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August 25, 2006
This letter was given to me by Joan Lee, sister of Thomas Van Campen (pictured here), both of her parents have passed away.

173d Airborne Brigade (SEPARATE)
APO San Francisco, 96250
Apr. 22, 1965

Hello, Mudda, hello, Fadda, here I am in Okinawa.
H O! HO! HO! Well I bet you’re wondering if my ship sunk, or I ended up in Davy Jones’s Locker, or what. Well, I arrived here safely and am getting along famously. My job here in the finance office is different from the one I had at Bragg. I am a combination clerk typist and driver. I like the working conditions here a lot better because everything is on a much smaller scale. I spend much of my time driving around the island to find out where everything is. Last weekend Jordan and I went cave exploring. There are still a lot of the caves left that the Japanese used during the war.
We found some bullets and bones in one cave.

You wouldn’t believe how inexpensive some things are here. You can buy an eight piece set of hand-painted china for around $10.00. there are also many other bargains from tailored Italian-silk suits to handmade lacquer-ware, for which Okinawa is world famous.

We have to sleep with mosquito nets although there aren’t too many mosquitoes this early in the year.

Did Fred go to Alaska? If so, send me his address there. Jordan had been here for a month before I go here. He wondered what took me so long. The boat trip took fifteen days. We stopped in Honolulu for a day. Things are really expensive there. It is a beautiful place though and the climate is wonderful. The boat trip was something. The guy sleeping above me threw up all over me one night. Before I forget, would you order me another subscription to the Mercury. It’s nice to know what’s going on around Oroville. You ought to see the television programs they have here. It’s funny to see Hoss Cartwright or Charley Wooster talking in Japanese. But I think the funniest one is “I Love Lucy”. Another thing I like about working here is that the people are a lot easier to work with. They’re always in good humor and they stay off your back. I am on office C.Q. tonight, which means, that I have to sleep here in the office and keep an eye on things. This isn’t bad at all because it gives me a chance to use this typewriter for this letter.
How is Pat and the family? I wish I had had a chance to see them before I left. Give her my address too. I feel like a giant here. All of the people seem so small.
I think the average height is about five foot-three.

Did you have a nice Easter? I ran into a priest here that I knew from Fort Ord. Excuse me a minute while I get some coffee before the cafeteria closes. Whew, just made it. A hot dog and a cup of coffee sure hit the spot late at night.

Oh, by the way, I haven’t forgotten about that $17.00 I owe you. You’ll get it as soon as I get paid.
What a pity, here I sit with over $100,000 and a loaded .45. I could make a clean getaway.
It’s a shame I’m so honest (HA, HA, HA,)

You can probably tell by the way I’m typing that I’m getting pretty tired, so I better hang it up for the night, and sack out for the duration.
Love, Tom
More on Thomas next week

Stu’s notes:
I used this letter because it tells about our young soldiers, full of life and spirit with that youthful sense of humor. Thomas was lost in Vietnam just two months after this letter was written.
He and 10’s of thousand’s of American men like him will be honored on the steps of the Veterans Memorial Hall, September 15th at 6:45pm.

We will have our POW/MIA Recognition Day with Ted Grainger as our M.C. and music by Jim Mangus. I sincerely hope you will mark your calendars and come.

James Townsend, one of our newest members, has started off running.
He is the brother of Oroville Veterans Memorial Park Co-Chair, Bill Connelly.
He and his father Jim have organized a Tri-tip and Chicken BBQ dinner fund raiser for our memorial. It will be at the Veterans Memorial Hall on Montgomery Street, September 9th, 2006, from 6:00 to 7:30PM. The tickets are $15 in advance and $17.50 at the door. Tickets can be purchased from any OVMPC member also at Bill Connelly’s office at 5280 Lower Wyandotte Rd. near the corner of Las Plumas Avenue.
For more information you can call James at 589-5748.

We want to thank Bill Fox and crew for cooking and serving Hot Dogs at the Concert in the park last night at River Bend Park. They were great.