Sapulpa Vietnam Veteran preserving letters written to wife, parents during war

Amy Slanchik | News on 6

SAPULPA, Okla. - A Sapulpa Vietnam War veteran is preserving the love letters he wrote to his wife while he was away at battle.He copied the letters and put them into a book for his family to read. But he’s also doing Something Good, by sharing a message with other veterans. 

Every Tuesday, Charles DeLong volunteers for a few hours at Catholic Charities. It's how he gives back and helps people in need. But recently, he found a way to give something to his family, that would take them a step back in time to the summer of 1968.

"Hello again, my dearest. You've probably about given up on me writing. I've really been busy the last 4 or five days,” DeLong said as he read one of his old letters.

DeLong was just 22 serving in the Army, writing to his wife, Lisbeth, every chance he got.

"A lot of these were written in candlelight, in a bunker,” DeLong said.

DeLong was shot in Vietnam, and shared part of the letter notifying his wife of what happened.

"This is April 26th, and I got shot on April 23rd. 'Well my dearest I don't know how to start this, or tell you, I'm not sure if you know or not. Well, honey, I'm ok, so no worry, I'll be ok. Now I got hit a couple nights ago. Right now I’m sitting in a safe bed, taking it easy.’"

The book, which he does not want published, isn't just his love letters, but their whole love story. Before he made photocopies of his letters, DeLong used White Out to cover what he didn't want others to read.

"I went through about 4 or 5 bottles of it,” he said with a laugh.

DeLong also made copies of letters he sent to his parents. His wife Lisbeth wrote to him nearly every day, but Charles said he had to burn her letters. He said there was no safe place to keep them, and not worth the risk if the enemy got a hold of her address. While DeLong is a keeper of history, his focus goes beyond his stories.

"We need help giving them help,” he said.

He believes many people join the military because of their desire to help others, and encourages veterans who still feel that way, to volunteer like he does.

"Gives you good exercise, and you meet a lot of people and you feel good about it when you go home,” he said.

Preserving the past, with his eyes on the present.


Sapulpa Vietnam Veteran preserving letters written to wife, parents during war