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War Stories

Mrs Parratt Adopts the Aerorifles

by Larry Sanders (Newspaper Staff Writer)
From the Carlsbad Current-Argus Newspaper (Carlsbad, New Mexico) 16 Nov 1996

Carlsbad Family 'Adopts' Army Platoon In Vietnam

The family of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Parratt, 919 Standpipe Road, have started a project to let the men in Vietnam know that someone is thinking of them.

Receiving letters from home at evening mail call is often said to be the best part of a soldier's day. This is especially tru for the American fighting man in Vietnam, who is thousands of miles from home. Even a short note containing bits of news and a few words of encouragement is a great help.

Aware of this, Mrs. Henry Parratt began by writing a blind letter to anyone in Vietnam who could supply her with the address of a platoon that she could not only write to, but also adopt.

Knowing the best way to gain quick results was to start at the top, Mrs. Parratt addressed the letter to any Major General in Vietnam.

The letter was brought to the attention of Col. Robert J. Coakley, the information officer for the U. S. Army, Vietnam. Col. Coakley thanked her for the voluntary offer to assist the fighting men "with this new and admirable method of correspondence."

He added that she would soon hear from a platoon, and that her letter had been forwarded to the 25th Infantry ("Tropic Lightning") Division.

Once the letter reached the 25th Division,, the Aero Rifle Platoon, D Troop,m 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, was selected as the platoon to be adopted by the Parratts. They were chosen because of the nature of their work and the fine results accomplished by their unique unit.

Filled with enthusiasm after hearing fro Col. Coakley, Mrs. Parratt, did not wait to hear from the platoon, but wrote directly to them, using a limited address she had received fro Coakley.

In her first letter Mrs. Parratt introduced her family and explained why they wanted to adopt a unit in Vietnam. She wrote, "I know letters from home are a help to the fighting men in Vietnam, I love to write letters, so why shouldn't I help in the way I can."

As she went on, Mrs. Parratt described each of her four children, and told how each was doing in school. She further explained the there husband is a customer service manager in Carlsbad for Sear, Roebuck, and Co.

"We have just purchase a home," she added, " with an acre of land, and had a nice garden this year."

In her letter, and all of the letters to follow, Mrs. Parratt was very informal, which caused the reader to feel as if he had known the Parrots for years. In closing Mrs. Parratt confessed she didn't even know how many men were in a platoon, but the family was anxiously awaiting to hear from the Aero Rifle Platoon.

The letter was answered by the platoon leader, 1st Lieutenant John Alto, 24, of Seaside, Ore. He thanked the Parrots for their thoughtful offer and explained that they had just adopted 42 infantrymen.

Alto went on to explain that the Aero Rifle Platoon is the 25th Division's strike force. He stated that the platoon was called on to perform many diversified tasks, with missions ranging from night ambushes to protecting a shower point in a new life hamlet constructed by the Division.

"Many times," he wrote, "we are scrambled on a moment's notice and briefed as we fly to the objective area." He expressed hope that the Parrots would find the platoon and D Troop as interesting and exciting as he and his men did.

Alto stated that the family's interest in the platoon was a great morale booster for all concerned.

In here return letter Mrs. Parratt did not seem at all shocked by the adoption of 42 men, but was more enthused with the project. She wrote that since she was a Cub Scout den mother, the information on the Aero Rifles Platoon sent by Lieut. Alto was a great help to her, and stated that all of the children were very interested in what was going on in Vietnam.

Recently the platoon received a box of fudge from the Parratt family as well as the weekly letter. The men of the Aero Rifle Platoon appreciated the Parratt's thoughtfulness and write as often as possible. "The Parratts are really great people to undertake such a task as this," added Alto.