I consider myself extremely privileged to have received permission from Ron Davenport to place his four letters on this website. Ron Davenport served with the US Marines (1-1-1) in Vietnam. At the time he was wounded, he was with the Scouts.
A little background: The first three letters were dictated by Davenport, while he was hospitalized in Da Nang, to a USO volunteer named Lucy Caldwell. Many years after his tour of duty in Vietnam, Davenport had not forgotten Ms Caldwell.
Shortly after arriving in Washington DC for the dedication of the Women's Memorial, and full of hope that he might find Ms Caldwell, Ron was informed that she had died several years previously. Lucy Caldwell was in her 60's when she served in Vietnam.
The last letter is written by Ron Davenport's mother.
Tom Dier April 21, 1998
Dear Mom and Dad,
By now you may have heard that I'm in the Naval Hospital in Da Nang.
Yesterday when we were on patrol, it was about four thirty in the afternoon. "We", meaning Staff Sgt. Ward, Caporrosso and myself. We walked into some enemy fire and here I am. We were with two squads from "Alpha" Co. and we had a prisoner from the County Fair. He led us straight into an ambush and Sgt. Ward, the prisoner and I were the only ones hit. The Sgt. was hit in the arm - the prisoner was lightly wounded and I was hit twice - once in the left thigh bone causing a fracture and the other in my right chest - none of it too serious.
Put the beer in the Ice Box - the kids coming home - all in one piece too. The doctors say I'll be flown to the States within the next two days.
Just to tell you not to worry - I'll write you again in a couple of days.
God Bless and Keep All of You - All my love, Son
PS: Father Muccilli spent a lot of time with me since I came into the hospital.
I've written this letter exactly as your son has asked me to. It's an honor to do even a small favor for a man who is doing so much for us all. Lucy Caldwell USO
Dear Mom and Dad,
I wish that I could write you that I'm getting well fast, but, at times it is quite discouraging.
Everything is fine except for my left foot and leg. The doctors have put the leg in traction to help the circulation - the doctors are doing a terrific job and they say that I should be on my way home to the States very soon.
I'm glad you enjoyed the trip to Arizona - perhaps we can do it together when I get home. So Darrel is down with pneumonia still - give him my best and tell him I hope he gets well soon.
Don't worry about malaria - I'll be home before it catches up with me again. My mail has started catching up with me and I have the two packages you sent - everything is great. And don't worry about the promotion - it will come eventually.
I guess I'll be spending my R and R at home -
This fills you in with the little I know - I'm fine and hope you are all the same.
God Bless and keep you well - All my love, Son
Ron does seem better tonight and looking forward to home - I'm sure he'll be on the way soon. Lucy Caldwell USO
August 19, 1967
Dear Mom and Dad,
The new is a bit mixed tonight. The doctors finally amputated my left leg below the knee. I know you're probably shook up about it but don't be as it really was the only thing to do.
The good news is that I'm leaving for California in the morning. It may take us three or four days on the way but, in any case, I'll call you as soon as I get to the hospital:--
Don't get any ideas about selling my car because it's a 4-speed, because the doctors said that I could ski, roller skate and drive cars just as before.
I'll be talking to soon - Love, Son
(There are no comments from Lucy at the end of this letter)
August 23, 1967
Hi Darlin! Thought I had better write you a letter just in case they don't fly you home as fast as we had hoped they would. How are you feeling? I hope you are as comfortable as is possible under the circumstances.
Honey we were notified Sunday morning, the 20th, of the loss of your leg. The same officer, Maj. Rohm from Pasadena, came out both times. We were notified that you had been injured on Tues. the 15th. Then we got another telegram on Thurs. the 17th saying you had improved. Maj. Rohm was so kind and considerate.
Then there is Lt. Pierce and Father Muccilli. They will always have a special place in my heart. The letters they wrote to us have meant so very much to us at this time. It is so wonderful to know that there are people in the world who care about someone else's feelings. Their letters have certainly been a comfort to us.
The news that you had lost your leg was quite a shock to us and we are so sorry that it had to happen to our wonderful son but we are so thankful to God that we still have you. I don't think we have to tell you how we feel, you are so dear and precious to us. It hurts terribly to imagine what you have gone through this past week when there wasn't one thing we could do to help you or comfort you. We know that you will come through this ordeal with flying colors, you have what it takes to do that. You certainly have a lot of people pulling for you too. We have had so many phone calls and visits from people who are so concerned. You have so many friends.
We are so hoping that they will send you to San Diego. Then we can spend so much time with you and maybe later when you are better, you can even come home on weekends. Dave has been doing that for some time now.
Well my precious boy, I will close for now and get this in the mail. Dad and the little ones send love, hugs and kisses. Till we see you, may God bless and keep you.
I love you Mom
Give Lucy Caldwell my love and a God bless.
I was never able to give Lucy this last request. I was already in Japan when Mom's letter was written, had refused to get back on the Med Flight, and told the Air Force doctors that I wouldn't until I had seen a Navy doctor. After being transferred to Yokuska, my leg was amputated above the knee on the 22nd, and a hip disarticulation was done the 23rd or 24th of August. The Marine Corps had lost me in transit, later Mom tracked me down by placing "person to person" phone calls to every Naval Hospital between California and Vietnam until she got me. It was my task to inform them that the "whole" leg was gone. I wouldn't see California again until the 10th or so, of October, two years after enlisting in the Corps for four years.
I keep these letters in the book that Nancy Smoyer sent me, "SIN/ONE WAY/ECONOMY CLASS", written by Lucy Caldwell. If there is anyone who had to tell me that Lucy had died before I could find her, I am thankful that it was Nancy. Nancy's note is also kept in this book along with a few other remembrances.
The title of Lucy's book is taken from her ticket to Saigon. Darrell was a neighbor kids dad, Dave is a school mate (also a Marine WIA before me), Father Muccilli is the Priest that Baptized me in Nam (another story), and Lt. Pierce is the only Officer to write my parents (he had been OIC of Supply for awhile before I had volunteered for Scouts) and he had heard of my being wounded after he was transferred to Regiment.
Mom, give Lucy my love, and a hug, you both are already Blessed. See ya later.
And Nancy, Thank You!
Copyright 1998 © Ron Davenport All Rights Reserved
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