In our thirty sixth edition of the Donut Dollie Detail, Jenny tells how even though she wasn’t eligible for the draft, she wanted to support her male peers who were drafted, that 20-years after the fact she learned that a Chinook helicopter she was flying in had come under fire, and that she had a concerning encounter with a unit’s pet.

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Please meet Red Cross Donut Dollie Jenny Young…

What prompted you to join the SRAO and want to go to Vietnam?        

As a female I wasn’t subject to the draft, and I felt kind of bad about that.  I wanted to try, in some way to help with the awful situation that my male peers were subject to.  I also wanted adventure. 

Where were you stationed in Vietnam? Did you go by a nickname?

I was first stationed at Dong Ba Thin and the unit was closed in February, 1969 when the Recreation Center’s materials were sent to Tuy Hoa with two of the Dong Ba Thin Donut Dollies.  These two (including myself) became two of the four ARC Girls who opened the Tuy Hoa Red Cross unit, becoming the first women to live there on base.  I was then transferred to Cam Ranh Air Base and then onto the Fourth Infantry Division in the Central Highlands (Camp Enari). I went by the nickname “Jenny” except for the first month, when my issued name tag said “Jen.”  I asked for the change to Jenny, too many people thought “Jen” was “Jan” or “Jean”.

What was a routine day like in Vietnam?   

For mobile runs, either by road (jeep or truck) or air (chopper) we got up very early and came home at the end of the day, unless having to R.O.N. (remain overnight) due to unexpected weather somewhere.  We visited as many units as possible.  In the Highlands, these would be artillery units on a firebase, plus the infantry units who were “in” from patrol.  These were guys living underground or in sandbag bunkers.  We often flew in with the hot chow, so we would serve the food.

We’d then offer our “game of the week” (home-made, audience participation games).  Our “field bags” contained gifts of stationery, card decks, candles, candy, pens, paperbacks, packets of Kool Aid, and small palm-sized mirrors.  Back on the bases where we lived, curfew was 12:00 midnight, except at Camp Enari where the military changed it to 11:00 p.m.    For the units with Recreation Center activities, one worked the assigned shift for being there at the Center, interacting with the men who came in — playing ping pong, cards, talking.  The Centers also staged programs like funny fashion shows or jello eating contests, etc.  Often we would work on our “programs” for the road, getting ideas and experimenting (rehearsing) with those who came to the Center.

Did you ever have any “close calls” either on base or in any vehicles?  

No.  I found out 20 years later that a chinook I was on took small arms fire, but I didn’t know at the time.  We were headed home after dark but the pilots were called in to extract some troops from a hot area.   It turned out the troops were ARVN (South Vietnamese) troops.  My Donut Dollie partner was on a headset with the pilots, so she heard about the fire.  

Were you ever injured while in Vietnam? 

Not a major injury, but I was bitten by a unit’s pet monkey on a firebase.  I asked if it had been inoculated and was told yes.  I called everyday on the field phone to ask about the monkey’s behavior (wanting to know if it went rabid), dreading that I might have to take rabies shots.  Luckily, nothing dire happened.

What was it like to visit the soldiers in the hospitals?      

Not easy.  One soldier in a psych ward (strapped down) at Cam Ranh Air pleaded with me to get him out of there.  Another time — while assigned to the 4th Infantry, we had a “regular” run to an LZ called St. George.  One day, at the end of my tour (November, 1969), we were informed NOT to go to St. George — it had nearly been overrun the night before.  We went to see “our” guys who were in the hospital in Pleiku.  It was tough, because we had known them as able-bodied and “okay” all those weeks prior to the attack.  One guy had had a tracheotomy, but wanted to speak to me.  He had to press on his throat.  I had to dig my nails into my palm to keep from getting light-headed.

How was the transition returning home to the United States?   

I saw that those back home were very busy with their lives, paying little attention to the plight of the American soldiers in Vietnam.  Their “concerns” seemed so trivial, for example, “Will we have enough beer for tonight’s pool party?”.  Otherwise, a fairly smooth transition — no real problems.

What would you like people to remember and understand most about the women who served?    

That the U.S. military requested this program of the American Red Cross.  That we did NOT go to Vietnam to be Call Girls for the officers.  That we went because we cared and wanted to help out in some way, with the Red Cross SRAO program offering that opportunity.

How do you think the Veterans think of your time serving with them now?  Have any Veterans expressed their feelings to you directly? 

Nowadays they are quite grateful.  Many have thanked me individually and we’ve been thanked as a group.

What are your fondest or most interesting memories of your time serving in Vietnam?      

Incredible camaraderie within our Red Cross “units” and with the military around us.  Chopper rides over beautiful countryside.  American boys who really tried to “clean up their act” when we visited, and were very chivalrous.  Visiting “CA” (Civilian Affairs) teams assigned to Montagnard villages in the Highlands, receiving great hospitality from the villagers.  With my being 6 feet tall and blonde, I think I was quite the novelty to them.  Playing volleyball almost every afternoon with the Commanding General of the 4th Division.


