Letters of Condolence

Today, I opened an envelope that I knew contained some documents regarding Robin’s death. A few newspaper articles, and other official papers.

What I forgot this folder contained were letters from then President Nixon, General Westmoreland, our governor at the time and other local officials.

I wonder at the time my parents received these whether they were received as comforting sympathies or with some anger. Maybe both, as I remember my parents handling this differently. My mother seeemd to quietly (not with out tears mind you) accept this as what was to be. She firmly believes when it is your time, it is your time and that Robin was where he felt he was doing what he was to do at that time in his life. My father on the other hand struggled much more, it affected his health and he was never really one to discuss Robin’s death. I am sure there were memories shared, and stories told, but never much about Vietnam.

Here are some of those letters.

President Nixon

General Westmoreland

Governor Shafer
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Letters from Robin – Fire in the Hole – 9/28/69

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On this Eve of Memorial Day, I am taking time to once again share on of Robin’s letters. I had put the project on hold, and like so many things, never got back to it. I have about 23 that I have yet to share. It is a time consuming process, and uninterrupted time is something I have lacked for too long.

The weather forecast is not looking too good for tomorrow morning. I hope that the rain breaks or holds of for before noon. This is one day that my family looks forward to each year. Gathering together, and joining with others who too have lost a loved one. The one ceremony, honoring the high school alumni that lost their lives in Vietnam and the Gulf is a smaller more intimate ceremony that is conducted by our high school Key Club, along with the ROTC, band and choir members. These teens give up a few hours of their holiday weekend to help us celebrate our fallen heroes.

I had hoped to take a drive to the Freedom Foundation in Valley Forge today. I wanted to take my mother to see the Gold Star Family monument. The weather was far too hot to have her out too long. At 92, she tires quickly, and I would rather her be feeling her best for tomorrow.

Instead I ran and errand with Tara, cooked a nice dinner and worked on my blog. I do not blog often these days, but find I just can’t cut ties with it. I actually have two, which today I merged into one, so how I have some cleaning up to do due to the import process. Sometime in the near future when I figure out how, this blog with change to my other domain, www.marthakasper.com, which currently is mostly just a photography blog.

Ok, on to what most of you are hear to read, another installment of “Letters from Robin”. I believe this is the 2nd or 3rd letter once he got to Vietnam. I have already shared one, and the other was just a quick note.

Saturday, 28 Sept 68

Dear Mom & Dad,
I received your letter last night I was very happy to hear from you. We only get mail up here about every other day or sometimes every three days.

You asked in your letter how I got from Bien Hoa to Chu-Lai, I flew up on a military transport. Also I flew from california on a Northwest-Orient 707. We had stewardess’ and the works. We had about 5 or six meals during the flight. (I was just re-reading the letter I got, it’s the one from Dad, and you ask me if mother told me you went camping? This is the only letter I have received from home. Did you write one before?)

The unity I am in is not exactly a long range recon unit. It is the battalion recon platoon. Every batalion has one. Most of the time they use us almost like a line company, but I haven’t been here long enough to really say. The recon unit itself is only a platoon size. The rest of the company is made up of a 42 inch mortar platoon and a ground surveillance platoon (radar).

Since I wrote last we have had about 5 missions. The night I wrote the last letter we went on an ambush patrol. the only thing that happened was about 42 guys getting soaking wet, it rained all night. I though the day would never come. The next day we had off, I slept most of the day. The day after that we got another mission. We had to recon a valley where a comany was going to make a sweep through. They wanted to know very simply if a company could move through it easily. The next day we had a CA (Combat Assualt) into a valley sight near here. That’s a helicopter assault. Then we joined in on a sweep with another company . We just got on a line, and every village and hooch we cam to we rounded up all the people and took them with us, and searched the place real quick. By the end of the day there were over 500 people. It was near the beach so wee took them all out there near a little fishing village. The village was on the beach. When we got there we found a bunch of South Vietnamese soldiers already there. They had gone into the village and found three NVSA and killed them. I saw the bodies. It wasn’t a very pretty sight, but it didn’t really bother me. One was shot through the head and one had a couple holes in him, I don’t know which one killed him. The third was hit by a grenade launcher, it hit him in the shoulder and the shrapnel was all over the upper part of is body. They got another one while we were sitting on the beach waiting for the work to go back to Thunder. They dug up a tunnel and found him down there, they shot some grenades down the hole and wounded him. The ARVN soldiers are very brutal, they have no respect for life. Another thing out of all the people we herded out of their houses there was not one single middle aged man or woman. They oldest kid you see is about 13 yrs old, the rest old people.

