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Last Letters Home: Yorktown man reflects on brother’s last days through letters

William Duffy says Keith Duffy got on the USS Westchester County and he was a short-timer. Keith sent home letters all the time and all he talked about was coming home.

News 12 Staff

May 30, 2022, 8:32 PM

Updated 778 days ago

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A Yorktown man is marking his 53rd Memorial Day without his brother who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.
William Duffy is now sharing some of his brother Keith Duffy’s last thoughts in his letters which now serve as reminders of his sacrifice. 
“When he left he was still a kid, kind of, 18-years-old. He was just growing up and boom, he was sent overseas,” says William Duffy.
William Duffy says Keith Duffy got on the USS Westchester County and he was a short-timer. Keith sent home letters all the time and all he talked about was coming home. 
In a letter dated Sept. 27, 1968, he wrote at the top ‘short time left, 99 days.’

The letter read:
Dear Mom, Pop, Billy. So you found out where the kid is at. Good. I can now look forward to receiving some letters to read and keep me from getting bored stiff. It's a drag, but I'm still retaining my cool. 64 days won't kill me. I might get skinny, but I don't mind. Please do me a favor, like send me a few paperbacks to read, even some of Dad's old cowboy books will do. Be back tomorrow or so. Love and miss you all, Keith.
William said his parents were listening to the radio on Oct. 31 and it came out over the AP wire that the USS Westchester County was mined and there was a large loss of life. William Duffy says his mother knew immediately that Keith Duffy was killed.
William Duffy was 14 years old at the time of his brother’s death. He was 20.

“It's kind of hard, you know, because I was a little kid and he was my best friend. My brother was 6’2”, you know, he was well-built, blond hair, blue eyes,” says William Duffy. “I always say that you die three times. When you take your last breath, when you're either buried or cremated, or when people stop saying your name. And I try to keep my brother's name and talk about him whenever possible because it's very important to never forget what these service members sacrificed all these years, all these wars.”
If you have a Last Letters Home story you'd like to share, please reach out to Virginia Huie by using this form.


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