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Helicopter Love Mail

Helicopter Love Mail

by Bill Clark

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The menace of the Viet Cong pales beside the tantrums of a fussy newborn in these tense, ardent letters between a soldier and his put-upon wife. This second volume of the Clarks' letters, covering Bill's tour as a U.S. Army Special Forces captain in Vietnam from March to September 1971, begins with the birth of their son, Billy, an event that rocks Donna like the Tet Offensive. With Donna torn between a mother's love and the squalling, pooping, grabbing, hair-pulling reality of a difficult baby, her conflicted letters express adoration and resentment in the same breath--"Billy's screaming up a storm, he's so cute." She develops a severe case of postpartum depression that leads to a near breakdown: "I feel like just getting away and never returning," she confesses and adds, "I'm not kidding about the fact that I could almost kill myself." Meanwhile, Bill is as supportive of Donna's violent mood swings as he can be from almost 10,000 miles away; he even volunteers to have a vasectomy to appease her dread of further pregnancies. There's both prickliness and ardent passion in the Clarks' correspondence; along with Donna's anxiety about her figure, her threats to give away Bill's incontinent dog and their mutual suspicions of infidelity, there are countless gushing protestations of love--"Honey, I want you so bad I want to hold you, squeeze your breasts and thighs into my body, and cry"--and yearning countdowns to their reunion. In between the moments of crisis, tension and romantic effusion are long stretches of banality. Donna's everyday routine--"Then Mom, Billy and I went to Burdine's and I bought a mattress pad"--fills letter after letter. Bill mentions occasional decapitations and mass casualties in passing, but the sheer ennui of base life--"I wish I had something to write about, but I just don't"--predominates in his missives. Moon shots and the counterculture--"Talk about gross….the guys' hairdos are unreal"--go on in the background, but the Clarks stay raptly absorbed in the minutiae of personal life. The collection could have benefitted from a stern editor, but it does vividly convey the small dramas of a typical military family. An authentic, if overpadded, document of the Vietnam era.

Product Details

CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(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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