The Donut Dollie Detail

In honor of Women’s History month, we are providing the full list of our Donut Dollie Detail features.  We are very proud of this feature, as it tells the story of the women who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars in their own words.  Please share these stories with a veteran… Did they serve on the same base as one of these Donut Dollies and are they in any of their photos?  These stories will resonate with people of all ages, men, women, family and friends, so please share this post to help us honor the Donut Dollies.

Meet the Donut Dollies…

Meet Donut Dollie Dorset Hoogland Anderson – I was stationed at Nha Trang, Cu Chi and Tuy Hoa from 1968-69.

Meet Donut Dollie Penni Evans – I was stationed at Cam Rahn Air Base from March – August ’70, Long Binh (II Field Force) from August– October ’70, Cu Chi from October – November ’70, and Quang Tri ifrom December ’70 – March ’71.

Meet Donut Dollie Mary Blanchard Bowe – I was stationed at Dong Ba Thien with the 18th Engineers, Pleiku with the 4th Infantry Division, Tuy Hoa with the Air Force, and Quy Nhon with the Army and Navy ships from 1968-69.

Meet Donut Dollie Linnie Stone – I was stationed at Pleiku from October 1966 – February 1967, Long Binh from February 1967 – June 1967 and Lai Khe from July 1967 – November 1967.

Meet Donut Dollie Susan Heinzelman Ladnier – I was stationed at Da Nang and Qui Nhon. Did TDY to Lai Khe and Pleiku. Arrived at Camp Humphries in Korea in 1967. Left in the middle of the Pueblo crisis and arrived in Vietnam in the Tet Offensive of 1968

Meet Donut Dollie Cecelia Burgess Grandison – I was stationed at Phu Loi with the 1st Infantry Division and the Big Red One in 1968.

Meet Donut Dollie Mary de la Forest-Evans – I was stationed in Vietnam from June 1968 – February 1969 at Cam Ranh Bay in a support zone.

Meet Donut Dollie Diane Schmidt Curley – I was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay from 9/68-1/69.  From there I went to Chu Lai until the end of my tour (10/69).  I also spent a week TDY at Pleiku.

Meet Donut Dollie Ellen Cadden Nagy – I was stationed in Vietnam in 1970-1971 at Bien Hoa (1970), Da Nang (1970-71) and Long Binh (1971).

Meet Donut Dollie Bobbie Lischak Trotter – I was stationed in Qui Nhon, Bien Hoa and DaNang.  I served for one year from July 1970 – July 1971.

Meet Donut Dollie Maggie Connor Dutilly – I was stationed in Danang from Aug. 1, 1971 until January 6, 1972 (with trips to Quang Tri and TDY to Bien Hoa) and Cam Ranh Army from Jan. 1972 until evacuation during the Easter Offensive in April 1972.

Meet Donut Dollie Sharon (Vander Ven) Cummings – The first six months were at Cam Ranh Bay, Army.  Then with Long Binh II Field Forces (but we lived in Bien Hoa), and finally with the 25th Division in Cu Chi.  

Meet Donut Dollie Lou Breen Rundle – I served in Qui Nhon from Aug-Oct ’71 and at Cam Ranh Air Base (CRAB) from Oct ’71-Apr ’72,

Meet Donut Dollie Susan Baiamonte Conklin – In 1968, I was in Cam Ranh Bay, Lai Khe and Da Nang. 

Meet Donut Dollie Marilyn Schmokel Dent – I served in Xuan Loc with the 11th Armored Calvary from September 1967 – February 1968, in An Khe with the 1st Air Calvary from February 1968 – June 1968, and in Dong Tam with the 9th Infantry Division from June 1968 – October 1968

Meet Donut Dollie Terre Deegan-Young – I was in Vietnam from Fall of 1970 until summer of 1971.  I was first stationed in Chu Lai with Americal Division.  Stayed there till after the holidays in December of ’70 until I was sent down south to Bien Hoa with the 1st Cav.  I believe I was there from about January until March or April of 1971.  I then went back north to Camp Eagle with the 101st.

Meet Donut Dollie Linda Meinders Webb – I went to Washington, DC for training the day Nixon was inaugurated in January, 1969 and then to Danang, Cam Ranh Air (TTY), Cam Ranh Army, and then Pleiku at the headquarters of the 45th Infantry and left in January, 1970.

Meet Donut Dollie Marrilee Shannon – I was stationed as an SRAO programmer and director at three stations – Cu Chi 25th Infantry, Cam Rahn AFB, Phan Rang AFB from late 1969 – late 1970.  

Meet Donut Dollie Agnes Fortune – I was stationed at Blackhorse in Long Kahn Province (11th Armored Cavalry under Col. Patton, the General’s son) from November, 1968 to the end of January, 1969 and I served with Donut Dollie’s Lola and Kay. I then served in Cu Chi (25th Infantry Division) from January, 1969 to July, 1969, and my last base was Long Binh (II Field Force with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade)

Meet Donut Dollie Eileen O’Neill – I was in the January, 1971 class, but by the time we got to Saigon after our training it was early February.  I was stationed at Danang from early February, 1971 I to the first of July. My second base was Phan Rang Air Base until the first part of September.  I spent two months at Phan Rang and had two one-week TDYs at Bien Hoa and Binh Thuy.  Early in September I moved to Binh Thuy until I left in January, 1972.

