer. I bet it's beautiful in Kentucky now. I was there last April. It's a fantastic state. We visited Mammoth Caves. They were unbelievable.

What kind of things do you like to do? Besides go to parties! I bet you like to do almost anything, don't ya?

My parents are going to Canada this weekend with our boat. That means I'll be home alone. I enjoy the freedom of not having someone constantly on my back. The peace is great too! When my parents are gone I get to listen to my albums for as long as I want, which is great because I never get to since the stereo is in our closet in the front room & my dad is real touchy about it. If you ever did anything wrong to it, he'd get quite upset about it. Like blow the roof off the house!

Boy what crummy stationary. You know how they give you some printed sheets & some plain? Well I've only written 3 letters with it & the printed sheets are all gone already so I have to use plain. I should have used the printed sheets for the first & the plain for the rest. Oh, well too late now.

I guess I should end this letter now since tonight's Wednesday & I have that test tomorrow. Write soon. Take care.

Mary Beth

PS. I'm sending you a piece of gum for when you get bored & a firecracker in case you missed the 4th! Bye-----------

51.  Dad

July 7, Fri

Dear John,

It is lunch hour and I thought I would write even though you may not get this before leaving Ft. Knox. I trust they would forward it. You may have let us know your new address by the time you get this but this may decrease the time of not receiving mail due to the relocation.

It was nice to have you home so frequently the last couple months. As I may have said before, I am pleased by your performance, not only in apparently doing a great job in what you are there for but in taking it all in good spirits and apparently accepting the ups & downs in strong fashion, that is not letting the "downs" get to you. You have, as well as several others in the family, a quick temper, probably inherited from me. You can use this energy to your advantage if you keep it under control. Try and think before you react. I see that you are doing just that. I believe you have improved considerably in this respect. So, just keep up the good work. We are all proud of you and that should be important, too. We all receive certain talents, even though different from one another, and we should all try to develop these talents as best we can. For some, the fruit of such talents won't materialize until late in life. Only their architect, God, knows when we shall use them. And don't forget to ask Him for help, too. He awaits such requests. (Also wants you to dine with Him--H.C.) [Holy Communion]

It certainly has been cool this week. First time I can remember having the furnace on (at night) on the 4th (&5th & 6th) of July

Lynn & Mike have taken up tennis this week, at least they played a couple times at Cherry Hill.

If you aren't going to be at Ft. Bliss a long period of time you might like a subscription to the paper. If so, let me know. Daily or Sunday, or both. I remember I used to get it and it sometimes was erratic delivery; none for a few days & then a bunch at one time. But that doesn't matter so much if you are interested in hometown news.

Looking at the map I see Ft. Bliss & El Paso are pretty far from any other cities. Perhaps you can get to see some of the nature type things out there. Looks like Mountains nearby. And there is always Mexico and Ciudad Juarez. Incidentally, beware of the characters you may run into down there. They have a lot of men and women both around military camps like that who are out for all they can get, especially when they have a border they can safely hide behind. So, be cautious of all strangers. Watch what you eat and drink and don't carry large sums of money around. I may be suspicious by nature but I'll bet you hear some of this from companions down there, if not from the army itself.

Well, I'll close for now. Congratulations for getting through basic training with such high honors. As they told us down there on your open house day, it is tough there but you go out a better person, certainly more fit, than when you went in. Do you agree?

Waiting for the next exciting chapter,


52.  Mom

Tues. p.m. [postmarked July 11, 1972]

Hi John,

Just a scribble--I want to get over to the P.O. quickly. Talked to Dr. Rogers at Wilhelm Allergy Clinic. He told me that the clinic will air mail your serum down there to you but it can't be left unrefrigerated very long. Someone should be waiting to pick it up. I can think of two options:

Anyway, the clinic's address is:

Wilhelm Allergy Clinic
751 S. Military
Dearborn, Michigan 48124
C/o Dr. Rogers

Mark your request urgent and Judy will get right on it. O.K.?

