Article written by Tracy and Wayne Elkins Jr
for the Dove Fund Newsletter after their trip to Vietnam
Inspired by a DOVE
We didnít talk a lot about him. We had a few pictures, his wedding ring, a letter and his
military metals. He was Wayne Robert Elkins Sr., my husband Wayne Jrís., dad. He lost
his life in Vietnam on October 4th 1969 serving his country as a member of A Company
70th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Army).
Imagine being contacted by two fellow members of A Company after 38 years; who still
hold his memory dear to their hearts. Vince Acosta, a bunk mate, has great stories to tell
of his friend, and John Craven had a vision to build a school in honor of his fallen
It started as our own mission to visit the site where the school was being built in Srís
honor in Dak Lak,Vietnam - the area where Sr served. We were shocked and excited to
think that Jrís father was receiving this great honor. This news opened years of
unanswered questions so it was important for Jr to see the school and visit the area where
his father served. We made arrangements to travel half way around the world with
complete strangers, members of the D.O.V.E. Fund.
It was a demanding schedule. Upon our arrival in Vietnam, there was barely time to
adjust to the sites, smells and traffic. It was nothing at all like Sanford, Maine. In three
days in some of the poorest villages in the area we visited 15 schools or daycare centers,
distributed gifts to hundreds of kids, handed out 112 scholarships for continuing
education, learned about the micro-finance program, and met kind, friendly people every
where we went.
There was a mix-up at the provincial level government office and we were not able to
visit the school site after all. It was with great sadness felt by the entire group that we
were unable to visit our school on this trip. However, we do plan to return next year for
the dedication of our school.
Aside from the obvious differences in culture and the friendliness and gratitude of the
Vietnamese people, the thing that amazed us the most is the instant feeling of welcoming
the D.O.V.E. Fund group bestowed upon us and how accepting the group was of us into
their family. We were also amazed by the tremendous amount of work and effort that the
D.O.V.E. Fund puts into providing a better life for those less fortunate. Seeing the smiles
on childrenís and villagerís faces was worth every mile we traveled. After this experience
our mission now is to speak about the D.O.V.E. Fund every chance we can.
We would like to give a very special thank you to Mr. Do and Theresa Nguyen for
allowing us to participate in the incredible outpouring of love and caring for your people;
to John and Gail Craven for caring enough about a soldier with a son to find us, and to
the other members Ė you are all very special - our hearts will always be with you.
Wayne & Tracy Elkins