Meet Donut Dollie Barbara McDaniel Stephens – I arrived in Saigon on January 21, 1969 for 1 week of training.  My first unit was Bien Hoa from January, 1969 – June,1969; my second unit was Danang from July, 1969 – mid-October,1969; and my last unit was Cam Ranh Army from mid-October, 1969 – February, 1970.  

Meet Donut Dollie Nancy Olsen Hewitt – I was first stationed at Phan Rang Air Force Base from August 1970 – January, 1971, then I was transferred to Bien Hoa Army.  I left Bien Hoa to return to the U.S. in the middle of February, 1971 when my fiancé was killed at Phan Rang.  Fortunately I was able to return to Vietnam in April, 1971 and was stationed at Cam Ranh Army.  I left CRA for Cam Ranh Air Force Base in October, 1971 and stayed there until January, 1972 when I returned to the states.

Meet Donut Dollie René Johnson – I was stationed at Chu Lai with Americal Division from April – October 1969, then at Cu Chi with the 25th and the last brigade of the 9th Infantry Division from Oct ’69 – April ’70.  

Meet Donut Dollie Diane Johnson Tucker – I was stationed in Qui Nhon from March – June, 1970, at Camp Eagle (near Hue or Phu Bai) from July – October, 1970 and at Cam Ranh Bay from November, 1970 until my departure in February, 1971. 

Meet Donut Dollie Jeanne “Sam” Bokina Christie – I was stationed at Nha Trang from January to late April 1967, then at Danang from late April to September 1967, and then Phan Rang from September 1967 until the start of Tet in 1968.

Meet Donut Dollie Judy Harper – I was stationed in Qui Nhon from September – October 1970; I was in Cu Chi from October – December 1970, where I re-opened the unit that was closed down after a Donut Dollie, Ginny Kirsch was murdered (learn more here), which was open for the six weeks until the 25th stood down; I was in Danang from December 1970 – May 1971 – with a TDY (temporary duty ) to Quang Tri over Christmas; and at Binh Thuy from May – July 1971.

Meet Donut Dollie Karel Dierks Robertson – I was stationed at Camp Eagle from August – October, 1971, at Cam Ranh Air Base (CRAB) from October 1971 – late March, 1972, and then TDY (temporary duty) at Bien Hoa for 2 weeks in mid-March. I returned to CRAB for at least a week after being at Bien Hoa to help pack up and close the centers and then went to Saigon to await DEROS (Date Estimated Return From Overseas).

Meet Donut Dollie Teri Fisk Hermans – I attended the training class in Washington, DC at the end of July, 1969, and I was first stationed at Camp Eagle with the 101st Airborne Division from August – November, ’69; then Cam Ranh AFB from November ’69 – May ’70; and then at Cu Chi with the 25th Infantry Division from May – July ’70.

Meet Donut Dollie Linda Sullivan Schulte – I was stationed in Lai Khe with the 1st Division… the Big Red One.  In October I was transferred to Dong Ba Thin to close that unit and move it to a new Air Force Base at Tuy Hoa.  Then in February or March, not sure exactly, I was sent up north to Phu Bai.  

Meet Donut Dollie Roseann Krikston Johnson – I was stationed in Danang from July to October, 1969 and then at Bien Hoa from October 1969 to July 1970.  

Meet Donut Dollie Sara Porter Smith – I was stationed at Tuy Hoa from August – November 1970, at Danang from December 1970 – April 1971 and at Phan Rang from May – December 1971. I was in Vietnam 15 months, which was just a little longer than the typical year most Donut Dollies were in Vietnam.

Meet Donut Dollie Sherry Giles Cozzalio Taylor – I was first stationed at Long Binh (II Field Force) from June – October, 1968, then TDY (temporary duty) at Phan Rang Air Base in October, 1968, followed by Bien Hoa from November, 1968 – January, 1969 and finally Dong Tam from January – June, 1969.

Meet Donut Dollie Terry Lee Harmon – I was stationed at my first base at Cam Ranh Airbase from March 1970 – August 1970 and my second base was Danang from August 1970 –August 1971.

Meet Donut Dollie Rose Karlo Gantner – I believe I was one of only four American women to serve in the SRAO twice.  During my first tour of duty from June 1966 – June 1967, I was first assigned to Nha Trang and then Pleiku.  My second tour was January 1969 – January 1970 at the headquarters of the American Red Cross SRAO program in Saigon.

Meet Donut Dollie Sheila Otto Rosenberg – I was stationed in Vietnam from 1966 – 67.  I was sent TDY (temporary duty) to Long Bin for a couple of weeks until I could go to Phan Rang to set up the unit there.  I was at Phan Rang for about 6 months and then sent to Cu Chi to set up that unit until I returned home.

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