I'll write a letter tomorrow.

Much Love,

Include your whole address to the clinic and let them decide how to address it so that the serum arrives as quickly as possible. Explain to Dr. R. that I talked to him today and how your allergy has been lately.

53.  Mom

July 12

Dear John

That was such a hurried note yesterday. Hope air mail got it to you in a hurry.

It was good to hear that your situation is looking up. School can't be all that hard for you when the motivation is great enough and I guess the alternative of the Infantry would be great.

Remember Wally? The fellow that drove the ice cream truck-Mark was talking to him yesterday. He said you should have no trouble with the classes-anybody can pass those tests. I don't know how he knows-he is still driving an ice cream truck!

Bill got his notice to report for his physical on August 4. That seems so soon. His 19th birthday won't be until Aug. 17th. He will then be on all the services mailing lists for enlistments, I haven't heard him say lately whether he would even consider enlisting but somehow I can't imagine him wanting to.

All I know is-I hate those envelopes arriving so often. Thank God Mike is only 16. He's got a few more years. Adios for now-


[Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]

54.  Dad

Thursday [June 13, postmarked July 14, 1972]

Dear John

It is evening and we had a little rain after dinner. It is the first for a while so the green growing things could use it. It has been hot the last few days, at last. I haven't been swimming yet this summer, have you? Do you want your swim trunks? Or do you own any. You should be able to get a lot of swimming in before Christmas. What swimming facilities have you there? I wonder if they forwarded our last letters to Ft. Knox?

This weekend I am expecting Aunt Gloria Affeld, (over at Twin Towers) and my cousin, her daughter, Jean with her husband Lou, and two youngsters (14 & 12 or so) over Saturday morning for a little visit. Jean & Lou are visiting from New York State and we haven't seen them for many years.

Sunday we are going over to the Dillon Cottage for a visit. They invited us over for the day, including the kids. I guess we are taking Grampa and Sr. Ann Louis, too. The Ambrose family is going also.

I am listening to the Tiger-KC game. The Tigers batted around in the first inning giving Lolich a 5-0 lead. After Baltimore lost about 5 in a row I wouldn't be surprised to see the Tigers win the pennant now.

I suppose you will have told us by now in your first letter(s) what recreation facilities you have down there, such as T.V., movies, and Service Club or whatever, on the base, and what El Paso has that is interesting. In case you didn't get my last letter I must warn you about what I assume is a potential problem in that area, especially South of the border, and that is the people, both men and women, who are out to get what they can from the GIs who must be quite prevalent and numerous in that area. So watch out and be wary of strangers. Don't carry much money around. That reminds me. If you want to send it home occasionally or regularly you can best do it with either a money order or a bank's cashier's check which we can deposit in your account. Or you might find it possible to open an account of your own down there, although if you leave in a hurry that might present a problem in getting out your savings.

The Edison buildings are progressing slowly downtown and I find out today they are going to start modernizing the G.O. Bldg. They have to do over the front of the 1st & 2nd floors along 2nd Ave. since the Plaza Bldg being built between the Service Bldg & G.O. will require a new main entrance at the 2nd floor level of G.O. The next thing, to start next year is a 3 or 4 year program of replacing all the G.O. windows with something more modern. Then they will go through the building with modern lighting, dropped archways, modern partitions, maybe even carpeting. I am just guessing now but it may come, over say the next 10 years. If you elect to stay with Edison after you come back you will find a healthy and here-to-stay company, I am sure. And they don't take a back seat to anybody or other company when it comes to benefits. And I'm surprised at the way young people are getting good responsible jobs at the highest technical and management levels.

What you learn in the next year and 1/2 may be a big help if you elect to stay at Edison. Your time in the service is accumulated service time at Edison so you gain here with certain benefits such as vacation, retirement, etc.

Well, I'll close for tonight. Take care, but still enjoy yourself, and don't neglect your studies. I'll bet they aren't as hard as they would have you believe, eh? Don't let them fool you.


