My father-in-law served a year in Vietnam as a Marine sometime around '69-'70. He faithfully wrote my mother-in-law a letter every single week. Once, two weeks went by before she received one and she was very worried. In today's war, families of casualties are notified within 48 hours. In Vietnam, that wasn't always the case. When she finally did get his letter, she was very relieved. He could call her, but the connection was fairly weak and they couldn't hear eachother too well. Letters were their main source of communication. At the time, they didn't have any kids yet, and eventhough he was stationed out of California, she lived at home in Wisconsin with her family.
Last year when my husband was in Afghanistan, he did not have a computer. No internet connection in the tents he slept in. His unit was somewhat nomadic, never staying at one FOB (Forward Operating Base) for too long. They did their mission and moved on. I got phone calls about every two weeks. No letters, and no email. Sometimes they'd have down time and I'd get a call every day for about a week, then they'd be off again and it would be two weeks before I heard from him.
Now that he's in Iraq and in a real barracks, I get to talk to him much more often. He has a laptop and internet connection in his room (that we pay out the roof for, but it's worth it). So we get to instant message pretty much every day. It sure beats him waiting in line to make a 20 minute phone call, which he usually cuts short because the lines are so long.
Also this time around, we have added a new feature to our communication. Webcams! A few days ago I bought us each a webcam. I still have to mail his to him, but I hooked ours up and this morning he got to see us.
We told Hunter to look at the camera and say Hi Daddy. So he grabbed the camera, shoved it up to his face and said, "Hello? Daddy?" Then handed it back to me, shook his head and said, "No Daddy." So no, Daddy wasn't actually in the camera. Daddy was amused by Hunter looking for him, though. I'm sure he saw up Hunter's nose a little more than he needed to!
Between his slow internet and my really old computer, we had a few freeze ups, but it didn't matter. It was just nice for him to see us. And we are excited to be able to see him when he gets his set up.
38 years ago, in a war that many people say is similar to this one, I wonder if my inlaws could ever imagine talking to eachother over a computer complete with video camera!