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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Content Description
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
    Title: Lee Umlauf Vietnam War correspondence
    Creator: Umlauf, Lee, Sergeant, b. 1948
    source: Umlauf, Lee, Sergeant, b. 1948
    Identifier/Call Number: 2017.269.w.r
    Physical Description: .24 Linear Feet (3 folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1969 March 3 - 1970 September 10
    Abstract: This collection contains 70 correspondence from Sgt. Lee Umlauf, USA, to his parents in Ashland, PA during the Vietnam War.
    Material Specific Details: A letter (no date) around August 1969 is encased in plastic because it was used for an exhibit and the plastic was cut to fit.
    Language of Material: English .
    Container: Vietnam 3
    Container: 1-3

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Lee Umlauf


    This collection is arranged chronologically.

    Biographical / Historical

    Sergeant Lee Umlauf, United States Army (b. 11/2/1948) was born in Ashland, Pennsylvania. He began his service with the Army at Fort Dix in 1969. He entered thein the Vietnam war with A Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, later serving with the 120th Transportation Company, US Army Transportation Corps. Sgt. Umlauf moved back to Ashland after the war and was awarded the Bronze Star in 2017, as well as other service medals he was unaware that he had earned.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item title, Box number, Folder number], Lee Umlauf Vietnam War correspondence (2017.269.w.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.

    Content Description

    This collection contains 70 correspondence from Sergeant Lee Umlauf, U.S. Army, to his parents in Ashland, Pennsylvania during the Vietnam War. Sgt. Umlauf signed each of his letters as "The Kid." In one letter, dated 15 October 1969, he mused on what he's fighting for, writing, "After all that's what we're fighting for. Motherhood, Apple pie, and the N.Y. Mets." Refer to the individual series for more information about the letters.
    In his letters, he writes about starting his basic training and classes at Fort Dix, New Jersey, the quality of the food and barracks, feeling exhausted from physical training, learning hand-to-hand and ranged combat skills, being shipped from military base to military base across Vietnam and never settling at one, wishing his brothers happy birthdays, being assigned to the mechanical unit Co. A 1st Battalion 16th Infantry 1st Division, missing President Richard Nixon when he came to visit, learning about his discharge date, losing "all track of time. I don't even know what day it is", meeting his platoon sergeant who also happens to be from a neighborhood near his own, patrolling track trails in an APC, participating in his first combat action during Operation Kentucky Cougar, realizing after being exposed to combat that "after a while when your mind gets all messed up and your not afraid anymore its fun", hearing about the death of North Vietnamese Prime Minister Ho Chi Minh, participating in a mad-minute in order to get rid of their ammunition, hunting local fauna with friends and fellow troopers, taking part in more battles, slowly making his way up in the ranks, uncovering a hidden cache with "enough stuff to arm two battalions of V.C.", applying to go to Hong Kong during leave, falling ill with jungle rot and ringworm, partying hard during standdown, surviving an attack by the Viet Cong while some of his compatriots are killed, being annoyed that he has to celebrate his "21st birthday, sitting here drinking Kool-aid and it's very hard to blow your mind on Kool-aid", avenging his fallen friends, and wishing his mom a happy birthday. Included with his letters are pages from the Iron Ranger newsletter and a list of soldiers recommended for promotion to Specialist Rank E-4 (on which Umlauf is listed).
    Sgt. Umlauf later writes about what he wants in his care packages, clearing the jungle of trees and Viet Cong with Rome plows, doing nothing particularly special for Thanksgiving but "The only things I can think of that I'm thankful for is I'm still alive and getting shorter every day", being promoted to Specialist Rank E-4, resolving to stay in the Army until his service his complete and he can go home a free man, hearing that some of his friends have been drafted while others managed to get out of it, spending Christmas eve drinking alone in his tent, making early preparations for his return back to the US in the coming months, exchanging letters with a woman named Helen in Ohio, running supply convoys between villages and military bases, managing to take a small excursion to Taipei, Taiwan, being transferred to a new unit, hoping he isn't promoted again because "It might mess me up in the next unit. A 4 can cham a lot better than a five can", and being promoted to sergeant in the 537th Personnel Service Company. Also included in this series are special orders forms from the Army, photographs, film negatives, and newspaper clippings.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The donor retains all copyrights to this material and it is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any and all permissions from the donor before using this content.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Vietnam War (1961-1975) -- Vietnam.
    Vietnam War (1961-1975) -- Correspondence
    Vietnam War (1961-1975) -- Personal narratives, American
    Vietnam War (1961-1975) -- Campaigns
    Umlauf, Raymond
    Umlauf, Raymond, Mrs.
    Umlauf, Lee, Sergeant, b. 1948