P.S. Mom wants to know what difference there is in mail delivery of Regular and Air Mail-time-wise.

55.  Mom

Monday Aft.

July 17

Dear John,

1st-before I forget-what is that picture you put on so many of your letters? Looks like a grasshopper.

Yesterday we (the 4 youngest kids, dad & me) went to Canada. Eve Ann invited Sue's family, grampa and Sister and Bud too for a swim and steak. The kids cooked their tube steaks out doors and Bill grilled our rib steaks. The meal was good, the water was quite clean and cool and every one had a noisy but good time. We left at 9:15 and it took us an eternity to get home 1 1/2 hours to get over the bridge-bumper to bumper. Cars were over heating and stalling for miles! I have never seen such traffic and I'll never go to Canada on a Sunday again.

Your dad found a four inch spike in the rear tire of the wagon when we got down to Dearborn so we had to put the snow tire on. Mobil didn't have a new tire to fit us. So that started our day off with aggravation and expense! Mary Lou went home with Sue & Al for a vacation at their house. Sue promised to take her swimming and I don't know what all to keep her daughter, Suzy, company while Alicia is in Spain.

Your Uncle Bill bought a boat and Eve Ann and Kathy were water skiing when we got there. You would have loved that! So would Lynn, but she elected to stay here with Julie K. He didn't leave 'til 5 p.m.

Your brother Bill tells us that he is seriously considering moving to Florida. He thinks that he would have no trouble finding a job and he loves Florida and the people.

By the way-your letter took 4 days-regular mail. My air mail to you took two.

Keep up the good work with the studies. It will pay off, I'm sure. Love, Mom

[Peanuts and Beetle Bailey comics enclosed.]

56.  Georgeann Vigil

July 17 Monday

Dear John,

I really don't know where to begin to answer your letters, so I'll try my best. You wrote me five letters already and that's a lot. I'm glad you wrote, I enjoy reading your letters. I wish you were here, not there.

Pat & I went to Bob-Lo last Wednesday. Why don't you write her a line or two, to let her know how you're doing.

I wish you would of come over that weekend you were on leave. I wouldn't forget you, I still remember how you look. In fact I was over there that Sunday for a little while.

My birthday is February 13th. I'm nineteen.

I hear Thick As A Brick a lot on the radio. I really like it.

Thank you for the sticker, I don't know where I'm going to put it yet.

Excuse my writing for now because I'm nervous or upset one or the other. Because I don't really know what I'm going to do. Stay here or move up with my sister in Lansing. I want to get a apartment with one of friends but nobody seems to care. I don't really know I'm just plain dumb when it comes to a thing like that.

If you don't mind will you really send me that water pipe. I never had one before because I really didn't care for them, I wasn't smoking then, but now its different. I really would appreciate it. Wow you really blew my mind when you wrote that, most people won't & don't

I can't think of much to say right now. Sorry I haven't written earlier but I been working & on my days off I been stripping furniture & working around the yard. How was Alice Cooper's concert? He's supposed to be here in July. I want to go but I know I won't

Well, here's that picture, send it back or better yet throw it out if you don't want it. It's really old, it was when I was a junior, September. Long time, eh? Stupid one too! But you asked for it, so there it is.

Well, I'm closing for now alright? I'll write later.


58.  Carin

[postmarked July 18, 1972]

Dear John;

Hello hippie! How are you Sarg? Fine as ever probably. John I could have gotten you some mesc. & T.H.C. But I thought it over and decided I like you as you are, not as you'd end up, if I got it for you. You're too nice of a gut. So I'm sorry. I ordered a new 1973 van.

Chevrolet Van
Metallic Burnt Orange
Cream Interior
8 Track AM-FM radio 4 speaker.

When you come home will have to go out and get HIGH! In it. I'll be getting it about the end of August. Pretty neat huh!

Dustin says hello [her son] Well trooper I'd better sign off. Cause I have a lot of ironing to do.

Love, Carin & Dustin

P.S. See ya soon, Stay happy & nice like always, okay?

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