Letters from the Front – Correspondence Spanning Two Centuries of American War

Things were very ghastly. I stayed one night at a hooch on the perimeter. It was a bunker for the men manning a 106 gun. One afternoon they took two incoming rounds—only one lived; all the rest were killed. One man’s head was never found—pieces of finger, hand, flesh, blood, all over. One man came into our medical area. He’ll lose both legs, his right arm, and be blind. Our medical area took quite a few hits, but fortunately no one there was hurt.

The slogans the men have on their helmets and flak jackets changed from KILL, KILL, KILL and IN MANY A STRIFE WE’VE LOST OUR LIFE AND NEVER LOST OUR NERVE, etc. to MOM AND DAD FOREVER, and YOU AND ME, GOD, and PLEASE, MR. CONG, I DON’T WANT TO DIE, and crosses.

Many times our water supply would get shot up and we’d go several days without water.

There was always fear of incoming—it might come in anywhere; it might land anywhere. No place, no bunker, was absolutely safe.…

Love,
Ray

I keep thinking of home all the time. I had the tune of “Speak to Me of Love” going through my mind recently. Memories are so rich and meaningful things!

Stubbe returned to Wisconsin in January 1969 and stayed in the military for another 16 years. He still preaches occasionally at his old church and ministers to the homebound and others in need.

Desert Storm
PS1 Sandy Mitten served aboard a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat in the Persian Gulf, manning (for lack of a better word) a .50-caliber machine gun. On Jan. 22, 1991, Mitten wrote her mother the following letter.

Dear Mom,

Well, we are 5 days into war. Amazing isn’t it? There’ve been some trying times in the past 5 days, and I’m sure there will be many more before I leave here.…

I’m fine, and I plan on staying that way. We’ve had some pretty close calls. Two nights ago, the Patriots went off right from our Port which is about 1 mile from our compound. I thought that the missiles landed right in our courtyard. There was a terrible BOOM when it took off and a second BOOM when it broke the sound barrier. There was debris all over.

If I ever had any doubts about whether

Next P.M.
Back again. In the middle of that sentence, we had a SCUD attack. You should have seen it. One of my people called me outside to tell them what was coming toward our tower. I ran outside and when I looked I saw these flashes in the sky. They looked like tracer shells off of a weapon being fired.

People are really doing strange things now and emotions are high. Tempers short. Iraq ended up putting a missile or two into Israel again. That country isn’t going to hold back much longer. I can’t blame them. That bastard Hussein is trying to kill civilians. He doesn’t care. Rumor has it that his people are also uprising against him. He needs to be killed. That is how this whole thing will be eased.

Before this all came about, I wondered if I would really be able to use my weapon against someone else. I have no question now. You know, like so many others, I prayed for a peaceful end before this. But, now that it isn’t peaceful & it won’t be, I just want to do whatever has to be done to get this whole damn mess over with. It’s now become a situation where you shoot if someone shoots first and they say shoot to wound. Bull, if I shoot and I end up killing someone, if they were trying to do me in, that’s just too bad. I really thought I wouldn’t ever say that, but it really does put a different light on things when you’re right here, not knowing what to expect next.

Well, Mom, take care & God Bless You. Keep praying. Every little bit helps.
Love,
Your daughter, Sandy

Known as the “Gulf War Granny,” Sandy Mitten, 68, was, in fact, a grandmother at the time of her deployment. She had joined the Navy in 1959. In 1974 Mitten entered the Coast Guard Reserve, finally retiring in September 2001.

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