I am a big fan of Billy Joel's music, so it felt great to see the Piano Man (PEOPLE, April 8) smiling for a change.
Canoga Park, Calif.
Billy Joel may have found his Uptown Girl, but he still can't sing.
I've enjoyed your series on Vietnam. I left Nam in the middle of the Tet Offensive. I arrived in Columbus, Ohio and was greeted by a crowd of media and well-wishers, but it turned out that they were looking for some local missionaries who had just left Hue. No one spoke to me but my ex-wife. Since then, Vietnam has receded but never gone away. I wonder what happened to the chopper crew I guided to the U.S. embassy while it was under attack during Tet. They were shot down in the street, and the weapons and ammo they were carrying for the people trapped in the embassy went undelivered. I wonder what happened to the helicopter crewman who was trapped under a skid when his chopper had an engine failure. Chopper crews landed and lifted the chopper off him. I wonder what happened to Bob, who taught me guitar chords on lonely evenings at a base in South Carolina. He got shot down over the North, was rescued with a broken back—and went back. So many people and so many stories lost and unknown.
Horace W. Coleman Jr.
I was drafted in 1965 and was shipped to Vietnam in 1966. I went over as a possible grunt. I was trained to fire mortars. When I checked in they gave me a choice, drive a truck or be a clerk. Simple logic told me to grab the clerk job. I had no great motive like saving my country from Communism, nor was I a dove. I simply went along with the system. I have always suffered a self-imposed sense of guilt for not having been a combat veteran. I was proud to be in the midst of those who truly suffered, yet glad I wasn't one of them. I just want the folks to know that the clerks, mechanics, cooks and other support personnel did a job too.
It would be a real change to read an article about a Vietnam veteran who came back and went on to have a successful life. But I guess success isn't as interesting as drugs or booze. My husband had two tours in Vietnam, one as an airman and forward ground observer for the Air Force and a second as a warrant officer and helicopter pilot for the Army. The second was cut short when he was seriously wounded. He came back and proved to the Army that he could fly again. He retired at 20 years as a major with permanent disability. After retirement, he worked as a free-lance manufacturing engineer for defense contractors until his current illness. He has an astrocytoma, which may or may not have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange, but he still isn't bitter about any of his experiences. His attitude toward life is exemplified by the fact that, when he met two strangers with a blind son in an airport, he gave them his name and address so that he could donate his eyes to their son when he dies. You never read this type of story because it concerns people who went on with their lives in spite of or maybe because of Vietnam.
Susan B. Avery
San Angelo, Texas
One more story on the joys of motherhood as told by a celebrity mom, and I am going to scream. Jaclyn Smith, whose talent and beauty I greatly admire, lives in a fantasyland and hasn't a clue as to what raising a child in the real world is like. I am the mother of three children, all of whom I adore. But, let's face it, sometimes a full day of washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, carpooling and changing diapers just isn't all that much fun.
Jane S. Parkinson
Sting says that he has turned to acting so that he can grow old "gracefully," unlike Mick Jagger who now appears "undignified" onstage. I hope that Mick Jagger never gives a graceful or dignified performance. If those things are important to Sting, he can have them and then disappear into obscurity, where he won't be missed. I would rather see Mick sing and dance any day. His latest album and video show that he has only improved with age.
As the mother of a 19-year-old terminal cancer patient, I was totally horrified to read about a father who could maim his son as Kerry Crocker did by exposing him to radiation. I pray each day for my son to be relieved of his pain. I cannot comprehend a parent such as this one.
Picks & Pans
How nice to find that your critic also enjoyed Moonlighting, a fun show with talented performers and exceptional writing. ABC was lucky to have found a fresh, stylish answer to the detective war that is raging among the networks. If they stubbornly refuse to return the show to the fall schedule, they deserve their last-place status.
What an annoying, pointless article! When there are so many young people in this country doing good things, why focus on and glamorize a silly and senseless tradition that is also irresponsible and dangerous? I learned all I needed to know about the intelligence of some of these kids, when I looked at the supposedly clever messages emblazoned on their signs. One youth is grasping a piece of paper that reads, "Were drunk" in which the necessary apostrophe is missing, while another tells us proudly, "You're wish is my command." Maybe these lads should have been studying English textbooks instead of hitting the beach?
Michael P. Ostrowski