By Mike Lander on
DPI recently acquired a collection of photos which also included letters written to Len Alberici of West Babylon, N. Y. from soldiers attached to the 25th Infantry Division in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War in 1967-1968. From reading these letters it became evident that this was a close knit group of friends who one by one went off to serve their country.
The letters represent primary documents depicting the situation that these soldiers found themselves in. Speaking for myself, I also served in Korea for 20 months during 1969-1970, having entered the service in January 1968. So these men were and will always be my contemporaries. If not for them it could have been me. Luck of the draw I guess. Whenever I meet a Vietnam veteran I give him a special salute and a hearty “Welcome Home”.
From reading these letters it is evident that Alberici was the last of this group to enter the military. One of the letters is written by a friend while still in the United States completing his Airborne training. All of the others were serving in Vietnam. By January 1968, at the time of Tet, the draft call had reached 30,000 men a month, and it was not much of a question of “Will I be called?” but rather “when”? There was no lottery at this time. If you were classified 1-A your only option was to go to Canada unless you had serious political connections. The reserves and the Coast Guard were not serious options as they were overbooked. Enlistment, in my case, proved the right way to go even though it was for 3 years active duty. If you waited to get drafted it meant 2 years and you had absolutely no choice as to where you could could be sent or what your duty assignment would be. I was fortunate enough to have finished college. And so four days after my last college final exam I found myself in basic training. I missed going to my college graduation needless to say.
You can study the letters in detail at: http://www.dispatchpressimages.com/event/letters-from-vietnam_1392.