Helicopter Love Mail


Captain William "Bill" Clark, Army Special Forces (retired) and his bride of 42 years, Donna, reminisce of a time spent a world apart as they re-open the letters they sent to each other. It was Bill's third tour of duty in Vietnam that called him away just after their first wedding anniversary and it became Donna's first-hand experience as an Army wife during the Vietnam War. He was leaving her four months pregnant to have their first child without him. She would face fears ...
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Captain William "Bill" Clark, Army Special Forces (retired) and his bride of 42 years, Donna, reminisce of a time spent a world apart as they re-open the letters they sent to each other. It was Bill's third tour of duty in Vietnam that called him away just after their first wedding anniversary and it became Donna's first-hand experience as an Army wife during the Vietnam War. He was leaving her four months pregnant to have their first child without him. She would face fears almost as traumatic as her husband's safety in combat.

During the Vietnam War Special Forces teams were supported by helicopters and their crews. They were unquestionably the most heroic yet least rewarded units throughout the war. They would show up when most needed, do the job and leave as quickly as they came. Ammunition and food were important in re-supplying border camps and patrols but nothing was more important than the mail; the only communication available between husband and wife and other loved ones. In Bill's case he carried a plastic bag with an operations map, stationary, envelope, outgoing mail and letters he collected from Donna.

"You've got mail" meant something special then as sending and receiving mail was the highlight of a soldier's day and helped to sustain morale at a high level. In Vietnam they were called Pony Express Helicopters, the horses of the old west with pilots, door gunners and crew chiefs as their riders, but deep down inside Bill called them by another name, locked in his mind only to be shared with Donna ... until now.

Donna and Bill promised each other they would write every day if for nothing more than to say I love you and to stay current. All their letters were eventually mailed and received. Even though Bill's mail content was restricted by the Military Donna could write about anything and she managed to say everything. Together they carried on in humor and support of each other by way of Helicopter Love Mail.

Love for one another through the trials of separation and the fear of the unknown. Husbands attempts to hide combat participation, trying to show a positive attitude to hide many problems, and trying to solve problems half a world away with letter turnaround time of ten to thirty days. Wife's difficulties with pregnancy and raising newborn alone. Money and budget problems some brought on because of Army finance problems. Problems with health mentally and physically.

Non-Fiction, Memoirs, Love letters written during the Vietnam War.

Married Couples, Military Families separated by deployment or war, older readers who were affected by the Vietnam War. Both mail and female since book is written by husband and wife.

From the husbands writing the tone is humorous, informative with solutions, and mysterious on his actions and duties.
From the wife the tone is more anxious, dramatic, informative, and emotional.

We wrote the letters 40 years ago and are still happily married. We wanted to show the difference in war then and war today as far as separation from spouses when we only had faith, hope, and love with mail as the only communication. We had no computers, no cell phones, no land line phones, and 99% of the time no real way to contact each other because of Bill's isolation.

Over six hundred letters written half a world apart and delivered or picked up by helicopter in combat shows the time lag in communication with daily writing from both Donna and Bill. Problems are laid out for all to see.

As a couple truly in love but newly married only to be separated by war and the dimension of time suffering from the great fear of the unknown.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A couple separated by war vents fears, frustrations and intense longing in this sometimes banal, sometimes passionate correspondence. Bill Clark, then a captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces, went off to Vietnam in 1970, leaving his four months-pregnant wife, Donna, behind in Florida. His letters home from his posting as an adviser to a South Vietnamese battalion are full of homesickness, sweltering discomfort and endless boredom punctuated by moments of trauma. ("Oh, well, at least it killed some time," he remarks after American planes mistakenly bomb his unit.) Donna usually replies with meandering details of her daily life--"I stayed home and washed and set my hair, then went to Burdine's with Mom to buy Debbie and Steve their birthday gifts and got them another bath towel set apiece!" --but reveals her own keen anxieties over Bill's safety and her worsening finances as her allotment checks from his Army pay go undelivered. (Their frantic, confused messages about money--necessarily conveyed via erratic, weeks-delayed postal deliveries--make for an inarguable case for the benefits of instant email and satellite communication.) The tension that separation imposes on the newlyweds runs through their exchanges: Bill chides Donna for staying out until four in the morning and mentions a comrade who is divorcing an untrustworthy wife; Donna pointedly passes along warnings about venereal disease among Vietnamese prostitutes. Although the letters focus on personal life, Vietnam-era social turmoil--drug use in the military, race riots, reports of hippies stoning President Nixon--seeps in around the edges. The selection could have profited from editing and, for this chapter that covers the first five months of Bill's tour, the excision of less urgent missives ("Well, Honey, another dull day"). Still the Clarks' personalities, typical of the continuing concerns faced by military families, come through vividly. The couple's strong love and commitment are expressed in lavish pet names ("Dear Dunky Doo-Doo"), in Donna's frank declarations of desire and in Bill's constant romantic protestations: "This letter is to inform you that your husband is very much in love with you." Despite an abundance of eye-glazing minutiae, a revealing epistolary portrait emerges of life on the battlefield and at home.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781468020885
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/6/2012
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill and Donna Clark have been happily married for over 40 years. Over the years, the couple has gone through a multitude of experiences, including Bill's time in the United States Army Special Forces and their trips together overseas to Suriname as missionaries. Bill, a childhood polio survivor and Eagle Scout, has a bachelor's in business administration, and worked as a military manager and consultant for large pharmaceutical company. Donna, a former department store manager, served on the board of the Pensacola Opera, and actively fundraises for Independence for the Blind, ARC Gateway and Pensacola State College.
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