Letters from Robin – Brotherly Advice

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I thought in this week leading up to Memorial Day that I would share some of the letters we received from my brother Robin while he served in the US Army in Vietnam.

Robin entered the Army in September,1967 after having graduated from North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA. Entering the service was Robin’s choice and according to my mother, what he felt he needed to do after high school.

Robin wrote regularly we have a box of letters from September 1967 – March 1969. His last letter written just two days before his death.

The first letter I thought I would share was sent to me. It was very exciting for me to get mail from my brother so far away. I was very proud of Robin. I was in 5th grade at the time. You might be able to see that I wrote my teachers name and room number on the envelope!

It is pretty amazing that I have kept track of this letter all these years! It has moved with me to Paul Smith’s, NY, Northern, VA, back home to PA, to Orlando, FL and back to PA again. I never really took care to preserve it in anyway, it was just always with a few “sentimentally important” keepsakes!

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I have typed the body of the letter below. I love his big brotherly advice about learning all I can in school and not smoking too! You can see by this letter he had compassion for the people of South Vietnam, and a recurring theme in his letters to our family was the children. I recall sending bags of candy for him to give to the kids when we sent packages.

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Martha,

Hi, how are things going at home? How’s school, do you like it or not this year? You try your best and learn as much as you can because you have the opportunity that alot of people in the world don’t have.

You would probably like to know what the kids are like over her. Well around this part of the country they don’t have any school. The kids help out in the fields harvesting rice and they take out the cows and water buffalo they have in the day to graze. They have to watch the cows all day because they don’t have fences. They aren’t afraid of the cows either. It’s funny when  you see a little kid even smaller than you beating a big water buffalo because it’s trying to wander off from the rest of them. the cows never turn and try to attack the kids, they know who the boss is.

The kids usually walk around with no shoes or just some old shower shoes. They start smoking cigarettes when they are young too. I wouldn’t suggest  you do it though, these people don’t know any better.

There’s a village at the bottom of the hill I’m on and every time we go out on a patrol or come back at the end of the day kids come running out to see us. The try to sell sodas and candles to us most of the time, that’s how they make money.

I really feel sorry for these people because they have very few of the things that we take for granted. They are dirty and have many diseases that if we caught would kill us, they have been living with them so long it doesn’t affect them anymore.

If you have any questions you would like to ask about this country or the people just write me and I’ll try to answer them.

 Your big brother,

Rob

As we approach Memorial Day her in the USA, please take time to remember those fallen heroes from all of our wars and conflicts. If your community has a Memorial Day celebration take time out of your day to attend. I love that we have several location Memorial Day celebrations in our area, including one in downtown Lansdale. There is also a small ceremony on the grounds of the high school that Robin attended (it is now a middle school), that honor the fallen heroes from North Penn High School in Vietnam and more recently those in the Middle East.

I am also excited that a local American Legion Post, Hatfield Post 933 is hosting the The Vietnam Veteran’s Moving Wall from June 27, 2013 – July 1, 2013. If you are local and have not seen The Wall in Washington, DC or have family members who have not, I encourage you to take advantage of this unique experience! The post’s address is 2100 Koffel Rd, Hatfield, PA 19440.

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miscellany monday at lowercase letters

 

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9 thoughts on “Letters from Robin – Brotherly Advice

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    I will be visiting The Wall when it gets to Hatfield. I’ve seen it in Washington DC and and forever amazed by how much impact such a simple memorial has on one. It just reaches inside you and pulls you inside out.

    I was in Thailand in 1970. I recall much the same as Robin – and how well we have it here in the USA. The filth and poverty and the kids begging and working at ages 6 or so… they had no cellphones, computers… they didn’t even have hot and cold running water. I wonder what became of some of the children that got “your candy”? Do they still remember that friendly GI?

  2. Vicki says:

    Martha, this is amazing! How amazing that you kept his letters and pictures and then transcribed the letters here. What a blessing for you to have something tangible of your brother. You were so right to be proud of your big brother!
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  3. Linda Miller says:

    Very nice job, sister…..you have a terrific way with words…

  4. Bobbie Kepler says:

    Such a nice thing to share. Thanks

  5. Carole says:

    Beautiful tribute. I wish I would have kept Kenny’s letter. I would have liked to be able to look over them. He still doesn’t talk about it much. But I know he was devastated when he learned of Robin’s death. He always felt he had left him down by not being there for him. They enlisted together and made a promise to each other to watch out for each other. But they weren’t even in the same area most of the time, let alone being in different branches of the service. Love & Hugs for you this week and always

  6. Kathy Gallagher says:

    Such wonderful memories. I didn’t meet you until junior high, so I never got to meet him. Will be thinking about you especially on Memorial Day. Wish I was there to see the wall.

  7. Artie B. says:

    Touching and moving. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I will definitely take the kids to see this. Thank you so much for sharing! I loved reading the letter and seeing the children. Very special.
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  9. Mark Grissom says:

    Martha,

    I really appreciate you sharing this – I never knew.

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