The A Luoi District is located in the A Shau Valley and borders Laos. It is largely off limits to foreigners. Team XXII visited the region in 2007, opening the way for Team XXIII.
Two of the 11 veterans on the Team were accompanied by their wives.
VVRP, Lotus Humanitarian Aid Foundation. and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation shared equally in providing $34,000 of the $37,000 cost of the project. (The remaining $3,000 was provided by the A Luoi Districts Peoples Committee.) We are grateful to our donors for providing the VVRP share. These Webpages recount the experience of Team XXIII in its members’ words and pictures and provide a photo of the completed Team XXIII project.
Team XXIII Members’ Photos and Stories
Bob Kennedy shares his photos (Photos by Bob Kennedy) Larry Hlavaty shares his “Thank you for building us a school” story (Full story…) and Charlie Sepulveda writes about “Finding An Old Friend” (Full story…)
Team XXIII Provides Interpreter Scholarship
The members of Team XXIII will provide their interpreter, Tuan, with a scholarship to study English in the United States for six months, starting this autumn. Tuan is described by Bob Kennedy as an “enthusiastic, vibrant young man we all loved, without exception. Tuan was not only an interpreter, he was a tour leader, a medic, a companion….and a friend.” (Full story…)
Because of the heat and humidity and “we are old” we don’t get as much done physically as we want to. I have had to step back and look at just what I measure as “accomplishment”… It really isn’t just getting the school built. It is making the decision to even come back to Viet Nam and then go through all the mental issues and physical issues to accomplish that decision… And it is in the peace we find in just accomplishing what we can along with the commitments we have made to ourselves to change our lives.
- Gary Thompson
It was really nice to feel welcome among these veterans. I was so glad I was there with Larry. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the challenges veterans faced during the war and of the healing that comes through coming back and seeing changes here.
- Andy Hlavaty
Beautiful gardens of food, trees, flowers… Mr. Kiem invited me to visit his home after meeting me on the sidewalk. Fun and challenging with the language barrier… The residents pipe in water for rice fields and drinking because the run off goes over agent orange contaminated ground.
- Chris Meyer
The trip has been flawless and wonderful… The team pulled for each member and everyone was cooperative and committed… We all shared the emotional stress points together with great compassion and joy… What a terrific experience.
- Bob Kennedy
We had a great time and the vacation of our lives , but on the plane leaving Vietnam I realized a vacation wasn’t what I was looking for. I needed to put something back.. So I started looking, and one day at the vet center I was going through the VVA newsletter and there it was, VVRP. I knew this was it. And I was right.
The experience of the brotherhood and healing provided by being a member of a VVRP team was something that the VA. can never provide for a vet. If one of us had a rough time with something, there were ten brothers to pick us back up. I watched one of our brothers totally get off his PTSD meds.
I believe I slew a lot of dragons over there. My friends keep telling me I came home different.
And I need to say that we members of Team XXIII developed close and lasting friendships not only among ourselves but also with the group of people that put VVRP together and operate it today.
The peaceful memories of that experience will be with every member of the team forever.
THANK YOU VVRP AND TEAM XXIII, YOU ARE ALL MY HEROES.
The whole trip with Team XXIII was a great experience, far more so than I expected. When I was going through my agent orange related cancer, I tried to get on with another group out of Arizona that was going to Viet Nam. They were dawdling, picking and choosing who could be in their clique. That wasn’t working for me . I had a need to go now. So my wife and I packed our bags and left for Vietnam on our own.