In 1970, I served with Wayne in Can Tho, Vietnam, when he was Major Runnels, or Chaplain Runnels. My M.O. (Military Occupation) was chaplain’s assistant, and I was his for the first few months of my tour. He returned to the States and was replaced by another chaplain for the duration of my time in country, but I missed Wayne.
He and I spent a lot of time together on hospital visits, traveling to other posts, and isolated fire bases. To this day, he remains my image of what a chaplain ought to be: a person of strong faith, accepting of other faith traditions and never foisting his beliefs on others; who genuinely cared about any soldier who needed a man of God to talk to.
I have written about my time with him and my other experiences in Vietnam in my book, “The Chaplain’s Assistant: God, Country, and Vietnam.” I had attempted to get in touch with him to give him a copy, but had no way of finding him until his obituary appeared.
To his family, I would like them to know he loved each of you dearly and spoke of you often. He missed you greatly when he was in Vietnam. He was then, and I assume he remained, a good man and humble servant of his God.
Peace be with him and with you all.