Welcome to the first edition of the Donut Dollie Detail! Here you’ll learn about the service of a Donut Dollie in her own words, detailing her experiences in Vietnam or Korea while serving our military.
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Please meet Red Cross Donut Dollie Dorset Hoogland Anderson…
What prompted you to join the SRAO (Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas) and want to go to Vietnam?
I was vey concerned about this war and the why. I had to understand what I could, and help in any way possible. The Red Cross SRAO program was what I hoped would help and support our Armed Forces in some way.
When and where were you stationed in Vietnam?
I was stationed in Nha Trang, Cu Chi and Tuy Hoa from 1968-69.
Get up and Go! I hoped to do what I could to see a soldier smile and laugh; to be there with them if they wanted to talk or even cry; to be of some comfort; be it out at the Fire Bases, on Base, at a Recreation Center, on a ship… wherever. A routine day meant we were there to support the men.
Did you ever have any “close calls” either on base or in any vehicles?
Well, I remember 2 things that were a bit scary. I remember incoming fire when I was in Cu Chi. We were in the bunker most of the night. We were lucky to have been OK. Another time was when another Donut Dollie and I and 2 helicopter pilots just left a beach area to head to a fire base. Oddly, one of the doors flew off, hit the tail rotor and down we swooped. I never knew how those 2 pilots managed to get us safely back to the beach area. They were our heroes for sure.
Were you ever injured while in Vietnam?
No. I was clumsy once at an ice house. I was helping with ice blocks on rollers going into the ice house; I did not notice a roller was missing. Down I went. The guys could not have been more concerned. I had a few butterfly bandages applied. All was fine. To this day, I have the scar from that day. It always reminds me of the men and their concern.
What was it like to visit the soldiers in the hospitals?
It was a challenge. We wanted to help in any way possible. There were some heart-breaking times. Holding a hand, singing quietly, chatting, exchanging a smile, talking about family. All this was the best we could do.
How was the transition returning home to the United States?
The transition was okay. I was able to visit all my family and put them at ease. People seemed anxious to ask questions. I was very proud to answer. I was glad to be home. I did miss the Military and my work, however.
What would you like people to remember and understand most about the women who served?
We were passionate about our work. We tried so very hard to boost the soldier’s spirits, to see them smile. We cared so much. We tried hard to help. I believe we did. It took a while for me to realize that this program DID work.
Yes, indeed! The Veterans I have met and spoken to since then always smile and light up and remember us and give us huge “Thank You’s.” They make me feel happy, content, special. What I often tell these men is that THEY helped us smile and laugh also.
What were your fondest or most interesting memories of your time serving in Vietnam?
This is a hard question because every minute was special. Every minute counted. Oh my… I remember those giant smiles on the faces of the men when we would visit. I loved their wonderful laughter. It also meant a great deal when a soldier knew they could talk with us, ask for our advice, cry if they needed to. It was great fun when the Donut Dollies could be so silly and goofy with the soldiers at times, and even just among themselves. SO many memories.
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