DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Delma Dority has unfolded the yellowed letters tucked neatly inside a bureau drawer in her bedroom countless times over the years.
The letters were penned by her only son, Richard Dority, who lost his life in the Vietnam War in 1970 and whose remains were never recovered. His words in those letters have carried the 75-year-old Dover-Foxcroft woman through the years and at times when her memories have sometimes been clouded.
Richard Dority, who was part of the U.S. Army’s 329th Transportation Company in the Vietnam War in 1970, left Da Nang with a boat full of ammunition on Nov. 2. It was headed to an Army port at Hue-Tan My when the boat he and 10 other servicemen were in capsized, according to the military. One body was found shortly after the disaster, and the remains of another serviceman were found seven years later. Neither Dority’s remains nor those of the nine remaining soldiers were ever recovered. Their military status later was classified as “died while missing; drowned; body not recovered.”
“He was a very friendly, loving kid,” Delma Dority recalled Friday of her son. He had a lot of friends, she said.
One of those friends, Bart Merrill of Dover-Foxcroft, said Friday that he has thought a lot over the years about his good friend and Foxcroft Academy classmate Dority. “He was a personal friend. We played pool together and raised the devil. We were just kids,” he said.
In January, as Merrill was recuperating from knee surgery, he dwelled on those memories. “It kind of brought me back to reality to realize how lucky I am to be here,” he said. “You start thinking about the friends that you’ve lost.”
As adjutant of the Chadbourne-Merrill American Legion Post No. 29 in Dover-Foxcroft, Merrill decided the post should do something to recognize Dority’s ultimate sacrifice. “I wanted to do something to recognize him,” he said Friday. Merrill said he talked it over with the other post members and they decided to name the game room in the post home in Dority’s honor. Delma Dority is donating a portrait of her son that he had commissioned while overseas, which will be displayed in the room, Merrill said.
The dedication will be held Monday immediately after the Memorial Day parade, Merrill said. The public is invited, and refreshments will be served.
Delma Dority said she is thankful for the recognition. “‘It’s good because it might help, not just our son, but all of the boys and girls who have gone over there and who are over there now,” she said. “They aren’t over there playing games, they’re over there trying to accomplish something to keep the rest of us safe.” Only the men and women serving the country know the dangers involved, she said.
“Never in any of his letters that I ever received mentioned how bad it was or how dangerous it was or anything; they were always very uplifting,” Dority said of her son’s letters. “He was very positive. In fact, when we put him on the bus, he told us he’d be back one way or another, be it five years or 10 years, he’d be back.”
Dority, who has had “passing thoughts” that her son might have been captured and is a prisoner of war, is still waiting for him to fulfill his promise one way or another.