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.


R. George Ross said...

Vietnam was a vulgar tradgedy. I was there, I know. Reading Michaels letter reminded me of the optimism many of us felt while we were there.

Many of my friends although trying to forget the was found themselves engulfed with PSTD, and in some cases even killed themselves. I too went through this phase, and I finally killed with a war novel of my own. If you are interested vist me @

Chris said...

Cynthia, my Uncle did not serve with Mmichael during Operation Delaware/Lam Son, which took place in the A Shau. However, he was on site at LZ Tiger where Michael's helicopter went down. He was one of the soldiers who assisted in removing Michael from the helicopter and preparing him for repatriation to the US. I understand from my Uncle that the LZ at the time was quite 'hot' and that the aircraft took on heavy .51 caliber gunfire. Michael was hit and likely died before the aircraft crash landed. He was also with PFC Curtis Riley at the time.