You are here:

Letters from Vietnam

From February 1966 to the end of 1968, Catherine Leroy wrote regularly to her parents from Vietnam. Sometimes to her father Jean, but mostly to her mother Denise, who preserved a large part of their correspondence: over 100 letters, typed or handwritten using pens of different ink colors, indifferently on hotel letterheads or bible-like paper, that give insightful details into her stories and on military operations as well as tidbits of daily life in Saigon. She shares her pride when success comes yet does little to hide her discouragement, fatigue, and anger in trying times.

When writing to her mother, Leroy adopts a light and freewheeling style and tone that appear quite unusual for that time. This seems to serve a double purpose: the affirmation of her hard-won freedom and choice of lifestyle on the one hand, and the reassurance she offers that “all is fine over here” i.e. a war zone on the other side of the globe, in a world where social networks were non-existent and long-distance phone calls very expensive. Leroy had most likely promised her parents to keep them informed on a regular basis, bringing her over time to confide thoughts and feelings. The letters reveal the tough challenges she faces in order to succeed professionally, and on more rare occasions proudly report Catherine’s “triumphs” to her father.

The letters have become precious documents that allow to better understand Leroy’s daring and impetuous temperament shadowed by her unmovable determination.

The Vietnam War, July-August 1966 © Dotation Catherine Leroy