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…
What prompted you to join the SRAO (Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas) and want to go to Vietnam?
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.
Did you ever have any “close calls” either on base or in any vehicles? Were you ever injured while in Vietnam?
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.
What would you like people to remember and understand most about the women who served?
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)
The DD’s were always the greatest. I was a grunt and we were so fortunate to have them visit us. They cheered us up and made it possible to remember that there was a world and gave us the wherewithal to go back and do our job. I can’t thank them enough!
I was also stationed at DaNang AB 70,71. Thanks for making life there easier for us.
why the nick names ?
That’s a good question. We know a couple stories about how they came about (see upcoming Donut Dollie Detail features), but we hope some Donut Dollies will help in answering your question.
The nickname goes back to WWII when the women working for the American Red Cross in Europe often handed out donuts and coffee to the GIs., often from the back of a truck. When SRAO started in Korea, the girls there would occasionally have donuts to hand out also. The nickname stuck, even though most of us in Vietnam never saw any donuts at all.
I was attached to the 2nd Brigade, South Korean Marine Corps 1965=1966 and the girls visited us once. It was refreshing to see blue eyes.
To the many DD that were so helpful and kind that I had the greasy fortune to be looked after after I was shot thru the brain during TET of 68 FEB… and went thru Japan 249th General Hospital… thank you so very much !!
To the Red Cross girl that just happened to of been from Newport News, VA that ran into my oldest brother in VIET NAM Feb 68.. thank you so very much!!! S/F David Capps
Dave, I served at the 249th GH in 1969-70. I was part of the Red Cross Service to Military Hospitals. I’m sure you met some of my colleagues. Thank you for your service. Nan Reckart Eaton
That is Maria on the left; am assuming you are out of DaNang on a LZ.
Bobbie and I worked together in DaNang. It was a privilege to serve with her and all the other Donut Dollies I knew in Vietnam.