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War Stories

New Mexico Family Adopts Division's AeroRifle Platoon



Vol 1 - No 18 - 2 Dec 1966

Receiving letters from home at evening mail call is often said to be the best part of a soldier's day. This is especially true 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, the family of Mrs. Iva Jo Parratt of Carlsbad, N.M., decided to do something to let the men in Vietnam know that someone was thinking of them. Mrs. 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, but also adopt.

Knowing the best way to gain quick results was to start at the top, she addressed the letter to any Major General in Vietnam. The letter was brought to the attention of Col. Robert J. Coakley, information officer for U.S. Army, Vietnam. Col. Coakly thanked Mrs. Parratt for her voluntary offer to assist our fighting men a with this new and admirable method of correspondence." He added that she would soon hear from a platoon. Her letter was forwarded to the "Tropic Lightning" Division.

Once the letter arrived at Cu Chi, the Aero Rifle Platoon, D Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav was selected as the platoon to be adopted by the Parratts. Filled with enthusiasm after hearing from Col. Coakley, Mrs. Parratt did not wait to hear from the platoon. She wrote directly to them using the partial address she had received from the colonel. In her first letter she introduced her family and explained why it 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?" She went on to describe each of her four children, "We have just purchased a new home," she added, "with an acre of land ..." In closing, Mrs. Parratt confessed she didn't ever know many men were in a platoon but her family was anxiously waiting to hear from them.

The letter was answered by the platoon leader, 1st Lt. John Alto, 24, of Seaside, Ore. He thanked the Parratts for their thoughtful offer and then explained that they had just adopted 42 infantrymen. He expressed hope that the Parratts would find the platoon and D Troop as interesting as she hoped. Lt. Alto stated that the family's interest in the platoon was a great morale booster.

In her return letter, Mrs. Parratt did not seem at all shocked by the adoption of 42 men, but was enthused with the project. She wrote that since she was a Cub Scout den mother, Lt. Alto's information about the platoon was a great help to her. She said that all of the children were very interested in what was happening in Vietnam.

The platoon recently received a box of fudge from the Parratt family as well as the weekly letter. The men of the Aero Rifle Platoon write as often as possible.