In our thirteenth edition of the Donut Dollie Detail, Lou Breen Rundle talks about how she did programming events for the soldiers to try to take their mind off the war for a little while, experiencing a rocket attack at Cam Ranh Air Base, and flying in a Caribou cargo plane affectionately known as Santabou, to hand out the free goodies to servicemen.
Please share the Donut Dollie Detail with family, friends and veterans you may know, and make sure to like/follow us on Facebook to learn when the next edition is posted. You can also share your email address with us at email@example.com for updates on the upcoming release of the Donut Dollies Documentary (we will not share/sell your email and will only use it for Donut Dollie related updates).
Please meet Red Cross Donut Dollie Lou Breen Rundle…
What prompted you to join the SRAO (Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas) and want to go to Vietnam?
I went mainly because I was curious about the war. There were just too many people at home doing nothing but complaining. I hoped I could help in this program.
When and where were you stationed in Vietnam? Did you go by a nickname?
I served in Qui Nhon from Aug-Oct ’71 and at Cam Ranh Air Base (CRAB) from Oct ’71-Apr ’72, and I was known as Lou.
What was a routine day like in Vietnam?
In Qui Nhon it was traveling every day. Get up early; call for a chopper; run to the chopper pad on the beach & hitch a ride; thank our pilots with a grease pencil smiley chopper drawn on their window; then program; visit; listen; laugh; hand out short timer’s calendars; do card, string, or rubber band tricks or learn new ones from the guys; maybe serve lunch; and then head to another fire base.
At CRAB we were both mobile and had a recreation center. Some days we traveled and some days we worked at the center where we had lemon Kool-Aid and snacks, music, card games, pool tables, etc. We also did special events like plays, fashion shows, shave & haircut day, a Halloween carnival, etc. We “Kool-Aided the flight line” and visited patients at the hospital at Cam Ranh handing out care packages with games, crossword puzzles, short timer’s calendars, and a page dedicated to getting to know our Donut Dollie unit.
Did you ever have any “close calls” either on base or in any vehicles?
I remember the first time I saw tracer bullets when flying in a Huey, and asked, “What are those pretty things?” The pilots yelled that we were being fired at and took the chopper down to tree level to keep us safe. Another time there were rocket attacks at CRAB (see photo at left), but I slept right through them!
I never had any fear for my safety; these brave men always took extra precautions for us.
Were you ever injured while in Vietnam?
What was it like to visit the soldiers in the hospitals?
I don’t think they sent us to see the badly injured men. We usually visited wards with men who could interact with us and do the silly things we asked of them.
How was the transition returning home to the United States?
My family and friends were happy to see me. We mainly talked about what I did on R & R and about the parties and fun events we had. I was able to get a job and started teaching in August of ’72.
What would you like people to remember and understand most about the women who served?
We are all Americans who love our country. We wanted to do something to help, were fortunate to get a chance, and hope we made a difference.
How do you feel Veterans think of your time having served with them? Have any Veterans expressed their feelings to you directly?
I hope that when they think of us, they smile! 8-)
What were your fondest or most interesting memories of your time serving in Vietnam?
I will never forget our Santabou Christmas of 1971 where three tactical airlift squadrons from CRAB painted their planes like Santa complete with a red nose & hat. They’d had raffles to raise money for fruit, candy, pretzels, alcohol, etc. and invited us to fly with them to bases and hand out the free goodies to servicemen who had not had things like this for many months. Our plane’s bartender, Joe, was even dressed like Superman! It was one of the best Christmases ever – all giving, sharing, and good will.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE ARE 12 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)
Thank you Lou for your Service and Welcome Home!
Thank you so much, George. It was an honor to serve.
I was privileged to pilot one of the “Santa Bou” aircraft during Christmas 1970. There was not a better way to spend the holiday in Vietnam. In most cases, the troops did not know that we were coming. Their expressions were priceless when we opened up the plane and they saw all of the food and presents and the Donut Dollies and nurses serving them.
Oh, I agree wholeheartedly, Paul. Those happy memories of giving will never fade. Thank you for your service.
Awesome Lou! I never knew about this part of your life. Thanks for your service.
Yes, Jim, I had just returned when I started teaching in 1972 in Yerington! People didn’t want to hear about Vietnam, so I didn’t talk about it much. 45 years ago . . . Wow! We miss you!
Wow, you are an amazing lady, Lou!
Thank you, Diane. I will be in your classroom Friday! I can’t believe school is almost out.
That was a great story. I would have loved to had done that. I can just imagine the happiness you spread to them. Your the sweetest happiest people I know. I love you
Thank you Sandy. It was a very rewarding tour.
We hear you celebrated a BIG birthday! Wish we could have made it up there to celebrate with you. We’ll have to do that in September.
Love you MORE!!!!
Wow, what a great story Lou. Such a courageous and rewarding experience for you and something so very special for the soldiers. So nice that you were recognized for such a honorable act of kindness.
Thank you Lorrie and Randy, you are too kind. Yes, it’s nice to be recognized, but it was such a fun tour and I am so honored that I was chosen.
So proud of you Lou! Love you.
Awwww, thanks so much, Rochelle!
Love you MORE
Lou, I’ve known you since I was two or three years old, I think, and always remember that big happy smile all the while we grew up. I can’t imagine a better sight for sore eyes than you and your girls visiting to lift our soldier’s spirits. You can’t imagine how hard it was sometimes to just lift your head after a long hard day or days and days of troubling times. Your joyful attitude and life giving cheerfulness gave our troops courage to tackle another day. I’m truly proud to call you my friend and childhood buddy. When we visited you and Rod last year, I really felt happy to see that smile again. We need a lot more of your kind of smiles in the world. Thank you for your service.
Oh, Kit, my old buddy, you are too kind. I really enjoyed what we did and it was easy to smile and wave. I got so used to doing it, that I seem to still do it today — when I’m on walks in the neighborhood, helping at school, etc. It makes me feel good too. I just wish that you and lots of other guys over there who never saw us, could have had the opportunity. We would have LOVED it.
Thank YOU for your service, buddy!
Awww Lou. You are so awesome. You were in danger too. These men must have loved seeing you cute face smiling!!!!! You have really done a lot in your life. I am so proud to call you my good buddy. Love you more!!!!!!! Nancy K
Oooooh, Nancy, you’re such a sweetie. Yep, we’ve been buddies for a long, long time. I’m sure glad we stayed friends through it all!
Love YOU more,