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U.S. Marines and Families

I would like to comment on the article (April 5), “Marine Trend: Looking for More Good Families.”

“Back in the Old Corps,” wives and children may have been discouraged by the administration, but we were there! We followed our men when we could and, when orders separated us, we kept ourselves and our children together with letters, photographs and the promise of reunion.

My Marine was an 18-year-old private when he moved me and our meager possessions into Guadalcanal Village, a military housing complex at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo.

Duty assignments required him to remain on base every other night and every other weekend. Few wives worked--we were too young and inexperienced. I cleaned and cooked and stretched every penny in hopes it would last until the next payday. To bring in extra money, he worked extra hours as a short-order cook in the base cafeteria. On weekends, we washed and waxed cars for a local used car dealer.

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Everyone was poor. Very few had cars. Laundry facilities meant you scrubbed your things by hand or took the bus to the Laundromat in town. I, like many others, scrubbed my sheets on a board in the bath tub! We welcomed the door-to-door bakery truck and other local merchants, who realized military families were a ready market for their goods. Without transportation and miles from the base exchange and commissary, we were eager customers!

Years later, when orders took us to Camp Pendleton, we did not enjoy the “luxury” of living in Sterling Housing! We felt fortunate to live in half a Quonset hut located near where Pendleton’s main gate sits today.

Then came the day that my Marine did not come home. He served in Korea as an enlisted man, moving rapidly through the ranks to master sergeant. He was selected for Officer’s Candidate School and upon graduation, went into flight training. He completed one tour of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. He did not survive his second tour. He was killed in action in Danang in 1969.

Now, 17 years later, I am gathering information for a book about the women left behind by the men who died in Vietnam. Military wives who were not “issued,” but who served with love and valor and who now carry on courageously rebuilding their lives because of the examples set by the men they loved. Men like my Marine.

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I need to hear from Vietnam widows. All correspondence is private and confidential.

JEAN BLANKENSHIP

10221 Slater Ave., Suite 103

Fountain Valley

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