The first time Vic Romback saw Vietnam, it was 1967. He was a 20-year-old U.S. Air Force loadmaster entering the streets of Saigon with a busload of U.S. military personnel. Loadmasters during the Vietnam War secured cargo for flight: weapons, ammunition, troops. Forty-five years later, on his first return visit, Romback transported a much different load each day: trowels, wheelbarrows, hope. He came back as one of 22 veterans who helped construct three houses with Habitat partner families during the Vietnam Veterans Build in Binh Ninh village.
Romback and his fellow veteran-volunteers marveled at how wheelbarrows worked just as well for pushing laughing children as they did for hauling materials and how sunglasses so effectively hid dedication-day tears. In the building of walls, they displaced despair. Installing windows, they chased away darkness. Instruments of peace this time around, the veterans and their hosts truly made manifest Saint Francis’ powerful prayer.