D.O.V.E. Fund - Veteran
Lee Carlson

 Lee Carlson

 U.S. Marine Corp
 3rd Marine Division,
 9th Regiment 3rd Battalion
 Quang Tri Province

 D.O.V.E. Fund Supporter


Lee Carlson  
I was an eighteen years old struggling college student when a friend suggested that we join the Marines. My friend was Lanny Saumer. We were told that we would probably go to Vietnam but we would be together in country. Of course, that did not work out, we both ended up in Vietnam……hundreds of miles apart. As a rifleman with the infantry, I was part of Operation Dewey Canyon and spent time in the A Shau valley. Luckily, we survived and when we got back to Minnesota, we both went back to college and earned our degrees. Lanny became a teacher and I worked as a cattle hoof trimmer, caring for the cows of dairy farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Years later, after getting married and having a family, John Borman, another Marine veteran suggested I join the Hiawatha Valley Marines, collection of Marine vets from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. I brought Lanny with me and John told us of the D.O.V.E. Fund, another group of vets from Toledo , Ohio who raise money and go back to Vietnam and build schools in the countryside. The Hiawatha Valley Marines had helped fund the building of a new school and John was going back for the dedication in the spring of 2006. He invited Lanny and I along with some other vets to join him and so after 35 years I found myself back in a place that I thought I would never return. As a teacher, Lanny was struck by the poorly funded educational system in Vietnam but was inspired by the wonderful students and families who understood the value of education.

Lanny came back home and immediately began raising money for a school near his old duty station in Quang Tri province. A few years later, with the help of his many friends and family, they had raised enough money to build a new school in the commune of Trieu Trung. By 2010, the new school was complete and we were preparing for a return to Vietnam for the dedication when Lanny was hospitalized with a lung ailment. Sadly, my friend Lanny passed away in late 2009 but I was determined to be part of the dedication. Along with my wife Peggy and Lanny’s wife, Karen and son Brandon, we returned to Vietnam for the dedication. It was a wonderful time and the school was remarkable, just like Lanny would have wanted it.

The D.O.V.E. Fund has helped the people of Vietnam but more importantly, it has helped the many veterans come to terms with their experience there in a positive way. It is good for me to see the people of Vietnam move on after the war and rebuild their country, but the greatest satisfaction comes from knowing how the D.O.V.E. Fund has helped veterans heal from the lingering issues of the war.


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