Yesterday and today the platoon went out, I didn’t go. I’m not exactly sure why, they leave behind about 3 guys from each squad. One reason might be because they got work that a few people are going to be sent to the other units because we are over sized right now. The word was that the new E-5’s would be leaving but the platoon is trying to keep us. So far there has been no definite word either way. I hope I stay because that would really mess up my mailing address, I might lose some mail in the change. Until I find out for sure don’t send any packages or anything valuable. I suppose you already sent my rain jacket.

The loss of my records might create a little problem, especially in the financial section. Come pay day, I am liable not to get paid. But everything will work itself out.

The place is really pretty nice. They have a mess hall that serves good chow, the only time we eat C’s is when we go out and then we usually are back by supper time. They show a movie every night too, so the place isn’t too bad.

Well, write soon and often, mail doesn’t come often and I like to get alot.

Love,
Robin

 

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Countdown to Christmas – Time is moving too fast!

I tried! LOL!

I love to blog, as a way of journaling, I wish I could find time do it every day! I really l wanted to share Christmas all month, but Christmas at work is kicking my butt.

Last night I worked my first ever “open until midnight” shift. We had just 2 customers in the two hours we were open past normal closing. I did get things done that I had been having trouble finishing up, with the inevitable interruptions when we have shoppers in the store!

I was exhausted when I got home at 12:30, but except for an aching back, I feel pretty good this morning. Tonight is another late close and then I need to be back at the store by 7:45. It will probably all catch up with my on my day off Thursday.

I have the ideas, but most of the ideas done properly require photography as well as writing. The writing I could do but the photography done right, takes time!

I think I will have to use photos I already have to tell my Christmas story if I want to move it along!

I think I left off around day 7, and now we are just 10 days out! I am ing to try and catch up and will back date my posts so they are at least in order! Cheating I know. The ideas have been in my head!

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I had two days off last week, but those just flew right by. So many weeks my schedule is such that I get just one day off, and that many times is just not enough to fully recover!

10 days before Christmas and we still have NO TREE! If where up to me, I would not even put one up this year. I am just really not feeling it the effort it takes! Maybe just a tree with lights and no ornatments?

I have my Christmas cards printed…. now lets see if I get them addressed and mailed! Christmas shopping, two words, GIFT CARDS. Oh, and I just bought two gifts while I was sitting here!

We enjoyed unusually warm weather the past few days. When I came home from work early this morning, it was 66 degrees!

The photos are from a couple years ago, but I felt this post needed a picture or two!

 

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That is all for this post!

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Countdown to Christmas – Celebrating My Parents

Day #8

(I know, I missed day 7, it is coming!)

On this day, in 1945, my parents were married.

Thanks for all you did for us Mom & Dad. I love you both.

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Bill and Betty on their wedding day December 08, 1945

I wish they  had more time together, today would have been 70 years.

While I am sure they had their disagreements, they kept it between the two of them. They were faithfully in love; for better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health.

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My father worked hard, and sometimes long hours. Mom was at home for most of the years that us kids were growing up. She had a job when I was in elementary school, at my school, so she was never really far away! I got my love of driving (at least road trips), my punctuality, and my work ethic from my Dad. Mom and I are as similar as we are different.

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My parents loved to travel. They camped throughout much of the US and into Canada, and traveled to the Virgin Islands. They were a team when it came to driving! Dad drove, Mom navigated and kept him feed and hydrated. She would knit when they were on the open road. I loved traveling with my parents, even as a teen when so many kids didn’t want to be with their parents. After my dad passed away, we did some traveling on our own. She was a pretty amazing traveler with her camper on her own! She put a lot of miles on her Suburban and travel trailer!

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Dad’s retirement dinner with Mom and Bill 1981

 

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1982 – At the Viet Nam Memorial

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Countdown to Christmas – My Favorite Movies

Day #7

I have been watching Christmas/holiday movies on The Hallmark Channel since the beginning of November, yes a little early but not all of them are all about Christmas. Most are just about families and relationships. Some make me laugh some make me cry!

I do have have my “not made for TV” favorites too, in no real order

I have been “good” and have not watched any of them yet this year!

Do you have a favorite movie?

“Santa I know him!” Buddy the Elf.

  1. Elf
  2. The Santa Clause (1,2 & 3)
  3. Jingle all the Way
  4. Deck the Halls
  5. Christmas in Conneticuit
  6. Holiday Inn
  7. A Christmas Story

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Countdown to Christmas – Remembering Robin


Day #5

Today, I would like to remember my brother Robin, on what would have been his 66th birthday. Robin was killed in Viet Nam on 3.9.1969.

Memories of Christmas’ past with Robin are very vague to be the me, I was probably 9 or 10 the last time we celebrated with Robin at home. I wish I had clearer memories of us all together on Christmas morning.

The photo I shared above is one of only a few that I have found of me (the baby) and my siblings; Linda, Bill and Robin. This would have been my first Christmas. I was 10 months old, Robin had just turned 9, Linda was 10 and Bill would turn 12 just a few days later.

