A perfect storm of tumultuous events thundered through the United States in 1968, precipitating rebellion, race riots and rancor as the post-World War II Baby Boomers, vanguard of the nation’s largest generation, prepared to vote in their first presidential election. Americans protested the undeclared war in Vietnam, raged at the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and thumbed the establishment with draft-card burnings.

The national mood soured on the endless — and seemingly unwinnable — war in Vietnam, 12,000 miles distant yet telecast into millions of living rooms each evening on the 6 o’clock news. In 1968, its deadliest year, the undeclared war claimed the lives of 16,592 American forces. Delaware, the country’s second-smallest state, mourned the loss of 36 men in 1968.

A Voice from the War

Army Spc. Robert V. Hudson, a resident of Milton, Del., expressed the mood of many American soldiers fighting in a distant country while a different sort of war raged at home. Hudson was assigned to the 1st Transportation Battalion, Aircraft Maintenance Depot (Seaborne), aboard the USNS Corpus Christi Bay, a converted Navy seaplane tender transformed into a mobile helicopter repair facility, stationed off Vung Tau, Vietnam.


June 10, 1968
Dear Nancy,

I am prepared to give my life in defense of my country; but now there is a question mark! To what do I surrender my life if the time should come? To rioters, racists, murderers, or corrupt politicians? No, only to these strong-hearted people of South Vietnam, for I am ashamed, ashamed of my own people. I hope the people could only realize how they tear down the morale of the fighting man in Vietnam at a [time] when he must be fully in control of his wits. Do you know how scared I am to return home! I’d rather take my chances with Charlie. I pray for peace once more in the United States of America.
The wishes of my comrades are the same as mine. May the Good Lord guide you, “my fellow Americans!”

Army Spc. Robert V. Hudson
 

 
 

 
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