Vietnam War Letter from Michael G. Lipsius, to his Father

 Michael G. Lipsius
 D Troop, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division
KIA April 19, 1968

 This letter was transcribed and shared by Michael's sister Cynthia.
Michael G. Lipsius served in the US Army in D Troop, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division.  He arrived in Vietnam March 12, 1968.  He was KIA April 19, 1968 in Quang Tri, Vietnam, just shy of his 20th birthday.  His father and mother had divorced and Michael had not seen or spoke with his father for at least 8 years prior to Michael going to Vietnam.  Michael was able to track down his father’s address and sent him the following letter:

I guess I’m grown up, but I still don’t know how a son greets his father after not seeing him in so long.  All I can say is hi.
I finally got your address through the General services department in Washington.
We (Michael, his mother, and 3 brothers) left for California in 1960.  Well, we got to California, San Jose to be exact.  That’s just below San Francisco.  Kelley’s (his brother) in the Navy now.  He’s been in San Diego, Calif for quite a few years.  I left home in 1966 after I turned 18.  I set up my own apt. and went to school part time (college that is) and I worked nights at Ford in Milpitas.  Klint (his brother) has been in the Job Corps for a year, that’s all I know about him.
I went back to the old house on my leave just before coming over here.  I was going through the attic and found your teaching credentials and your sports records.  Would you believe I was an end -defensive and offensive – in football and I took all Santa Clara City in the discuss and shot put and set the school record in discuss in 1966.  I wish I would have had your  address when I was back there I would have dropped by.  I got a report from a man who worked with you at the yard, that you were in Chicago.  I stopped out there, but there were no records.
I’m in the 1st Cav here in Nam.  You might have heard about us up at Khe Sahn.  We’re getting ready for A Shaw Valley – the valley of no return – where special forces, 101st airborne, and marine units have disappeared.  It’s believed to be the last stronghold of the NVA so if our 60 day offensive works the war should be over by the end of the summer.
This country is really something.  There are wide stretching valley with rice paddies, small bushes and elephant grass.  Their these planes that run right into steep mountains and thick jungle.
I hope I have brought you a little up to date on what’s happened.  I’ve got to go back to Maine when I get home to see my buddy and to pick up a bunch of clothes I’ve got to turn in when I get out of the Army.  Maybe we could get together then.
Your son,

Needless to say, my father was so very thrilled to finally hear from his son.  He immediately wrote back to him and talk around our house included a lot of “When Michael gets here…”.  Michael never got his father’s letter – it had been returned unopened with “KIA” across it.

Michael's father was a veteran of WWII. To read his father's WWII letters, click here.
Special thanks to Cynthia for sharing this moving letter from her brother.

1st Lt. Vietnam War Letter February 19, 1968

February 19, 1968; 1st Lt. Vietnam. From the letter……

     Would you believe in April we will have a bathroom (latrine in the Army) with hot and cold running water, showers with porcelain wash basins and honest to goodness flush type toilets. Boy it's getting so nice over here I may not want to come home. (hah!) This improvement relieves my mind of a worry I had. You see I was afraid that when I got home, I would have forgotten that I was supposed to flush the toilet. I have gotten into the habit of doing my business and leaving. Thus, I'll have to get back into the habit of flushing the toilet again but at least it will be over here.
    I suppose right now you are sitting there with a little grin on your face, thinking this subject is kind of funny but not really believing I'm writing about it. Well, you get the idea so I'll continue to something else.
    Do you want to do something? How about stating your plans for R&R. I would like to know what your plans are to include: who is coming to Hawaii, what kind of accommodations do we want, whether you want any money etc. When I find these things out I can send you a list of hotels and other places which might be appealing. You know, you will have to be there at least a day before me so that you can find a place to stay for us. I could possibly make reservations from here but I think it would be easier for you. In the future I'll give you more details so don't think you have to do it all.
    How do you like the picture. This is my hooch in Cam Ranh. Notice the picture of that high school girl I have on the wall. This picture was taken before i got your other picture. Believe me, it's just as small as it looks. My bed is on the right side. Actually in Cam Ranh at least I had a bed. Here in Tuy Hoa all they have are army canvas cots. Well, I can't really say much more about the picture.
    Say, I'm listening to AFVN Radio and I just heard a song. Since I was trying to think of something more than I love you its very appropriate. "My love is higher than the highest mountain deeper than the deepest sea. My love is warmer than the warmest sunshine stronger than the strongest steel- or something like that I forgot. Any way, you get the message don't you? In case you don't turn to the next page.

(Included a Valentine drawing with the message below saying: "This is a genuine home made valentine. )

Vietnam War Letter, Cam Ranh to Tuy Hoa, Combat pay, Jan. 30, 1968

Thanks for your vow to send two letters a day. I really don't think it is necessary. Although I would like it more if you sent five letters a day. I know that didn't make any sense. I've got a lot on my mind tonight. 
   We are presently on alert. I have my loaded rifle hanging on the wall just above your picture. I want to keep both of them in view at all times. Charlie has been extremely active today. Don't worry we'll take care of him. 
   Now for the news. I am leaving Cam Ranh. Your future husband is going out to earn his $65.00 combat pay. 1 Feb. we leave in a convoy for a 150 mile trip to Tuy Hoa. This is the place I was originally assigned. The only change of address will be the APO number. Change it to 96316. Leave everything else the same. 
   By the time you recieve this letter I'll be comfortably settled in my new home. I'm going to cut this off here. I hope you mind, I've got to go. 
   By the way, don't expect any letters for about five days. I'll get one off as soon as possible. I love you, and cherish your love.

All my love,
(Note: thought anybody who was in the Cam Ranh area might enjoy seeing the video below.)

 This photo shows President President Lyndon B. Johnson, and General William Westmoreland surrounded by troops at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, 12/23/1967. 
Photo Courtesy of the National Archives. 
Part of Series: Johnson White House Photographs, compiled 11/22/1963 - 01/20/1969
NAIL Control Number: NLJ-WHPO-A-VN033
Other Identifier: C8051-24