 

Kriebel Rd housed under construction/late 1957 – early 1958

 

Robin skating on Freddy Hill Pond. Great times and great memories were had on that pond!

I wonder quite often what Robin would have become had he returned from Viet Nam. Would he have a family? Would he be dealing with any of the trauma or health issues so many Viet Nam vets struggle with?  How different would our family be? One can only wonder how life would have been had that one moment in time been different.

Instead I honor and remember his life by sharing bits and pieces of his “history” that I uncover. You can read about his time in the Army in post I have written by clicking on the link below.

Remembering Robin
Love and Lattes,

Martha

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Countdown to Christmas – Christmas Cookies

  Today is National Cookie Day, which works well with the topic I already choose for today.
Day #4

Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie or holiday baking tradition!

I do not have just one favorite,  that is what is special about Christmas cookies, you don’t get them all year long.

Years ago my sister Linda and I would take a Saturday and bake all kinds of cookies. Spritz cookies with my favorite gadget the cookie gun, snicker doodles, snow balls, cut out cookies and several others. It was always a fun time.

Over the years I continued to bake cookies with friends,my mom, Tara and even alone. Tara always got bored after just a batch or two. Lately I have not had the energy in December to bake. We did participate in a cookie exchange for a couple years since we returned to PA. That was a fun way to get a variety of cookies!

For many years my mom has made Pizzelles, Italian waffle cookies. She would prepare several batches using her Pizzelle iron. She made them for many years and loves sharing with family and friends. She is not able to stand long enough to do too much in the kitchen but maybe we will make them together this year.

  
  
  
Love and lattes, Martha

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Countdown to Christmas – O Holy Night

Gwynedd Square Presbyterian Church

 
Day 3

Growing up in the 60s, before cassettes, 8 tracks, CDs and MP3 players and IPods,  we listened to music recorded on vinyl and a machine called a record player (for all you youngins).

One of the 33 rpm vinyl records I remember in our family collection was Ernie Ford Star Carol. In

On that album he sang Oh Holy Night. This has remained my favorite Christmas hymn throughout the years.

I remember first spinning the album on our portable record player and later our big console stereo

  
Click to listen:

http://youtu.be/4BuNLWRXYac

Many other artists have recorded this song and it is always beautiful, but this old recording will always bring back memories of Christmas past. 

The photo at the top of this post was take at Gywnedd Square Presbyterian Church in Lansdale, PA. This is the church I attended growing up and my mother still attends. I always loved how this shot turned out! It is also a favorite of my friend Karl. Karl’s family also attended this church back in the day. Some how after I moved back home from FL our paths crossed through our blogs! 

What is your favorite Christmas/Holiday song? I don’t really think I can pick just one more!! As much as I hate to admit it I have found myself singing (quietly) along with the holiday music at work!

Just THREE WEEKS until Christmas!

Love and Lattes,

Martha 

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Countdown to Christmas – A Very Disney Christmas

Day #2

Tara and I lived in Orlando from 2003-2009, and hands down my favorite time of year in the parks was Christmas.  Disney had something great for every season, but for me it was most magical at Christmas.

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EPCOT CHRISTMAS TREE

We would attend Very Merry Christmas Parties, and visit Christmas around the world in EPCOT.  MGM (now Disney Hollywood Studios) had the Osbourne Spectacle of Lights. Downtown Disney and all of the resorts were decked out in their holiday finest.

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Spectacle of Lights – Disney Hollywood Studios

We started our real Christmas celebration at Disney the day after Thanksgiving, when my sister, Linda and friend Bobbie would visit Disney on their annual girl’s week vacation. It made it extra special to have family and friends to visit the parks. We would always try to attend a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party one night at Magic Kingdom, and another night we would plan a meal a 50’s Prime Time Cafe, and take in the Spectacle of Lights. One year we even met a family from the UK that we I had met on line. We had dinner and attended the MVMCP with them.

Most times we stayed out of the parks the week of Christmas because of the crazy crowds. In 2006, Mom had suffered a broken femur and traveled to stay with us for a few weeks. She arrived Christmas Eve and On Christmas morning we went to Magic Kingdom for breakfast, we left before it got too very crowded, as Mom had to be in a wheelchair and it was a bit tough navigating.

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Tara with MIckey and MInnie at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party


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Mom arrived on Christmas Eve this particular year and we had breakfast in Magic Kindgom on Christmas Morning.


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Chocolate and Gingerbread Carousel at The Beach Club Resort


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Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian

We may not have had snow or cold weather for Christmas, but those six years were probably the years I had the most Christmas spirit ever. Looking back it was such a special time in our lives that I am thankful for the memories.

Hopefully some year soon we will be able to make a trip back to Orlando, I would love for it to be during the holidays!

Do you travel at Christmas? What is your favorite destination?

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