From The Grave: Black Soldier's Last Letter Home During War in Vietnam Describes Pervasive Racial Discrimination
Army 2nd Lt. Eddie Kitchen Jr. was killed less than two weeks after having written this letter from Vietnam in February 1968 to his mother Ethel Kitchen in Chicago. It was written after he had confronted fellow officers about the prominent displays of the Confederate Flag.
The letter follows:
2nd Lt. Eddie Kitchen 05341274; Co A 2139th.9th. Infantry Division; Apo 96371 S.F. California
Mrs. Ethel Kitchen;15 N. Kostner Ave.; Chicago, Ill. 60624
23 Feb 68
Mrs. Ethel Kitchen
My Dear mother, how are you and the rest of the family at this time. I am well and I hope when my letter reaches you it will find you and the rest of the family the same.
You know since I have been in Viet-Nam, I have observed an awful large number of Negro troops, more than what I believe the total number should be.
Maybe Clay (Muhammad Ali) has a good point in his accusing the draft board of discrimination. I do now believe they are practicing discrimination on troop assignments here.
I have also noticed the Confederate Flag being flown on many of the vehicles and displayed at some installations. This really does perturb me. We are fighting and dying in a war that is not very popular in the first place and we still have some stupid people who are still fighting the Civil War.
I believe the Executive branch of the NAACP plus the President and others concerned should be made aware of this situation and something should be done about it.
When I first joined my unit, a flag was being displayed. It was later taken down when I spoke to a couple of people.
Today, a unit joined us in the field to support us. I spoke to the CO, Commanding Officer, of this unit but he said he did not have time to discuss the matter with me. I will get his name and the unit. If you and Lewis (a brother-in-law) cannot do anything about it, then let me know and I will take further action on my own.
I do not believe the Negro soldier in Viet-Nam should be allowed to serve under the Confederate Flag, or with it. We are serving under the American Flag and the American Flag only.
I am quite disgusted in seeing some of the things I have seen here.
I have expressed my dislike with some of the situations which do exist. I do not know if this was a wise decision. But I pray that all will be well. I cannot just sit back and relax when I see such injustices.
As a Non-Commissioned Officer, I would have just torn the flag from the
vehicles, but as a Commissioned Officer I cannot lose complete control of myself.
I have had to punch one fellow officer already in order to gain a better understanding.
Now I do not expect you to have to worry about this, I tell you only because
I cannot tell these things to Evelyn (his wife). So I want you and Lewis to see what you can do about the situation.
The Negroes here are afraid and cannot do anything about the situation.
The unit is Company "A" 1/11 Artillery and the Commanding Officer is a Captain McFall.
Well, I will close. God keep you and yours, continue to pray.
Wingspan Portfolio Advisors
Agility 360 Carrollton, Texas