Ly  Thuong  Kiet  Str.,   Dong Ha,   Quang Tri
			091 4222 698                   www.lhaf.org
			P.O. Box 191   Tomales, CA  94971   U.S.A.

To Company B, 2/501, 101st Airborne - Band of Brothers:

This is John Ward writing to you - intruding on your privacy and 
stealing your email addresses from Cat’s messages – all for the 
purpose of solicitation.  I hope you will find the reasons worthy.  
I’m hoping this message will present a meaningful and appropriate 
philanthropic opportunity for all of you who served with Company B, 
2/501 – partnering in the construction of a kindergarten to serve a 
very poor minority ethnic community in the A Luoi (A Shau) Valley.  
To follow is some background information to put it all in perspective.

I got to know a few of you back in 1969 when we lived in the steep, 
wet, treacherous, triple-canopy jungle of the Truong Son mountain 
range - better known to us at the time as the A Shau Valley.  
However, many of you who are receiving this email don’t know me at 
all, so an introduction and explanation are in order.  I served in 
Viet Nam with Company B of the 2/501, 101st Airborne Division from 
April 1969 to February 1970.  I served alongside outstanding 
individuals like Len Blachly, Mel Brown, Bob Colombo, Jim Delgiorno, 
Jim Duke, Phil Hazen, Dan Hefel, Tom Jordan, Frank Keyser, 
Top Sargent Schorr, and Dave Sullivan - to name but a few.  I was 
with B Company when they policed up firebase Airborne the day after 
it was overrun.  I was with them when they were moved to the top of 
Hamburger Hill the day after it was taken.  I was with them when we 
lost 4 guys in a nighttime ambush that went awry just off Hamburger.  
I was with them when Elija Burkett was killed.  I was with them for 
10 months - and I was lucky.  Like all of you, the physical hardships, the confrontations, and the traumas we experienced and endured in that incredible forest have remained with me all my life.

As you know, a line-unit infantryman serving in the I Corps area with 
the 101st had very little opportunity to get to know Vietnamese 
people.  In fact, even after my tour I actually knew nothing about 
Viet Nam, it’s people, or the larger world events that brought about 
the war.  However, after an ensuing 6 months in military hospitals, I 
did have a pretty good idea about the scope of injuries being borne 
by soldiers from our side.  Yet I still hadn’t begun to think about 
the human toll from the Vietnamese side.  Over the years I’ve tried 
to educate myself about these things and understand the war in a 
broader, less personal perspective.  It was this curiosity, the 
desire for a deeper understanding of our little war that ultimately 
brought me back to Viet Nam.

After leaving the military I pretty much avoided groups or joining 
organizations.  In 1988 I read an announcement about a group of vets 
returning to Viet Nam for humanitarian purposes and my interest was 
piqued.  In 1994 I was still thinking about that announcement when 
circumstances in my life converged to make a return possible, even 
desirable, and I joined a group of 8 other individuals going to 
Viet Nam with the Veteran’s Viet Nam Restoration Project (VVRP).  The 
VVRP is a small and unusual non-government organization (NGO) based 
in Northern California.  It was one of the first NGOs to receive 
permission from our government to work in Viet Nam.  It’s first team 
and project became a reality in 1989; the 21st team returned from Nam 
Dong District of T.T. Hue Province this April, 2006.  The VVRP’s 
purpose was, and is, to provide an opportunity for American veterans 
to return to Viet Nam in a positive context via participation in 
community development projects.  For me, the experience was so 
remarkable that I have been involved with the VVRP ever since.

I found Viet Nam to be so stimulating that in 1999 I gave up a good 
job with the U.S. Park Service and went to work for the EAST Meets 
WEST Foundation (EMW).  I became a Project Coordinator in Quang Tri 
Province.  Two Vietnamese staff and I ran a small satellite office 
and managed the local efforts to implement EMW humanitarian aid 
programs and projects; the main office was 5 hours away in Da Nang.  
Over a period of six years our office provided not only the funding 
but oversight and management for the construction of 55 kindergartens
 - several clean water projects - renovation of one wing of the 
provincial hospital – a dormitory for 32 school teachers - dozens of 
small homes for women in poverty - indoor toilets for several double 
amputees - and over 170 heart surgeries for children.  We also helped 
expand EMW projects and programs into Thua-Thien Hue, Quang Binh, and 
Nghe An Provinces.  It was a very rewarding and beneficial experience 
for me.  Unfortunately a re-organization of EMW included the closing 
of the Quang Tri office and termination of my contract at the end of 
last year.

Shortly thereafter, I returned home to Tomales, California and waited 
to learn if I was to be successful in a bid for employment with 
another American NGO working in Quang Tri.  Due to good fortune I am 
now employed as the Director for the Kids First Rehabilitation and 
Career Training Center in Dong Ha, Quang Tri.  While waiting in the 
U.S. for confirmation of this opportunity, I began the process of 
forming another NGO. With support from a few good friends 
(mostly vets) and colleagues, the Lotus Humanitarian Aid Foundation 
(LHAF) was founded and is now poised to begin work in Viet Nam.  
With LHAF, I hope to carry on some of the more meaningful, direct aid 
programs that I managed while working for EMW (please visit our 
developing web site at www.lhaf.org).


