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Western Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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he following letters were written by a Marine to his own mother, following the death of his friend, LCPL Ralph Erdely.

                                                                      12 May 1966

Dear Mom,

          Well here I am on the battle front, and I mean battle front.  Today one of our squads ran into an ambush of over two hundred V.C.  The squad had only 14 men.  Only two men made it out alive.  My Very Best friend Ralph Erdely was shot and killed and also the other eleven were very good good friends.  I finally broke down and cried my heart out.  He really was a good man and was looking forward to your letter.  I hope God takes good care of him.

          Mom this might sound kind of stupid but will you write Ralph's mom a letter and tell her how I feel about him and all that stuff.  I am sure you could write a letter better than I ever could.

          You can tell her he died a very very brave man.  He was shot several times in the legs and then once in the head.  He died trying to drag another man to safety, but as I said 200 to 14 just ain't going to get it.  I hope you understand.

          I am going to close for now but will you please please please pray for me and every one else over here.  I hope I have the strength to carry on for five more months.


                                                           14 May 1966

My Dearest Mom,

          ...It's been 2 days since I lost my best friend.  I am still pretty hurt and shook up but there is nothing I can do except swear every VC I find will die, and not fast.  He was wounded and the whole squad were wounded and over a hundred VC came out and took all their weapons and shot him in the head.  Mother I swear I am going to kill every VC I find.  I have no more pity for these stinking people over here anymore.  You can bet if I ever get it there will be a hundred VC that go down with me just like my 12 buddies did.  I don't really know what has happened to me, I really have changed quite a bit, I know it's a change for the worse but I really don't care any more.  Please write Ralph's mom like I asked you to.

          I am glad you sent this paper and envelope, but don't send too many at a time.  Okay.

          We killed an estimated 175 VC yesterday.  You can bet we are kicking a__ and taking names.  We only have 28 men left in the first platoon.  2 squads.  I am now the second squad leader.  By the way I think I made Lance Corporal, but now I have to wait until promotions come out to find out.  Okay.

          Please give everyone at Home all my love and kisses and I wish you a very happy Birthday and all that good stuff And Please Please Please pray for me.

                                               Love Always your
                                                       War torn Man

I love you

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