“Dear John” Letters

Record numbers during Vietnam War


A “Dear John” letter is one in which a fiancee or wife tells a soldier she is finished with him, often because she has met another man.

The final months of my Vietnam tour I was Charlie Troop 1/9th mail clerk. While performing those duties I recall delivering at least two “Dear John” letters; I’m sure there were many more…


Filed under Vietnam War

12 responses to ““Dear John” Letters

  1. Not many more, plenty more! It was the scourge of the war. It was the non-combatant wound that was hard to heal!

  2. usastruck

    Dennis, I take it you are referring to a personal experience…

  3. Glen

    I can remember a couple of guy’s in my outfit receiving a dear John..pretty sad…

  4. sam smith

    In 1968 I was a engineer on CH47 coming into a fire base, some guy got a Dear John and started going nuts and we were called off because he started shooting at everything. Dakto area 4th inf. div. She must have been some Liberal *itch.

  5. laura williams

    It was not one way. I was asked to wait for my high school boyfriend to get home. I said yes with great joy. I was a freshman in college and he was a sniper in the Nam. I faithfully wrote letters and had my friends do the same. When I went home on spring break his sister told me that he was pre engaged to another girl. The news shattered my young heart. I confronted him in a letter and he never wrote back. Left lots of unanswered questions, betrayal, and a broken heart.

  6. I was sitting in a scruffy little shack with my bare butt hanging over a can taking care of business when a certain someone decided to vent his “Dear John” frustration by firing up the latrine with a .45 hand gun. Suffice it to say I assumed a prone position and prayed until I heard the sound of gunfire move further away. I low-crawled though the scum and crabs on the floor and peaked out to see him walking down the fire break between hootches firing randomly in every direction, reload, continue. I could see guys diving for cover for a hundred yards ahead. I pulled up my own drawers and ran for a sandbag wall. About that time the MPs sped up, lights flashing, and he disappeared around a corner. Soon no more shots … they jumped him between reloads. Oh … his discipline? A Sergeant, he was given disciplinary transfer from our company, to a sister company across the same firebreak … across the street! Hah! Ya just had to love it.

    BTW… my first wife ran off with some guy she met in Hawaii just before I got there for R&R and I never knew it … nor heard another word from her in the last 5 months of my tour after I got back and had no idea then why. One of the more difficult periods of my life as you might imagine.. But I’ve been with my REAL wife now for over 40 years 🙂

  7. Don Birdseye

    My unit had a boilerplate letter that could be sent upon request of the jilted GI on brigade letterhead: “Dear Miss ____. Your Dear John Letter to Sp/4 _______ has been selected by the Brigade as the Dear John Letter of the Month, based on its sincerity etc”. I thought it was pretty funny at the time.

  8. Richard Mendibles

    I received a dear John letter from my High School sweetheart and then-fiancé after I joined the Marines in 1976. We both agreed we’d marry and live on base after boot camp. I couldn’t believe she could do this so suddenly and callously. She even told about another guy she was seeing. I got so sick and depressed. I couldn’t comprehend another person holding her and kissing her etc… Why was she doing this after we were so close and committed to each other? I was 19 and she was 17. My tour in the USMC was so devastating and lonely that I’m still heartbroken and destroyed by this experience. Before I joined the military my boss, who was a navy veteran warned me that my fiancé was going to write me a Dear John letter. I told him that was impossible. That was incomprehensible for me at 19 years old.
    Live and learn.

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