Christmas, 1966, Kendall Park, New Jersey, in my playroom.
Billy Robbins was the first man I ever met with dark skin and he left quite the impression. He was large, filling the room with his presence in a starched Marine uniform, and yet not a bit intimidating. I was barely four years old, Larry had turned 18 earlier that month and left for Army boot camp after the holidays. Billy came to our house and ate dinner with me in my "Rite Hite" kitchenette, sipping some mild beverage from tiny tea cups and squeezing into a small plastic chair. He wrestled with Larry in the living room, and let me join in the fun. One weekend Larry found Billy in Vietnam, and they spent a few days together. At the same time back home, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Racial tensions in America were never as heightened as in the days following April 1968 but had no place in Larry and Billy's friendship.
You will never guess who I got to see the other day. Billy Robbins, he is here in Da Nang and he is an MP, how about that. I spent one day with him but haven’t been able to get over to see him again. I got his address from a girl I know, and I started asking around and sure enough he is here. He’s doing real good and looking about the same. He has lost a lot of weight, but I still wouldn’t fight him. I am going to try and get a three day in-country R&R here and stay with him.
They sent me to Da Nang to get over my attitude problem, which people seem to think I have. I did have a good time the first four days I was there. I spent two days with Billy. Also two nights. He has only got about 6 more days to go now. He has got a son over here, which he goes to see a lot.
I got a letter from Billy Robbins yesterday. He is still doing fine and only has 20 some days left over here. He tried to extend but they wouldn't let him, because he has got too much time over here already. That nut loves it over here.