Issued in Solemn Warning

Issued in Solemn Warning
This _____ Day of _________, 1970.
To __________________________.

Dear Family, Friends, Civilians, Draft Dodgers,

As assumed duty aid and as a service to the American personnel departing the Republic of Vietnam, this command, the famous Navy Seawolves, issues to you the following briefing containing some helpful hints that may make the readjustment easier for _______________ and is most certain to make your reunion a more enjoyable experience.

As of __________________, after serving in the garden spot of South East Asia, Vietnam, the exciting fun capitol of the world, for the past ____ months, __________________ will once again be in your midst, de-Americanized, demoralized, and dehydrated, but ready once more to take his place as a human being, to engage in life, liberty, and the somewhat delayed pursuit of happiness.

This, as we here are all aware, will be an anxious moment for you as it will be for him, however, we feel it is our duty, being totally responsible for his absence, to warn you of certain changes in his mannerisms and behavior that are likely to make those moments more anxious than you might normally expect.

In making your joyous preparations to welcome him back into respectable society, you must make allowances for the crude environment in which he has suffered for the past ____ months. In a word, he may be somewhat asiaticized, suffering from Vietnamitis, Viet Congitis, overseasitis, mud, rain, heat, malaria pills, mosquitoes, lizards, bugs, bats, rats, pythons, jungle rot, lonesomeness, monsoons, typhoons, DT’s VC’s, river washed laundry, or perhaps too much ba moui ba, not to mention suicidal upside down flights in various aircraft, taking off vertically from muddy or dusty airstrips. He should be handled with care. Do not be alarmed if he is infected with all forms of tropical diseases. A little time in the “Land of the big PX,” will cure this malady. Being his husband, father, sweetheart, brother, son or friend to you, he is still yours.

Therefore we forward in the interest of all concerned, some caution, advise, hints, and do’s and don’ts that should be strictly observed.

1. Prepare yourself for the initial shock of the first meeting because the man may look a little strange and act somewhat confused, nervous, and prone to look at everyone with suspicion, but this is to be expected. You may, if you are carrying a handbag or sack, have to empty it for inspection on the ground as a routine.

2. He will try to avoid crowds and don’t question him if you are told to sit near the rear of a bar or restaurant, or if he refuses to enter any establishment or bus that doesn’t have steel mesh screens over the doors and windows. Also, when the waitress takes the order, it would be wise to do all the talking yourself, as he may make an embarrassing comment such as “get lost” or “number one CO,” use his hat for an ash tray, and pick at his food as if someone were trying to poison him. He may act nervous and check the room before he hands the waitress a five dollar bill. The only thing you can do to combat this peculiar behavior is to assure him there are no “CID” agents present.

3. His eating habits may be somewhat changed. He will probably want his steak well done and shove aside water and ask for beer. He may carry a weapon to the table, pour gravy on his dessert, mix peaches with Seagrams VO, stir soy sauce into his Wheaties, and use his fingers to eat instead of silverware. Incidentally, the word “rice” should be avoided for some time and insist that he sit on a chair while eating rather than squatting on the floor.

4. Do not ask by any means “did it rain in Vietnam,” “was it hot,” or “did you get fresh milk often?” Abstain from saying anything about powdered eggs, dehydrated potatoes, rice, ice cream sand bags, the benefits of overseas duty, extending, exotic Southeast Asia, the sound of monsoon rain on the roof, or c-rations. The mere reference to any of these subjects may trigger an awesome display of violence.

5. When he crosses the street, look out for him or hold his hand. This mat seem absurd, but after watching him cross the street one time your nerves will never be the same. He will expect driver to avoid him and make no attempt to dodge them. He has become impractical, indifferent, and completely oblivious to cars, car horns, pedicycles, motorbikes, water buffaloes, and Vietnamese drivers speeding the wrong way on one way streets. Remember, he has been threatened by the Viet Cong, Saigon Taxis, charging water buffalo, speeding cyclos, crazy pedestrians, angry fathers, outraged husbands, plastic bombs, and exploding bicycles. He has been shot at, mortared, rocketed by the VC, and on occasion by friendly forces.

6. Any of these sights should be avoided since they can produce a state of advanced shock: people dancing, children with toy grenades, and round eyed women. He will tend to stare at women, there is nothing personal behavior. If he tends to drool, wipe his mouth and be understanding, it’s been a long time.

7. He may spend much time in the bathroom flushing the toilet, think nothing of it, he just wants to watch it work. Any loud noise or clap of thunder may cause him to dive for cover and yell “incoming!” He may pad around in sandals and towel and slyly offer to sell cigarettes to the postman. He may complain about sleeping on a spring mattress, and at first refuse to go to bed without a mosquito net. Be tolerant when he tries to buy everything at half price and accuse the grocer of being a thief. On his first few trips to the store he may fumble around looking for his ration card.

8. In a relatively short time his profanity will decrease enough to permit him to associate with mixed groups. He may utter words like ” I hate this place,” “choi oi,” “di di mau,” ba moui ba,” but will soon be speaking a recognizable form of English after the first few weeks.

9. Above all, keep in mind that beneath his tanned exterior and waterlogged interior, a heart of pure gold beats. Treasure this for it is all, or about the only thing of value he has left. Treat him with kindness, tolerance, and an occasional drink of good booze and you will soon be able to rehabilitate this hollow shell of the happy go lucky guy you once knew.

We have covered the main points in this letter to you. This is to be taken in solemn warning.

This concludes our advisory to you. A list of precautions is published on the third page for your convenience and protection. We hope you will comply with this warning and that you will enjoy his leave as much as he is going to. We thank you for your time and concern.

The following precautions are advised:

  1. At no time try and sneak up on this person
  2. Do not force forks, spoons, or knives on him too fast.
  3. Do not offer him a drink unless you have a large stock on hand. He does not understand the meaning of all gone.
  4. Do not at any time yell “incoming” then try to explain it was a joke. This could lead to a great deal of violence.
  5. Do not ask a lot of questions, as he is apt to go into a trance giving only his name, rank, service number, and date of birth.
  6. Do not try and tell him how pretty you think oriental women are, this also could lead to a long discussion and possibly violence.
  7. Don’t mention how much you like the rain.
  8. Don’t offer him any rice, or ask if the rice paddies are really as pretty as they are in National Geographic.
  9. Don’t tell this person to take a cold shower.
  10. Do not at any time wear black pajamas.

The above list is included for your protection. Follow them with your own digression, and this word of caution: You only have ______ days to prepare yourself and others concerned.

We thank you for your concern.