These letters were written to Randy in January 1969 by boys attending Boys High School in Topeka Kansas.


How are you? Fine I hope.

My name is David Ely. I’m at the B.I.S. where Mr. Haynes works and he told us about you so we could write you. You wouldn’t happen to know a Jim Ely would you. He is my brother and he has red hair. What do you do in Viet Nam. And what is it like. The address in case you want to write is
David Ely, Shawnee Cottage, Boys Industrial School, Topeka, Kansas 66608

I am from Wichita myself.

Well I gotta go.


Hi Randy,

Whats happening over there. Hope everything is OK. Everything is just fine here. I’ll leave in about a year ? ? ? I’m Roosevelt Harris & write me.

See Ya!


Dear Randy,

My name is James Gatewood and I’m staying at the Boys Industrial School for the time being, hope to go home soon.

Randy I hope that every thing alright over there. I had a brother over there the year May of 67 to June of 68. He was a Sgt. and his name was Charles Gatewood.

I would be glad to know you so if you get the time to write do so.

I hope you get to come home soon. Wish you luck in the future.

Sincerely, yours

James Anthony Gatewood

Dear Randy

My name is Thomas Odell Kelly. How are things in V.C. I hope you come back to your home. I live in Topeka.

Races, Afro American, Black and Beautiful, 5 foot 11 inches, 1952 Dec. 12 16 year old, 1710 Fillmore Topeka, Kansas, record Soul

We will have Mr. Haynes to send a 5th of so & so to get your Spirets up

Thomas Odell Kelly

Dear Randy:

How are you? Fine I hope. I am doing fine. This might be the only letter you get from me because I am leaving the 17th of this month, home that is from B.I.S.

Mr. Haynes as been doing me just fine. Well the only thing I got to say is don’t be scared of things over there its going to be hard but try.

My brother was over in that junk yard, but he got out the hard way, he got hit in the arm by a mortar shell an couldnt bend his arm all the way out. He was sent home on leave and then to Panama and was made sergant.

Well I don’t have much more to say for now so by for now. If you want to write me send the letter to {1049 Boswell St. Topeka, Kansas} By the way I live in Topeka

PS “Good Luck” and “Take it Easy”

Your, Friend

Stanley Johnson {nickname} Jo-Jo

Dear Randy

How are you doing? fine I hope. My name is Melvin Martin. And do you know my uncle his name is Larry Smith and he have been thier about a year and I hope to see him when he come home if I’m out of B,I,S. And I have been up here about 9 months and I hope to leave here about May I hope if I’m Luck. Well I will see you soon and take it esy man.

Melvin Martin

Dear Randy,

1-15-68 {?}

how are you doing? I am doing fine myself. I bet this Boys Industrial School is almost like being over there. I hope you make it.

Sincerly yours,

Joe Graham


Jan. 15, 1969

Hi, My name is Mike English. I am in Shawnee cottage. Mr. Haynes is one of my supervisor here, and he said you wanted to hear from somebody, so I am writing.

I had a Uncle over in Vietnam, maybe you knew him. His name was Leo English. He came back in July.

How are you and the boys doing. Fine I hope. I’m doing fine, (I hope).

Well I have to go know. Hope you are having good luck. Write back, and tell me how you are doing.

Good Luck

Mike English

Good Luck!!!!


Like Hi. I’m Allan Bowes. I wish I knew you so I’d know more what to say, but I guess you can’t have everything. I don’t envy you at all, man. What I’ve heard Vietnam no good. I can’t see what good all the killing is doing over there. Maybe when you’re over there like you it’s a different picture. Anyway good luck. I really mean it. I might be over there someday.

I’ve got a brother-in-law in Thailand. His name’s Dick Hageman. If you ever run into him say hi for me.

I’ll tell you about me. I’m 16 and in this lousy Boys Industrial School. I got myself up here now I’m working like Hell to get out. BIS has helped and I know myself now. Once I get out I’m going to stay that way.

If you ever get a lot of time which I doubt if you do I really like to hear from you and hear how you feel about Vietnam. I’d really like to know.

Take it easy

Alan Bowes

Dear Randy;

How are you? I hope every thing is going mainly your way. And I hope more of us have guts enough to do what you are trying to do for us. Someday I hope to do my part for the world.

I hate cutting a letter short but I have to take a shower.

So thank you for helping us who are still here in the states.

Unknown Friend

Buck Shaddin

PS I am from Leavenworth, Kansas maybe you know someone from there. Tell everyone hello and thanks.


How are I hope fine. I live to Topeka now. You don’t know who I am. My name is Craig Miller I am 16 year old 5′ 1/2″ tall. Mr. Haynes told to write and say hi so hi I we’ll sign off now.

Your Friend

Craig Miller

Hi Randy

How are you doing. I have a half, Brother in the army He’s a captain his name is Bill Davenport So I just wanted to know if you know him and also one of my Friend’s is over there his name is Chuck Ashman So you might know him too. You take it eazy and stay in one pice. “And don’t try to be a Herole”

Your Friend

John Polond

Dear Randy

How is everything doing. Well first off My name is Steve Morse. I live in topeka. On the West side of town. I 16 years old. I have two sisters 23 and 19 and two brother. 20 and 9 years old. I live with my mom. I bet it pretty bad over in Vietnam. I have let you go now. so take it easy. Write Back some time

Steve Morse

Hey Randy

How are you doing. I though I would drop a few lines and say hello. First of all I would like to tell a few thing about myself. I play football. I’m a middle linebacker I letter years in it so far. I also like girls and cars. Well how is it in Viet Nam, I hope I won’t have to good. I have a half-brother over there. Well I’ll see you now.

Your Turly

Paul J. Martinez


How is everything over there? I hope you win so you can come back & become a hippie & talk about peace. Were having a blast up here four boys are leaving & I hope to soon. Mr. Haynes probably tell you about himself going to Savana Georgia. In case you don’t know who I am & you don’t my name is Jim Jaumle.

Well I’ll see You!

Jim Jaumle

PEACE (hand-drawn Peace symbol and two-finger Victory symbol)