In our tenth edition of the Donut Dollie Detail, Bobbie Lischak Trotter tells about her experiences with close calls, making visits with the First Cav AG to each of his men at the Long Binh hospital, and sharing a truly personal experience.
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Please meet Red Cross Donut Dollie Bobbie Lischak Trotter…
I joined to serve my country because that’s what my family did. I was also looking for adventure and found I way to afford it.
When and where were you stationed in Vietnam? Did you go by a nickname?
I was stationed in Qui Nhon, Bien Hoa and DaNang. I served for one year from July 1970 – July 1971. I was known as Bobbie in Vietnam.
What was a routine day like in Vietnam?
There was no such thing as a typical day in Vietnam. Anything could happen at any time and often did. Work days started early and ended late, especially if you got stuck someplace because of “activity in the area.” Days off could involve anything from water-skiing behind a Boston Whaler, visiting an orphanage or leper colony, to just chillin’ out in the barracks.
Close calls were common. My first one was in Bien Hoa. I was at the clinic getting stitches taken out of my knee from a cut with an exacta knife I gave myself while making a prop. Several rockets hit the nearby air base and killed a couple of folks. I was once trapped at the old Michelin Plantation while it was under attack. Another time my partner and I were scooted off to places unknown when a Cambodian commander unexpectedly showed up to review his troops in Vietnam. During my last six months in DaNang rocket attacks were almost a nightly event.
What was it like to visit the soldiers in the hospitals?
Hospitals, next to orphanages, were probably the hardest places to visit. There, you could not escape the reality of war. Also, you knew that some of the guys were never going to make it home and it was our job to comfort them and cheer them. I learned to be a good liar. I feel very privileged in that I befriended the First Cav AG in Bien Hoa, Col. Thomas Shaylor. He made a weekly visit to every one of his troops in the Long Binh hospital and he took me along whenever I could go. It was very special.
How was the transition returning home to the United States?
Coming home was hard. Unlike the men, we women could hide if we chose to, but most of us did not. We wanted people to know, but mostly no one wanted to listen. I lost all my old friends, struggled with my family and sought company with military people. I was fortunate in that I soon began dating a Vietnam vet and we were very supportive of each other. I later joined the Air National Guard and was welcomed by a lot of Vietnam vets, which I will admit were surprised by a woman who chose to go to Vietnam.
I would like the world to know how brave and selfless we women were. We truly, truly loved our fellow countrymen who also served, willingly or not. We wanted them to live; we wanted to comfort them. We wanted to bring a little peace to an otherwise hellish place and situation.
How do you feel Veterans think of your time having served with them? Have any Veterans expressed their feelings to you directly?
It’s an old joke about what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this. I did have a couple of bad experiences, an attempted rape and a fellow telling us to “go home and make babies or whatever it is you women do.” But on the whole the men were most appreciative, most grateful to us for our presence. Many have told me that we kept them sane.
What were your fondest or most interesting memories of your time serving in Vietnam?
I have many fond memories of fun and friendship, romance and adventure. It wasn’t all dark. I think I learned a lot about the human spirit, no matter the gender, race or nationality. If it weren’t for our leaders stirring up fear of one another, I think most people just want to live and love each other in peace and tolerance. I love the Vietnamese people, the Koreans, the Germans, the Brits and especially the Aussies!
PLEASE NOTE: THERE ARE 9 PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THE DONUT DOLLIE DETAIL THAT CAN BE SEEN HERE, JUST SCROLL DOWN TO READ EACH (AT THE BOTTOM, YOU’LL SEE A LINK TO GO TO THE NEXT PAGE OF DONUT DOLLIE DETAIL FEATURES)