So that’s the history; now to the point.  In 1994, when the VVRP team 
that I was travelling with reached Hue I decided I wanted to see the 
A Shau Valley again.  After hiring a driver and a vehicle, a retired 
NVA colonel took me to visit A Luoi.  I wasn’t sure what I expected 
to see but I wanted to go.  At that time it was an uncomfortable 
4-hour ride in an old jeep.  After reporting in at a police station 
I was taken out to an ethnic village on the valley floor.  I had 
never really seen the ethnic people before and I was surprised at 
their level of primitive existence.  But at that moment I was more 
interested in the mountains surrounding us.  I basically just stood 
and gazed at the mountains we once ‘humped’, trying to connect with 
something inside of me.  Memories of the war that were more like 
distant, disconnected bad dreams suddenly seemed to find a 
foundation in time and space.  Like an ocean that is indifferent to a 
sinking ship, I realized these mountains too were indifferent to the 
traumas of war, yet they formed the basic context in which our war 
experience unfolded.  I began to understand that a fascination of the 
jungle was one of the more positive things I had been left with.  The 
drama that took place so many years ago and which still lingered in 
my mind was really only a brief moment in time, and a time long since 
past.  The mountains I beheld this second time were still there, 
linking the past to the present, the drama of war had moved on, 
it was over, finished.  Only the consequences remained.

The couple hours that I spent there were not enough.  Since then, 
I have been trying to find a way to implement an aid project in A 
Luoi.  I want to do something positive there, for myself and for 
others who served there and on behalf of those individual Americans 
who realize we need to demonstrate another perspective of American 

The A Luoi District of Thua-Thien Hue Province remains a restricted 
area and is very difficult to gain permission to either work in or 
overnight in.  As a mountainous border region and for historical 
reasons, the area remains a place of national security and military 
interest and thus, tightly controlled.  To complicate matters it also 
has an extremely poor ethnic population and is heavily contaminated 
with unexploded ordinance and the after affects of defoliation.  In 
short a good place for humanitarian aid, but a difficult location to 
gain permission to work.

As world political reality changes and money from international 
financial institutions flows in for major infrastructure development 
(roads, electricity, etc), a loosening up is occurring.  I was 
recently introduced a retired man of some prominence who now belongs 
to the Thua-Thien Hue Union of Friendship Organizations.  In 
retirement his is new assignment calls for him to facilitate the 
interests of parties wanting to assist Hue Province.  During our 
first meeting we discussed our mutual interests.  He appeared keen on 
helping me identify a small kindergarten project and provided his 
assistance in obtaining the required permits from government 
uthorities.  The following week I provided him with a letter and 
more in-depth information about LHAF and the VVRP. After three weeks 
of working the channels he delivered.  He presented me with a 
kindergarten proposal including guarantees from local government 
agencies for the specific support and local contributions that I 
asked for.  Now it is time for me to come across!

This is the reason I am writing to you.  I am asking you, my fellow 
veterans, to help fund the construction of a 3-room kindergarten in 
the A Luoi Township, the central community for A Luoi District 
(the A Shau and the A Luoi Valleys are essentially the same area).  
In my experience of aid work in Viet Nam this initiative is a 
significant milestone, an opportunity for Americans to work on the 
ground there; and for me, a long awaited opportunity that I find 
very exciting.  This is the chance to personally do something 
positive in the very place I served as a soldier and witnessed the 
tragedy of war.  I believe the same desire may hold true for many of 
you.  This could truly be another, but better, once-in-a-lifetime 
experience – fellow veterans from Company B of the 2/501 coming 
together to fund construction of a kindergarten on a former 
battlefield, where we ourselves moved from youth to manhood.

The VVRP has agreed to partner with LHAF in this effort.  Fund-raising
 for the project will be conducted by both organizations.  LHAF will 
assume all the logistical work and the VVRP will field a small team 
of veterans to work on-site for a couple weeks.  You may even be 
interested in joining this VVRP team 
(visit their web site at www.vvrp.org). The project is planned for 
implementation in March-April 2007.  Cost of construction will be 
approximately 20,000 USD.  The project will include 3 classrooms, 
indoor toilets, a kitchen, an electrical system, and a surrounding 
fence.  The People’s Committee will provide the land and bring water 
and electrical service to the site in advance of construction.  
Attached are my notes from an on-site assessment to the proposed 

These projects are not an apology to the Vietnamese for something we 
did wrong.  They are, for veterans, an acknowledgment, a 
demonstration that the war is over, that it is finally, irrevocably 
behind us.  It is a testament to the present era of peace and the 
wisdom of our advancing ages.  I ask that you give this solicitation 
your earnest consideration.  Examine your feelings about the war, 
about Viet Nam, about it’s people, and about how your life has been 
affected by the convergence of all these.  Ask yourself if this might 
indeed be a meaningful endeavor to contribute to – the building of a 
school for the poor where you once served as a soldier – a 
contribution from veterans of Company B, 2/501.  You might be 
amazed at how involvement in an humanitarian effort of this 
nature brings our lives full circle, back to a critical, 
informative period of personal development; and with it, a 
conclusion, a deeper sense of satisfaction in life, and an active, 
meaningful participation in the world peace movement.

In all sincerity, I thank you for taking the time to read this 
through.  I hope you will join me in supporting this project.

Hoa Binh (Peace),

john ward
C/O Kids First Village
Ly Thuong Kiet Str.
Dong Ha, Quang Tri
Email: [email protected]
Personal address: [email protected]

If you’d like to make a contribution it can be mailed to:

P.O. Box 191
Tomales, California  94971  

There, another vet (not 101st) will process the check and acknowledge 
your tax-deductible contribution with a receipt.

You can make the check out to LHAF, on the subject line of your check 
simply state Kindergarten Program and identify that it comes from a 
member of Company B, 2/501.  We will and send you progress-reports 
via email.

I sincerely thank Doug Grier, his wife Trina, and son Chris for 
making the journey to A Luoi with me on September 13th and being 
witness to what we are trying to accomplish.

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