Letters of love and war

Bakersfield

They’re letters from an American soldier in Vietnam to the woman he loved.

Love letters thought gone, but now published in the book “365 Days of Olive Drab.”

“I miss you more and more every minute and of course loving you more than words can ever express,” wrote Max Burdick in a letter dated Nov. 28, 1967.

War letters relived nearly 50 years after they were written.

“Oct. 16, 1967, relatively quiet today. I slept until lunch then after lunch did some of my ironing. Some of us played a little softball with the enlisted men then there was mail call, but again no mail. Rain started again and continued until after dinner. As I mentioned the other day, one of the wounded got hit in the knee and it took off one of his testicles. Physically he was doing ok, but apparently he thought everything was over and he killed himself. Those are the things in here you don’t forget it,” said Burdick as tears began to mist his eyes.

A graduate of North High and the Bakersfield College Nursing program, Burdick became a Capt. in the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War.

“I was assigned to a MASH hospital. The 7th MASH which is northeast of Saigon. The purpose of a MASH hospital is what they call life and limb, first save the life and then, if there’s a limb involved, try to save the limb,”

Burdick wrote home to Bakersfield, to his wife, Kathy, every day.

His love for her evident.

Every letter addressed to Kathy began with the words thinking of you every moment of the day.

Words that helped Brudick hang on.

“I could survice because there were many times I was at the end of my rope,” Burdick said.

Burdick endured the harsh realities of war.

“The worse thing was that I was in charge of triage sometimes and that’s where you had to sort the type of patients you had. One of the categories is the one that they call the black flags where you just put them aside until they die and those were hard. We had a signup sheet we used and when you were fed up you stopped and took a time out,” Burdick said.

Kathy died from ovarian cancer in 2005.

While clearing out some of her things Burdick found the letters he sent her, every one accounted for from Aug. 1967 to Aug. 1968.

‘It brought back memories that I had sort of pushed back and hadn’t thought about for awhile,” Burdick said.

Including memories of his wife.

The love of his life who the book is dedicated to.

“I wish I could find another box of them,” Burdick said refering to the letters.

“365 Shades of Olive Drab” is available on Amazon.

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