Short Timer Calendar

Various types of Short Timer calendars were used by artillerymen in Vietnam to count their remaining days left in country. These usually consisted of a sectioned line-drawing with "color in" blocks, numbered with a count-down of remaining days (similar to "Paint by number"), and began at 30 to 90 days.  When a soldier had very few days left in-country, he was considered to be "short".

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In the sample below, ETS (Estimated Time of Separation) would indicate that this soldier would also be getting out of the Army right after his tour in Vietnam ended. Notice that all the "color-in" blocks have been filled in, and it appears this particular short timer calendar covered his entire 12-month tour in Vietnam.

Also notice the baggage tag from his original trip into Vietnam in the lower right hand corner of the image. 
Key to abbreviations: 
CRB = Cam Ranh Bay
PXU = Pleiku)

Short timer
(Click to enlarge)


Short Timer Letter

A standard Short Timer Letter was sent back to "the world" when a GI was getting close to going home.  A copy of the complete letter (from 1971) is included below:

Dear Civilians, friends, draft dodgers, etc.

In the very near future, the undersigned will once more be in your midst, dehydrated and demoralized, to take his place again as a human being with the well known forms of freedom and justice for all; engage in life, liberty and the somewhat delayed pursuit of happiness.  In making your joyous preparations to welcome him back into organized society you might take certain steps to make allowances for the past twelve months.  In other words, he might be a little Asiastic from Vietnamesitis and overseatisitis, and should be handled with care.  Don't be alarmed if he is infected with all forms of rare tropical diseases.  A little time in the "Land of the Big PX" will cure this malady.

Therefore, show no alarm if he insists on carrying a weapon to the dinner table, looks around for his steel pot when offered a chair, or wakes you up in the middle of the night for guard duty.  Keep cool when he pours gravy on his dessert at dinner or mixes peaches with his Seagram's VO.  Pretend not to notice if he acts dazed, eats with his fingers instead of silverware and prefers C-rations to steak.  Take it with a smile when he insists on digging up the garden to fill sandbags for the bunker he is building.  Be tolerant when he takes his blanket and sheet off the bed and puts them on the floor to sleep on.

Abstain from saying anything about powdered eggs, dehydrated potatoes, fried rice, fresh milk or ice cream.  Do not be alarmed if he should jump up from the dinner table and rush to the garbage can to wash his dish with a toilet brush.  After all, this has been his standard.  Also, if it should start raining, pay no attention to him if he pulls off his clothes, grabs a bar of soap and a towel and runs outdoors for a shower.

When in his daily conversation he utters such things as: "Xin loi" and "Choi oi" just be patient, and simply leave quickly and calmly if by some chance he utters "di di" with an irritated look on his face because it means no less than "Get the h___ out of here."  Do not let it shake you up if he picks up the phone and yells "Skyking forward, sir" or says "Roger out" for good-bye or simply shouts "Working."

Never ask why the Jones' son held a higher rank than he did, and by no means mention the word "Extend."  Pretend not to notice if at a restaurant he calls the waitress "numbah one girl" and uses his hat as an ashtray.  He will probably keep listening for "Homeward Bound" to sound off over AFRS.  If he does, comfort him, for he is still reminiscing.  Be especially watchful when he is in the presence of women ----- especially a beautiful woman.

Above all, keep in mind that beneath that tanned and rugged exterior there is a heart of gold (the only thing of value he has left).   Treat him with kindness, tolerance, and an occasional fifth of good liquor and you will be able to rehabilitate that which was once (and now a hollow shell) the happy-go-lucky guy you once knew and loved.

Last, but not least, send no more mail to the APO, fill the ice box with beer, get the civvies out of the mothballs, fill the car with gas, and get the women and children off the streets -----


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    Background sound track - "Radio First Termer" -
The Dave Rabbit radio show was an underground 
"outlaw" radio show in Vietnam during the war