"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The White House Christmas Card

1968 Chevy Camaro

by Frank Fox

1968 was a good year for the Chevrolet Camaro, but that’s about all it was good for ...

When Chevrolet brought out the Camaro in 1967, most young men thought that was THE car to have when they got out.

I still have a price book for the 1968 Camaro in my attic somewhere.

For the Vietnam War, 1968 established a record for American KIA’s and WIA’s (as if we were trying to achieve a record).  I do apologize for my choice of the word ‘record’, as it is most commonly attached to some noteworthy, positive event.

To start the year in January, the Tet Offensive was one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War.  It launched on January 30, 1968, by forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army against the forces of South Vietnam, the United Sates, and their allies.

It was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian commands and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side, up to that point in the war. 

Many lives were lost at Hue on all sides: US, NVA, ARVN, and civilians.

The Battle at Khe Sanh started Jan 21 and lasted until 9 July 1968. The fighting near Khe Sanh started in 1967 and escalated after the first of the year, but for Americans in uniform, anywhere in country was brutal.

America lost over 16,000 in 1968. If you do the horrible math, that is averaging 44 young American warriors every day for a year.

Admittedly, I have to stop for a moment ... I have a knot in my throat and my fingers won’t type -- and I am not ashamed to say it either.  (I wasn’t trying to bring you all down with me, just share a bit of terrible perspective).

We can even go back a few years to remember the assassination of Kennedy, the Civil Rights unrest, Charles Whitman on the tower at the University of Texas on August 1, 1967, and of course the ongoing Vietnam War escalation during 1967.

The 1968 Timeline was chock full of black eyes for America:

Jan. Tet Offensive Hue, Khe Sanh.

Jan. 10,000th airplane lost over Vietnam.

Feb. MLK assassinated.

Mar. LBJ says he will not run again.

Apr. 541,000 military in Vietnam.

Jun. RFK assassinated.

Aug. Protesters abused and beat up by policeman in Chicago.

Sept. At the Democratic convention in Chicago, cameras covered police beating up quiet protesters in the streets.

I might also add that in May of 1970, National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed students, killing four at Ohio's Kent State.

We were fighting in Vietnam  We were fighting at home. All Americans, (except the ones who wage war), were war-weary.  We sorely needed a break to rebuild America.

Tricky Dick didn’t help. He promised to end the war during his first term, but didn’t even try until his second term, and you know the rest of the story ... except the part he played in my birthday in 1974.  He resigned on my birthday in 1974 -- the best present I could have gotten.

Now to the Christmas card ...

LBJ's Christmas Card
In December of 1967, I was stationed with the Marines at Kaneohe, Hawaii -- hey, someone had to be there.

With all that was going on, I thought, what better way to 'thank' LBJ than an insincere Christmas card?  So, I sent one off into the abyss of mail that goes to the White House.

At the time, I was working nights in the emergency room, because it gave me a chance to do college studies when it was quiet.

I usually got up midday, as I was berthed in the clinic with my position.

One afternoon, I decided I would head to the mail room.  The closer I got, the more people that followed me.

I picked up my mail and there was this envelop from the White House. I opened it and it was a Christmas card from LBJ and Lady Bird (after all these years, you DO see they had the same initials) a.k.a. Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson.

I guess they thought I had sent a sincere Christmas card, but remember, it’s the thought that counts ...

Frank Fox
Combat Medic
Sea/Air Rescue
US Navy with USMC
August 1964 – August 1970 (6 years 1 month)

More Articles by Frank Fox:

War: Some Are Better Prepared
Our Generation
The Marine and the Cure
More Thoughts on War and Youth
Opinions, Thoughts and Feelings
A Different PerspectiveA Worthy Rebuttal to Mr. Garrison

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history.

Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.


  1. 1968 - another milestone was achieved - I WAS DRAFTED!

  2. 1968 I was in Pleiku with the 4th Infantry. Not a good time to remember! We had so many gooks in the wire around camp we didn't have time to get them all out. It was non stop for awhile.

    1. I was in Pleiku and An Khe in 1970. Maybe it's time we stopped calling them gooks. They were also young men prepared to die for their country if called on to do so. After more than 40 years, we should be able to recognize them as fellow soldiers - enemies then, but not now.


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